Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Are We Afraid of Hell?

Hermione Granger says, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (movie version), “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

I think there might be some truth to this. When was the last timehell you heard the word “hell” in a sermon in church? It is far more the exception rather than the rule that the word “hell” is even uttered in a Christian sermon these days.

Granted, it is mentioned in any church that publically recites the Apostles’ Creed: “He [Jesus] descended into hell.”

Even rarer would be a sermon about hell itself.

Why are we afraid of the topic of hell?

Just recently, a book has been published that argues that hell doesn’t really exist. Apparently this book argues that hell doesn’t exist because no human is actually going to hell because in the end “love wins.” I haven’t read the book, only reviews of the book, so I won’t comment any further on what this book says or does not say.

I will ask my question again, though. Why are we afraid of the topic of hell? It is a Biblical topic, after all.

“Hell” is mentioned 14 times in the English Standard Version of the Bible and “Hades,” often a synonym of “hell,” is mentioned 9 times.

We shouldn’t be afraid of talking about hell. What we should be afraid of is people going there.

The Bible teaches that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be condemned to an eternity in hell – completely apart from God.

But the good news is that Jesus Christ won us from death and hell by suffering the punishment of unbelief (which is sin) on our behalf on the cross.

Hell is real. It is a real, geographical (so to speak) place. People will go there. This is not God’s intention, however. Hell was originally designed to be the place that Satan, and the evil angels that follow him, would be kept for eternity. But since Satan deceived Adam and Eve and brought sin and death to the human race, some humans will also go there with Satan.

But this doesn’t have to be. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to all the world and by it (the Gospel), we are saved!

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