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The Rev. Roger Salter: “Hell and Holiness – for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29)

July 27, 2011

From the website, Living Oracles, that belongs to the Rev. Roger Salter of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Birmingham, here is a meditation on Hell and Holiness (for our God is a consuming fire) that has some excellent thoughts on the fact of hell and its relationship to the holiness of God.  This portion of the meditation makes it clear that the Biblical position is that hell is the necessary result when one cannot tolerate being near to God:

The holiness of God is symbolized in Holy Scripture by fire. “The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?’ Isaiah 33:14). The holiness of God is inherent, eternal, unchanging. Just as he is pure, so his holiness is purificatory. The fire of God (Spirit baptism, Luke 3:16) that descends upon and fills the saints cleanses them for consecration to his fellowship and service. The fire of God (fury) towards the impenitent wicked isolates them from his favour in every sense and burns against them, inflaming an unpacified conscience, igniting a sense of hopelessness, and consuming them with a sense of wasted existence and lost opportunities. The opposers of God (rebels) have nothing but hatred for the Lord in their hearts. As they do not desire him, but despise him, heaven would be no pleasure for them. In their intransigence they cast themselves into the flames, for hell was made for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Their voluntary bondage to him necessitates the same fate. All evil will be purged, and those who perpetrate it. Holiness purifies the people of God for proximity to him. Holiness with the heat of divine indignation drives the stubborn sinner away into abandonment. Wrath is for those who do not wish to be reconciled to God the Father through his Son who took away the sins of  believers in the furnace of his suffering on the cross.  Hell is the reasonable and inevitable result for those who stand against God and could not tolerate his nearness. And God, who cannot tolerate unrighteousness, must endorse their stand and expel them. The consequences of the sinner’s preference and the divine purity necessitate eternal alienation. It is imperative that we call on God’s mercy and heed the advice of J.A. Motyer:The only way to flee from God is to flee to him” (The Prophecy of Isaiah page 235, IVP, 1993).

This is a timely message for our day as there are many who do not wish to hear about hell – see what you think.


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