Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let us not forget that we stand at the edge of eternity. Whenever God sovereignly chooses to end one's life, we must bear in mind that heaven (for some) and hell (for most) are closer than we may think.

I heard read this quote today and it gripped me. If you read it and it doesn't make you stop and think: read it over again--and again.
"Religion inflames the imaginations of men with a good opinion of their own
state, so that nothing can disturb them."

Let us not forget that many people who are religious will close their eyes in death and awake in the shrieks and torments of eternal hell. We must not minimize the reality of eternity--an eternity under the wrath of an infinite Being. Hear Jonathan Edwards speak regarding this subject:
"If it seemed real unto men that there is a hell of everlasting burnings,
that all that die impenitent and unconverted must immediately be cast
into as soon as they die, and never be delivered from, it would be impossible in nature and a self-contradiction that they should be easy
and merry, and that they should go cheerfully about their worldly business and
recreations while they are in an impenitent and unconverted condition--as
impossible as it is for a man to love pain and delight in being miserable"

Edwards is dead on. If the world recognized that they walk along an old, ragged, moth-eaten cloth over the pit of hell, and yet it is the sheer mercy of God that, at any one moment, doesn't drop them through that garment into the eternal misery of hell, there is no way that people could rejoice in life because of the eternity that awaits them.

There is a problem, however. And that problem is that people don't believe this truth. Either they don't know it or, most probably, they refuse to believe this truth. For a believer who truly understands the glorious truth that he has been saved from sin, saved from God's wrath, and justified because of Jesus Christ's substitutionary death, then that concept will instill the fear of God him.

Yet, as it has been said, "If you are not afraid of hell, you are almost certainly going there" (Gerstner, Repent or Perish, 13). We as preachers must not shy away from preaching on the horrors and agonizing torments of this eternal place--even if it scares people. As Spurgeon said: "I'll scare people into the Kingdom if I have to."

Is it appropriate for a preacher to herald the horrors of hell? Some think so. Here is a proposed proposal that preachers should wrestle with:
1. The sinner is threatened with the horrible hell he so justly deserves
unless he accepts Christ's undeserved salvation.
2. But he hates the Christ who alone can save him.
3. That hatred can only be removed, and a believing heart bestowed in its
place, by sovereign divine mercy and the irresistible call of God the Holy
Spirit.
4. So the sinner must seek God's mercy, which will come, if God pleases,
only by divine regeneration.


Therefore, the effect of biblical scare preaching is, therefore, to set a sinner to seeking salvation. In a word, scare preaching is to produce: not salvation, but the seeking of salvation.

1 comments:

Dad said...

Geoff,

Your post is an important one. Overall, preachers today rarely even mention hell, much less describe what the Bible says about hell.

Now if every message preached was centered on hell, that would be a problem. But people must believe that their sins are so great before God that they only deserve hell, and that the penalty for their sin is so monumental that only God could pay that penalty in their place.

If anything, preachers have defaulted to some "Jesus came to make your life easier and better" type message. And, the result is that hell has been virtually ignored. That is wrong.

I was personally convicted of my sin and need for salvation because of a tract that described the Great White Throne Judgement. Hell was clearly described. God certainly used that message in my life to turn me to Himself.

Despite those who seem to ignore hell in their preaching, I really don't think it is "scare" preaching to simply, boldly preach what the Bible says, and the Bible says a lot about hell, and so should we.

Keep up the good work son!

Love,

Dad

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