Hell is a real place. Currently, there are millions, if not billions, of people there burning in excruciating pain. They are real people. They lived on the same earth as us and now will be in hell for eternity.
This truth should make you squeamish. It should make you uncomfortable, and suppressing this truth is not only foolish, but it is harmful for your soul. Here are four reasons not to ignore hell, but to think about it often.
- It will make you humble
At the moment of salvation, we were all humble. The realization that we deserved hell because of our sin propelled us to trust in Christ. We admitted to our Creator that we deserved His wrath. We completely understand the fact that there is no one currently walking around Heaven who believes that they deserve to be there. We also equally understand that there is no one in Hell who doesn’t deserve to be there. For some reason, though, we continue to struggle with humility. The humility we displayed on the day that God regenerated us slowly dissipates, and we are back to struggling with pride on a daily basis. Hell is one of the means by which God works on our humility. Because Hell never goes away. Hell is a real place where people currently suffer. It would be foolish to turn a blind eye to it. There is a reason Jesus constantly warned about the reality of it and forced people to think about it. Hell is the opportunity for you and I to break our pride and realize that if it weren’t for the grace and mercy of God we would be there as we speak, fully deserving the pain and suffering that hell brings.
- It will aide your sanctification
You can’t lose your salvation, that is quite obvious throughout Scripture, and yet we are told to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). And though it might make us uncomfortable, the Bible uses hell as a motivation for increased sanctification. We are called to test ourselves and to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5) for the purpose of growing in our faith and our love for Christ. Of course, hell can’t be our only motivation for sanctification, one would be lopsided if that’s all that one ever thought about, but it is a necessary component of the Christian walk. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus used hell as a motivation to avoid hating your brother (Matt. 5:22) and lusting (Matt. 5:30. Obviously, Jesus was after the heart of His hearers, and wanted to point out the fact that it is truly impossible to make it to Heaven, since perfection is the requirement, but He made the point using hell.
The greatest way that hell aides in our sanctification is that we realize that sin must be really bad if just one sin makes us guilty of eternal wrath. Suddenly, sin become less desirable when we realize that each sin is so serious. Each time we want to give into sin, though we are forgiven, we are reminded that Jesus died for each sin, and that each sin is so evil and harmful that the consequence we deserve is eternal pain and suffering.
- It will help you with thankfulness
There’s just something about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. I used to go to the hospital once a month to evangelize, and it was pretty tough to complain for a couple days after that. Homeless men and women, full of diseases, one man, in particular, without the top part of his mouth and nose, with just a hole in the middle of his face, and missing an arm comes to mind. It’s interesting how thankful you instantly become.
It is even tougher to complain when you realize that you deserve hell. The minute we complain, we are actually saying, “I don’t deserve what is happening to me,” and, in light of God’s absolute Sovereignty over all things, what we are actually screaming out is, “God you’re being mean to me. I deserve better than this!” But the reality is the contrary. We don’t deserve blessings. We don’t deserve our next breath. We deserve swift punishment for sinning against a holy and just God.
- It will boost your evangelism
It’s tough to be sitting next to someone on a plane, thinking about hell and not sharing the Gospel with the person who, chances are, is going there. Paul, perhaps the most evangelistic man who’s ever lived, constantly thought about hell, pleaded with people over tears to repents (Acts 20:31) and even wished himself accursed if he could switch places with his fellow Jews (Rom. 9:3). The thought of hell should propel us towards greater evangelism for the simple reason that we know how bad it will be and we don’t want our loved ones to go there. But it goes beyond our loved ones; suddenly, the people who live near us, work beside us, and the people dining at our restaurant and shopping at our mall are one heartbeat away from being cast into hell for eternity. Hell is a constant reason to leave our comfort and share the good news.
Recently I heard of a man who confessed to a group that he purposely avoids sharing the Gospel and talking about hell over the fear of losing the relationship. I wonder if it has ever dawned on him how much Hell itself will devastate the relationship. Sure, talking about hell might make you lose a friendship that will last a few years on earth, but avoiding the conversation altogether guarantees the fact that your “friend” will spend eternity apart from you in hell.
Hell is not fun to think about let alone talk about, but it’s as real as anything in this world. Ignoring it may make us feel better, temporarily, but it will only be harmful to us, our sanctification, and to those God has sovereignly placed around us. Though it is a tough pill to swallow, the Bible seems to be convinced that we will be better off by believing in and thinking often about the reality of Hell.
Source: Jordan Standridge | Cripplegate