R.C. Sproul | – Which of the Bible’s teachings do you find most difficult to accept?

Sometimes the truth is difficult to accept because it opposes our natural inclinations or cultural preferences. From one of our live events, R.C. Sproul and Derek Thomas discuss two doctrines that people in the 21st century sometimes struggle to embrace. Get answers to your biblical and theological questions online as they arise at [support us]


About The Author

Ligonier Ministries Ligonier Ministries is an international Christian discipleship organization founded by theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971 to equip Christians to articulate what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it. Proclaiming God’s holiness is central to Ligonier’s purpose. Ligonier produces Renewing Your Mind radio broadcasts, the Reformation Study Bible, Tabletalk magazine, books through the Reformation Trust Publishing division, and various teaching series. It also offers academic degrees through Reformation Bible College. In addition, Ligonier hosts national and regional conferences, offers an online learning community through Ligonier Connect, streams twenty-four-hour Christian internet radio through RefNet, and makes available thousands of unique discipleship resources online at Ligonier.org. Ligonier Ministries

Comment (47)

  1. very dificult to accept
    until, you understand the infinite holiness of GOD and start to hate your own sins and sin in general when you get to this point you already understood the sovereign will of GOD
    and above all that GOD is the ONE that give meaning to perfection.
    still after all that we look up and hope that GOD will have mercy some how
    them if you are in the Spirit of GOD you realize that this fealing is just your own carnal body that still tranbles and canot understand the perfection that GOD is
    after all our minds still under corruption and is imposible until the one that is perfect come and give us a body uncorruptible that this sin that abide in us will be totally asunder.
    your servant in CHRIST

  2. Living on every word that comes from the mouth of God?

    What is the Truth?

    Psalms 119:151

    Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.

    Jesus is The Word, John 1:1-5

    The Word God spoke: Exodus 20:1

    The Word God wrote: Deuteronomy 4:13

    and The Word God made flesh John 1:14. He is our example of The Trinity. He is The Law that hung on the cross and The Law that is written in the heart.

    Psalms 40:7

    Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me

    Hebrews 10:7

    Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

    God gave us His Word when He stood upon the mount and spoke the Ten Commandments.

    Again God gave us His Word when He wrote the Ten Commandments.

    And then God made His Word (Ten Commandments) flesh and called Him Jesus. He is the Law that hung on the cross and is written in the heart.

    If one loves Jesus and sees Him as God, then again "keep" His Word as well. And that would be the Sermon on the Mount.

    We are to "keep" those words as we are instructed by God in Deut.6:8-9, or as Jesus declares, 'keep my words even as I kept my Father's.' Dwell in the Spirit of God.

    We do not work for our salvation, Jesus died and saved the world. But we can work for our protection from the plagues, those coming to steal, kill, and destroy, from deception etc.. There is nothing wrong with works for we are judged on our works. Faith without works is dead. We can give God another body to help do His works.

    God gave us a whole Bible of Spirit, hope, grace, love, most everything money can't buy. Jesus tells us His words are spirit and they are life. The Word of The Father (Ten Commandments), the word of Jesus (Sermon on the Mount), our baptism is to be baptized into the Spirit of God. To put on The Word/Jesus. Jesus in you and you in Him. Cling to Truth!

    We have been given eternal life, we just have to become doers of The Word.

    Deuteronomy 8:3

    And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

  3. Isaiah 8:16

    Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

    Revelation 12:17

    And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  4. “Difficult to accept” implies disagreement with God. Only on impulse would a believer disagree with God. With a little thought, you cannot disagree with God about anything. He is the one that establishes right and wrong – we are not in a position to disagree with Him about anything.

  5. A question I have is this; how was the mercy extended to Adam and eve worth the suffering and death of the untold billions which came after? I know the lord is omniscient and it obviously follows that it's only correct. But I admit I dont really understand this fact. I'm also aware I'm most likely asking the wrong question or at the least asking it in the wrong light.

  6. We've struggled with male headship greatly within my denomination and also just within my congregation. It's as plain as the nose on my face that as our society drifts away from male headship, moving women out of the home and into the corporate world has been detrimental to our civilization. Children are not getting the correction in their primary years that they should've gotten, and now middle schools have policemen arresting children without effective parents within the walls of classrooms for behaviors that SHOULD end with a good spanking or a session scrubbing a bathroom floor with a small brush. When women lead churches, the soul of the congregation leaves, as the sermon turns into an emotional plea, rather than a reasoned case. Hymns are played and singing a higher key, and men stop singing, and stop attending services altogether, because it is no longer of any apparent value. Male headship being pushed aside is a HUGE problem.

  7. There will be no eternal fire burning for "forever and ever" and the saved inside the city of God to be watching such cruelty devised by God of love. When Sodom and Gomorrah were judged by the fire and sulfur, it burned to ashes, these cities are not burning, if one has to be free in Christ and His doctrines, read the prophets, they never speak of eternally burning hell. Wicked are judged and destroyed by the lake of fire , the inside of the earth's crust is volcanic lava, once it burst forth, it cools down and turns into ashes or chard material. That's the end process. In eternity, you will see no more devil and his angels, no more wickedness or the people who did wickedly, there is an end to every evil, God has set that day in His thoughts, no one knows exactly when but it happens after the great white throne judgement in Revelation.


  9. Mine is that Christ allows the Synagogue of satan to kill Christians,60 million were put to death in Russia now they rule the West,they have never paud for their crimes and the lord allows it,this is my most disfficult

  10. Well heres the thing.By believing that God chose you as a saved elect before the foundation of the world is a guarantee to hell.Now if you believe Christ paid for all SIN that ever existed and will exist then you can believe on him.If you believe in limited atonement like RC Sproul and all Calvinist then you cannot call on him for Salvation…Oh i guess you could
    If your name was written in the book of life as a chosen elect but it doesn't have your name so all calvinists are not saved.Kinda ironic since they like to preach they are saved and the rest can't be saved.
    Thats what twisting Gods word does..Hell..why? Didn't believe in the real Christ.

  11. it is certainly hard to accept Hell, indeed it is. especially when the Bible teaches that The Jewish people were sending their own children through Fire and The Almighty was disgusted by it, says it was something that never even came into His Mind. seems like the modern translations of The Bible makes our Lord seem like a Hypocrite, seeing as how he plans to do what he was so disgusted by. but one might say God is above the laws of Man so what applies to Man does not apply to God. and in The Old Testament you'd be right. But God himself subjected himself to all mortal Law when he Manifested into The Body of Christ. what would be wrong for us, is now wrong for Him as well. a truly amazing thing for Our God to take upon Himself.

    so what is the Solution? we by Faith know our God is no Hypocrite, so clearly we are at fault in our understanding of the text. he would not do what he is so clearly against. So if we try to understand Scripture from a traditional sense and a modern translation the Bible doesn't exactly make sense in some cases. So in order to understand Scripture accurately we have to allow the Scripture itself to interpret Scripture, rather than traditional religious beliefs.

    For The Hebrew text we have three locations mentioned, Sheol, Theum and Hinnom. In the Greek we know these places as Hades, Abysson and Gehenna. As for the English we call these places The Grave, The Abyss and The Lake or Fire.

    Hell on the other hand is not found in true Scripture, it is a word that showed up in 725AD which came from the Proto-Germanic "haljō" the understanding of this word comes from Norse mythology (Not The Bible) it is described as a residences for the dead, not a place of torture. The torture idea itself came from Dante's Inferno around the 1300s.

    As for actual places we find in The Bible, we shall turn to Scripture to understand them.

    Sheol (The Grave) according to Ecclesiastes 9:10 is a place where "there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom" now each one of these things lacking in Sheol are meant to be understood from a human perspective. Activity here is a deed, a thing done, an act "to do something" Movement if you will. Planning is to think, to account (Thoughts) Knowledge here is defined as Perception "the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses." And lastly Wisdom the discernment between Good And Evil, are ability to Judge.

    Sheol (The Grave) robs human beings of their ability to Move, Think, See, Hear, Understand etc: The Grave according to Scripture is to simply be Physically Dead. The Grave is literally The Grave.

    Theum (The Abyss) or Abysson is place in Scripture described as a Prison for heavenly beings i.e Morning Stars, Sons of God, Demons and even Cherubim. Our first introduction to this place is found in Genesis 1.2 "And The Earth She Became Chaos, Vacancy and Darkness over The Surface of The Abyss (Theum)" from what we see in The Bible is that in the Prison context this place is always in correlation to the Sea, The Ocean, A Lake etc:. some of you might've heard the word Tartarus for this place, but that is only used once in the New Testament 2 Peter 2:4 and is not a correct word to use, so we'll use the more accurate Abysson instead. We could just make this easy with the definition that Theum is "deep, depths, deep places, abyss, the deep, Sea" but who is to say that Theum and Tartarus and Abysson are even the same places?

    Luke 8:30-31 "And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss (Abysson) is this in correlation to the Sea, Ocean or Lake? Luke 8:33 "And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned."

    We find the same place in Revelation when Satan is being thrown into The Abyss where he is held under chains, and of course we see the same thing in Jude 1:6 "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day"

    Under these words do we find any understanding of pain or torment? None at all, only a prison for those awaiting judgement.

    And last on our list is Hinnom, Gehenna or The Lake of Fire. According to Matthew 10:28 The Lake of Fire is something God uses to Destroy both Body and Soul. Pretty simple stuff, until we ask the question what does God mean by "Destroy"? Typically with the idea of torment and pain being thrown out we would imagine that destroying is to wipe one from existence, which is possible. But it might be asked "wait a minute, doesn't Revelation 20:10 say they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."? In the English yes, but not in The Greek.

    The word that is horribly translate "Torment" is the Greek word Strong's G928 – basanizō which is a touchstone "which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal" the imagery the Greek writers were trying to use was that of testing, not torment. And the sulfur imagery here is used to describe gold with corruptions being purified. (That's what Sulfur is used for here)

    So is destroying Body and Soul meant to be understood as purifying it? Does One Destroy his enemy when making him into a friend? Possibly so. Which would explain why Romans 8:19-22 says that the whole creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed so that they too can share in freedom from its slavery to corruption which they did not subject themselves to. How Mark 9:49 tells us that everyone will be salted with fire. That "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" and what are we told in Philippians 2? That "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

    So it is possible that God purifies everyone in the end, or maybe we should understand Destroy from a traditional view. Which ever it is, we know with Faith That God will make the right decision, because He is Righteous.

  12. I object, amongst other things, to the myth of the Great Flood. If the Earth were covered in water the temperature would rise to 4,000 degrees. This is a scientific fact not a theory. Just Google it.

  13. Isaiah 55:8-9: God's ways and thoughts are not ours: they are "higher". The work of Christ was to restore the union between God and man. It is utter foolishness to "go thru a list of God's ways, and pick out the ones we like best. The focus should be on us "trusting" the Lord, and not our own "flesh" (Proverbs 3:5-7). The arrogance of man is at an all time high. Our behaviors "trigger" God's anger. He requires our humility thru us repenting (II Chronicles 7:14).

  14. I wrestled so much about Hell that it tormented me. I decided to seek it out myself. The early church didn’t hold this concept. The image we see as hell is in darkness of paganism rooted from Greek mythology. Jews never held a concept of ECT. They are insulted by Christians who claim God is a monster like that. I believe in judgment but I do not believe in Eternal Hell. It’s very unbiblical and truly not logical. Seek the Greek and Hebrew texted and it’s proof. Nicene creed doesn’t have this when at the time creating the creed they were working through doctrines that where rising up

  15. The truth is you don’t have to accept the doctrine of eternal torment, it is not found in scripture. The three Greeks words commonly translated “hell” by the kjv and other translations are , Gahenna, hades and Tartarus, none of which carry a meaning of eternal torment.

    Mark 7:13 “invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you give over.” CLNT

    See this for more information:

  16. It is written that the smoke of their torment ariseth forever, does not say that their torment is forever. If a fallen angel burns away inside of a star like the sun, eventually it does come to an end. But the glory once made to be his, has shone away from him, because he no longer deserves to have it. That light keeps going, but there is an end to him. So when all reason & or purpose for such a one has come to an end in rebellion, there would be no need to preserve him around for eternity just to simply continue to be cruel to him. To suppose such a thing would reduce the righteous quality of either God's judgement being divine, or his willingness to value life.

  17. I pray health and wholeness in this precious man of god’s breathing etc. Thank you Jesus that you are healing him because you love him dearly. We send forth your word to restore and creative miracles into every cell of his body in Jesus name. God sends no one to Hell but we reject God’s provision to restore and rescue us from darkness to light. God’s will is for all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the god. 1 Timothy 3:16. Jesus is the great liberator of women. For freedom Christ Jesus has set us free. There is no male or female,no Jew Or Greek Galatians 3:28 Christ Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Most of the early house meetings were led by women. We have to rightly divide the word of truth. Jesus is the great liberator of women.

  18. Traditionalists like Sproul always try to characterize the objection to ECT as "emotional". It's not. The doctrine is simply inconsistent with love, both as we experience it in our lives as human beings made in the image of God and as defined by Scripture, which is to will the good of another for their own sake. At the end of the day you are either going to have to diminish God's love or God's power if you want to hold to ECT. Calvinists diminish (and sometimes even twist the definition of) His love, whereas Arminians diminish His power and sovereignty.

  19. God is a consuming Fire. God is also Light and Love. Where can I go to be away from your presence, oh Lord? If I ascend into heaven you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol you are there.

    Here’s a great quote from St Isaac the Syrian that shows the difference between the Ancient Christian view of hell and the new Western, "modern" version of it.
    "I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love.

    Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?

    I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment.

    For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is more poignant than any torment.

    It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God.

    Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all.

    The power of love works in two ways. It torments sinners, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend.

    But it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties.

    Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret.

    But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability."

    + St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 72: On the Vision of the Nature of Incorporeal Beings, in Questions and Answers,”

  20. If a non-neuronal awareness post mortems us and hell is seen as distance and heaven as closeness then those ancient intimate concepts have validity, even force. If our eschatology is oblivion then all this chatter is academic and sapiens reduces to incidental sequentially accidental sidereal spew with some bio goo. The question then erupts—–can I live this day to day and believe it drink to drink? I can't.

  21. I feel its the biblical sabbath of Acts .. see acts 14 to 16 .. the one jesus kept when he rested then rose on the first day of the week .. did he rise on sabbath ? Why not ? Because living in christ fullfils the law why because living in him he is the law giver and the law breaker forgiver .. we are daily have worship ..but the sabbath has always been special .. remember the sabbath day to keep it holy .. it even gives a reason for 6 days God created the heavens and earth .and rested when? .. if we believe in christ he is the word and the word says he created everything in 6 literal days and rested ..then he asked israel to follow lastly he told his disciples follow me and the early church builders paul and Peter .. called it the sabbath and worshiped ..

  22. Repent everyone of you and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you, your children and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call!

  23. The teaching that hell is a punishment without end is not biblical and is a doctrine of the devil that misrepresents the character of God. It stems from the pagan belief that the soul is immortal and crept into the church after Romans largely converted to Christianity. This is also the time when idol worship crept into the church. If you consider the entire Bible and what it says about the wicked, they will be destroyed, to be no more. It's the effects of the fire that are eternal, meaning the destruction of the soul is final and there is no chance of ever being resurrected again, not the fire / torment that is eternal. Also the fire that can't be quenched means that you will not be able to stop it from destroying the soul not that the fire will never go out. Once all the wicked are destroyed, burned up, turned to ash, the fire will go out and earth will be made new and sin will never rise again. The God I worship destroys the wicked, takes no pleasure in it and will not punshing them in fire without end.

  24. Forgiveness! It has been very hard for me to Forgive all the Men who have used their selected bible verses to control and condemn me! But I am doing it. I Forgive Proud men like this one..who spouts all his own BS.

  25. 1 Timothy 4:9-11 KJVS
    [9] This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. [10] For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. [11] These things command and teach.
    There is no eternal hell in the scriptures. If the following is true.
    Ephesians 2:8-10 KJVS
    [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
    Romans 9:15-16 KJVS
    [15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    Then one should point out that if God can save some, then He can and will save all. Fear of eternal hell has enriched the collection baskets on Sundays for many centuries. The contradiction between declaring God to be almighty on the one hand and then implying man’s free will can thwart the will of God defies logic.
    Romans 9:18-24 KJVS
    [18] Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. [19] Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? [20] Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? [21] Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [22] What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: [23] And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, [24] Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
    Eternal hell is just one of many wind of doctrine Paul warned of.
    Ephesians 4:14-15 KJVS
    [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

  26. Hell might be difficult to accept but the fact that God Himself died for us is one that even Christians shy away from. They have no problems saying Christ is God, but then they somehow divide Christ and God when it comes to the death of God on the cross.

  27. The hardest for people seems to be the doctrine of the church…'Christ and the church'. Believers seem to forget about faithfulness, as His 'bride' is holy and faithful, unlike the 'woman' and unfaithful Harlot on the Beast. Apostle Paul writes, 'for I have espoused you (plural) to One HUSBAND, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to CHRIST' (2Cor.11:2) and His church must 'be holy and without blame before Him in love' (Eph.1:4). Where is real truth these days, emphasizing to 'give honor to HIM: for the marriage of the LAMB is come, and His wife hath made herself ready' (Rev.19:17)?? Harlot hearts want to have 'fun' and hear that not every thing is sin! But Paul writes, 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin'! Where's the wiggle room in this black-n-white Scripture?!
    RCSproul was right, God is 'glorious in His holiness'!!!!! And He means to make us 'partakers of His holiness' (Heb.12:10).
    Thus, spiritual adultery is a hard saying for people in church, which think nothing of re-marriage, and when lusting after any woman/idol/image of riches, or worldly ambition, 'in your heart', has already committed adultery with IT 'in your heart'…why don't Christians lust after the 'more excellent Way', of learning koine Greek and masoretic Hebrew, or learn of Christ, our 'meek and lowly in heart' Lord and Saviour? It seems like most people prefer games than reality…sad to say

    Ignorance (Eph.4:18) is no excuse for not knowing the law, which we 'establish by faith' (Rom.3:31), so that our hearts may 'be established with grace' (Heb.13:9) by which we are saved (Eph.2:8) when we 'receive with meekness the Engrafted WORD, able to save our souls' (Ja.1:21, Ps.149:4).

    May I put it this way, if we receive NOT 'the love of the truth, that we might be saved', God will 'send us strong delusion, that we should believe a lie' and be DAMNED (2Thes.2:10-12, 13).

  28. Problem is…..the Doctrine of Hell is just a progressively advanced fictitious and morphed idea. I am not a Christian but well versed in the Bible. Where does Jesus teach of an eternal damnation as the antithesis to life in his "Kingdom of God," There are only scant references in the Gospels where he refers to it. I know there is the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, and the rich man and Lazarus in Luke, but these seem to be later additions to the Bible that were placed on "Jesus' Lips". When Jesus talks about the fate of those unworthy of his Kingdom, he refers to "Gehenna",  which is just small valley just outside of Jerusalem where trash and dead bodies were burnt. 

    Paul himself also appears to subscribe to the idea that the fate of the righteous after death would be on Earth (not some fiery inferno). He considered Jesus' supposed rising from the dead to be the start of a general resurrection and "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" Just read 1 Corinthians 15:20. To make matters worse only about half of Paul's epistles are authentic and the rest are written updating of his views regarding the afterlife. For instance 2 Thessalonians, has him refer to eternal castigation for sinners – we almost know for certain this was a forgery.

  29. Hell in Greek is Hades which is simply the grave or pit. After the judgment all those lost are simply destroyed forever in the eternal grave never to be remembered by God or family or friends as if they never existed.
    Only the born again righteous live forever, not the wicked.
    The catholics false teaching yet again.
    Revelation is a book of apocalyptic language, it's not meant to be literal just like the beast with 7 heads is not literal. And this guy was a bible scholar?