Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Defective View of Hell or a Defective Heart

Without a doubt, this was one of the key moments at Lausanne. 

Posted at Desiring God:

On Lausanne's website, John Piper's exposition of Ephesians 3 is among the most watched, most discussed, and highest rated sessions from last month's congress in Cape Town. I mention that only to suggest that what he says in it has really struck a cord with those who've heard it.

It was an important and timely word. If you're interested in hearing it yourself, you can now watch or read it on our website.

The high point of the message is when Piper makes this plea to listeners (pardon the length—the context is necessary):

If God had not put Christ forward to bear his own wrath, if Christ had not become a curse for us, as Galatians 3:13 says, then all the nations and all Jews would have perished under God’s wrath and entered into everlasting suffering in hell, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:46.

The reason I draw out this implication of the cross is to hold together in this congress and in the church of Christ two truths that are often felt to be at odds with each other, but don’t have to be.

One truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it impels us out toward the alleviation of all unjust suffering in this age. That’s what love does!

The other truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it awakens us to the horrible reality of eternal suffering in hell, under the wrath of a just and omnipotent God. And it impels us to rescue the perishing, and to warn people to flee from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

I plead with you. Don’t choose between those two truths. Embrace them both. It doesn’t mean we all spend our time in the same way. God forbid. But it means we let the Bible define reality and define love.

Could Lausanne say—could the evangelical church say—we Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering? I hope we can say that. But if we feel resistant to saying “especially eternal suffering,” or if we feel resistant to saying “we care about all suffering in this age,” then either we have a defective view of hell or a defective heart.

I pray that Lausanne would have neither.


Tim Herald said...

I like it!

Warrick Farah said...

It could be said positively too, "We Christians care about all well-being, especially eternal well-being."