What’s so gracious about hell?

As part of the editorial process, I often end up with content that doesn’t make it into my sermons. In both the sermons on heaven and hell one idea that I didn’t really get to explore as much as I would like is how heaven and hell are gifts of God’s grace.

It’s not much of a leap for us to think of heaven as an act of God’s grace, right? You lived a sanctified life- a life that is shaped by the love of Jesus. When the earthly body dies it only makes sense that the heavenly body would go to a place where it can reside with others who live lives shaped by grace.

But for those who reject grace, what happens to them? I shared in my sermon on hell that I, like Adam Hamilton believe, “Hell is filled with people who believe the world revolves around them. It’s filled with countless narcissistic souls who are taking advantage of other narcissistic souls in order to meet their own needs – people feeding on one another, until there is nothing left to feed on. In hell God’s goodness has been removed and any restrains on sin have come off and we grow more and more distant from God until we are creatures of the darkness ourselves.” [1]  

While hell may be no picnic – I still see it as a gracious place. God could say, “you’ve been bad — sorry.” And then cause us to no longer exist. No second chance. No punishment. Just an apathy and have our souls stop existing. But instead, God is still holding open the door to redemption even to our heavenly bodies after we have failed to choose in accordance with grace during our time on earth, by granting our heavenly bodies a place to reside in the life after this. That’s grace! Does that grace ever run out? What about final judgment? When will justice be served, because justice delayed is justice denied, right? I guess these questions sound like fodder for the concluding sermon in the series.

See you Sunday online or on Hamilton Street!

p.s. – There is an interesting series of interviews on heaven, hell, judgment, and the new creation with Bishop N.T Wright. You can watch the interviews here.

[1]  https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/1005/the-logic-of-hell