I had a conversation with a fellow rebelutionary the other day in the comments of a previous post about Hell, and its significance in evangelism. Her comment was,
I think we also ought to be careful when talking about Satan and Hell. We don’t want people coming to Christ just because they don’t want to go to hell. That isn’t true conversion…that’s an escape route.
That’s a very good point, and she is absolutely right: we don’t want people coming to Christ just because they don’t want to go to Hell.
On the other hand, I’ve had a while to think about it and I came upon this striking thought- as we go further and further back in time and explore Christian thoughts on Hell, there’s an interesting trend. The farther back you go, Christians have a healthier and healthier respect for (fear of?) Hell.
That’s not to say that they were saved by their fear of Hell, they just knew that it was very real and that knowledge influenced their daily lives. Today, there is a blatant apathy or warm colloquial attitude about Hell. Phrases such as “Go to Hell,” “Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company” (Twain), and “What the Hell?” describe a generation that has absolutely no grasp on the true nature of Hell.
Satan isn’t Big Daddy down under
Many people have the notion that Satan rules Hell or that he inflicts torment upon those who go there. But this is a dangerous concept, because it is wrong. Consider: Satan committed an evil act and was cast out of heaven. If we sin, we go to Hell. Does not both receive the same treatment for sin against God? Satan will be tormented as much as every other sinner who ends there.
Hell isn’t a Block Party
Those who think they will have company in Hell are in a dangerous position. Yes, there is the devastating truth that many will be there. But that doesn’t mean that they will all be able to hold hands and suffer together. The suffering there will be unimaginable, and incomparable to anything on this earth.
There will be no body to suffer in, the suffering will happen directly to the soul. Those who reject the “Grace of God… [that] has Appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11) will not just unfortunately get to spend the weekend away from God; they will forever suffer in agony for ETERNITY. There will be no solace or comfort from others who suffer with them.
Hell is real. Hell is worse than any human tongue can begin to describe. Hell is not just a four letter word, it is serious business. We should use it with gravity even when we are using its correct meaning.
Where does Hell belong in evangelization? Fear of Hell doesn’t save, but it does get a human thinking about subjects that are very serious. Life is short, and in this snippet of time we decide to join God in his predestined will for us or we decide to forever depart from it.
So my rebelutionary friend is absolutely right. We do not want people coming to Christ because of their fear of Hell. But I think it is imperative that we have as firm a connection with the truth of eternal damnation as the apostles did. We should live with that truth on our minds, as it will give true purpose to our words and intensity to our evangelization.
In Christ AloneIn Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease!
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid:
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!