Christ, Hell and Everything in Between
by Prodigal Daughter 12/23/2012 / Christian Apologetics
In my article Now What?, I received a thoughtful comment and a question pertaining to people receiving Christ to avoid hell. " Is it true Christianity?" "Are they truly saved?" Suffice it to say, that is my springboard for this article.
Personally, there should be no controversy regarding the issue of hell. Yes I understand that some people think differently of the subject and it is my hope that we, as believers will be able to bring to them the absolute truth as truth nowadays, is relative. Truth without sugar-coating it, nor deviating from the very source of it..God's word.
Allow me to point out some realities about hell, as I know it. I have never been there and as much as I want to attest to the existence of it graphically, I can only use what the bible says about it.
Hell is described as:
a place of torment. (Luke 16:28)
a lake of fire (Revelations 20:15)
a place full of worm that don't die (Mark 9:46-48; Isaiah 66:24)
a place of unquenchable fire. (Mark 9:46-48)
a place with burning sulfur or brimstone (Revelation 14:10)
What then is the purpose of Hell? Good question! If we were to ask people about hell and it's purpose, we wont be in shortage of answers. Some say it doesn't exist, even some would say it is the place we live in now. But then, is it right to use hell as a scary tactic or use it as the motivation for accepting Christ? And if so, is that true Christianity?
Hell is the consequence of rejecting God (Revelation 20:15
Psalm 9:17 ) and this is where it gets a little touchy because then people say If God is love and is compassionate, why would he send people to hell? Just because I don't believe in Jesus I will go to hell? That is so mean!
" Believe" in this context goes deeper than intellectual knowledge of who He is. Not believing means outright rejection. A total disconnect from the Author of Life and his great plan of salvation. Rejection means separation and rebellion. Rebellion is waving a fist at God saying I don't need you, I don't need your salvation. You died on the cross, good for you but I can manage and I will do as I please. Rebellion in God's book is sin. Not believing in hell won't make it go away, unfortunately.
We all know John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. So yes, God is a loving God but He is also righteous and just. He sacrificed His Son for us so we can live eternally.But it was a promise that came with a condition. In all its simplicity somehow people still manage to get lost in translation.
So going back to the question on whether accepting Christ to avoid hell is true Christianity or not, here's what I think:
1. While it is understandable for fear to be the motivation for believing, Christ's sacrifice should bring about conviction and repentance. After all, He did say "go and preach the gospel. Good news being His death, resurrection and salvation. He didn't say "go and preach about hell and scare the wits out of them, see if they wont believe in me."If that were so, Christianity would be another religion for just demographics.
More so, the bible didn't say the fear of hell is the beginning of wisdom, it is the fear of the Lord.
2. God respects our freedom to choose and won't force anything on us, however in freedom there is responsibility and accountability. Rebellion has its consequences. We just can't have our cake and eat it too, right?
3. Christianity is all about personal relationships. One may accept Christ to avoid hell, but God sees the heart and I can't. Enough said.
4. In sharing Christ, we should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. But do this with gentleness and respect. ( 1 Peter 3:15) It's like preparing lesson plans, the objectives are always positive, reinforces good behavior and there is always a call to action section.
We fear hell, but the holy fear of God is able to save us from it.