Examine pulpits across the country and you will find that one of the most neglected subjects being preached on is hell. Some believe that preaching about hell is too negative and condemning. Others feel the subject is sort of primitive. They say, “That teaching may have been appealing at times in the past when people were not as educated and sophisticated. But surely by now in 2016 we have outgrown this kind of backward and childish thinking.” Still some make the argument that this idea of God condemning people to a terrible place like hell is just not compatible with the loving and merciful God that we can read about in the Bible (1 John 4:8). Folks who say this may believe in hell, but they certainly don’t believe anyone will end up there.
What do you believe about hell? Is what you currently believe about this place in harmony with what Jesus taught about it in the Bible?
The subject of hell was a critical part of Jesus’ teaching when He was here on this earth. In fact, the Lord preached more about this place than any other preacher in the Bible. He actually preached more about hell than He did about heaven!
What did Jesus teach about hell?
- Hell is a real place! Many may not want to talk about hell, but that doesn’t mean it does not exist. According to Jesus, hell is an actual place reserved for those who reject God’s will. One cannot reasonably believe in Jesus as the Son of God and refuse to believe in hell. The same Jesus who proved to be the Son of God by being raised from the dead, preached about the existence of hell (Romans 1:4; Matthew 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43-48).
- Hell is awful! It is a place of fire, darkness, and suffering (Matthew 13:42; 25:30; Luke 16:19-31; Romans 2:9). When the wicked die they are not annihilated like some claim. Instead, Jesus says they consciously experience utter agony and misery. He wants this information to cause us to fear going there (Luke 12:4-5).
- Hell’s fire is eternal (Matthew 18:8)! It is unquenchable (Mark 9:43-44). Just like the blessings of heaven last forever, so do the horrors of hell (Matthew 25:46). Those who end up there will never leave. This has to be the worst part about this place!
- We could end up in hell! While hell was originally prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), if we reject God and His word we will end up there with them. Hell is not a place just reserved for the “super-wicked”, like Adolf Hitler or Osama Bin Laden. Rather it is a place for all of those who reject the gospel, refuse to help others, squander their spiritual talents, and practice lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Matthew 25:30, 41-43; 7:21-23). Unfortunately, because they refuse to submit to God’s will, most are traveling on the spiritual road that leads to this place (Matthew 7:13-14).
- If we end up in hell, we are stuck with our choice! If we die outside of Christ, God is not going to let us go back to the earth and redo our lives. We are not going to be given a second chance to seek God’s forgiveness. This life is all we have! That means that if we choose to reject God’s will and stay on the broad path to destruction, we are stuck with that choice once we die (Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:46).
These are just a few of the facts that Jesus revealed about hell in His ministry. The question is: what are we going to do with them? Either we face the facts about this awful place now and do what God says to avoid it. Or, suffer the consequences on the Judgment Day!
Thank God that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). Because of His death on the cross, the penalty for our sins has been paid and we do not have to experience God’s judgment in hell (Romans 5:8-10). If we end up there, it won’t be because the Lord did not extend to us His love and grace. It will be because we did not humble ourselves and take the steps necessary to receive it (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16). Let’s submit fully to God and avoid a terrible existence in this eternal awful place that Jesus came to save us from.
- By Shawn Jeffries