The author of this article makes the valid point that if we try to distance Jesus’ teaching from hell, we distort his teaching and slight his work.
We may pride ourselves in thinking we are too loving to believe in Hell. But in saying this, we blaspheme, for we claim to be more loving than Jesus—more loving than the One who with outrageous love took upon himself the full penalty for our sin.
Christ says the unsaved “will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). Jesus taught that an unbridgeable chasm separates the wicked in Hell from the righteous in paradise. The wicked suffer terribly, remain conscious, retain their desires and memories, long for relief, cannot find comfort, cannot leave their torment, and have no hope (see Luke 16:19–3 1).
Our Savior could not have painted a bleaker picture of Hell.
C. S. Lewis said, “I have met no people who fully disbelieved in Hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in Heaven.” The biblical teaching on both destinations stands or falls together. If the one is real, so is the other; if the one is a myth, so is the other. The best reason for believing in Hell is that Jesus said it exists.
It isn’t just what Jesus said about Hell that matters. It is the fact that it was he who said it.
“There seems to be a kind of conspiracy,” wrote Dorothy Sayers, “to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of hell comes from. The doctrine of hell is not ‘mediaeval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin…. We cannot repudiate hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”
Why do I believe in an eternal Hell? Because Jesus clearly and repeatedly affirmed its existence. As Sayers suggested, you cannot dismiss Hell without dismissing Jesus.
By denying Hell’s reality, we lower the stakes of redemption and minimize Christ’s work on the cross. If Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection didn’t deliver us from a real and eternal Hell, then his work on the cross is less heroic, less potent, less consequential, and less deserving of our worship and praise.
Theologian William Shedd put it this way: “The doctrine of Christ’s vicarious atonement logically stands or falls with that of eternal punishment.”