Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What do you say to questions about hell?

As an evangelist, I am often talking to people about Jesus. Yesterday, I sat with a man who was confused about the purpose of 'the mass' (he is not yet a Christian but his brother is a Catholic priest and academic and is always on about the mass). As we talked, I asked him a simple question that rather took him aback.

"Do you love Jesus?"

That is the question.

It drives everything else. It is my one crucial pastoral question.

He accepted that this was the crucial restorative question.

Does he love Jesus?

The answer for him and for you is 'Yes' or 'No'

We then discussed Peter in John 21.

I then told him we know his love through the cross and the sacrifice of himself for OUR sins taken upon himself. We are justified by faith in that once for all event.

This love is received by the Spirit who we receive by grace.

It was such a good time over a cup of tea.

Do you love Jesus is the question.

This has never been a more important question than over the whole question of hell that is abuzz across the internet due to Rob Bell's book (if you missed the hooha here is the chronology).

I like to be before the curve and was pleased to remember I dealt with this question in 'Why are there so few evangelist's?' only recently but it is worth a revisit.

Apologetics 101 must equip the believer to answer the question

"How can a loving God send people to hell?"

How would you get on with that if you were asked it today?

I cannot commend my friend's book And the lamb wins highly enough on this question. His chapter 'Heaven or Hell' is the most thorough and accessible theologically robust working of this I know.

'But we must trust that he who is absolute love and absolute justice, revealed in the nightmare of Golgotha, is doing what is most loving and most right. Ultimately, I must not put God before my human bar of judgement, questioning his actions-I must make sure I am right before his bar of judgement.'

[Page 267, And the lamb wins]

To be honest, what a celebrity Christian pastor and all his trendy followers thinks about hell is by and by. What matters is what Jesus thinks and what the Scriptures say. I would be grateful if someone the other side of the water in the States would review 'And the lamb wins' for surely Simon wrote it for such a time as this. His chapter called 'Signs of the End Times' is also worth reading too in light of recent events. If you know Challies, De Young, McKnight, Mohler, Steve McCoy, Mark Galli, Buzzard or Trevin Wax then why not forward this post and I hope one or more might grace Simon with a review.

I personally found this post  'To Hell with Hell' a very helpful read and you may like to take some time to read it.

So back to my question

"Do you love Jesus?"

It' all about Jesus. To love Jesus is to tell of the cross and tell of salvation and tell of his amazing grace and goodness and yes, amid all that when the question comes, to tell of the peril of Hell.  If Hell be true then to not tell of its existence and of the need for repentance and belief in Jesus would surely show the most terrible terrible  lack of love.

So why not today tell someone about Jesus.

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