Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God…Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:18; 36
Can you finish this sentence “God so loved the world…?” John 3:16 is the most well-known and well-loved Bible verse in all of Scripture, but it is in the middle of one of the most hated ideas in the Bible: the wrath of God. The world rejoices in God’s love, but cringes at God’s wrath. God’s wrath against sin and the sinner will be fully realized in Hell with conscious torment forever.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. (Mark 9:43)
The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, (Luke 16:22b-23a)
We cannot explain away the doctrine of hell. Hell is a real place with real suffering forever. If we lost the biblical doctrine of hell, we also lose the biblical doctrine of justification. If we lose hell, we lose heaven. If we lose hell, we lose salvation. And if we lose hell, we lose the love of Christ. Jesus experienced hell for us on the cross. He was forsaken by God and experienced separation from the Father and an agony that is far beyond what we can imagine. We can only truly know the deep love of Jesus Christ when we recognize the reality of hell. He experienced hell for us on the cross.
We may bristle at the reality of hell, but rightly understood, it does not minimize God’s love, but maximizes it. John Lin aptly says,
The issue is not how God can allow there to be a Hell if He is a loving God. The issue is that if Jesus Christ would experience Hell for me, then truly He must be a loving God. It is not why would God allow hell, but why would God experience hell for me? And yet he did.
Beloved, we cannot truly have God’s love without the doctrine of hell. God so loved the world because he experienced hell for us. Rejoice in God’s real love.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).
God has given us real hope in his real love as he saves us from a real hell. Rejoice!! I say again, Rejoice!!