What is your opinion of a church where the minister never preaches on hell? I belong to one such church and it seems to me that he is omitting part of the message. Jesus spoke of hell many times.
Another minister explained that they viewed hell as separation from God. That is one way to look at it, but Jesus spoke of hell as a literal place — just like heaven.
Although it is often treated as an abstract and unimportant topic of Systematic Theology, the truth is that a correct understanding of hell is essential to a clear understanding of the gospel. The good news of eternal life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is, in fact, great news — because it saves us from the reality that we are all sinners who deserve to spend eternity in hell.
So, for a church to truly preach the gospel — the message through which God changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, and through which Christ builds His church — it is important that “uncomfortable” truths aren’t glossed over.
Indeed, Jesus spoke and taught about hell as if it were a literal place (consider these examples from the first Gospel alone: Matthew 5:22, 29-30; 10:28, 18:9; 23:33). It is clear from these verses, and several more, that hell is an actual place of judgement, which is the destiny of those who rebel against the God of the Bible. As unpopular as it may be, the Bible is clear in teaching that hell awaits those who reject the Son of God.
As unpopular as it may be, the Bible is clear in teaching that hell awaits those who reject the Son of God
As the questioner mentioned, some people talk about hell as a state of being physically separated from God. While this seems to be plausible, the reality is that God is omnipresent and it is therefore impossible for anything or anyone to be separated from Him in the sense of existing away from His presence.
Instead, it is helpful to understand hell as a place in which God is present in His judgement and wrath, rather than in His benevolence. It is the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for eternity, where people will be away from God’s love and mercy and grace and lovingkindness.
This is a sobering thought. It shows us that God is not to be trifled with. It fills us with gratitude to Jesus for the punishment He endured on the cross to save us from an eternity of hell. And it drives us to take the gospel that Jesus Christ saves people from hell to those who are living Christ-less lives.
This means that a church in which hell is never preached is concerning, because it is not entirely faithful to the biblical gospel. A church which never mentions hell is in a precarious situation. Preachers and churches should treat hell with the seriousness it deserves. Because, ultimately, this will drive us to cherish the cross of Christ and delight in the eternal life that Christ secured for all those who believe in Him.
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