As we begin to face the painful truth about what is within us, the reality of God’s judgment

becomes more imminent.

Here we will address two common questions that often arise about God's judgment:

How could a loving God be wrathful?

If God is so loving, then why is there hell?

God cannot ignore our sin,

nor could (or should) He turn a blind
eye towards our sin.

As a

good, just God

who created us in His image,

The indignation and the cry for justice doesn’t come from vindictiveness but

from a virtuous love for the good.

Wrath and justice

are undeniable necessities to anyone who has personally experienced real brutalities.

Tim Keller further explains:
“[…] all loving persons are sometimes filled with wrath, not just despite of but because of their love. If you love a person and you see someone ruining them - even they themselves - you get angry […]

The Bible says that God’s wrath flows from his love and delight in his creation. He is angry at evil and injustice because it is destroying its peace and integrity.”


It refers to God’s just response to sin.

We must remember that one consequence of God’s love is His wrath.  

When we speak of the “wrath of God,” it is not some emotional outburst or capricious reaction.

When we merely say that we are bad, the 'wrath'
of God seems a barbarous doctrine;

as soon as we
perceive our badness,

it appears inevitable, a mere corollary

from God’s goodness.”


“Now at the moment when a man feels real guilt—moments too rare in our lives—all these blasphemies vanish away.

At such a moment we really do

know that our character,

as revealed in this action, is, and ought to be,

hateful to all good men,

and, if there are

powers above man, to them.

A God who did not regard this with unappeasable distaste

would not be a good being.

God treats each human life as highly significant and charged with great stakes because each person’s decisions

have ultimate consequences.

In saying “Thou shalt not…” and “Thou shalt…”

God is expressing his highest love for man.

The Bible affirms that

our conduct matters and that our lives count;

what we choose to do with our lives – our bodies, talents, time – matter in the highest courts of heaven.

“When Christianity says that God loves man,

it means that God loves man:

not that He has some 'disinterested,' [...] indifferent concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love.

If God is love, He is, by definition, something

more than mere kindness.

[...] And it appears, from all the records, that though He has
often rebuked us and condemned us,

He has never regarded us
with contempt.

He has paid us the

intolerable compliment of loving us,

in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.  We may wish, indeed, that we were of so little account to God that He left us alone to follow our natural impulses -

that He would give over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves: but once again,

we are asking not for more Love, but for less.”


C. S. Lewis further clarifies that God's insistence on moral accountability affirms, rather than contradicts,

His loving nature:

whether good or bad.

would be to have absolutely no consequences to the choices we made,

The greatest insult to our existence

Without moral accountability, we lose human dignity, and we would be no different from beasts who live by appetites and instinct.

The struggle to choose

to be virtuous rather than immoral, to choose to tell the truth rather than lie, to sacrifice for a friend rather than be selfish – these are the things that make up the drama of human life.

We instinctively grasp that our moral choices must be taken seriously if our lives are to matter at all.

Offended by Sin

Another way to understand the idea of God’s wrath toward sin is through recognizing that

our conduct matters.

Our sins matter to God because we matter to God.

In other words, we are taken seriously.

How could a loving God allow such an existence?

Because God will not force anyone to repent and turn from his or her ways.

He will not force anyone to be his.

Hell is the ultimate affirmation that God takes us, and our decisions, seriously.

"Hell is

God’s great compliment

to the reality of human freedom

and the dignity of human choice."


An existence that is utterly and eternally


from the presence and life of God.

Images of hell used in the Bible are


symbolizing isolation

gnashing of teeth

symbolizing regret

The most prominent imagery of hell that Jesus used was

being outside

symbolizing exclusion

For those who all their lives have known nothing other than self-assertion, hell is the

continuation of a godless existence.

As C.S. Lewis has said, in the end there are two kinds of people:

those who say to God,

“Thy will be done,”

and those to whom God says,

“O.K., your will be done.”

Hell is the point in an unrepentant sinner’s history where all restraints will be removed,

and all of man’s monstrous depravity will be unleashed.

Think about all the downward spiral of self-destruction that sin has brought into your life, even in the midst of many restraining forces of civilization.

What would it look like for
that downward spiral to continue on and on?



and without boundaries,

separated from God,

who is the only source of light, love, and peace – this is what the Bible calls hell.

The Bible’s depiction of hell is not so much a specific place as it is

a state of permanent being.

a state of permanent being.

a fiery cavern ruled by a red, horned creature eternally torturing hapless souls with his pitchfork.

This picture, derived primarily from European medieval art and literature and popularized by the media,

is not quite the description of hell found in the Bible.

The Bible’s depiction of hell is not so much a specific place as it is

a state of permanent being.

a state of permanent being.

If God is so loving, then why hell?

Before we talk about the biblical understanding of hell, let’s first dispel the prevalent notions about hell that so often come to mind -

I have begun with the conception of Hell as positive retributive punishment inflicted by God because that is the form in which the doctrine is most repellent, and I wished to tackle the strongest objection.

But, of course, though Our Lord often speaks of Hell as a sentence inflicted by a tribunal, He also says elsewhere that the judgment consists in the very fact that men prefer darkness to light, and that not He, but His "word," judges men.

We are therefore at liberty—since the two conceptions, in the long run, mean the same thing—to think of this bad man's perdition not as a sentence imposed on him but as the mere fact of being what he is.


VIew full excerpt

Click the button to symbolize our choice to reject God

What is God’s heart toward our rebellion and ultimate fate?

The Bible uniformly reports that God is grieved by unrepentant sinners headed toward an eternity separated from him.

God is grieved.


“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

How often would I
have gathered your
children together

as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!


Do I take any pleasure

in the death of the wicked?
declares the Sovereign Lord.
Rather, am I not pleased when they

turn from their
ways and live?

Our Terrible Situation

Please take a moment to consider

Reflect on the fact that we are a walking paradox.

We love good but are evil. We are free but imprisoned.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

The Apostle Paul expresses our predicament in Romans 7.

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.  Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.  For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Have you ever been so disgusted at yourself that you

wanted to just disappear?

If so, then have you ever experienced a general desire to be

rid of your bad self?

If someone could rescue you from yourself, in what ways would that be

an attractive offer?

We know that we cannot stand under God’s judgment. The just response to our sin is death.

We look for hope from within, and we find emptiness.

We look to others, but they offer no satisfying solutions.

All options are inadequate.

The guilt remains.

The condemnation is too hard to bear.

Where can we go?

What can we do?

Should we grit our teeth and say,

“I’ll just take the punishment”?

Should we lie to ourselves and say,

“It doesn’t matter, I don’t matter, nothing matters”?

Is there some hope for our cure?

Is there some stream where we can

wash and be clean?

Is there someone who can

save us

from our sad predicament?

What is your personal response to this chapter's material?

This concludes Chapter Four.

For further reading, a PDF version of Chapter Four can be found here.

this is my story

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals