People often say Christians shouldn’t threaten unbelievers out of the road to hell…that it is wrong or unethical to preach hell to get them to accept Jesus as their only salvation. It isn’t just the unbelieving who say this. Many Believers think and say this too, with varying degrees of passion. Some are very passionate about it, and feel that it is only through preaching God’s love and grace that people will be saved and appreciate the goodness of God.
I have felt this way too. At times. However, in all honesty, you cannot preach the love of God without preaching the justice of God, and hell! Jesus didn’t go about preaching, “God loves you. Believe and you will go to Heaven.” He said “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15, Matt 4:17) And in other places, He taught them that if they would not repent, they would perish! (Luke 13:1-9).
Whatever gave us the impression that hell is not central to the message we preach, when God’s judgment of our sin is what made Jesus’ sacrifice ESSENTIAL for our salvation (John 3:16, Rom 6:23)? If our belief is that the existence and terror of hell is not a central doctrine in Christianity, it shows that we do not understand the Gospel (the GOOD NEWS that we have been SAVED from hell!). I believe, however, that emphasizing the love of God and His grace is important for us to have HOLY fear, and not torment (1 John 4:18). There is definitely a need for preaching hell. Not only to the unbelieving, but to Believers too.
Being conscious of hell is a very good thing. It is very wise indeed. The Bible tells us severally that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 1:7; Prov 9:10, Psa 111:10). It is right, good and holy for us to have the fear of God’s wrath: Jesus recommended it (Matt 10:28)! It saves us from a lot of stupidity and short-sighted reasoning.
There are so many things we wouldn’t do, if we were more hell-conscious, even if we know we are saved! And there are also many things we would begin to do when we are hell-conscious. First of all, we will not downplay the wickedness of sin and seek to justify the wicked (Isa 5:20-23). We will not give place to the Devil to entice our hearts (Eph 4:27, Prov 4:23). We will FLEE from sin and abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Cor 6:18, 1 Thes 5:22), because we know that hell is very real, and our enemy, the Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8).
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Cor 5:11).
We will definitely feel the need to preach the Gospel more when we are hell-conscious (2 Tim 4:2). We will be motivated to live a good life, being Christ’s witnesses and ministers through our lifestyle and habits, not simply to ABIDE in Him, but to show others the Way of Truth (Romans 12)! We will be less offended and more gracious, when we realise that “they know not what they do” and are in desperate need of wisdom, God’s mercy and deliverance (Jude 1:21-23).
We will be channels of God’s peace. We will pray more for others. We will fight against powers that seek to hide the Truth, to deceive and cause people to live in denial of their very perilous path towards hell! We will weep for the lost and be compassionate towards those suffering in this fallen world. We will have Christ’s passion, and be better Christians who boldly bear their crosses! And like Him, we will WARN the world of hell!
But if we are not yet Christian, the belief and understanding that there is a very real place regarded as hell, which is our destination if we deny the only Saviour of the world, would cause us to fall at His feet and beg for mercy! Such a revelation would cause us to repent, and forsake foolishness. If you really know that hell is real and understand its purpose, you will thank God for His warning and deliverance. You will not be offended by the person, who loved you so much that they overcame all the stigma of preaching the Gospel to ensure that you knew there was a choice you had to make before you die and your fate is sealed! You will love them for it, because it wasn’t simply that they saved you from hell, but they brought you a GIFT; a SALVATION that you dearly needed!
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:14-15).
Do you know how many times Jesus spoke of hell to His disciples? To the crowd who followed Him? Bill Weise’s book titled “Hell” cites forty-six verses where Jesus spoke about Hell in the New Testament. There are SIX alone where Jesus spoke of “weeping and gnashing of teeth!” (e.g Matt 24:51). The references to hell are far more than the amount of times He spoke of God’s love for the world and the lost. Even more than the times He spoke of His love for those who receive Him. Why? Because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom!
If they will not be transformed by the love of God, LET them be overcome by the fear of Him! If they are unwilling to fall upon the Rock of Christ and be broken, they ought to fear indeed, knowing that this Rock will fall upon them and they will be utterly crushed on the day His words judge them (Matt 21:44, John 12:48)! Don’t hinder them from repentance by painting them a false god that has no justice nor wrath for the wicked. Don’t let them be complacent in sin, nor live in denial of it. It is wickedness if you know the truth, and do not warn others in error (Eze 3:18-19, Eze 33:8-9)!
And when they are humbled and go to Him repentant, they will know how much they are loved, and will love Him in return! The Bible tells us that we love God BECAUSE He first loved us (1 John 4:19)! Loving Him is not something we are able to do until we come to the knowledge of His love for us…of the great depth of it! And then we can fulfill His command to love one another with the same passionate love He showed us on the Cross, and show ourselves to be true Believers (John 13:34-35, John 15:12). We will understand that it was because of the knowledge of our prior hellish destiny, which was ingrained in Christ’ mind, that He suffered on that Cross, and He stayed and bore our punishment and fulfilled the justice of God to redeem us (Mark 10:45). If there was no hell, Christ wouldn’t have died for you. Think about it!
Please, let no one deceive you. Hell is indeed real (Matt 25:30; 41). It is absolutely terrifying (Matt 13:42)! It is an eternal destiny for ALL who reject Jesus Christ’s atonement (John 3:18). It is the just reward of a just God to the wicked, which we all are by human nature (Rom 3:10). If we will not be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, by accepting His gracious sacrifice and empowerment (Rom 13:14, Gal 3:27), then we will stand alone before God one day (2 Cor 5:10), with only our filthy rags on us to show for all our imagined and supposed goodness (Isa 64:6, Psa 14:1-3).
“…as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:27-28).
You cannot pay the price for your redemption… You are not nearly good enough. Humble yourself now, and let Jesus redeem you. He has already forgiven you…but you only have until your last day to accept His forgiveness or accept your due reward! And no man knows that day nor the hour when his life shall be demanded of him.
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him…” (Isa 55:6-7).
“…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).
“Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb 3:15).
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