I find it more than interesting that the one who speaks on hell the most in the Bible is the one who loves us the most.
Ever notice that?
It’s doubly interesting when you consider he’s the one who knew the most of its reality. He’s also the one who would experience the full brunt of it for the sake of his people.
Now, are we to accuse Jesus of being audacious? Of course not.
What we must see is that it is not unloving or proud to speak of the reality of hell–even for people who only committed ‘minor’ sins (see here), or those who ‘have never heard of the real God’ (see here)–if we are truly speaking about it for the same reasons that Christ speaks of them.
What are those reasons?
- A knowledge of the reality of hell. Christ spoke about hell as one with authority because he knew it was a real place, where real people remain under the real wrath of a real God.
- A desire for people to see their need of salvation. As Christ preached on hell it was with a view to having people avoid it. Preaching on hell must never be used to exalt oneself above others who we think are destined there.
- Love. This encompasses both of the above, but needs to be stated. Jesus didn’t end with hell, but having taught of its reality, offered a way of escape. He who taught of eternal condemnation for the rejection of an eternally holy God also taught of eternal reconciliation with that same holy God. He said ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Will preaching on hell bring bad feedback and negative reactions? I’m sure it always will. But if we’re careful to preach the reality of hell for the same reasons as Christ did, in the same way Christ did, offering the same hope that Christ did, we can never be charged with being unbiblical, judgmental, or audacious.
At least not correctly.