God has really been working on me about some things lately. There are things He wants you to hear, or at least wants me to say. He has been leaning on me pretty hard about it (and a few other things too – but I will take care of this here and now). An interesting twist to this is that he has laid on my heart to pray and fast during this time, the time I will be writing these things – over the course of this week.
So here we go.
There is a hell and it is real. It is not pleasant, it is dark and just as dark is the absence of light, hell is the absence of God. I suppose it is hard to imagine life without God, but death without God is far worse – and that is hell.
So how come we aren’t talking about it?
We teach our children about the ugliness and horror of prison to deter them from committing crimes.
We teach them about the struggles and pain of poverty to motivate them to be productive citizens (by doing well in school, going to college, etc.), thus avoiding not having “things.” (I have my own views on this but our society is so materialistic. I believe that Jesus will take care of His faithful. I mean, we still need to work, to contribute, to be productive, but, as for the extras, who needs all that stuff? Stuff won’t get you into heaven and it sure won’t save your soul)
But what are we teaching our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ even, about hell? I think it is usually something like, “There is a devil and if you don’t behave he is gonna get you. Boo!”
I see so many churches (and I have been to quite a few) that are pretty much only preaching the “good stuff.”
- · God is good.
- · He will help you and make your burdens easier to bear.
- · He will get you through your difficult times if you just trust in Him.
And, yes, it is all true.
There is more. Just looking at the feel good stuff is like tearing out a chapter from the book you are reading or covering a portion of a painting. You might get the gist of it, but you won’t see the whole picture. How in the world can you (or anyone) fully appreciate the pain, humiliation and torture that Jesus went through to die for us? And for what? What was He saving us from?
Well, it wasn’t a cartoon guy dressed in red with a pointy tail and pitchfork in hand. It wasn’t a few burning embers and a couple hundred degrees temperature. No, He was saving us from a being, something so horrible it is referred to as “the beast.” He was saving us from legions of demons that have but one purpose, to populate their kingdom named hell. He was saving us from an eternal death that is far greater than what He endured when He was beaten, tortured and hung on the cross to die a slow, painful, humiliating death. He was saving us from a lake of fire that is hotter and more agonizing than can ever be imagined.
He was saving us from hell.
Yes, I have run across a couple of pastors who have preached on hell and it has been awesome – but more people need to hear the message. More people need to know that when they receive salvation from Jesus just what they are receiving that salvation from – what they are being saved from.
The thing is, when we become aware of the realities of hell, it will dramatically alter our relationship with God.
- · Increase our faith
- · Cause us to draw closer to Him
- · Light a fire within us to help others avoid it and seek salvation in Jesus Christ
It will make us better Christians.
When we look hell in the face, see it for what it really is, see the desperation of the devil to populate his kingdom, we can see Jesus at our side. We can see Jesus on the cross dying to keep us out of there.
But if we don’t really know about it, the reality of it, then it is nothing more than a fairy tale used to scare children into behaving (and a place where some adults condemn others – they don’t really know what they are saying when they do that – at least I hope not).
It is OK to talk about how God will bless us if we follow Him. It is great to talk about how God will lead us through the desert places and the valleys and the storms. In fact, it is necessary. People need hope and encouragement and they need to know what God can and will do in their lives.
But that is just one portion of the bigger truth and until people understand what we are saved from when we choose to follow Jesus, what the enemy really is, what hell really is like, then we are missing the bigger picture.
The feel good stuff does need to be taught because we need to know the goodness of God and know that we should trust in Him, but it should also be emphasized that these aretemporary troubles in a temporary world, a brief life.
That is not to diminish or discount the things that happen to you in this life. We are human and human things affect us. Death, heartbreak, sickness, loss, all those things that cause suffering do affect us, but in reality the suffering and pain is temporary – because this world is temporary.
We need to stop looking at our feet (this world) and look ahead (heaven). When we have accepted that wondrous gift of salvation that everyone is promised if they only choose to follow Jesus (repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit) then the sun really will come out tomorrow and tomorrow really will be a brighter day.
When we look at the eternal, the struggles in this temporary existence aren’t quite as important, not as strong.
So, for the next few days we are going to talk about hell and how Jesus will save you from it.
Welcome to hell week.