Monday, April 27, 2009

Heaven and Hell: the only difference is a mediator

Ligon Duncan has recently written:

It is a surprising thing to note, because so often we speak of hell as a place where God is not. Let me, however, say something provocative. Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator. Hell is eternity in the presence of God, being fully conscious of the just, holy, righteous, good, kind, and loving Father’s disapproval of your rebellion and wickedness. Heaven, on the other hand, is dwelling in the conscious awareness of your holy and righteous Father, but doing so through a mediator who died in your place, the One who absorbed the fullness of the penalty of your sin. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with the One who totally eradicated sin from your life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with a mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

HT: Dave Bish, Tim Challies.


Anonymous said...

"Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator."

This revives memories of the "eternity without Jesus" evangelism.
"Do you want to spend an eternity without Jesus?" the evaneglist would say. "YES" says the unbeliever and walks off proudly.

So, I think that portraying Hell as eternity in the presence of God sans mediator is helpful only if the implications of that are made clear.

Mike Gilbart-Smith said...

Absolutely, Anonymous. it would nee to be pressed home what a TERRIFYING thought it would be to be in the presence of God without a mediator.

Given correct teaching on its implicaitons, I think it is helpful though, because so often the only image used of hell in evangelism is "hell is separation from God" often referring to the images of being shut out form the wedding feast, or quoting half of 2 Thess 1:8-9, without referring to other biblical images of hell, where people are clearly IN the presence of God.

With a mediator God is present to us as a loving Father, without a mediator God is present to us only as a holy judge.

Anonymous said...

I just finished listening to your sermon from this last Sunday and noted that you mentioned this issue of eternity without a mediator.

Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't it true that according to the book of revelation we will, after all things are come to pass, be present with God without the need for a mediator?

I have also listened to a couple of other people preaching, Dean Dryden and Leigh Porter, both preachers have blessed me. Perhaps when I am next in London I'll come and say hello!

Mike Gilbart-Smith said...

So, even in Revelation Jesus is eternally the Lamb looking like he had been slain: why? partly in order to praise Christ for his sacrifice. But, in glory will we ever be there independent of that mediatorial sacrifice? No, we will be eternally dependent upon it.
The Lamb will eternally be our mediator.

Anonymous said...

Why do we need a mediator in glory? When we are in glory, eternally without sin, why would we need a mediator?

Did Adam have a mediator between him and the Father? If so, why was this mediator required and if not, why would a mediator be required when we are in glory, a higher state than Adam was?

Mike Gilbart-Smith said...

Adam didn't need a mediator because he hadn't sinned. though we will not sin in glory, we will be beings who have sinned for a whole lifetime. How will God not hold those sins against us eternally? If Christ ceased to be our mediator in a googol years time, we would go to hell, I think.