Is It Necessary to Mention Hell When Sharing the Gospel?

Why Hell is an Important Part of the Gospel

Jesus spoke about Hell and we should too...

Recently I read an article (written by a Christian) warning Christians not to discuss Hell because it annoys unbelievers and isn't a "necessary" part of the Gospel. 

I'm sure Hell can be overemphasized, but I think we're more apt to under-emphasize it because it doesn't fit our false image of an "unconditional" God

Why Hell is an Important Part of the GospelWe can debate the necessity of teaching about hell, but we'd only be sharing human opinions. Instead, let's study the only viewpoint that matters: Christ's. 

During His earthly ministry, Jesus boldly taught about Hell.* He obviously thinks we should have a healthy fear of eternal damnation.  

Popular opinion should never be our test for Truth (John 15:19) and these words of Christ should be a sobering warning:
"Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory." Luke 9:26
* Some of the Jesus quotes about Hell: Matthew 5:29  Matthew 7:13  Matthew 10:28  Matthew 23:33 Luke 12:4-5  Luke 16:19-31

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  1. Rather, the Messiah spoke about gehenna, not hell. The concept of eternal punishment for non-Christians is not Biblical, and certainly not something Jesus taught.

    But regardless, you are right in some ways. Jesus did warn about punishment for sin. That first passage, Matt. 5:29 is quite interesting in this regard. It seems Jesus clearly taught here that sinning sends people to gehenna and avoiding sin at all costs is the only way to enter into life instead.

    Does that sound like the gospel to you? If not then maybe the lack of "hell" in our preaching is actually undermining the gospel itself? Maybe we don't really understand what grace is? Maybe the church is not the "narrow way" that few find, but rather that same broad way that leads to destruction.

    So yes, let's talk more about gehenna and how if people don't stop sinning and follow God's Spirit, then they are indeed going to destruction and death, regardless about what their supposed beliefs are. Rom. 8:13


    1. Hi Benjamin,
      If we believe that Scripture is divinely inspired, then we believe all of it, not simply the words of Christ.

      And scripture speaks of eternal punishment:

      2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might...

      The word in the Greek: αἰώνιον means eternal or everlasting and it is translated as such in every English translation. This word also is found in Jude 1:7.

      Jude 1:7: Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

      In addition, Christ told the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 and verses 27-28 say: "“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’"

      The Greek words mean just what the English states "a place of torment." That doesn't sound like "the grave" where life simply ends.

      Nothing in Scripture contradicts itself, but there are many elements of our faith not mentioned specifically by Christ. That is why Christ said: John 16:13: "when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."

      All of Scripture is God-breathed, not simply the words of Christ. In fact, if we do not believe that all that men wrote in Scripture is divinely inspired truth, we cannot even trust the words of Christ because they were recorded by men.

      Let's not be afraid to talk about hell the way Scripture talks about it because God speaks in Scripture and if God thinks we need to be warned about a place of eternal torment, then we need to be warned of it.

    2. Benjamen,

      Even the use of the word Gehenna by Christ symbolizes a place of continual punishment:

      I think it is helpful to add this quote from in their article "What is Gehenna?"

      "The Gehenna Valley was thus a place of burning sewage, burning flesh, and garbage. Maggots and worms crawled through the waste, and the smoke smelled strong and sickening (Isaiah 30:33). It was a place utterly filthy, disgusting and repulsive to the nose and eyes. Gehenna presented such a vivid image that Christ used it as a symbolic depiction of hell: a place of eternal torment and constant uncleanness, where the fires never ceased burning and the worms never stopped crawling (Matthew 10:28; Mark 9:47–48).

      Because of Jesus’ symbolic use of Gehenna, the word gehenna is sometimes used as a synonym for hell. In fact, that’s how the Greek word is translated in Mark 9:47: “hell.” The occupants of the lake of fire/gehenna/hell are separated from God for all of eternity."

    3. Gail,

      Thanks for the kind reply and discussion :) The words and Scriptures you mention clearly imply a destruction that lasts forever (as in there is no return from it). The Bible does distinguish this from the grave, which is Sheol or Hades.

      According to the Bible, all people resurrect out of the grave and are judged according to their deeds. The righteous go to life in God's kingdom, and the wicked to eternal destruction.

      I would not deny that a just torment would be involved with that eternal destruction, of unspecified duration, but the idea that the torment itself would last forever does not seem necessarily implied and is just Catholic theology. God is just and the punishment will fit the crime. Those cast into gehenna will never return from it.

      So I agree that it's good to warn people that if they don't repent and become faithful disciples of the type of lifestyle that Jesus lead, they will be judged by their deeds and punished for them. But I don't think that eternal punishment and eternal torment are the same two concepts, nor that one implies the other.


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