Should We Mention Hell When Sharing Christ?

Should we forget about the "Hell and Brimstone" approach to evangelism? This 1-minute devotion shares what Scripture says.


Do you know what Jesus did so we can follow His example?

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

We 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
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These are a few examples of Christ's statements about Hell, but I encourage you to see What Jesus Said About Hell which offers full text of these and more: Matthew 5:29  Matthew 7:13  Matthew 10:28  Matthew 23:33 Luke 12:4-5  Luke 16:19-31. And if you've heard the ridiculous teaching about Jesus referring to a garbage dump, not Hell, see Hell is Not a Garbage Dump.


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Should we forget about the "Hell and Brimstone" approach to evangelism? This 1-minute devotion shares what Scripture says.

Should we forget about the "Hell and Brimstone" approach to evangelism? This 1-minute devotion shares what Scripture says.

 





7 comments:

  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

    Benjamin

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    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.

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    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 gotquestions.org 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."

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    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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  2. Hey Gail, so I don’t know if it is too late to comment but I’m glad you spoke on this subject. I’d appreciate your advice though on something... I have a Buddhist friend who, when she was younger, was severely abused by church and family. Understandably, there is extreme hurt, fear, and anger towards Christians and Christianity in general. A phrase that stuck with me and scared me to be honest was “I’d rather be free in hell than God’s slave” or something to that degree. She then proceeded to ask me some questions about how much to be quite honest I don’t know how to answer. Not because I didn’t know the scripture, but because I didn’t know how to explain it and I knew that because of so many layers upon layers of doubt and fear and anger and hurt and abuse that she wasn’t going to listen. How do I go about doing this, sharing with her the gospel? I mean, I listen to her side of the story and genuinely will have love for her as a friend...I don’t know, I guess just say a prayer for wisdom for me and that she would start truly healing in Christ.
    Thank you

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    1. Hi Beachfolky,
      This does sound like a difficult question and at the risk of sounding trite, I think that only the Holy Spirit can guide you.

      But when she is asking questions, you might tell her that all groups, including Buddhists have members who don't follow the teachings of their faith and who behave badly. But we cannot judge a faith by it's worst members or even by its best members. We should judge it by what it teaches. And the Bible never teaches us to be unkind of cruel toward others, even those with whom we disagree.

      I would focus on who Jesus is and what He teaches and ask her to give Him a chance.

      And you might also explain to her that hell is a place of eternal torture and she really won't be "free" there. And it will be too late to change her mind.

      In addition, people often open up when we share things in our own lives. For example, how Christ has comforted you or guided you or given you the power to forgive or love your enemies.

      I pray that God will give you the wisdom that you need!

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  3. hi Gail, i've been reading your bible notes for awhile. i appreciate your sound doctrines.yes, hell is for eternity if someone never becomes saved.

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