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The Hope of Heaven Nearly Obliterated

March 24, 2011

The reality is that Rob Bell’s book on universalism is “nothing new under the sun.” The church has spoken against this teaching before and is being called to do so again. Almost 20 years ago (1993), John MacArthur sounded the alarm on the softness of evangelical’s hold on some key doctrines of the faith, including hell, in his book Ashamed of the Gospel. In it he wrote

Spurgeon said that those who deny the eternality of hell “have pretty nearly obliterated the hope of such a heaven as we have all along expected. Of course, the reward of the righteous is to be of no longer continuance than the punishment of the wicked. Both are described as ‘everlasting’ in the same verse [Matt. 25:46], spoken by the same sacred lips; and as the ‘punishment’ is made out to be only ‘age-lasting,’ so must the ‘life’ be.”

Scripture says, “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20: 10). Jesus told of the rich man who “In Hades … lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame'” (Luke 16:23, 24). It was also Jesus who said, If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47, 48). And Revelation 14: 11describes the eternal state of those who follow Antichrist in the Tribulation: “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” The most prolific teacher on hell in all of Scripture was the Lord Jesus Himself. He had more to say about the subject than all the apostles, prophets, and evangelists of Scripture put together.

Preaching that downplays God’s wrath does not enhance evangelism; it undermines it. The urgency of the gospel is utterly lost when the preacher denies the reality or severity of everlasting punishment. The authority of Scripture is compromised when so much of Christ’s clear message must be denied or explained away. The seriousness of sin is depreciated by this teaching. And therefore the gospel itself is subverted.

John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 64-65.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 5:29 PM

    When John Speaks, people listen.

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