Evangelical Essentials

Raising Hell

Hell’s existence isn’t up for debate, so why aren’t we preaching about it?

Several years ago one of my British publishers produced a series of books under the theme "I believe." The books were variously called I Believe in Evangelism, I Believe in Preaching, I Believe in the Church and I Believe in Heaven. I asked the publisher why he didn't have a book called I Believe in Hell. His reply: People don't want to think about that; it's too horrifying.

Why is the subject of hell important? There are only two destinies of every human after we die. There is no middle ground. If you are saved (which means your hope of heaven is the blood of Christ), you will go to heaven when you die. If you are lost (which means you did not trust Jesus' death on the cross for your salvation), you will go to hell.

I wish it weren't so. If God left it up to me, I would save everybody. I'd let everyone into heaven. Mind you, God could have opted for this; He is God, after all, and can do anything He wants. But for reasons I do not understand, God created hell and has determined that all who do not affirm His Son's death on the cross will go there. In other words, hell is God's idea—not mine.

There are many doctrines in Scripture I don't understand. I could give a long list that includes the Trinity, why God created humankind knowing we would suffer, and why there is so much injustice in the world He created—which He does not (for some reason) stop. Does this make me stop preaching, all because I don't have these questions answered? No. An ambassador may not understand all he is defending. Likewise, as God's ambassador I don't always understand all I am called to preach. But I defend it because I believe in God's Word. This is why I believe in—and preach—hell.

Still, the question emerges: Does the Bible really teach that there is a heaven and a hell, and that only the saved go to heaven? For nearly 2,000 years the church thought this is what the Bible taught. But we have become too "enlightened" for this ancient belief. We reason that either God is too merciful to send people to hell or that hell does not exist. To back our brazen departure from Christian orthodoxy, we teach annihilation (that unbelievers will be obliterated) or universalism (that all will be saved). What was once either "liberal" theology or cultish teaching has now become virtually mainstream in contemporary Christianity.

A person without any theological or philosophical prejudice may not believe in hell but would certainly believe that the Bible teaches the possibility of two destinies: heaven or hell.

If there is no hell, there is no heaven. The two rise or fall together. You and I have no right whatever to believe people will go to heaven except by virtue of God's Word. The same Bible that teaches heaven also teaches hell.

I believe in heaven. I thank God I am going there. I can claim no merit in myself that I am going to heaven. It is by the sheer grace of God I am going to heaven. God did it all. I am not worthy of it. I will never understand why God saved me. But He did. It is equally true that all who want to go to heaven can. And all who want to avoid hell can. Jesus died for everybody. John 3:16 reminds us that "whoever believes in Him [Jesus] shall not perish."

The question is, do you believe it? Do you preach it?

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, including God Gives Second Chances. Visit his Web site at rtkendallministries.com.


Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.

    Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

    Jentezen Franklin urges ministry leaders to be strong and courageous in dealing with these issues ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders