ODJ: roadside theology

September 15, 2013 

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12 

He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgement on those who don’t know God (vv.7-8).

Travelling south on a motorway, I passed a billboard that presented this ominous message: “HELL IS REAL”. I agreed with the words, but for some reason that roadside theology lesson didn’t linger in my mind. However, returning north on the same route I was jolted by the words on the flipside of the billboard: “JESUS IS REAL”. These two truths posted back-to-back made me ask myself, Why doesn’t the reality of hell drive me to share Christ more frequently?

The Bible urges us to “rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgement” (Jude 1:23). I believe that the fire of judgement is literal; hell is an inferno. It’s not a big party for sinners where they can enjoy an eternity of twisted pleasures. It will be a place of unrestrained evil and despair because everyone there will be “forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Forever is a long time. People who end up in hell will be “punished with eternal destruction” (v.9). Hades is a destination—not just an unpleasant junction on one’s journey to spiritual betterment. Bible scholar Matthew Henry wrote that people in hell will “be always dying, and yet never die. Their misery will run parallel with the line of eternity.”

The reality of eternal destruction is disturbing. It makes us shudder. But does it make us open our mouths? Does it compel us to share the reality of Jesus with people we meet? Are we willing to tell them why being a ‘good’ person isn’t enough to keep them out of hell? Are we willing to risk the disappointment of their disbelief?

Are we willing to tell them that “the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”? (Romans 6:23). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

John 14:15-31 ‹

Read Revelation 19:20 to learn about some future residents of hell. Look up Revelation 3:19 and consider how this discipline is different from hell’s punishment.
Why might some people find it convenient to deny that hell exists? What is the relationship between God’s grace and hell in the spiritual destiny of every person?