1. Will anyone experience eternal and conscious torment under God’s wrath?
2. Is the work of Christ the necessary means provided by God for eternal salvation?
3. Is it necessary for people to hear of Christ in order to be eternally saved?
He writes, “Biblical answers to these questions are crucial because in each case a negative answer would seem to cut a nerve of urgency in the missionary cause.” Then in usual Piper style he unpacks biblical passage after biblical passage, relying on Scripture’s intrinsic authority to tell us yet again that the answer to all three of three questions is yes.
Of course he is right; a negative answer to any of these questions would cut a nerve of urgency in the missionary cause. But when one considers that today there are still 6,000 unreached people groups around the world representing 2 billion souls among whom Christ is unknown, unacknowledged and unadorned it is quite easy to conclude that Evangelicals possess little if any nerve of urgency for God’s missionary cause. When one considers that there are at least 600 evangelical churches for every 1 of the 6,000 unreached people groups it is quite easy to conclude that Evangelicals possess little if any nerve of urgency for God’s missionary cause. When one considers that $1 out of every $100,000 in global church income goes to support missions among the world’s unevangelized, unreached peoples it is quite easy to conclude that Evangelicals possess little if any nerve of urgency for God’s missionary cause. When one considers that all of the resources needed to send and support an army of Christ-centered and joy-spreading ambassadors to the nations is already in the church but we are not giving them, it is quite easy to conclude that Evangelicals possess little if any nerve of urgency for God’s missionary cause. Our lack of commitment to Christ’s great commission marching orders to make disciples of all the nations indeed begs the question, do we really believe in the reality and the eternality of hell? The evidence seems to say that we don’t. And if we do then something is horribly wrong, for our doctrine is not being demonstrated in our demeanor.
A tale is often told of a preacher who said that if there really was an eternal hell, he would crawl on his hands and knees along broken glass the entire length of Britain to rescue a single sinner from such a fate. It makes sense. If men are truly bent towards hell by nature, if Christ is their only hope of escaping eternal, conscious torment, then one would think that Evangelicals would be hell-bent on participating in the completion of history’s greatest movement, namely the ingathering of the elect from all tribes and languages and peoples and nations’ until the full number of the Gentiles comes in and all Israel is saved.
God has often used something Francis Schaeffer once said to graciously afflict me; I hope it does the same for you, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” Do you believe in the Biblical doctrine of hell? If so, what the hell are you doing about it?