“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one." - C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, chapter 10)
Reformation Theology quotes a pastor on the reality of hell at this link. Here’s the quote:
A very good friend of mine, Pastor Graeme Adams, from Dundee, Scotland writes, "“Are you orthodox on the issue of hell? Good! Does it cause you to pray and weep for the lost and actively seek ways to reach them with the good news of Jesus, or be smug or worse because you know something Rob Bell doesn’t? It’s incredibly sad and harmful when high profile leaders propagate heresy, AND when millions of Christians profess faith, historical biblical faith, and yet don’t live it. Heresy and Cold lifeless heartless Orthodoxy are partners in crime against humanity and God. May God use this issue to break our hearts.”
“All things being equal, God does desire that no one should perish. But all things are not equal. Sin is real. Sin violates God’s holiness and righteousness. God also is not willing that sin should go unpunished. He desires as well that His holiness should be vindicated…. When the preceptive will is violated, things are no longer equal.” – R. C. Sproul, From Can I Know God’s Will? pp. 22-23.
We no longer have a right to claim God’s favor when we violate His commands. We forfeit all claims on His love and mercy.
As the highest and best being in the universe, God has the right to demand of us whatever He desires. God’s desires are always in accordance with His nature, and He is wholly good. He can no more command something that is evil than He can cease to be God. He cannot because He will not, and His essential desires never change.
God, in some sense, takes “no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32) and does not desire “that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). However, He is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Moreover, He “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7).
God’s nature has both aspects. God has love for all men in some sense, but the sinner is under His wrath.
All things are not equal.
But God gave His Only Son, and Christ has paid the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we trust that what Christ did on the cross, He did for us, then our sins are paid for by Christ. We need not fear the wrath of God when we are in Christ by faith.
All things are not equal.
“The bad news is far worse than making mistakes or failing to live up to the legalistic standards of fundamentalism. It is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires.
Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice. Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ.” — Michael Horton, Christless Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2008), 91.
“There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.” - B. B. Warfield
I have had many times of doubt in my life. I have convinced myself I was on the way to hell because of my mediocre Christian life, my personal suffering, and my doubts.
In my times of despair, I have learned to look to three things:
Look to my attitude toward God. "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Gal. 5:6). Do you love the God of the Bible? Not do I love Him perfectly. Not do I love Him enough. But do I love Him at all? If I really love the God of the Bible, then I am saved because the unsaved hate Him (Ro. 8:7).
Look to Christ. He has accomplished your salvation for you. Christ has paid the penalty for my sins. Christ said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It is over. I must trust that it is. That is the essence of Warfield’s quote above.
Look to the promises of the Word of God. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:47). If I have looked to Christ, I am saved.
Saving faith and true repentance are never perfect in this life. There are times of doubt. There are always sins left to repent of (Romans 7). But we look to Christ.