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Theologian John Piper on Why Hell Exists

John Piper
John Piper, author, DesiringGod.com blogger, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, being interviewed for a podcast at Westside Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Friday, July 31, 2015. |

Hell exists because of the ultimate sin of choosing something else over God, John Piper says.

Piper, who serves as a pastor, theologian, and founder of DesiringGod.org, discussed the topic of hell's existence in a sermon published to the website, explaining that the fiery punishment of hell exists as a penalty for the ultimate, infinite sin: seeing God's glory and still choosing an alternative over Him.

"We look at [God's] glory. We look at his power. We look at his wisdom. We look at his beneficence. And we don't say, 'Thank you,' and we don't say, 'You are great.' We say, 'I am going to trade you for something that I really want," Piper explains.

"That is why hell exists, because it is an infinite sin. You can't do anything worse. There is nothing worse that can be done. Sins are simply expressions of that. Sins get all of their evil from that. That is evil," the theologian continues.

The aspect of this sin that makes it so grave is the fact that everyone knows the supreme power and value of God, yet they choose sinful alternatives, like money, sex and power, instead.

"[…] everybody prefers something to God. Adam and Eve thought they were doing a wise thing when they preferred their way and this fruit over God and His way, and they became fools and were darkened in their understanding — and we have inherited that all the way down to the roots of our being," the theologian says.

Ultimately, Christians are able to choose God over all else, or something else over all.

If we choose God over all of the evil temptations, then we have the power to use aspects of our life, such as money, sex and power, for good instead of evil.

"[…] more than the good things and more than the evil things, is God your treasure? Is God your satisfaction? Is God your delight? Because if he is, money, sex, and power will turn into remarkable potentials in your life. And if he is not, money, sex, and power will become unbelievably destructive in your hands," the theologian concludes.

Piper has spoken on the potential of money, sex, and power before, writing in a post for DesiringGod.org that all three of these things are actually meant to be used for good instead of evil.

"[…] money, sex, and power are not just dangers. They are potentials. They are gifts. They are opportunities to make God look great in the world and advance his cause in the world," Piper explained in the post from earlier this month.

"[…] take hold of power, take hold of money and make them a means of advancing the cause of the Giver and, more than that, see in the actual gift of sex and money and power dimensions of God's goodness that, when you enjoy them rightly, you are enjoying him," Piper added.

Although most evangelical preachers discuss the existence of hell, a recent survey from National Geographic noted that Americans who believe in hell have dropped by 13 percentage points over the past 20 years.

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