You don’t hear a lot about hell in church—for obvious reasons. Long gone are the days when crowds would flock to sit under scathing sermons about fire and brimstone. Today’s genteel society doesn’t want to hear about the shocking horrors of hell, and the wrath God that will pour out on unrepentant sinners. And that’s tragic for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s tragic because it speaks to a lack of compassion on the part of pastors. As John MacArthur says in his sermon, “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3,”
It is a compassionate preacher who preaches on hell. It is a loving preacher, a sympathetic preacher who warns people of the horrors of eternal punishment. All of that is true because it was a sympathetic God who revealed hell, and a sympathetic Christ who was the primary preacher of hell.
The compassionate preacher knows that hell is a real place, and that countless souls will end up there, enduring eternal torment for their sins. And he can’t stand the thought of anyone facing an eternity of God’s wrath. All Christians ought to have that attitude—we ought to love unrepentant sinners enough to warn them of the horrors that await if they refuse to repent and believe.
There’s another reason it’s tragic that we don’t hear more about hell, and it flows out of the first one. Not only should we have compassion on the lost, but we must recognize that plenty of people who will spend eternity in hell had no idea they were headed there. They will be surprised to find themselves in hell.
While the world is full of unrepentant sinners, not many truly expect to go to hell. And aside from those cavalier few, much of the world is convinced they will be good enough to avoid God’s judgment, or that there won’t be any judgment to face beyond the grave. Even the church is home to plenty of self-deceived souls who will be shocked to face God’s wrath in hell.
That was the point of the story of the rich man and Lazarus—the parable Christ told in Luke 16:19-31. He served as an indictment of Israel’s religious elite, and as a warning to anyone who would look to their own self-righteousness for assurance.
In his weekly preaching ministry at Grace Community Church, John MacArthur took five weeks to work through this powerful, chilling passage of Scripture. The whole series is worth your time, but the message we’re highlighting today is particularly gripping. Focused on the central verses in the passage, this message vividly depicts what it would be like to awaken to the horrors of hell.
The memorable, illuminating nature of those vivid descriptions is why “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3” was recommended by a member of the Grace to You staff.
The Bible’s descriptions of hell—a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm does not die—were always obtuse to my mind. In this sermon, John clearly and powerfully explains those somewhat cryptic descriptions. For example, he says “The worm that never dies is the relentless, accusing conscience of the sinner, keeping up an unending and unmitigated and undiminished torment as it hammers the truth of the sinner’s guilt and wretchedness without ceasing.” That sobering description makes me cherish my salvation, hate the residing sin in my life, and urges me to be more committed to proclaim gospel truth to those without Christ, lest they find themselves in that horrible eternity. – Scott L.
To listen to “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3,” click here.
Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170331
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