For year pastors have been skirting around hell with the express desire of not making people feel overly “uncomfortable” with their teaching. The interesting thing is that Jesus spoke about hell a lot. Hell is mentioned by Christ 15 times in the book of Matthew alone. So how, like Jesus, can one be a friend of sinners and also tell them the truth about hell?
Below are a few statistics about what Americans feel about hell today that I pulled from a blog post on resurgence.com:
Curiously, most Americans believe in hell according to the report, which said, “A Harris poll of our attitudes conducted a few years ago found that 94 percent of American adults believe in God, 89 percent in heaven and 73 percent in hell.”The reality that the majority of people believe in hell was somewhat surprising to me. Clearly the problem with this is that a lot of people who are facing hell do not realize what hell is and how it is one gets there.
But here’s the hook, nobody thinks they are going to hell because hell is for the other evil people like terrorists and relief pitchers who give up a lot of walks. The report said, “Fully three-quarters of survey participants felt pretty sure they will be going to heaven when they die, while just 2 percent expected they would wind up in hell.”
It is my opinion that people, even unchurched people, do not want a “soft sell” when it comes to the hard teachings of the Bible, and there is no question that the glory of heaven is far more attractive when contrasted with the reality of hell. In the same regard, like Christ, we must love people so deeply that our warnings about hell are not perceived as judgmentalism, but rather as the warning of a friend who wants desperately to see them saved from a life of sin leading to an eternity of death and suffering.