Truly, who actually thinks of hell today? Doesn’t it all seem to be about heaven and beautiful colors and warm feelings? When we hear of someone dying, generally, their family and friends tell us they are in heaven doing what they did on Earth – telling jokes, playing music, surfing, etc. Seldom does anyone ponder that the deceased might now be in hell. It would be too frightening.
It seems that the majority of people don’t even consider hell might be an option when they die. It is as if everyone ends up in heaven – well, except for Hitler or a few nasties like him.
We really don’t even hear a lot of preaching about hell nowadays. That seems to be so last century, something belonging to the fiery sermons of the circuit-riding preachers.
So, what is the answer? Is hell still around?
If we believe the Bible is true, hell surely does exist. It is a reality, and certainly, that reality should be terrifying to those who do not claim Jesus as their Lord.
The reason Christians believe in hell is because the Bible and Jesus tell us about it. The fire and brimstone weren’t made up by a good fiction writer. It is really there in hell.
Jesus once told the story of a man, “In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So, he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire.’” That is how hell is described by Jesus – everyone there will be fully aware of where they are, and they will know that they are burning in a non-consuming fire.
Our merciful God desires that none should perish, and He has given us a way to avoid hell and, even better, a way to be with Him in heaven. The Apostle John said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36.
Hell is real and indeed should be offensive to us, but then so too should the road to hell be offensive. What our eyes see, what our ears hear, and what our mouths say make a difference. We do not go to heaven by chance and neither do we go to hell by chance. I would not want to confront eternity in hell as it is described in the Bible and, thankfully, I will not have to because I have asked Jesus to be my Savior and I know He is my Redeemer.
I am certainly baffled by what our society now considers normal. There are situations where the most intimate of matters are discussed on TV, in books, at school, and work. If we are so open in our society to discuss these most intimate issues, I wonder why then do we as Christians feel hindered when speaking about hell?
Hell is the penalty for living our lives without regard to God or His Word. We choose where we spend eternity and certainly, no one in their right mind would choose hell if they really believed it existed, would they?
If we recall, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.
If many enter the gates to hell, and Jesus says they do, I certainly pray that more of us will speak up about hell if that is the answer to bringing more souls to eternal salvation.
Excitement fills me when I witness churches packed with young families. I know then that their children will have a foundation of faith. In my own case, I believe growing up in a church gave me that background of knowledge to consider when I was older and making decisions on my own – both good and bad. I would hear God’s voice and His corrections from Scriptures that I learned when I was young.
It isn’t just me either. When I read the many books written by the prisoners of war that were shot down, kept in captivity, and tortured daily during the Vietnam War, I was pleasantly surprised that so many of them mentioned how much those younger years in church kept their hope alive. They had memorized the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, various Scriptures, and songs, and those remembrances brought their faith to the forefront during their captivity and got them through that terrible time. They knew God was close by.
I can’t help thinking, though, about those who will never be introduced to Jesus. How can they avoid hell and join us in heaven if they have not heard?
We are told, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" Romans 10:13-15.
It is my job, and your job, and the preacher’s job, and the church’s job, to tell this and the following generations about Jesus and His saving grace.
There are so very many people among us who don’t know the story of the cross, of Jesus’ gift of redemption. We need to tell them, and we need to talk about the hard parts.
If we give our lives to Jesus and follow Him, we are saved from going to hell. It is that simple. I have chosen to be with Jesus, and I hope you will too. I’m looking forward to meeting you in heaven!
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.