Someone You Know Is Going to Hell

I guarantee that you know someone who is going to hell.
Do you ever think about that?
I guess I’m not done with this topic so if it freaks you out, you might try popping in sometime next week
but this week
we’re going to chat about hell.
(Sort of, my version of Shark Week.)
I believe there’s a place of eternal punishment
because if there wasn’t
than Jesus wouldn’t have had to die
to purchase our way into eternal life.
What hell is like, I don’t know, but I know that it means eternal separation from God
and God is love
so, you do the math.
It’s bad – forever.
And I believe the only way to eternal life with God is through Jesus.
Anyone can enter through the Door that He is
no matter what religion or ethnicity or orientation or crime or world view you possess –
you can enter into the love and forgiveness of God through Jesus
but only through Jesus.
By process of statistical and anecdotal elimination,
this means I know people who are at risk of going to hell.
But I don’t talk with them about it.
People warn me of risks every day – don’t eat this, don’t drink that, beware of this scam,
watch out for these signs, be careful of this,
 you should be doing that, avoiding these, trying this.
Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-waaahhhh.
But I don’t remember the last time, outside of a Sunday sermon, that I heard anyone warn others away from hell.
Well, unless you count the members of the Westboro church and their stupid signs but I don’t.  Topic for another day, I suppose.
The funny thing is, people who are going to hell know we should be talking with them about it.
Unchurched America has at least the basic understanding
that Christians believe in Jesus, heaven, and hell.
So, isn’t it weird if we don’t talk about it? I mean, what message does that send?
Remember this episode from Seinfeld when Elaine realized her boyfriend hadn’t made any attempt to “save” her?
That’s exactly how a person should react when they realize we believe there’s a serious danger they’re at risk of encountering and we do nothing to ward them away from it.
But still, we dither.
We’re mute.
We dodge. We avoid. We clam up. We hesitate. We justify. We procrastinate. We obfuscate.
I mean, seriously,
we’re not afraid to be weird in other ways.
Christians freely discuss all manner of weirdness – Star Trek, homeschooling, pot luck suppers, modesty, virginity,  Amish fiction, Zombie apocalypse, demon possession, angel sightings, the rapture, The Love Dare, and Tim Tebow.
So why are we reluctant to bring up the weirdness of eternal damnation?
I know how we’re all about correcting the past errors of a church
that over-emphasized guilt, punishment, and dress clothes on Sunday
but those days are long past.
I believe in all our attempts to “love people” into the kingdom
and I’m a proponent of all attempts to maximize that effort.
But, here’s the thing:
I work every day with people who need to be motivated to change.
They don’t all motivate the same way, you know?
Many people can be motivated by loving, supportive methods.
Some can be motivated by humor, gentle correction, guidance, information, and noble goals.
But there are some
who only make the move to change
at the threat of
serious consequence
and discomfort to their physical person.
“Do this, or we’ll have to call the police, emergency rescue, DCYF, the judge, the probation officer, your mother.”
There are some characters who continue to do what they feel like doing
until the moment before that hammer falls
but when they see the hammer coming,
they change.
These people need us to talk about hell.
In fact, it’s unloving if we don’t.
Because, they have it in them to make the right decision
given the correct information
in a direct and uncompromising manner.
Paul said, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” I Corinthians 9:22b
I think this is what he meant.
There are countless people in our lives
who will respond to the message of Jesus’ love
and to the evidence of this seen in our loving words and actions.
But there are some
who won’t reach out for Jesus
until they see the hammer about to fall.
When was the last time you warned someone about the coming hammer?
What say you? Am I completely off on this? Have you had success in this area you can share?
What are your fears? Your hesitations? Your disagreement with me.
Let’s talk. Because going to hell is a big deal and staying quiet about it seems wrong.


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18 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    I never thought of a wicked person would go to hell.
    Perhaps guilt is already ‘hell’. I honestly believe that a person who do all the bad things, hurt others and even murder, would suffer from guilt no matter how heartless he/she can be.
    Hell is here, one suffers through the guilt journey.

    • I think the hell you talk about that exists now is the hell people experience when they live separated from God’s love. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of our sins and receive His forgiveness, we immediately enter into the kingdom of God – even before death.

  2. Pam Manners says:

    Lori,

    Regarding what Anonymous said…I’ve heard so many people say that. Hell is here and now. Interesting thought, because doesn’t it also say in the Bible (the Gospels) that Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is here and now? Hmmm….

    Anytime the topic of eternal life/damnation and Heaven and Hell have come up (whether I brought it up or someone else did), most people I’ve been in conversation with either just don’t want to hear it (because saying they’re going to Hell would mean admitting they are sinners and they didn’t/want to admit that), don’t believe there really IS a place called Hell (agreeing with Anonymous’ thoughts), or think it’s just a really hot place where the red, horned, pitch-fork-in-hand devil guy oversees ‘the workers,’ and it won’t be too bad a place because all of their friends will be there (someone actually told me this).

    I’ve been told to shut up, take my head out of or shove it back into a body area that would be physically impossible for me to actually do, or asked if we could ‘agree to disagree’ and change the subject please.

    But I agree with you — so many won’t reach out for Jesus until the hammer is a hair’s breadth from their heads. And then what? Like family & friends I have warned about the dangers of smoking and are told an X-ray is showing a spot on their lungs, or have warned about eating too much unhealthy foods and find they’re experiencing pains in their hearts or stomachs, they’re panic stricken and hope they can be healed. I don’t say “I told you so” (although I admit I’d like to), but they drive me nuts when they act shocked, like they never knew this could happen.

    I fear that I’m not going to present this warning of Hell in the ‘right way’ or in a plausible manner, and people will just think I’m among the nutcases (like Westboro Baptist Cult/Church). Maybe that fear is tripping me up because I’ve never had much success in doing so.

    This is a very convicting post for me, as most of your posts are, Lori. Why should I worry about looking like a horse’s butt to folks…shouldn’t I be more concerned about where they are going to spend eternity? I can’t force them to believe in and accept Christ, but….I should be able to at least sound the alarm, esp. for those I love.

    • I hesitate for the same reasons, Pam, but I think there is less and less reason in our culture to remain quiet and many compelling reasons to speak out. I’m not good at it but I’m willing to try.

  3. I once chatted with a man who was raised in a family associated with a cult. He experienced radical salvation and felt compelled to testify to all whom he loved. He recalls that any assertion beginning with “Well I think…” was bound to fail, and allowed the cultists to get into their self-serving vocabulary. But any morcel beginning with “Jesus said” or “The Bible says” had a much more incisive impact. We need never apologize for employing scripture, provided we do not make the portions too large. It is as necessary to us as our daily food and the listener may hear that and start to wonder. And please focus on the Jesus of the Gospels as if He is in fact a living Friend and Protector.

  4. I have been stirred up lately to share more with people, I am happy to say. Only by the Lord’s grace though. It had been a very long time since I had seen any fruit. I shared with this friend who came into my life by “coincidence” and after three visits where we talked about the Lord, she finally was open to letting me read her Scripture directly. When I read to her about “having the life” in I John 5, her eyes were opened by the Spirit. We prayed and she received Christ a couple days later. She had a very serious operation and came home finally still in much pain, but she was telling her husband “I’m born again!” (She is 68 and had been in one religion all her life)
    I am so blessed by this!! I knew the Lord brought her into my life so I could share that with her. A lot of people were praying for her too.

  5. Jim Rubart says:

    Will be interested if you address the three positions on what happens after people die. (Maybe there’s more but these are the big three in my mind:

    1. Universalist: God draws everyone to Himself in the end.
    2. Traditionalist: People who reject Jesus end up in eternal torment.
    3. Annihilationist: That we are not immortal. That immortality is given to us by Jesus ant those who don’t chose to receive Christ’s gift are blotted out of existence.

  6. The sign on the church lawn said “Eternity is a long time to be wrong”. Jesus asserted that there is a place of eternal damnation (Mark 3:29 KJV). The parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22) tells us that only those who have meekly accepted the Host’s gift of adornment/righteousness will be admitted. It is often said that the traitor Judas did not have the option of annihilation: “It would be better for him had he never been born” (Mark 14: 21). To understand the terror of the dark option is to understand the courage of our Rescuer, the efficacy of His blood and the love of God’s mercy. Don’t play with it, “Emerging” Church! He is sovereign.

  7. You are so on point, in my opinion. And that video clip from Seinfeld had me cracking up and also convicted. I’m just like that guy! And I don’t want to be like that guy. I know I know someone who is going to hell, yet I keep quiet because I know where I’m going. That’s not the love that God desires of us. People will spend eternity separated from God and, as Christians, that should bother us. This post inspired me so much, that I think I might blog about the same thing, even use the same title. If you don’t mind, I would also like to link to this post (with your permission). Powerful post! Amazing truth!

  8. Great post, Lori. One of the things that’s hardest for me is talking to relatives who aren’t Christians, or are outright against Christianity, believing it’s judgmental or backward. The awkwardness is that our relationship matters. Definitely easier to talk to a stranger. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I believe the best way to witness to someone is to become that person’s friend first. I’ll take advice from someone I trust but not from a stranger on the street. Relationships take energy and thought but it is through the relationship we can tell someone about Jesus and spend the necessary time to explain biblical wisdom. When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world….” he meant the world he set us in. We have people in our immediate community with whom we could become friends, witness of our faith, and share the scriptures. Our lives, lived before friends and relatives, become our first testimony. Love draws people in even when it’s tough love. In this age of microwaves and minute commercials, we believe we can “sell” Jesus to someone just because we spoke of Heaven or Hell. Takes time, folks. So we should begin ASAP. And let the Word of God speak through us.MOMMA

  10. Love the “Shark Week” comparison. Ha!

    And I really appreciate the idea that different people are motivated different ways. Hadn’t considered it that way before. But it’s true.

    My bottom line in talking to others is to try and sense what God wants me to say to them. I don’t think I’d shy away from talking about hell if that’s what I thought they needed to hear.

    It’s still a great reminder, though. Thank you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The questions that haunted me for years:

    1 – If “God is unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”, and if “with God all things are possible”, then if people go to hell, is it because God is unwilling or unable to save them?

    2 – If God is unwilling, then what does that say about the love of God?

    3 – If God is unable, then what does that say about the power of God?

    That said, I heartily agree that if a person honestly believes that people are going to hell for all eternity when they die if they don’t do/say/believe something specific, then the only loving response would be to talk openly about this imminent and permanent danger, imploring everyone they meet to do whatever it is they believe it takes not to go to hell. Honestly, to not do so would be downright apathetic.