Thursday, March 29, 2007

Are We forgetting about Hell ?

No good Samaritan passed by in a modern day real life version of Jesus’ parable.
On May 24,2006 more than 40 climbers passed by 34 year old David Sharp as he lay dying . He had collapsed apparently from oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit of Mount Everest. Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary expressed shock that climbers would look the other way , so unwilling to give up their personal goal to summit the mountain, that they would not stop to save a man’s life.
“Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain,” Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview.

We may all be quick to agree with Hillary, and quicker still to indignantly declare that we would not have been able to live with ourselves if we had not stopped to help the dying man.

But before we speak too quickly, let us consider ……

Last night my husband and I watched ‘In Sight’ with host Paul Arthur. Paul was interviewing Bill Wiese who in 1998 had an out of body experience of hell. Bill was soft spoken and sincere…making his story very believable. He has written a book called “23 Minutes in Hell”.
If you are interested you may read a transcript of his testimony given at a conference in Kansas in 2001.

I realize that people’s experiences must be judged against scripture and scripture is the final authority …but hearing someone’s experience can have a powerful effect. In fact, hearing one such testimony - Dr. Eby’s experience of hell - was what broke through my unbelief in God in 1979. He was so convincingly sincere I could not believe that he had made it up and I knew that if hell was real, Satan was real and therefore God must also be real.

Hell is not a popular subject anymore. Not even from the pulpit; I don’t remember when I last heard a sermon on the topic of hell! Recent poles indicate that there is a major shift in accepted Christian doctrine toward believing that hell is not a ‘real’ place after all. But in the end it does not matter what we would prefer to believe, if God says it is real it is real – and He has the last word.

The fact that hell is the default destination of every man/woman who refuses to recognize that only in Jesus can anyone find salvation , has always been a powerful witness tool to reach the lost. No matter how atheistic the talk , there was a fear of hell in the soul of every sinner. Today more and more the shift is toward a universal redemption of all men, regardless of creed or religion. I have been to several funerals in recent years where the deceased person was not a believer and yet it was freely expressed that they were ‘in a better place.’

Even though you and I may still believe in a literal hell, we are -whether we recognize it or not - affected by the perceived majority thinking around us.
We tend to ‘go with the flow’, accept the popular teaching of the day and talk about the positive and not the negative. And as a result we are in danger or being just like the Everest climbers.
We encounter people every day who are on their way to an eternity in hell and we walk by without so much as a side ways glance . If we really, really believed people are going to be in eternal torment unless they turn to Jesus would we not be more diligent in warning them, more eager to find a way to bring them to salvation? Not all of us are evangelists… I definitely do not have that gifting….. but we can all from the life-spot where God has put us do more to win the lost . Sometimes someone I meet along my day catches my attention and I give what I can - a smile, a word or a silent prayer that God reach into their heart to save them. We never know how small a thing turns the soil of someone’s heart making it more receptive to the next ‘evangelist’ who crosses their path.
One person sows, another waters and yet another brings in the harvest… all are necessary .

We are nearing Easter - when we remember the sacrifice in death and the glorious resurrection of our Lord and saviour. If he had not come we would not have a choice - hell would be our eternal destiny !! I don’t think any of us really recognize how horrible hell really is.
We cannot fathom a place that is totally void of God. The air we breathe - food- sleep - rest - light - water - are all good things from God that we take for granted. None of them will be available in hell. Any thought of comfort , be it ever so small will be denied . Pain will not be localized in one part of the body, it will consume the whole. Fear, panic, horror, hate, rage, disgust – only the most painful and ugly emotions will be experienced. Stench, darkness, grotesque sights, the most vile-tasting flavors will assault the senses. Depression , hopelessness without relief will be unbearable -.except that they is no option but to bear it. Every memory of every moment on earth will never fade but continually add to the torment of regret.
Imagine your worst nightmare and magnify that to the extreme and perhaps you have the beginning of hell.

I don’t think I hate anyone, evil though they may be, enough to wish them to an eternal hell ! Yet how blasĂ© am I toward the people I meet and even the ones I love who are not believers?

I would much rather talk about heaven than hell… but Jesus talked about hell – and reminding ourselves of the consequences of sin and the destination of evil is a motivating exercise , not only to inspire us to have a greater burden for the lost, to be more diligent in living a personal godly life, but also to explode with gratitude to a merciful God who at great personal price saved us from an eternal place of torment.

This Easter season when you think of the pain and suffering that Jesus was willing to endure for you, so that you could be saved, ask yourself also “What price am I willing to pay to save a lost soul?”

3 comments:

Lovella said...

The last message I heard at church the minister said that if we REALLY believed what the Bible said and really believed why Christ had to die for us, we would not be so complacent about winning the lost souls, . . .that sure hit home.
You are right, we sure do like talking about Heaven a whole lot more.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Very good. i'll go back now and read the link. Just one word missed. I THINK its THINK at the dots. Happy writings. jaj

We are nearing Easter - when we remember the sacrifice in death and the glorious resurrection of our Lord and saviour. If he had not come we would not have a choice - hell would be our eternal destiny !! I don’t........ any of us really recognize how horrible hell really is.
We cannot fathom a place that is totally void of God. The air we

Julie said...

I think I added the missing word...
thank you!!