Keller on The Importance of Hell

Below is the conclusion to Tim Keller’s thoughtful piece on the importance of hell.

Here are the main points:

1. It is important because Jesus taught about it more than all other Biblical authors put together.

2. It is important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything.

3. It is important because it unveils the seriousness and danger of living life for yourself.

4. The doctrine of hell is important because it is the only way to know how much Jesus loved us and how much he did for us.

Conclusion:

The doctrine of hell is crucial-without it we can’t understand our complete dependence on God, the character and danger of even the smallest sins, and the true scope of the costly love of Jesus. Nevertheless, it is possible to stress the doctrine of hell in unwise ways. Many, for fear of doctrinal compromise, want to put all the emphasis on God’s active judgment, and none on the self-chosen character of hell. Ironically, as we have seen, this unBiblical imbalance often makes it less of a deterrent to non-believers rather than more of one. And some can preach hell in such a way that people reform their lives only out of a self-interested fear of avoiding consequences, not out of love and loyalty to the one who embraced and experienced hell in our place. The distinction between those two motives is all-important. The first creates a moralist, the second a born-again believer.

We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history, “I am less barbaric than you, Jesus–I am more compassionate and wiser than you.” Surely that should give us pause! Indeed, upon reflection, it is because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus’ proclamations of grace and love are so astounding.

You can read the whole article here.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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