Dear Pastor: Straight Talk on Hell

Dear Pastor,
This article was sent to me from a friend who does not believe in hell. He believes a loving father would never send His child to hell is what . I know he sent this to me because he knows I do believe in hell. How do I respond in a clear fashion?

You asked about the article that was sent to you, written by an author named Oliver Thomas. In the article, he makes some claims in the article that I want to point out, and then I’ll give you a few thoughts on how you should speak to your friend about this, as well as some resources that are available to help you. But first, let’s examine some of the author’s claims:

Hell in the Old Testament
1. Does the Old Testament teach everlasting punishment after death? The author of the article says, “Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) is the abode of the dead described as a place of eternal punishment.” The article is quite correct, in that the most common description of what awaited people after death was known as sheol, a shadowy, uncertain place. Both godly, righteous people and the wicked ended up in sheol. But sheol has a few different meanings in the Old Testament, and the author is ignoring parts of what the Bible says. Continue reading

Citizens of the Coming Kingdom

Dear Zion,

One of the main themes of Jesus’ teaching during His earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God. As soon as He began His ministry, “Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of God… ‘the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel'” (Mark 1:15). When He sent out His disciples, their message was similar: “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them to proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand‘” (Matthew 10:5). After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples continued to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12), and even at the end of the apostolic age we see the apostle Paul basing his teaching on the Kingdom (Acts 28:30 – 31). But what is the Kingdom, and how can we be servants of the Kingdom in this world?

The first concept to understand is that the Kingdom is God’s realm where He rules as almighty sovereign. Continue reading

A Father to the Fatherless

One of the ladies in our congregation recently lost her father, and in counseling and encouraging her, I’m reminded of what the great American pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 58) wrote. Having contracted smallpox through a botched innoculation, Edwards wrote to his daughter the last words of his that we have.

And as to my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.

Jesus says in Matthew 19:29:

And everyone who loses houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Amen. May it be so for all of us.