Saturday night at Revolution I continued our series in the book of Jude and preached from Jude 5 – 23 on the topic of hell and the afterlife. If you missed it, you can listen here.
I’ll be honest, preaching on hell is not that much fun. While I was prepping last week, reading through what theologians have thought throughout history was quite overwhelming. Even though there are some authors today that would like everyone to believe that hell doesn’t exist or that Christians in the early church didn’t believe in hell, or that everyone will go to heaven, that just isn’t the case.
It seems that in our desire to not make people uncomfortable, I had a pastor tell me recently he’d never preach on hell because it would make people uncomfortable. Yet, hell is in the Bible. Death, the afterlife, heaven, hell, are all questions many in our culture wrestle with. Things they wonder about. In the midst of pain, death, sickness, they wonder. And scripture is clear on it.
Here are a few thoughts on how to handle preaching on the doctrine of hell:
- Do it. Don’t be afraid. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. No one likes to think about death or what happens after death, but they need to know what Scripture says about it.
- Do so with tears in your eyes. This quote came up in a book I read on the doctrine of hell, I believe it was credited to Martin Luther. When preaching on hell, it should bring you to tears. Hell is real. Forever is a long time. People, some we know and love, will spend eternity apart from God. This should drive us to weep.
- Don’t be prideful. Many seem to read about hell and immediately get prideful that they are heading to heaven. While Matthew 7 should be a sobering text on the reality that many are not sure where they will spend eternity. Whenever we read about heaven and hell in Scripture, it should produce a huge amount of humility, but God’s grace and mercy we can be rescued from hell and given heaven.
- Be clear. Don’t mince words, don’t be shy about it. Read what Scripture says, describe it. Be clear what it means to be separated from God. Be clear about what it means to be dead in your sin.
- Hell should drive you to mission. One of the things I love about Jude is that it ends in verse 23 with a call to mission. The reality of hell, the beauty of grace should drive us to mission, to tell the world about this beautiful thing called grace.
- It is all about Jesus. Jude ends with a beautiful description of Jesus, how he is the one who saves us, preserves us, and presentes us blameless. Our rescue from hell is only because of him, not us or anything we’ve done. We deserve hell, but are given grace.