Summary: Why did Jesus talk so much about hell? It's not a real popular topic even today and its hard to think it would have been then. What possible reason would Jesus have for stressing it during His ministry?
OPEN: There’s a small town in Michigan, about 60 miles west of Detroit. It’s a small community of about 80 people, and the name of this little town is (pause) Hell... Hell, Michigan. It always seems to make the news during the winter time, when newspapers joke about HELL FREEZING OVER. They apparently get quite few visitors, especially at the “Screams Ice Cream & Helloween" store. The store is filled with Halloween decorations and a “Creamatory” where you can buy … ice cream (Creamatory – Ice Cream – get it?) They also sell tickets to play putt-putt golf at a Hell-themed course out back of the store. For a fee, visitors can pay to be the mayor of Hell for a day, and you can even purchase your very own square inch of Hell and join the Hell Landowner’s Society. https://clevelandmagazine.com/things-to-do/travel/articles/for-a-spirited-halloween-get-away-go-to-hell-(michigan)
Now, they do this all for laughs, and I’m told that everyone who visits there has a great time. I get it and I understand what they’re doing… and it doesn’t really bother me. But as fun as a visit to Hell, Michigan might be, the real hell’s NOT going to be anything like that. They’re not going to be selling ice cream and trinkets and it’s not going to be a place to have a “great time” because nobody is gonna be laughing when the day of judgment comes. And a lot of people will go to the REAL hell for eternity.
Jesus described hell as a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41, 42). A place of torment (Luke 16:23) and everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46). A place of weeping (Matt. 8:12) and wailing (Matt. 13:42) and cries for mercy (Luke 16:24).
Someone noted that Hell is a scary place. It’s a place of darkness and weeping and the gnashing of teeth; a place of consuming worms and undying fire; and a place of “eternal fire”. The book of Revelation describes the lake of fire as being a place of fire and brimstone, smoke, torment, and unrest.
And the Bible contains a severe warning for sinners: “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
So, if your name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life… you have serious reason to be afraid hell.
As you can imagine… the topic of hell isn’t real popular.
ILLUS: A survey by Gallup - back in 2009 – found that 86% of Americans believed in Heaven, and most thought they were going to go there. But only 69% of those interviewed believed in Hell. And just one-half of 1% of Americans expected to go to Hell when they died.
Only ½ of 1%??? Apparently, hell is not real popular.
There’s an old church camp song called “Heaven Is A Wonderful Place (sing it with me) “Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace, I want to see my Savior’s face, Heaven is a wonderful place. (I want to go there).”
Then the 2nd verse goes “HELL is a horrible place, filled with sin and disgrace. Don’t wanna see that devil’s face, cause hell is a horrible place (Don’t wanna go there)."
Hell is a horrible place! You don’t want to go there! And, of course, THAT’S the whole reason that Jesus described Hell in such stark terms. You DON’T want to go there!!!!
But why did Jesus stress hell so much?
I stumbled across a comment about hell by prominent atheist named Richard Dawkins. Dawkins said “The Fear of Hell is a powerful motivator.” Now bear in mind – Dawkins is an atheist. He doesn’t believe in hell. What Dawkins DOES believe is that the church has used Hell to motivate people to become Christians. AND THE CHURCH HAS DONE THAT.
And Dawkins was right - Hell IS a powerful motivator… and it should be.
ILLUS: I read about a preacher who was talking with a woman who said that wanted to change her life. A few years later she wrote him a letter where she described the conversation they’d had. “I was afraid God would have to use a car accident or some other awful event to get my attention. And you pointed out that the consequences of my deliberate choice to continue sinning would be nothing short than hell itself. No one had ever before told me I was headed for hell.” Essentially the preacher had asked her “Do you mean, that the fear of hell isn’t enough of a motivation to change?” And that blunt statement shook her. Hell motivated her to turn her life around.
So yes, hell is a powerful motivator… that’s why Jesus used it.