Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Is It Unloving to Tell People About Hell?

There is one teaching in Scripture that I sincerely wish did not exist. It would be so comforting if it wasn't in the Bible! But, oh, brothers and sisters in Christ, this very somber, uncomfortable teaching is in Scripture! Guess what? Jesus, Love Personified, talked about it more than almost any other subject! I truly wish that this teaching did not exist. Sadly, I see it all over the Bible. There is no way of evading it. It is heartbreaking to know that it is real and that many people will experience it!

I'm talking about the teaching about Hell.

Yes, I realize that it is unpopular, even in the Christian community, to broach the topic of Hell. If you are like me, you may have never heard your Pastor preach a sermon on this topic. It does not make for drawing crowds and most Pastors long to fill their church pews every Sunday. Is that not so? A number of books have been written by people who claim to have died (or almost died) and have been to Heaven. These books are almost always very popular with the public. And almost all of us, my brothers and sisters in Christ, would far rather talk about Heaven than to mention Hell. We fear that we will turn people off. After all, it is considered politically correct, by our culture, that a good, loving God would never send anyone to Hell. Now would He? But this topic is often neglected, even avoided, by many Pastors and by most in the pews. I understand this avoidance. So many of us have been turned off by "hellfire and brimstone" preaching of the past. "Turn or burn!" AS a child growing up, I have been approached by street preachers warning, "Repent or be damned by God!" Like most people, I tuned it all out. No, in most cases, God will not call us to walk up to people and challenge them, "Repent or else you will go to Hell." At least not at first.

We love to say how real Heaven is. Many people believe that all of us are automatically headed for Heaven. There is a belief system, called Universalism, which declares that everyone, no matter what he or she believes, is going to Heaven. How comforting a teaching this is! The only trouble is, the Bible does not teach this. Nor does Jesus, the compassionate, loving Second Person of the Trinity, teach this. Jesus, in fact, taught about a broad road to hell that most people are on" and that the "way to life is narrow and few find it." Even if people agree that Hell is real, they may rationalize it or soften its unsettling impact by subscribing to a teaching called Annihilation, which tells us that those who go to Hell simply stop existing. Ah, I can find little in Scripture that supports this teaching. Rather, the Bible and Jesus teach that those who dwell in Hell will suffer alone, fully conscious of this suffering, and will suffer forever. Hell will be more horrible than we can possibly imagine, just as Heaven will be more wonderful than we can conceive. But do you get why God created Hell?

God is eternally loving. Of that there is no doubt. But He is also eternally holy. He must punish sin and those who commit it. He can't tolerate any sin in HIs holy dwelling. He had to take action to make it possible to be with Him in Heaven. He loves us so much that, in Jesus, He came to Earth to live a perfect human life and to die in our place, so we would be with Him in Heaven instead of Hell. Now, the only thing that sends us to Hell is rejecting God's plan of forgiveness--Jesus as Savior and Lord. I would rather not blog about Hell, post about it, or mention it in conversation. I know that some people, in talking about despised criminals, tend to say this, "Let him or her rot in prison and then after death, let them rot in Hell!" In frustration or anger, we may order someone, "Go to Hell!" And some may even joke about Hell, saying, "I will be playing poker in Hell with my buddies." Reader, if we know what Hell is actually like and believe what the Bible teaches about it, we will never say those things or wish Hell even on our worst enemies. If we are serious about being Christlike, may I suggest that this includes warning people about Hell and how they can avoid it?

To learn more, visit 23 Minutes in Hell.
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