Around Easter it was reported that the Pope was unsure as to the existence of hell. The Vatican unsurprisingly said that the Pope’s comments had been misrepresented. Nevertheless, a survey in the USA came up with the statistic that 30% of people identifying themselves as Christians did NOT believe in hell. (Evangelicals – 25% not believing in hell, ‘Mainline protestant’ 40%, Mainly-black Pentecostal’ 18%, Roman Catholic 37%, Orthodox 41%). Surprisingly 36% of those who said they had no religion DID believe in hell. (Source Pew Research Center – Belief in Heaven and Hell among US Adults 2014).
This cause me to look into what J N Darby had to say about the subject, and found he was battling with ‘universalists’ who said that God was such a loving God that everybody would be saved, even if they had to wait a bit, and ‘annihilationists’ who believed that the fire would consume souls completely, so nothing would remain. Of course, both are wrong, and both views continue to be prevalent today.
Whether we have many old-fashioned hell-fire sermons designed to frighten souls into submission, I don’t know. But one thing is certain ‘Hell exits; hell is eternal, and we all deserve to go there as sinners. ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). We are called on to warn souls of the consequences of rejecting God’s grace in the gospel, whilst saying, ‘Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?’ (Rom 2:8).
JND and Hell
JN Darby did not write much about hell, but a paper met the then-current thought (and just as current now). ‘Brief Scriptural Evidence on the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, for plain people’. Collected Writings Vol 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 1.
This is summarised in our posting ‘Hell is Real and Eternal’
And the backup scriptures
The Lake of Fire and the Love of God
A couple of snippets from ministry:
It may be said that the lake of fire is the result of righteousness and not of love, but it is the outcome of love in God. From Reading on 1 Cor 13 – Ministry of James Taylor Vol. 10 page 62.
The lake of fire is consistent with God’s love. God has almighty power, and it would be inconsistent with divine love to tolerate lawlessness. God may tolerate it for the moment, but in result He will limit it in the lake of fire. From Righteousness and Salvation Ministry by F E Raven Vol 18 p 117
What about those 36% of who said they had no religion and who DID believe in hell.
What must grip them. FEAR! How do we reach them with the glad tidings?
Remember it says: ‘But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, . . . and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev 21:8)
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb 2:14-15)
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:15-21)
What could be more eloquent than scripture?
Greetings in the Name of our blessed Saviour who has redeemed us from Hell by His blood.