Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Preaching Myths In Modern Pulpits (Part 8)

Myth 8. Instead of using the word "hell" it is better to say “eternal separation from God”.

Have you ever heard preachers say “separation from God” as their way of describing hell? Saying this can be harmful to evangelism because it avoids Jesus’ warning to “flee the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7). But worse than that, it is simply not true. Hell is not separation from God because Jesus is Lord of all and this includes hell:

If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9-11)

These people are punished in Hell in the presence of the Lamb. Paul Washer recently said that Hell is the pure endless flaming wrath of God (see the video below). We should stop and tremble at that thought. Maybe you think I’m using scare tactics. Yes I am - guilty as charged. If you have a problem with scare tactics then you have a problem with Jesus. In both Matthew and Luke, He is on record as saying:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Almost all the doctrine on hell is built upon the words of Jesus, He spoke so much about it. It is meant to be scary – that’s the whole point. We should not be afraid to preach hell in the scariest possible terms. Because even that will be understating it anyway. John Piper says that people who argue that a lake of fire is only symbolic could be right. But if it is only a symbol, then the reality must be much worse:

Even if I try to make the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15) or the "fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. Jesus did not choose these pictures to tell us that hell is easier than burning. (p114 Brothers We Are Not Professionals)

We should also beware of these coming back from the dead testimonies where people say they went to hell and experienced it before coming back to life. I got sent one of these testimonies from a friend recently. These stories of Satan and demons running around in hell punishing people and having a good time is contrary to Scipture. Satan is not in charge of hell – God is. And God is going to punish Satan and all his demons in hell for all eternity.

Truth 8. God rules the entire universe and this includes hell. Hell is the pure endless flaming wrath of God.

Go On To Part 9
Go Back To Part 7
Go Back To Part 1


Wayne Dawg said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is the “separation from God” line.

Just preach what the Word hard is that?

D Chabira said...

Oh boy, I've always used 'eternal separation from God' interchangeably with 'hell' without a second thought that God is omnipresence and of His wrath apart from Jesus! Thanks!