Some say a “God of love could never punish people eternally in hell.” Well beloved, Jesus talked about eternal torment, darkness, and weeping. We dare not soften up on the reality of hell and allow our minds to let the spirit of the age come into us so much that the reality of hell doesn’t impact us as it should.
Think of this: Jesus looked out on a crowd of people, and He said, "Unless you repent, you'll perish just like those people that died where Pilate cut them up in the Temple and offered their blood with the sacrifice."
How could You say that? Lord, these might be nice people! But He just looks out on a crowd, He knows; He said, "Unless something big changes in you, you're going to perish." That's what He is saying. Just take it for granted. He knows that about the human heart. It's hard for us to believe that sin could really be that bad, and that Hell could really be that bad because we are such good people. And that's always what comes up: "We're so nice, we're so good; so and so is so nice, I can't believe God would put them in Hell." And it is hard, because we can't see it.
But beloved, you know, the more hardened you get, the less you can see. There are a lot of people right now that are living with somebody and see nothing wrong with it outside of marriage. They don't feel that. There are homosexuals that are practicing things that, at one time, they would have said were an abomination. They don't feel anything wrong about it.
Why?! Because the heart gets hardened. And the fact that you are blind to something doesn't mean that it isn't an abomination! So if I see in my life, I start thinking, "Ah, it's not that bad to lust after a woman. I mean, you know, that's normal." And you start thinking like that, and God says this is something that would put you in Hell; you've got to get your mind over to what God said, and let the Bible shape what you believe about right and wrong; because you are not an accurate source of good and evil.
I mean, Bertrand Russell, I read his thing on "Why I Am Not A Christian"; I thought, "Wow, this ought to be really profound, you know, why this great philosopher is not a Christian." The biggest thing he said was, "Jesus Christ taught eternal punishment, and I don't believe it. And I'm not going to believe on Christianity if it teaches eternal punishment." You see what that is? That's the criminal deciding whether the righteous judge is righteous. It's a very dangerous thing, it's a fearful position to take.
Think of this: Back at the beginning, God said, "In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17). Suppose that I had said, (I mean, that was much milder that what the New Testament says. Much milder. "In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die.") Suppose that I had told you, if you had never seen this present world, I told you this is what that means - you shall surely die - what it means is: that there would be mountains of millions of skulls; there would be cemeteries filled with people; there would be babies born with gross deformities and horrible diseases; there would be atrocities committed that I really can't mention from the pulpit. I know things about the Holocaust even that I can't tell you about from the pulpit, they are so horrible they would be defiling to even hear it.
But I can tell you, beloved, there's stuff going on in the world, last night and right now, that are so horrible we couldn't talk about them here in this meeting. And if I say, this is what is tied up in the words, "DON'T EAT THAT FRUIT, YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!" What it means is that mountains and mountains of people are going to die. What it means is that unspeakable wickedness is going to be done on innocent people and children. What it means is all these horrible diseases and people dying in excruciating pain, you would say, "A God of love could never do that. I don't believe that."
Well, beloved, Jesus has been much more explicit. And He talks about Torment, and He talks about Darkness, and He talks about Weeping! And we dare not soften this up, and in our minds let the spirit of the age come into us so much that we don't really believe it. And I confess it's happened to me, I don't really believe it. And every now and then, I get a little glimpse that this is really true. What's going to happen when the Lord returns, the sky opens, and you think, "It's really real! He really is real!" Now what did Jesus say about Hell? Because that's real too. You see. We desperately need God - I'm not talking about other people desperately need God - We, I, desperately need God to help me in this, to see; because whenever the Holy Spirit comes and makes it real, you start doing things differently. You start thinking differently.