“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Matthew 7:21-23
“To preach Christ is our delight. To uplift his cross is the joy of our hearts. Our Master is our witness. We love to blow the silver trumpets…But knowing the terror of the Lord, these solemn things lie upon our conscience, and while it is hard to preach of them, it would be harder still to bear the doom which must rest upon the silent minister. The unfaithful watchman who did not warn the sinner and who must therefore eternally bear the sinner’s blood upon his head because he warned him not.” - Charles Spurgeon
"The subject of hell is not a popular subject by any means; and yet, it is a necessary one. 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 to us, and a sympathetic Christ who was the primary preacher of hell." - John Macarthur
Testimony of One Surprised to Be In Hell
I'd like to share this series with you. It is preached by John Macarthur, and it's about Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus. According to Scripture, he explains what hell is like, why the rich man went to hell, and what sends people to hell. And as always, MacArthur preaches the way to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone.
I highly recommend this to every believer and non-believer, for we are all sinners and are deserving of God's eternal wrath. Only by grace through faith in Jesus do we escape God's judgment and eternal damnation and are granted eternal life.
Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell Part 3 - If you don't want to listen to the full series, I recommend just listening to Part 3.
Jesus Was a Hell-Fire Preacher
As the most tender-hearted and compassionate person who ever lived, Jesus was a hell-fire preacher. In Scripture, Jesus preaches far more on the dangers of hell than He does on the glories of heaven. Our Lord Jesus speaks more about hell than everyone else in Scripture combined. And He doesn't only reference hell, but He explains it in great detail and with emphasis - all because He loves us. Jesus wants us to be fully aware of hell, and He provides us the way to escape God's eternal judgment. Not only that, He warns us over and over about it. When Jesus speaks, I do well to listen to Him, especially when He repeats Himself.
Jesus says, "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). Fear is not the enemy but the sinner's friend when it comes to hell and God's eternal wrath. Here's a simple illustration. It's kind of like being on an edge of a cliff without a net or a parachute, and we are forced to jump for whatever reason. Fear is our friend in that case, and fear drives us to put on the parachute. If we aren't scared, we won't feel the need to be driven to safety. Being oblivious about hell is stupidity. Fearing hell is not. Fear helps drive us to the foot of the cross and cry out for Jesus. It is a healthy thing to fear hell and the terror of the Lord, in order that we may come to Him by His grace. And once we are secure in Christ Jesus by grace through faith, we have nothing to fear - past, present, or future. We only have more to rejoice in and praise God for, understanding what He has saved us from. It's only when we fear God more than we fear man that He becomes our sanctuary.
The doctrine of hell has played a major part in my walk with Jesus and has been integral in my understanding and growth as a Christian. Without understanding the doctrine of hell, we miss a massive part of Christianity, a huge puzzle piece to the Christian faith. Without understanding the reality of hell and why people go there, we rob ourselves of a complete understanding of who God is; His character and His attributes. It also robs us of an eternal perspective that we are called to live by. As Christians, if we don't gain a proper perspective of hell, or even worse, if we choose to ignore it completely, our growth becomes severely stunted. From that, we miss out on a greater joy and peace in the Christian life. When hell becomes more real to us, that's when we become more faithful and bold in sharing the gospel, which is the reason why God keeps His children in this world. As believers, we are meant to shine the light and point everyone to Christ. In other words, the doctrine of hell is foundational for every single Christian, both who have a simple faith or a complex faith.
Ignorance is lacking knowledge or understanding of something. When we are ignorant, we are unaware or uninformed. At times, we can be ignorant simply because we didn't know there was something we needed to know. Other times, we may be ignorant because we’ve made the choice not to learn or understand something we need to know. This is called willful ignorance. What does God say about ignorance? He says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you" (Hosea 4:6). To willfully reject the knowledge God has compassionately supplied us through His Word is a sinful ignorance. That's because it’s ignorance rooted in choice. Ignorance without choice about earthly matters is understandable. However, willful ignorance about spiritual matters and our eternal destiny found only in the Word of God, can lead us to our eternal demise (Romans 1:18-23). “We are required and obligated not only to know it (Scripture), but to live by it, by every Word that comes to us by God” – RC Sproul.
Hell is a Painful Topic, Yet Vital
Hell is a painful and sobering topic, but it is one that we mustn't be willfully ignorant of, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Hell is an eternal reality, and it is the very reality from which Jesus saved me. Understanding what Scripture says about hell has brought me to a deeper level of gratitude and peace that I could have never attained otherwise. It has made me stronger in my walk with Christ and has given me the ability to praise God in a greater way, understanding more what I deserve and what He has saved me from. By His Spirit through His Word, understanding more about hell and God's mercy has had its sanctifying effects on me. Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth (John 17:17). In other words, it has made me grow in my walk with Jesus. Not only that, understanding the doctrine of hell has helped me be more confident and bold in sharing the gospel and pointing others to Jesus. The perspective I've gained from learning about hell is one I cannot explain. It's been difficult to come to grips with at times, but it has been foundational in my Christian walk.
A Little Bit About John MacArthur & Saving Faith
I look up to John MacArthur because not only is he faithful to God's Word, but He is loving to tell us the truth, especially when the truth is hard to hear. Throughout his entire ministry, He has put other people's eternal souls before his own comfort and worldly reputation. He warns people of the danger they are in without Christ and faithfully preaches the way to salvation. By doing this, MacArthur is often perceived by the world as judgmental, hateful, and even evil. Not only that, he is falsely accused of preaching a works-based gospel by many so-called evangelicals who tragically confuse obedience to God's word with self-merit and human works. They think teaching repentance is a violation to the gospel. In reality, repentance and faith are interchangeable in which repentance is inherent in believing and believing is inherent in repentance. They are two sides of the same coin, and no one can demonstrate true faith without demonstrating repentance of sin. MacArthur preaches the pure gospel of Jesus Christ that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He preaches that we are not saved by good works, but we are saved by faith alone for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
A big part of MacArthur's ministry, along with those who are reformed and believe in Sola Scripture (Scripture alone), explains how authentic faith in Christ will naturally produce good works by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Good works and holy living as a general lifestyle are objective evidence of our inward faith in Jesus. As much as one cannot separate heat from fire, one cannot separate obedience from faith. Faith and obedience / Believe and obey / disbelieve and disobey are synonymous throughout all of Scripture, and they come from the same exact word in the original Greek, Pisteuo. It means to believe, entrust, to be persuaded of, to place confidence in of the thing believed, to dedicate one’s life to, to submit one’s life to, to obey. Obedience organically results from an inward persuasion of the truth in Jesus and consequent faith.
God's grace is not given to believers so that we may live however we want as if we don't believe in Him. God's grace is given to believers so that we may have the power to repent, carry out good works in His name, and glorify Him. Many so-called evangelicals twist faithfulness and obedience to God's Word into a works-based gospel simply to try to get out of obeying God. Instead, they try to turn God's grace into a license to sin. It's just another type of self-deception to confuse works with genuine trust and obedience to God's Word. This is because there is a lack of trust in God's authority and goodness and a love for sin still.
MacArthur is a godly mentor who has taught me a lot in my Christian walk; all the way from understanding more what it means to have true saving faith in Jesus to the place called hell. It's not easy to warn people about hell, but it is absolutely necessary, and I admire his love for the Truth and others. MacArthur has been an encouragement to me with sharing the Truth in love with my own tiny ministry. Eternities hang in the balance, and that's why sharing the whole gospel can be such an energy drainer. It's just so important; The gospel is dire, and this life is but a vapor. It is nothing other than God's divine grace that is with preachers who preach the true gospel. I admire all faithful gospel preachers who speak the truth in love. For without love in one's ministry, there is no true ministry.
Believe the Scriptures
One of the most loving and selfless things we could ever do for someone is give them the whole gospel, warn them of the burning building they are standing in, and point them to the Scriptures: to Jesus. Scripture is the wisdom that leads to eternal life and all point to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. By opening the Scriptures, we come to a genuine understanding of the biblical definitions of faith in Jesus, God's grace, and true love, defined by God Himself. These are terms we certainly do not want to get wrong, and that's why we must never trust in our own minds, feelings, or personal definitions of these critical terms. We must never trust in our own ideas and personal standards about what faith in Jesus means to us or who we personally believe God to be. But we must open the Scriptures and trust in God's written Word and who He says He is and how we are to escape judgment and find eternal life in Him through His own Words.
Scripture is abundantly clear too, and God has made it very simple for us because He wants us to get it right. What God reveals in His Word, He wants us to know and hold fast to, otherwise, He wouldn't have written it. He is not going to make the way to salvation confusing for us, for He is not the author of confusion. He clearly spells out the way to eternal life for us, over and over in the Scriptures. We either trust His clear, authoritative written Word for eternal life, or we trust in our own minds and personal definitions of the terms like faith, grace, and love. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26). (wisdom here means the Scriptures).
Everything we hear from our teachers or pastors, we must also search the Scriptures ourselves and see if what they say lines up with God's written Word. Let the Holy Spirit be your Guide, who guides you into all truths and helps you discern right from almost right. Even here, everything I'm saying - don't blindly trust me. See if what I say lines up with Scripture, and trust in God's written Word with all your heart.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Love your friendly watchman on the wall,
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Charles Spurgeon
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:31).