In these days of political correctness it has become not only unfashionable but unacceptable to talk about hell. Increased so-called ‘fun’ activities on Halloween give a grim, fairy-tale patina to what is, actually, a devastating reality. I find myself among the enormous crowd who never speak about this reality and there are times when this concerns me. We have a wonderful salvation, with incredible promises of an eternity of unimaginable magnificence. Focusing on that and sharing our personal stories, is always a joyous option. However, the very concept of a ‘salvation’ implies there is something we need to be saved from.
Yahshua didn’t major on this reality, but He didn’t avoid it either. His message was one of hope, healing, love, and the forgiveness of sin. Nonetheless, He spoke quite openly and, frankly, quite scarily, about hell. Would it surprise you to know that He “talks about hell more than He talks about heaven, and describes it more vividly” [Leslie Schmucker]? He told stories [parables] to teach the people that it was possible to be banished to a place of darkness, pain and eternal torment [Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:1-13], a place of unquenchable fire [Mark 9:43], where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret [Matthew 13:42].
The passport to hell is sin and, unfortunately, it’s the passport we’re given when we’re born. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned and come short of Yahweh’s standard [Romans 3:23]. “Contrary to popular belief,” writes Leslie Schmucker, “hell is not a place where [Yahweh] sends those who have been especially bad; it’s our default destination”. We need a new passport for the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s given freely to everyone who believes that Yahshua is Yahweh’s Son and died as a sacrifice, so that all our sin could be forgiven. In order to access this forgiveness we must first acknowledge our sin [the Bible calls this ‘confessing’] and then make every effort to turn away from our wrongdoing, destructive relationships, unhealthy habits and so on [the Bible calls this ‘repentance’]. Yahshua gives us a makeover when we believe in Him: new life, new motivation, new goals, so the about turn of repentance gets a kick start. It’s of major importance to be sure we have changed the default destination!