It is undeniable that the most frightening teaching in the Bible is the existence of a place of torment for all people who are not under grace. This place is one that is known as an eternal torment for those who are damned by God. This place is called Hell. The subject of Hell is the most controversial subject concerning the Christian faith to the outsiders, and sadly it may even be controversial to the ones who call themselves believers. A lot of the time it is due to the fact that it is viewed as ethically unsound, inhumane, and unloving to allow a place like Hell to be in existence.
Hell, despite the controversy and the denial of the majority of humanity, is indeed a real place. God does send sinners to Hell, and God’s wrath is poured out on those who rebel against Him. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Free will carried many souls to Hell, but never to Heaven.” We are on a path to Hell as children of wrath, a name given to humankind by Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2. Hell is mentioned in the Bible, and the person who spoke of it most often was Jesus Himself. Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven, and made it very clear that the children of evil would be “thrown into the fiery furnace, in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50 ESV)
Many critics of Hell, such as Rob Bell, believe that Hell is an unbiblical, unjust, and an ungodly way for judgement to be carried out. The idea that is prevalent in Bell’s books, The Shack, and other universalist themed teachings is that God is too loving to send people to Hell. However, it is clear in the Scriptures that God isn’t just love, but holy. There is a promise in the Word of God that He carries out His plan of justice, and separates the sinners from the ones who have been made righteous. John the Baptist taught his disciples in Luke 3:16-17 (ESV) about what God does with sinners saying, “‘I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.'”
There is a Hell. It is a reality we must come to face. It is an inescapable truth that shouldn’t be forgotten, but for the sake of a hyper-sensitive culture we have become susceptible to the ignorance of Hell. I myself have tried to leave out Hell many times when evangelizing, and sometimes even when discipling people to Christ. However, we cannot simply ignore the fact that there are sinners who are dying without Christ under our watch. These sinners are not the ones who Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. These sinners who die without accepting the gospel go to Hell. John Piper put it excellently when he said, “If your preaching, or your life, doesn’t reveal that you believe in Hell, then you are not preaching Christ correctly.”
The strange thing is that all of humanity wants to believe that Hell doesn’t exist. In John Lennon’s song Imagine (a song I deeply abhor), Lennon conveyed his message very simply: “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try; no hell below us, above us only sky; imagine all the people living for today.” Another song (this one used to be one of my favorites) was written by a group called Simon and Garfunkel called Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall, in which these lyrics are sung: “So I’ll continue to continue to pretend my life will never end, and flowers never bend with the rainfall.” These songs represent the tendency that man has to rebel against God, and the idea of Hell. We would rather live in ignorance and imagination than to accept the existence of Hell and Heaven and the urgency to repent.
Sadly, that ignorance has indeed dwelled in the minds of many who call themselves Christians. We can’t ignore it, even if there is a case for ignoring it. The Bible is clear there is a hell, that there will be damned sinners there, and that the fire will be unquenchable. To ignore Hell is to ignore Heaven. Heaven and Hell are both eternal places that were always in existence in history, and if we ignore either of these places then we are not truly understanding the glory of God. Hell exists to carry out God’s majestic, holy, and righteous judgement over those who are against Him. He wouldn’t be the Judge of the universe if He would allow rebellion under His rule.
We should live in such a way that others would recognize the existence of Hell, the torment that people will endure there, and the need to use the theme of Hell in evangelistic efforts through the godliness that we display. People should think of Christians as people who want to rescue others from Hell and those who would preach for the sake of keeping ourselves away from the path of destruction. Hell shouldn’t be ignored in our speech, talk, and behavior. If we claim to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, then Christians should be bold on the subject of Hell.
There are sinners who die everyday and go to Hell, and it is on us. God holds us responsible for that. Church goers struggle with the temptations from the devil and his minions, and they are being pulled on by the ropes of the Hell guards. If we are going to be silent on the issue of Hell, then the devil is going to win over our mouths and continue to push us to ignore other doctrines. Hell is difficult to grasp, and it is most definitely horrifying; I agree with that. Nevertheless, the horrific nature of Hell and God’s terrifying wrath should be a reason for us to live in such a way that everyone who looks and listens to us will know that we believe in Hell. Jesus doesn’t need us to waste time. There are souls at stake, souls that are close to destruction, and souls that we have failed to save because we were too afraid to rescue them. May God strengthen us so that we may not be afraid to speak of Hell to the believer and the unbeliever.
Soli Deo Gloria.