I Don’t Think There’s a Hell
by G.J. Stewart
“There can be no doubt that Christ left all the glory of heaven to come to earth to die.
“There can be no doubt that He re-ascended there.
“There can be no doubt that He’s exercising His mediatorial functions there.
“We know there’s a heaven.
“But I don’t think there’s a hell.”
Such were the expressions of a man who had been arguing against the reality of hell, when warned of his danger of that place if his present course was persisted in.
He was what is known as a “swagsman,” and had entered a train at an up-country station. Pushing his swag under the seat with his feet, he said, “There; that’ll be in nobody’s way now;” and making himself comfortable on the seat, he was soon asleep, for he had been drinking.
Awaking some little time after, and addressing himself to a fellow-passenger, he spoke of a place that had been mentioned as a “God-forsaken place.”
To this it was rejoined, that there was only One of whom it was said that He was “God-forsaken,” and that was not for Himself, but for others, whose sins He bore at that moment.
Upon this ensued a long conversation, in the course of which many points of his own downward history came out.
He claimed to be a “Cambridge man,” and spoke like one who had had a good education. Had relatives in the Church of England ministry, but was himself a scapegrace. Had thought it was all right with him at one time, and had been “Rescue Officer” in the Salvation Army, but now it was all over with him; he wished to do better, but he hadn’t the power, and this was all God’s fault, being a “permissive act” of His. He was now well known to the police, of whom some were in the next compartment of the carriage, in plain clothes. He spoke of some of the great preachers of the day, and how they, in the van of education, had exploded the old theory of hell, of which the one to whom he spoke had been uncharitable enough to warn him. He admitted he had been drinking heavily, and was now going to one of the large centres of population to enjoy himself.
For him, in common with educated men of the day, hell was but “Hades,” the place of departed spirits; and when reminded that the Lord Himself used the word “Gehenna”—that was but a place outside Jerusalem, and meant nothing more.
He talked loudly of the need of another gospel for the men of education of the day, and resented the suggestion that he wanted a gospel that would give him license to gratify his lusts; and then, leaning over to another who sat on the opposite side, he gave expression to the sentiment at the head of this paper.
Is not this a very fair sample of a large class of human beings today—men with spirits to be saved or lost eternally?
But let us analyse what he said, and see if there is any force in it, for with their great swelling words, such men sometimes silence the timid believer.
Observe, then, that in the first four of the above statements we have the phrases, “There can be no doubt,” and “We know.” And the things that are stated thus as mere dogma are truths that are most surely believed by all the children of God. Not only, however, are they doctrinal truths, but they speak of facts that move to its depths the heart of every true believer.
What is it, beloved fellow-Christian, to believe that Christ left all the glory of heaven to come to earth to die for us!
What to believe that He went back again to that place, having accomplished redemption’s wondrous work for us!
What to believe that He is now carrying on His mediatorial functions there for us!
What to believe that the bliss of heaven awaits us!
How it assures the heart! How it quickens the spirit!! How it moves the desires!!!
But alas, that these truths can be held as the mere axioms of a theological science! Yet thus are they held and stated by thousands of those who even take the lead in the theology of the day, without the slightest power over the heart, the spirit, the desires. And if this is so, whence is their theology, and whither do they lead! Alas, for both the leaders and the led!
But if they say, “There can be no doubt,” and “We know,” whence do they know? What removes doubt? Is there any other known source whence such knowledge, such certainty can be drawn, but the unerring Word of God? None, my reader, none! Search earth and hell; study all the books man has produced since he became a registrar of his own thoughts, and whatever may have been the result of his imaginations even; yet you get nowhere stated as facts, but in the blessed Book of God, that Christ left the glories of heaven to die (John 6:33-51); that He has gone back where He was before (John 6:62; Acts 1:9); that He lives a great High Priest for His people (Heb. 7:25); or that there is a heaven, and what it is (John 14:2).
In this Book—the Word of the Living God—these truths are stated, and have been the solace of myriads of hearts that have by faith trusted them, spite of all the opposition to them by devilled man.
Let us now examine also the last statement. Here it is:—
What, my friend! You who can say, “There’s no doubt,” and “We know,” without its having any moral power to restrain your lustful heart, will you act upon What you think, and go headlong to hell with a lie in your right hand?
But what makes you think there’s no hell? Ah! is it not because you feel you deserve it, and it would be very convenient to you if there was none? The wish is father to the thought, and though you talk grandiloquently about God’s character, and what you think is suitable to Him, yet have you no foundation but the wretched wish and thought of your own poor fallen heart for such a direct contradiction of Scripture as is contained in the statement that “THERE’S NO HELL”? For the same Scriptures that warrant us in stating what “there can be no doubt about,” and what “we know,” warrant us also in opposing to your thought the statement—
“WE KNOW THAT THERE IS ALSO A HELL.”
For allowing that “Hades” is the place of departed spirits, yet Jesus said, “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23); and if you say that is a parable and a figure, we say, Yes—a figure, but of what? The same figure that tells of the bliss of Lazarus, tells also of the woe of Dives, and this in his unclothed state, his spirit’s woe, and its eternity—a great gulf fixed.
And allowing that Gehenna is drawn from the valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, where they kept constant fires to burn all offal, and that it is also a figure—of what is it a figure? Jesus says, “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28); and “Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into Gehenna; yea, I say unto you, Fear him!” (Luke 12:5). As the bodies of beasts were cast into the fires of the valley of Hinnom, where the worm abounded, so the bodies and souls of men who refuse God’s mercy are cast where it is said “their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, &a).
But enough, reader, enough! We will dwell no longer on the solemn theme. A believer needs not to be convinced of the truth of it; a rejecter will not. Of such the Lord says, “How can ye escape the damnation of Gehenna?” (Matt. 23:33). But if some doubter has been arrested we will turn now with such to the gospel. It is contained in the first four of the above statements.
Scripture says as to the first, that “Jesus . . . was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). Can you say “For me”? This is faith’s work.
It further states that He has entered “into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). Can you say “For me”?
It says again, “We have such a High Priest who is set at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:8). Have you?
Further, He tells us of heaven. “He who came down from heaven, and has ascended up again to heaven, and is now in heaven” (John 3:13), where also all believers soon will be with Him (1 Thess. 4:17). Will you?
Finally, He who knows Has further drawn back the screen from the unseen world, and disclosed to us the awful fact that there is a hell, into which, all who reject His gracious overtures will be cast with the devil and his angels. Oh! my reader, are you able to say, in the consciousness of the truth of it, “I shall not be there!”
If so, you may substitute for the statements at the head of the paper the following:—
I believe that Christ left all the glory of heaven to come to earth to die for me.
I believe that He has gone up where He was before.
I believe that He lives in heaven my great High Priest.
I believe there is a heaven.
I believe that there is also a hell.
I know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor. 5:1).
“Eternal is our rest,
O Christ of God, in Thee!
Now of Thy peace, Thy joy possessed,
We wait Thy face to see;
Now to the Father’s heart received,
We know in whom we have believed.”
The Gospel Messenger 1900, p. 29