Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Hell

As a Gospel preacher, I find that one of the most uncomfortable parts of sharing Christ is telling people about hell. I'd really rather not do so, especially in the midst of a culture in which preaching about hell is considered not just unspeakably gauche, but also a big reason why evangelicals like me are regarded as intolerant, unloving bigots. Yet Jesus is certainly one of the most acerbic preachers on the topic I've ever seen. Here he is, in his own words, from Mark 9:43-48:
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where
“‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
If we're going to share Christ with people, we must do so as Jesus did, not merely inviting people into a life of following Christ, but also warning them out of hell. We must tell them not just the good news of Jesus sacrifice but also the "bad news" of God's holy eternal wrath against sin for which Jesus' death is the only acceptable propitiation.

I know that I am perhaps guilty of preaching to the choir on this, as this is a completely obvious truth to most of my readers. Yet I think it's a point worth making because I find even in my own heart both a deep love for non-Christians as well as a hesitancy to tell them about the full seriousness of their sinful condition. And I dare not let the latter dominate the former, lest I become an unfaithful Christ follower.

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