by Gerald Elliott
"And do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
We don't like to admit it but what the persons around us think and say has a big influence in our own thinking. I have heard persons complain when preaching is hard and sin is condemned. These will say, "Teach the way Jesus did. Teach about love and concern for others." Jesus did teach about love and His instructions will lead us to show our concern for those in physical and spiritual need. Just as importantly, Jesus talked about hell. In fact, Jesus talked about hell more than all other teachers. He promised heaven to those who followed Him, but He also warned of hell to those who rejected him.
American society doesn't want a set standard that will judge morality and lifestyle. The people around us want to establish their own standard and live by their own rules with no fear of judgment from anyone, including Jesus. We are accustomed to hearing the words of Jesus used out of context and misquoted, "Judge not." We must understand that Jesus spoke of judgement more than anyone else and told us of rewards in heaven, but Jesus also taught of the reality of hell. Hell is not only real, but awaits those who are outside of Jesus and disobedient to His word. Listen to the words of Jesus.
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool, shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." (Matthew 5:22) "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29) "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:43,44)
In the parable of the talents, Jesus pronounced the slave who hid his talent guilty and deserving of hell. "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing & teeth." (Matthew 25:30). In that same chapter Jesus gives us a glimpse of judgment. Those who have not served Jesus by doing His will were separated to the left. "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
The existence of hell is just as much a reality in the preaching of Jesus as the existence of heaven. The reward of heaven for God's faithful is no more certain than the punishment of everlasting fire in hell for those who refuse to follow Jesus. Surveys tell us that more than half the population in the United States doesn't believe in the existence of hell. Some persons say that a loving God would not send His creation there. Just remember, we cannot build a box and put God in it. We must accept Him as He has revealed Himself.
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