Erasing Hell in the Gospel
If your gospel message doesn't include a very real threat of hell for unbelief, you're not preaching biblically - your preaching has been culturally tainted. We blast Rob Bell for erasing hell, but our preaching echoes a hearty "amen" every Sunday that goes by in which we talk generically about "love" without talking about eternity. So many Christians talking about love and forgiveness as if we're entitled to it or God owes us. For the Christian, sin isn’t just forgiven…it was forgiven in a bloody, mangled mess on a Roman cross where Jesus bore our punishment and condemnation.
We throw the baby out with the bathwater because of previous church hurt and "hell, fire and brimstone preaching" that was less of an appeal and plea than it was a graceless statement of condemnation. I get why we do it. I do! But let's all confess together that we have baggage and it can lead us to swing the pendulum too far in the wrong direction.
Jesus in Matthew 13:
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth...
Paul in Acts 24:
24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed...
Let's quit making unbiblical statements about what Jesus would and wouldn't do, would and wouldn't say, etc. and admit that he (and Paul) talked about hell. And in doing so, they LOVED people really well by unfolding the full gospel message. God saves sinners...from hell. Jesus didn't just come to be a nice guy, to pet lambs, feed the poor and heal the sick. His miracles were for the express purpose of validating his message that he was the Messiah, the Savior. Mark 1:38 "And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
Jesus: That is why I came...
Let's let Jesus define what he came for. Not us.
God is so good. And so gracious. Christians should be the most gracious people on the planet. But preaching and speaking half the gospel is not loving, it's hurtful. It's actually NOT like Jesus. Coming to grips with this truth should cause many to deal with the biblical Jesus, and not the culturally contrived version of him that they've manufactured to be more palatable. You can't truly comprehend the grace of God - his unmerited favor - until you realize from what you've been rescued. Praise God!