Love and Hell

What does speaking of hell have to do with love?

Love commands that the church warn people about their eternity.  Yet the church struggles to do so. On the one hand, too many churches do not want to offend those in attendance. So they endanger souls by failing to teach and warn properly about sin, the final judgment, and hell. On the other hand, I know of presentations of hell that are too much like monster movies. They employ outlandish means to try to “scare the hell” out of people. Neither is a loving approach. What is needed in matters of eternity is a clear, passionate explanation of what the Bible teaches and sober reflection upon one’s ultimate destination.

 

Hell is not mentioned much these days, except when used as a curse word. It is a topic that many consider outdated and a place that few believe actually exists. And in these days of hyper-tolerance, which quickly becomes intolerance when anyone sounds the least bit doctrinaire, speaking of hell is seen as a strange, brutish thing to do.

So why do it?

In a word, it’s all about love.

For you see, hell does exist. Mocking it, ignoring it, forgetting it – none of that changes its reality. Jesus Christ preached about it repeatedly, warning his listeners of its danger. He taught that it is a real location where those who do not live as the Bible commands will be punished consciously forever. Not to believe in hell is to distrust the very words of Christ. The Westminster Confession of Faith, speaking about the final judgment, uses Biblical language as it describes hell in this manner: “The wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”

So what does speaking of hell have to do with love?

If someone is about to step into front of a speeding car they did not see, and you yank them back to the safety of the sidewalk before it is too late, you have shown love to that individual.  For it is love to warn and protect people from dangers they might not see.  Spiritually speaking, many do not see hell and how their sin is putting them in danger of its torment.

Love commands that the church warn people about their eternity.  Yet the church struggles to do so. On the one hand, too many churches do not want to offend those in attendance. So they endanger souls by failing to teach and warn properly about sin, the final judgment, and hell. On the other hand, I know of presentations of hell that are too much like monster movies. They employ outlandish means to try to “scare the hell” out of people. Neither is a loving approach. What is needed in matters of eternity is a clear, passionate explanation of what the Bible teaches and sober reflection upon one’s ultimate destination.

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