Summary: Why did Jesus preach about Hell, and how can we be sure to avoid this terrible place?
OPENING: Looking over the rim of the volcano’s crater, the American tourist remarked, "Reminds one of Hell, doesn’t it?"
The guide threw up his hands and exclaimed, "These Americans, they’ve been everywhere."
APPLICATION: The tourist was noting that the volcano’s pit was not a comfortable place. And he was also declaring that this fiery pit reminded him of another place he would find uncomfortable: Hell.
I. The very concept of Hell makes people uncomfortable: they tend to ignore it, reject it, or mock it.
ILLUS: In 1990 (according to U.S. News & World Report 3/25/91)
78% believed in Heaven and believed they were going there
60% believed in Hell, but only 4% believed they were going there.
ILLUS: (ibid.) The Rev. Mary Kraus observed "My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell." Her parishioners, she says, are "upper middle class, well-educated critical thinkers" who view God as "compassionate and loving, not someone who’s going to push them into eternal damnation."
ILLUS: Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting (TBS,TNT,CNN) blasted the Christian faith at a speech to the National Press Club.
"Remember, heaven is going to be perfect. And I don’t really want to be there... Those of us that go to hell, which will be most of us in this room, most journalists are certainly going there... (Laughter). but, when we get there we’ll have a chance to make things better because hell is supposed to be a mess. And heaven is perfect. Who want to go to a place that is perfect? Boring, boring." (Laughter).
Also in late 1989, Turner told Dallas Morning News that "Christianity is a religion for losers." Christ died on the cross, but Mr. Turner said He shouldn’t have bothered. "I don’t want anybody dying for me. I’ve had a few drinks and a few girlfriends and if that’s gonna put me in hell, then so be it."
Hell makes people uncomfortable to the point of ignoring, rejecting or mocking its very existence.
II. Yet, Jesus in His teachings, painted a stark picture.
Those who are evil are thrown into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It will be a place of eternal judgment. A place of torment and thirst.
In summary: It will be a place without God... light... love (companionship, etc.), yet filled with agony.... loneliness... eternal regret.
That’s an uncomfortable concept for the world; for the religious or pagan; for you.. for me
III. And I’ll tell you secret: It even makes God uncomfortable.
It’s not natural: Matthew 25:41 tells us hell was "prepared for Satan and his angels" - not us
II Peter 3:9 tells us God doesn’t want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
We are created in His image, He loves us, - would you want to thrown someone you love into Hell???
AND God doesn’t even send people to hell:
Read John 3:16-21
Hell as a destination is a choice. Our choice, not God’s.
IV. Thus when Jesus preached about Hell:
It wasn’t because He wanted us to get "excited" about preaching it. Jesus preached about hell to religious types (Pharisees, followers).