Why is hell integral to the gospel?
Some people think that by rejecting or ignoring the doctrine of hell, they are making God more glorious and more loving. Far from it! The horrific nature of what we have been saved from only intensifies the glory of what we have been saved to. With that in mind, here are four reasons why the doctrine of hell is integral to the gospel.
- Hell shows us how heinous our sin really is. We may want to minimize our sin or excuse it. But the fact that God has declared that we deserve eternal torment for those sins should remind us that they are not small at all. They are enormously evil.
- Hell shows us how unimpeachably just God really is. The Bible tells us that when God sentences his enemies to hell, the whole universe will acknowledge that what he has done is just and right. We may not understand it fully now, but one day hell itself will declare God’s glory. It will—even in its horror—testify together with the psalmist, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Ps. 89:14, 97:2).
- Hell shows us how horrific the cross really was, and how great God’s grace really is. Why did Jesus die on the cross? Because that was the only way God could righteously not send every one of us to hell (Rom. 3:21-26). Jesus had to take what was due to us, and that means he had to endure the equivalent of hell as he hung on the cross. What an amazing display of love and mercy that is! Yet you will only clearly see and understand this display of love when you understand, accept, and shudder at the horror of hell.
- Hell focuses our minds on the task of proclaiming the gospel. If hell is real, and if people are truly in danger of spending eternity there, then there is no more urgent and important task than to proclaim to the world the good news that forgiveness of sins is offered through Jesus Christ.
(This material has been adapted from Greg Gilbert’s article, “Why Hell is Integral to the Gospel”)