For great is Thy mercy toward me: and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. Psalm 86:13
Anyone who watches most TV evangelists or listens to the majority of radio preachers is going to be hard pressed to recall a sermon which spoke at length about hell. Indeed, it is the rare media-minister who has not removed that four-letter-word from his preaching vocabulary. When asked to explain why, they offer a number of reasons. Here's just a few:
1. The preacher may not want to talk about hell because it makes his listeners feel bad.
2. The preacher may not want to talk about hell because it's easier to preach about how God is a "good" Guy and would never send anyone to a place like hell.
3. The preacher may not want to talk about hell because it sounds out of date, so Middle Ages.
4. A preacher may not want to talk about hell because it has a negative impact on attendance and the Sunday offerings.
Sadly, the result of this pastoral silence seems to have brought about apathy in regard to eternity. The common man seems to think if the minister and the church don't take hell seriously, I don't have to worry about it either or, if the preacher's not scared why should I be?
Rather than being thought of as a real place which needs to be avoided, hell has become part of the routine of many comedians. You may have heard them describe hell as the ultimate party place, populated with all the swinging sinners who will eternally indulge in all the transgressions that Scripture condemns. On the other hand, these same jokesters describe heaven as a place populated by souls who are incredibly boring and wouldn't know joy if it bit them on the ankle.
The end result is people foolishly agree when they hear baloney like, "Heaven and hell are shaped by what you make out of life." And they nod approvingly when someone says, "I believe heaven and hell are right here on earth."
In contrast to all this modern thinking and erroneous politically acceptable opinion, the Bible makes a number of very important points about hell:
POINT 1 - Hell is a real place. If you think hell is here on earth, brother, you ain't seen nothing yet.
POINT 2 - Hell is a real place, and you really don't want to go there. And ...
POINT 3 - hell is a real place, and if you don't want to go there you are going to need to have faith in the very real Savior: Jesus Christ, God's Son. It is He whose sacrifice has wiped out our transgressions and defeated death and devil. It is He who has opened the doors to heaven and extended the invitation for us to "Come and be saved."
Now you probably knew that already, didn't you? If so, good. But you want to keep those points handy just in case you run into someone who thinks hell is nothing more than heaven for the serious sinner.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, once I was destined to spend eternity in hell. Without my asking or deserving, You gave me the means of avoiding that punishment. Even more, the Holy Spirit has put saving faith into my heart, and now I'm saved by Your great grace. Give me the words to share that grace with others who think they can change hell with their jokes and jibes. In Jesus I ask this. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries