Summary: Why do we need to talk about hell? The Bible talks about hell. Jesus taught about hell. And God’s justice demands that we talk about hell.
“THE HORROR OF HELL”
There were two churches in a small town whose buildings were located across the street from each other. One congregation was liberal and the other was conservative. The liberal congregation’s sign announced the sermon for Sunday: “There Ain’t No Hell.” The conservative congregation’s sign announced a sermon in response: “The Hell There Ain’t.”
Some preachers relish preaching about hell. I don’t. I find myself identifying with C.S. Lewis who said about the subject of hell, “There is no doctrine which I would willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words.”
I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. If the Bible only mentioned hell one time, I would believe it existed. But the Bible doesn’t just mention hell on one occasion. It talks about it at least fifty four times. I want to be faithful to my commitment to God and to you to declare the whole counsel of God.
Would it surprise you to discover the identity of the person in the Bible that spoke about hell more than anyone else? It’s not one of the Old Testament prophets. It’s not Peter or John or Paul. It’s Jesus Christ. He taught on hell twelve times in the gospels. And he described hell in literal and specific terms.
A Harris poll just a few years ago found that 69% of Americans believe in hell. Now, the opinions concerning what hell will be like were extremely diverse. But the amazing thing is that the poll showed that most people believe they will not go to hell. 98% believed they would go to heaven and only 2% reported that they believe they will go to hell. An even more recent poll by George Barna shows that only 1% of Americans believe they will go to hell.
The thing that bothers me the most is that many churches have quit teaching about hell. Many of their preachers and denominational leaders stopped believing in hell a long time ago.
Why do we need to talk about hell? The Bible talks about hell. Jesus taught about hell. And God’s justice demands that we talk about hell.
We love to hear good news. We love to hear that God is loving, gracious, merciful and forgiving. But what about the bad news?
In 1912, John Henry Jowett addressed the Yale convention. He said, “The very term ‘good news’ implies that there is such a thing as bad news, the very proclamation of salvation presupposes a state of being lost. Hell is the dark background on which the brilliant picture of the gospel is painted. But without the background you have no picture.”
The fact is that God is loving gracious, merciful and forgiving. But God is also just. And our sins demand a method of accountability and consequence through His Son Jesus Christ. The penalty for sin was paid on the cross.
The Bible teaches us in Rom. 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 6:23 also tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” Jesus made the payment for us. When we place our complete confidence in him and what he has done for us, we don’t have to face the penalty for our sin.
However, for those who refuse to place their confidence in Jesus, there is a method of consequence of accountability and consequence. It’s a guilty sentence to a place called hell. Dave Stone: “If there is no hell, then Calvary was a tragic mistake. For if there is no pending punishment, then there is no need for a pardon.”
The Bible tells us that a day of judgment is coming. Heb. 9:27 tells us that we are “destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
The Bible also tells us that those who have followed Jesus Christ will have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But those who have refused to follow Christ will have their sins recorded in ledger books that will be opened on the Day of Judgment.
Rev. 20:11-15 – 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.