Why Pastors Need to Preach More about Hell

images-6Hell is not a topic most Christians like to address. Why talk about hell when you could talk about something much more positive like heaven or living a good life. It seems that many senior pastors have taken on this same notion, of skipping over hell in their sermons and articles. Brian Jones, Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley, has written an article on Pastors.com called The Fatal Mistake of Senior Pastors Who Don’t Like Preaching about Hell.

Jones comments that while we should expect an inclusive agenda at our public schools, it has no place in our churches. He states,

Too often we want to appear more moral than God. Too often in outreach-focused churches we feel the need to acquiesce to the avalanche of pluralistic pressure to back off of this key doctrine. However, I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that if you really love people, at some point you’ll completely tell them the truth, even if you risk having them walk out your church doors.“

Have you taken a similar risk with family members, friends, teachers, or co-workers? When it comes to telling the whole truth, sometimes we are hesitant with those we don’t know well or those we don’t want to offend. But if we wait long enough, there’s a chance we may not get to take that risk at all. Jones explains,

As important as being compassionate and inclusive are in the context of a growing church, the overriding virtue that should be held up is faithfulness – both to scripture and the God who breathed it.

Kindness, generosity, and compassion are virtues that every Christian should show to others. However, if that’s all we’re going to do—pile on grace upon grace without any truth—then we will have accomplished absolutely nothing for the gospel. Christianity is about so much more than morality and kindness. It’s about sharing the truth of life and death, through the grace of Jesus Christ. Truth and grace go together and should not be separated.

Crosswalk.com blogger Paul Tautges expounds, “Because hell is real, and hell is as awful as awful can be, we dare not neglect it, or fear another person’s response to its teaching more than we fear the God who created it for the devil and his angels.”

Yet, there are some Christians who may think grace is all we need to share because hell isn’t real…that we can believe what we want in the Bible and skip over the parts we don’t like. Pastors are not immune this false doctrine either. Jones recalls,

Two years after leaving graduate school I came to the realization that I really didn’t believe in hell anymore. I was too smart to believe in hell. …Like so many church leaders I’ve met over the years, I bought into the lie that I could serve the God of the Bible but not believe in the entire Bible.”

He continues,

During a long retreat at a local monastery I performed an exhaustive word study of the phrase ‘false doctrine’ in the New Testament. When I was finished the Holy Spirit did a number on me. ….I came to the conclusion that I was a liar, as I should have. I dropped to my knees in tears. I repented before God of my duplicity. …That Sunday I stood before my congregation and wept, asking for their forgiveness. It was a turning point in my calling before God.”

There is nothing more humbling than admitting that you were wrong, in front of a group of people who respect you and look up to you. As Christians we have to be willing to come alongside our pastors, to forgive when wrong choices are made, to love through times of struggle and confusion, and to hold our pastors accountable when changes are not made or when repentance is not enough to stay in leadership. While church leaders are held accountable by their church, they are also accountable to God for the truth that they preach. Jones exhorts,

Over and over again, we are warned that church leaders must hold to the deep truths of the faith. Hell is one of those deep truths, albeit unpopular. Over and over again, we are warned not to be drawn away by unsound doctrine. With pain in his voice that came from years of heading off church train wrecks, Paul pleaded in his final words to Timothy to preach the word, every last bit of it, regardless of how unpopular it became. I’m pretty sure that exhortation still stands.”

Does your senior pastor preach this truth? If you haven’t heard your pastor preach on the topic of hell, ask why. It’s important that we encourage our pastors rather than put them down when we don’t agree with them, but hell is a topic that cannot be left unaddressed by churches. If your church refuses to preach on the topic of hell or thinks that hell is not important, then you may need to evaluate your church membership.

For further reading, see “4 Things about Hell Christians Really Need to Understand,” “5 Things We Believe about Hell that are Not in the Bible,” and “Why Our Christian Mission Must Include the Reality of Hell.”

To read Brian Jones’ full article, please visit Pastors.com.

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5 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering in Believers’ Lives

It’s true that sometimes things seem hopeless, even to believers, but the Bible offers clarity and perspective as well as tells us the purposes and reasons for the trials in our life, Pastor Greg Laurie of the California megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship explained to his congregation in a sermon.

If you want to be a growing Christian, you should read, study and love God’s Word; you need to have a prayer life; and you must be actively involved in the church, Laurie told the congregation as he began his message, “Why Does God Allow Trials in the Life of the Believer?”

Laurie preached these three essentials of Christian growth in his previous sermon series, called, “What Every Growing Christian Needs to Know.”

Taking the series forward, the pastor said it takes time to grow spiritually. “It doesn’t happen overnight.” And sometimes, you come to a point where you don’t feel God’s presence as you felt it earlier, he added.

But “why do we go through trials and emotional lows?” he asked.

To explain, he quoted James 1:2-4, which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Laurie said there are five reasons why God allows trials.

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One, God allows trials in our lives so that we will grow up spiritually, he said.

Laurie explained that he goes to the gym, although he doesn’t like to workout, so that he can grow physically. You break down your muscles to build them up, and so is true in our spiritual lives as well, he added. “Trials are God’s gym where you’re broken down to be built up. … You won’t like it, but you will like the results.”

The pastor also said that God rarely announces trials ahead of time, He just lays them on us. But trials take our faith from the realm of theory to reality, he said.

When trials come in our lives, we want to hang on to the Lord, and learn the lessons He is seeking to teach us, he stated. “The testing of your faith produces spiritual toughness, heroic endurance.”

Remember that trials are “not intruders, but friends,” Laurie said.

Two, even when things look bleak, all things work together for God’s glory and your good, the pastor shared.

He quoted Joseph as saying in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

There are no accidents, there’s only providence, Laurie said, adding that God allows us to be tested, but never more than what we can handle, because even the devil can sometimes serve the purposes of God.

A believer will emerge stronger after the trials, unlike non-believers, who may turn away for God. “Trials can determine if you’re really a Christian,” he said.

Three, God’s ultimate purpose for us is that we might be conformed into the image of Jesus, the pastor stressed.

Laurie suggested that Romans 8:28 should be read together with verse 29.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters,” (Romans 8:28, 29).

Predestination simply means that God determined your salvation before you were alive, to be conformed into the image of His own dear Son, he explained.

We go through bad things in life, but in a turn of events they can turn into something good, Laurie told the congregation. But there are things in life that are bad, and stay bad, and they are always bad, he clarified. For example, tragedies are not good, although something good can come out of it.

Besides, he added, the benefits of certain trials we are going through cannot be discovered until we go to Heaven. “Just know that God is at work.”

Laurie then quoted 2 Corinthians 4:17-19, which reads: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Four, suffering can bring glory to God.

We can glorify God by remaining faithful to Him and continuing to trust Him despite difficulties and trials, Laurie said. And there are also times when God is glorified through His intervention, he added. God still does miracles today.

A disability can become an ability when placed in the hands of God, he said, giving the example of Nick Vujicic, known as the “Limbless Evangelist” and who was born with a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs, and Joni Eareckson Tada, who suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. Both have led thousands to Christ, and strengthened believers with their testimonies.

Five, suffering can be used by God to prepare us for a special task, Laurie said, explaining that God is getting us all ready for something. “When you’ve gone through something in life, and have survived it, you can be a great comfort to someone who’s going through it.”

In conclusion, the megachurch pastor shared 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

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