Friday, August 13, 2010

We returned from our family vacation a couple of days ago and have been recovering since! While on the trip, I meditated on Jonathan Edwards' sermons on hell. At one point, he said that Christians must think on hell often. I would like to list a number of reasons why I think Christians should regularly meditate on hell.

1. It reminds you of the holiness of God. God is infinitely holy and nothing impure can be set before God's eyes (Hab 1:13). God is so infinitely holy that even the smallest offense against His holiness demands an infinite judgment. The holiness of God requires perfection. Obviously all human beings are unholy, defiled, stained, wretched, and wicked. Human sinners are enemies of God and fully deserving of all God's anger and violent justice for all eternity. God is love and God is merciful but these qualities of God by no means eliminate or trump the holiness, wrath, justice, and righteous anger of God for sin and violation of his Law.

2. It reveals the utter seriousness and heinousness of your sins. Even an angry word spoken is worthy of eternal torment. Jesus said that if you call your brother "fool" you are guilty of the fiery hell (Matt 5:22). Jonathan Edwards surmises that ones punishment in hell is equal to the sins that he committed on earth. He said that the longer one lives on earth rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ the more that he stores up eternal wrath and judgment for himself in the fires of hell.

3. It shows you what you deserve at this very moment. All unbelievers are, as it were, walking across a worn cloth with holes at various places. At any moment, the person walking across that cloth could fall into one of the holes or the cloth could give at any moment and rip into shreds and the person would fall into eternal destruction. God said: the soul who sins will die (Ezek 18:4). There is no reason that any person on the earth is alive except by the sheer grace of God. No one deserves to live. No believer deserves to be saved. No person deserves another breath. No unbeliever deserves anything but eternal hell now. But it is God's merciful grace that restrains that unbeliever from dropping into the eternal pit forever and ever. God graciously grants them more opportunities to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The more one has opportunities to repent and the more he rejects those opportunities and succumbs to his stubborn and hard-hearted will he only stores up more wrath from God in hell.

4. It magnifies the glory of God's grace in saving such sinful wretches. The more one considers hell, the more it magnifies the glory of God's grace in saving such sinful and heinous wretches as you and me. We are trash and filth. We are unworthy of anything good. We are wholly worthy of everything bad. We are infinitely worthy of hell. But the fact that God has saved us from that wrath magnifies God's grace in saving sinners for His glory. This is why the believer must think constantly on hell. If you think constantly on hell and muse frequently on what you deserve it only elevates the undeserved and unmerited grace of God freely given to sinners such as us.

5. It serves as a fitting reason to evangelize with urgency, passion, and persuasion. If unbelievers could at any moment descend into the fires of hell, the blackest darkness, the unutterable torments, and shrieking cries for eternity, this should motivate the Christian to evangelize his nonChristian friends with some urgency and passion. He should endeavor to draw them to salvation. He should woo them to the Savior. He should show how satisfying Jesus Christ is and how unsatisfying everything else is. We must persuade and beg people to believe in Christ and be saved from the wrath of God. We must preach with urgency. We must preach the gospel to our unsaved friends as if we were standing at the doors of hell looking into the eternal abyss and the red-hot fires begging people who are drawing near those gates to repent, turn around, and fly to Jesus Christ for salvation. We must evangelize as though we have singed garments from the flames of hell because the reality of hell is so vividly imprinted on our minds. We must preach as though we believe in eternal hell. We must beg as though our hearers will never hear another gospel message again. This is why we must consider the reality of hell often.

6. It guards you from becoming self-centered (man-centered) as it causes you to be God-centered. All human beings deserve hell. Most human beings don't think they will go there—or that they deserve to go there. This is very man-centered as if everything revolved around "us." It's almost as if we are willing to say that God doesn't throw people in hell because we don't think God would do that to us. In other words, we're willing to suggest that God does things that are out of line with his own very character simply because of our "comfort." Thinking on hell and remembering that God does in fact throw people into hell—many people, hundreds of people, thousands of people, daily—not because of anything other than His righteous and holy character that demands justice. Considering this forces us to be God-centered in our theology rather than man (=self) centered.

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