I don’t remember what train of thought led me to this destination, but I was thinking this morning about the fact that modern day Christians don’t like to talk about hell very much. It’s offensive. Yet the fear of and desire to avoid hell played a major part in my own salvation and that of many others I know. But without the love of God, I would have remained in that misery of fear: the fact that He did love me and did make a way that I could be cleansed and forgiven drew me. It is as Jude said in verses 22-23 of his letter: “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Some will respond more to a compassionate appeal; others will only be shaken from their complacency by fear of the fire.
I’ve heard it said that Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven. I haven’t counted up the verses to see if that is true, but it would only make sense that He would want to warn people about such an awful place. I think we do a disservice to our friends and loved ones when we avoid speaking of it. There is a little tract titled “Hell: Suppose It’s True After All?” (full text here) which poses just that question. It is too big an issue to take a chance on. Another, titled “What To Do To Go To Hell,” opens up to a blank interior, meaning we don’t have to do anything to go there: we are already on our way and need to do something to avoid it.
Salvation isn’t just a “fire escape” from hell: it is so much more. It is by faith entering into a relationship with God as a Father, a relinquishing of our rule over our own lives to acknowledge and yield to His rule, a turning from and cleansing of sin, a beginning of learning to know Him in all the facets of His being, in all the ways He illustrates His love and relationship with us (Shepherd, Light, etc.).
Too often I want to present only the positive: His love, His care, His provision. But there is something blocking access to Him in that way: Isaiah 59:1-2: says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Sin is a barrier, a roadblock. The ultimate end of sin and self-will is hell. It’s not going to be a good ol’ party time with the buddies. It is awful.
But the good news is that God doesn’t want us to go there any more than we want go there ourselves. I urge you, as lovingly and kindly, and yet as urgently as I can, to consider these truths:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. John 3:16-21, NKJV.
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