I was browsing the Desiring God web site the other day. I read an article where Pastor John Piper responded to the question, “How willingly do people go to hell?” Quoting C.S. Lewis’ statement, “All that are in hell choose it,” Dr. Piper wrote,
“…this leads some who follow Lewis in this emphasis to say things like, ‘All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want.’
“I come from the words of Jesus to this way of talking and find myself in a different world of discourse and sentiment. I think it is misleading to say that hell is giving people what they most want. I’m not saying you can’t find a meaning for that statement that’s true, perhaps in Romans 1:24-28. I’m saying that it’s not a meaning that most people would give to it in light of what hell really is.”
After vividly presenting the biblical description of hell, Dr. Piper noted,
“But whatever [a person] believes or does not believe, when he chooses against God, he is wrong about God and about hell. He is not, at that point, preferring the real hell over the real God. He is blind to both. He does not perceive the true glories of God, and he does not perceive the true horrors of hell.
“So when a person chooses against God and, therefore, de facto chooses hell—or when he jokes about preferring hell with his friends over heaven with boring religious people—he does not know what he is doing. What he rejects is not the real heaven (nobody will be boring in heaven), and what he ‘wants’ is not the real hell, but the tolerable hell of his imagination.
“When he dies, he will be shocked beyond words. The miseries are so great he would do anything in his power to escape. That it is not in his power to repent does not mean he wants to be there. Esau wept bitterly that he could not repent (Hebrew 12:17). The hell he was entering into he found to be totally miserable, and he wanted out. The meaning of hell is the scream: ‘I hate this, and I want out.’”
When I read this I was reminded of two things. One was a statement made by Joseph Smith in 1842. In this discourse Joseph was describing the burden he was under as a prophet, having people constantly looking for his faults. He said,
“I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society. What do we care where we are, if the society be good?” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:516-517)
Whether joking or using hyperbole to make his point, in this flippant statement Joseph demonstrated that he did not perceive the true horrors of hell. Otherwise Joseph, who claimed to represent Almighty God, could not have treated the subject of eternal separation from that God so indifferently, nor could he have placed the “good society” of his friends above the true glories of God.
The other thing I was reminded of when I read Dr. Piper, in my opinion, flows directly from Joseph Smith’s irresponsible statement quoted above; I have often heard Mormons express a similar sentiment to Joseph’s. They don’t talk about kicking the devil out of hell, but they do talk about their conviction that eternity in heaven would be hollow if they couldn’t be “together forever” with their families. They say things like LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland recently said: “I wouldn’t know how to speak of heaven without my wife, my children. It would…it would not be heaven for me” (Mormon Temple and Eternal Family; Mr. Holland’s remark is found at the 4m45s mark).
Like Joseph Smith, Mormons who think this way do not perceive the true horrors of hell. Nor do they perceive the true glories of God. When they die they will be “shocked beyond words.”
Therefore, Christians, take this challenge spoken by Charles Spurgeon to heart:
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
Drop to your knees, Christians; then go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel.
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.