Unless referring to hell in a joking and/or derogatory manner, people do not seem to be interested in talking about hell. Of course, I can hardly blame them. Hell is an uncomfortable topic of conversation, especially if the conversation is genuine and serious.
Hell is serious, though, and hell is a topic of conversation that should not be avoided. The Bible talks a lot about hell. Jesus talked a lot about hell. We need to talk about hell. Heaven seems to be a topic we do not mind discussing, but what about hell?
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will preach from Luke 16:19-31 about the difficult reality that “Hell Is Real.” The truth about hell should not only burden us about the importance of the gospel but also about the urgency of the gospel. Over the past few weeks, we have been challenging one another in our church with the question, “Who’s Your One?” When considering those we know and care about (and even those we do not know or care about), the truth of hell should motivate us to love and serve those around us. And, there is no greater way to love and serve others than to tell them how to have a right relationship with God and avoid eternity apart from Him in hell.
For the purpose of preparing for Sunday and, more importantly, for the purpose of self-examination, I want to share a few biblical truths about hell.
1. HELL IS DESERVED.
The Bible tells us, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:11-12). Rather, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And, the punishment for that sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23), meaning eternal damnation in hell, apart from the love and fellowship of God and His followers.
No one in his right mind says he wants to go to hell. All of us, though, deserve hell. All of us. No exceptions because we are all sinners who have disobeyed our holy God.
2. HELL WILL BE CROWDED.
Jesus warned, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Hell will be crowded because the way to hell is broad and easy. The way to eternal life is difficult because it involves humility and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. If hell is deserved because of sin, hell will be crowded because of a refusal to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation.
Ironically (or maybe not), I also plan to start a new 6-week class on Sunday morning called “Membership Matters.” Sadly, the same thing that keeps many people from joining a church is what is leading them to hell – pride. When one pridefully chooses to disobey the Word of God, no matter the reason, he stands condemned, and there is no way a follower of Jesus can obey the clear teachings of the New Testament apart from faithful, active involvement in a local church. Church membership matters, and a refusal to join and serve in a local church is ignorance at best and sinful pride at worst.
Please realize, I am not saying church membership protects anyone from hell. There are plenty of church members from all denominations and from all generations who will likely spend eternity in hell because the church does not save us from sin and death. Church membership does not save us from sin and death. Church service does not save us from sin and death. Church giving does not save us from sin and death.
But, can someone who has been saved from sin and death not desire to belong to a local church? Can someone who has truly repented of his sins and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ willfully disobey the clear teachings on faithful church membership (i.e Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 5 and 12; Galatians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 2:17)? Being a faithful follower of Jesus is not possible apart from being faithful to your local church. There is much more that can and should be said about this, so I will save that for the class or for a conversation with you if you want to discuss this further. Please consider reading the above passages of Scripture, though, and ask yourself how any of those callings on our lives can be fulfilled apart from active local church membership (being a committed part of the “body”).
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15). Of course, that includes, but is not limited to, His commands about His church. Picking and choosing which commands to obey is equivalent to picking and choosing a false God. Jesus is Lord. His Word is our ultimate authority. Hell will be crowded because few have chosen and few will choose to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus before it is too late.
Hell is deserved, and hell will be crowded. This is terrible news, but thankfully, there is good news.
3. HELL CAN BE AVOIDED.
While we all deserve hell, God loves us so much that He made a way for us to avoid hell, not simply for the sake of avoiding hell but for the sake of being with Him. If you will simply turn away from your sins and ask Jesus to take over your life, trusting solely in His death and resurrection for your salvation, He will change your life now and give you life eternal. Hell can be avoided, and avoiding hell is only possible in and through Jesus Christ – the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
If you are struggling with whether or not you have truly been made right with God, would you consider reading 1 John? Examine your heart, and ask yourself what you believe and who you are trusting. Consider the longing of your heart and the passion of your life. God created you for Himself, and He calls us to turn to Him. Hell can be avoided, but more importantly, right standing with God can be received in and through His One and Only Son.
8 thoughts on “What about hell?”
Most of your post is legalism and not Biblical at all. Jesus saves–not an establishment, and not the brainwashing at those establishments.
Damon, you are correct in that Jesus saves and Jesus alone. That’s why I said in this post, “If you will simply turn away from your sins and ask Jesus to take over your life, trusting solely in His death and resurrection for your salvation, He will change your life now and give you life eternal. Hell can be avoided, and avoiding hell is only possible in and through Jesus Christ – the Son of God and the Savior of the world.”
My plea for obedience to God’s Word, including faithful involvement in His church, is because evidence of a saved soul is an obedient lifestyle. Just as God’s Word pleads with us to OBEY, we must plead with one another to OBEY. Not obedience FOR salvation but obedience as the FRUIT of salvation.
Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that, as I certainly do not want to distort the gospel, which is why I shared “The Story” (both linked in the article and linked at the bottom). The gospel ALONE is the message that saves us from our sins.
Still, you have a very poor understanding of the true essence and meaning of, “obedience”. I could elaborate, but that’s your choice (and your reader’s) to research. The fruits never listed, “attend church”. Although, Jesus did fall us to obedience by BEING HIS Church. Study Roman Catholicism: the true root of the church system.
More than 80% of the commands in the New Testament are plural (written to the BODY of believers). My point is that one cannot walk in true obedience to the Scriptures apart from active involvement with a local church. We need one another. Rather than studying Roman Catholicism, I would encourage the studying of the Bible and prayer for God’s help to understand, apply, and obey. We all need His help to honor Him and live according to His Word.
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Spoken like a true indoctrinated church member. I am a member of His Church. My local gathering may not look like yours, but I’m no different than you in His body. Thanks for you reply.
Not sure what your intention in your reply is, but I’m certainly not attacking you or your church, for I know neither. I’m simply trying to encourage people to read God’s Word and consider the importance of humble submission to Jesus as Lord. His church is an essential part of His plan.
As you say. Read Pagan Christianity? By Frank Viola. Try these links as well. I was once where you are. Goodbye.
Thanks for the dialogue. I’m getting ready to preach through Hebrews later this year (and into next year), and I believe those are some helpful things to consider from Hebrews 10. Right now (I’m still learning), I’m probably somewhere in the middle of where that author (Word of His Grace) and the more “popular” view is. I certainly believe the context of the passage has to do with enduring persecution and not forsaking Christ, but there is also a stronger corporate sense than I think that blog post implies.