Sometime ago 20 / 20 presented a special dealing with the subject of hell. The content was exemplary.
Viewing the documentary, I wondered why it is that more is not preached in the church concerning hell. Of course, the obvious explanation is that speakers would rather tickle ears than present biblical truth that unsettles.
However, if biblical preachers were honestly true to the divine account, there would be much preached concerning eternal damnation.
To begin with, Jesus spoke more of hell than heaven. The reason? He knew that mortals want some type of heaven. On the other hand, there is a resistance against an everlasting torture of disobedient souls, hence Jesus overbalanced the topic in His teaching.
Jesus said that there is an eternal dimension of unbelievable torment for those who consciously refuse God's saving grace. He did not apologize for His graphic descriptions. He, the divine incarnation, could not apologize or soft-pedal for what He taught is actual.
Therefore for those theological liberals who want to scissor out certain biblical passages for their comfortable convenience, that's not fair. To accept Jesus' statements on heaven one must do the same with hell. Mortal does not have the authority to pick and choose from divine writ. It's either all or none when believing the Bible.
I have often thought that if a damned soul could return to Earth, that one would scream across the planet, warning all souls to prepare for judgment. Since such is not the case, earthlings continue their unconcerned daily patterns as if all is well with eternity.
Every day, 100,000 humans leave this existence through the door of death. That means that a majority go to hell, per Jesus' teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated that broad is the road that leads to hell and most are on it. Narrow is the route that leads to heaven and few are traveling it.
So why is there not more of a warning about hell?
While in Northern Ireland recently, I saw sign after sign posted warning the populace of the judgment. One was lodged in the front yard of a very well-to-do farm. It read: "Prepare to Meet Your God." Others read "How Can We Escape If We Neglect Such Salvation?"
These were not flaky signs scrawled out in magic marker. They were professionally painted signs put along roadways, in households' front lawns and on sides of church buildings. There is no excuse for anyone in Northern Ireland not knowing the biblical warning.
There are those who say that hell is here on Earth. Not so. There surely are atrocities here that would make it appear as if hell has parked itself in our world. The massacres, for instance.
However, these are evidences of the spiritual damage wrought on this sphere due to the disobedience of our first parents. When they sinned, nature fell. Supernature fell. Therefore, we have swaths of hell-like scenarios; but the actual eternal hell is yet another dimension.
There are those who say a merciful deity would not permit any soul to enter the forever torture pit. True. God sends no one to hell. In fact, He became incarnate in order to die in our place on Calvary, thus settling justice in heaven for repentant mortals' sins.
Then how do souls get to hell? They go to hell by their own free will choices. God sends no one there. Souls send themselves there. By purposefully negating Christ's substitutionary sacrifice, going one's own self-centered way, one prepares for hell.
What about those who have never heard of Christ's sinless sacrifice on the cross? They have never heard of Christ-period.
Scripture states that if these souls live out in their consciences the moral right, they are accepted as righteous before Creator God. Not knowing the written law, they live out the righteous law of conscience.
Every mortal born is equipped with a conscience--knowing right from wrong. When a mortal gears his life by the right, he is accepted as saved before God. If he slips so as to sin, then repents sincerely of that sin, he is accepted as forgiven before God.
Therefore, there are the countless who have never been told of Christ's saving grace who have come upon His saving grace by living out righteousness via their conscience's obedience to the divine will.
Those who negate the righteous urgings of the conscience, accepting instead the choice to sin, turn God away, refusing his grace.
Missionaries have told that when coming upon isolated tribes who never heard of Christ, missionaries have witnessed tribesmen who hear of Christ for the first time. Upon hearing the gospel, tribesmen tell missionaries that they have lived for this Christ but did not know His name.
In other words, Christ communicated with these tribesmen in their consciences. They accepted Him by conscience-decision and so lived for Him without knowing His name or the details of His sacrificial death.
J. Grant Swank Jr.