Hell, Fire, and Damnation?

Preaching

Have you ever heard of “hell, fire, and damnation preaching”? Or, maybe it should be spelled hell-fire and damnation.” I don’t know. Either way, the meaning is pretty much the same: it’s hardcore, old-fashioned, pulpit-whacking, snot-slinging, hankey-waving, chandelier-swinging preaching that unleashes the fear of righteous judgment. Haaaymen!

Well, that’s really not my style, for the most part. Believe me, I can do my fair share of pulpit banging, but I’m not the type to jump across the stage like the legendary evangelist Billy Sunday. I’m more like the picture of me in the sidebar of this blog; I usually keep both feet on the ground … usually.

That being said, what most people expect out of a Baptist preacher like me when preaching on the subject of Hell is the yelling, spitting, and pulpit banging associated with “hell, fire, and damnation,” not a heartfelt plea with a reasoned argument.

On the other hand, when pleading for the souls of those facing eternal damnation, shouldn’t a man have a right to get emotional?

Jesus Believed

Today (Sunday, 02/02/2020), I preached a sermon on Hell. The title of the sermon was “If Jesus Believed In Hell, So Should We.”

Many people refuse to accept Christianity because of the doctrine of hell. Just the thought of a place of eternal judgment has led some to walk away from the faith, even to judge God as immoral or evil. The thought of a literal Hell was so repugnant to Charles Darwin that he wrote the following:

“Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief… Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.”― Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82

Then there was Bertrand Russell, the philosopher who could not accept Christianity, believe it or not, because of Jesus!

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching…” – Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, 1927

Yes, Jesus DID believe in a literal place where the condemned spend an eternity in torment. Shocking, isn’t it?

So Should We

So, it only stands to reason that if Jesus – the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Word of God made flesh, the Way, the Truth, and the Life – believed and taught that there was a place called Hell, we should believe Him. Are you with me?

Therefore, even though I was in pain and taking meds for a broken and infected molar, and even though my tongue was hurting because I had severely bitten it on the same broken tooth, with all the passion and energy I could muster – but without jumping over anything – I preached what Jesus preached.

Hell is real, and you don’t want to go there.

Click on the picture for a link to the sermon.

Feel free to share your thoughts. 

 

44 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Future, Life/Death, Preaching, Theology

44 responses to “Hell, Fire, and Damnation?

  1. I personally love hard preaching. I’d take Lester Roloff and Dr. Slightler over any modern pablum preacher.

    • Hopefully I’m more palatable than pablum. How about a bacon jalapeño milkshake? 😉

      • I’m a fundamentalist about food too. Like a milkshake has to be not weird. Ice cream, traditional things.

        Big thumbs ups for spicy food in general though.

        My own pastor is not a screamer. But he was raised Catholic so he’ll go strong on lots of hard issues.

        Brilliant exegetical preacher also, which I think it would be fair to say, is somewhat rare in the IFB world.

        He’s not really one of the IFB clique guys either which is a plus.

      • But the funny thing is that I don’t connect the “fundamentalist” and your blog together. Actually, your blog might be a little above my head, or something. I wouldn’t peg you as IFB from your poetry, in other words. But maybe I don’t understand it like I should. I guess I should read more 🙂

      • That’s one reason I deleted a lot of my blog. I feel like for a while I was going through some things and I explored a lot of that by writing about it.

        Legalistic me would nod at hurting confused me and whisper knowingly, “that’s what ya get for backsliding.”

        I never really expected anyone to read my blog. It was just an anonymous place to park some pain.

        I’m an anomaly. Most of me is not in/on my blog.

  2. I desire convicting sermons on Hell, but they must be genuine and not emotionally driven. In fact, the hell fire preacher who slams the pulpit with his fist distracts me from the unadulterated word of God. He is trying to manufacture fear rather than rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to pierce the soul.

    I personally like when David Wilkerson preaches on Hell. He can preach on Hell with such compassion and love that it can’t be manufactured. He doesn’t need to bang the pulpit; his words and tears through the power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient enough to pierce my heart. And it’s much more intense than any fiery preacher can conjure up on his self-focused platform.

  3. Let me be the loyal opposition here. I believe until we have mastered loving the Lord with all our heart, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, we shouldn’t speak of hell at all. Also, there is nothing more tragic to me then people who only serve the Lord as fire insurance, as their get out of hell free card. It’s like loving a man because of his status or money.

    • I respect your right to be wrong 😉

      • Lol! The problem being, I’m not wrong. We’re commanded to love the Lord and to love one another, and most of us do an appalling job of it. Notice I didn’t say hell wasn’t real or something, I said we should get the first and most important commandment right before we start focusing on hell. Jesus never told us, by your preaching about hell they will know you are my disciples. He said “love.” Look at the condition of the world, the condition of the church, the condition of people’s lives. We’re doing it wrong, that simple.

      • OK, let’s discuss this, shall we? Are you suggesting that I should, as a pastor, never talk about hell? Or, are you suggesting that we as believers, in general, shouldn’t bring up the subject of hell, not unless we are first tell them about Jesus loving them (in a nutshell)?
        Otherwise, I have to ask what of the multiple demands to “preach the gospel”? What about “warning every man” (Col. 1:28)? What is the “gospel of the cross” without the subject of sin and the consequences of eternity without a Savior? What of “the whole counsel of God” Paul spoke of in Acts 20:27?
        Don’t misunderstand me, I am not condoning standing on a street corner damning every passerby to hell while waving a poster over my head that reads, “God Hates F**S!” You are correct in that we should first love the Lord our God with all our heart, then our neighbor as ourselves. But, wouldn’t it be illogical to stress the need for a relationship with Jesus Christ without even giving a reason for the need? How else would we explain the truth of Romans 3:23 and 6:23?
        As the Apostle Paul wrote, if we say anything without love, we are nothing more than a bunch of loud, meaningless, clanging cymbals. But I would contest that part of loving someone is telling them the truth, albeit in a loving, appropriate way. Would it not have been love to have gone to each and every floor of the Twin Towers on 9/10, should we have had the foreknowledge of impending doom, to warn each and every one of the disaster to come? Yes, the context is different, to a degree, but who really knows when tomorrow might be another 9/11 for somebody?
        I understand where you’re coming from, IB. Maybe we’re just on different sides of the same page. 

      • What’s wrong with standing on a street corner warning someone about Hell?

      • Nothing. I’d just advise against the Westboro approach.

      • Well do they even preach the Gospel? I’ve never seen them do it. But I have seen some street preachers that do, especially down in Pensacola.

        I’ve seen a few try in Detroit but usually the Muslims start attacking them with bottles and rocks.

      • No, I don’t think the Westboro folk even know who Jesus is. And they could use a few bottles well-thrown.

      • Interesting to me is the Al Gore/Westboro connection.

      • Wait. What? That’s a new one. Do tell.

      • Fred Phelps and Al Gore were long time friends.

    • Oh, thank you for your loyalty. No joke. When I’m wrong I want to know it. I never want anyone to be afraid to challenge my assumptions. If I can’t defend my beliefs, why have them?

      • I think you’re awesome, Anthony. I am so not worried about you. I am just saying there are a whole lot of people who have obviously never let the Lord wash them personally, out preaching about hell. They are on the street corners, all over Twitter, FB, and bloggerville. It’s the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance, not warnings about hell. It tells us that in the Bible.

      • The Bible says it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance.

        If you read all of Romans 2, Paul seems to be speaking to believers, although I’m not dogmatic about that explicit point.

        However, it does say repentance, not salvation.

        Looking over at Jude 1 we see that there is room and need for both kinds of preaching/warnings:

        “21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

        22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

        23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

    • That’s crazy. If you’re waiting to perfect yourself before you bring up Hell, you might be waiting until it freezes over.

      All of our righteousness is nothing more than a filthy rag.

      We aren’t ever going to achieve anything in our own power that would make us “good enough” to talk about Heaven or Hell.

      Praise the Lord that we don’t have to wait for ourselves to attain a state of perfection. Because that will never happen.

  4. I must say, Anthony, while reading your post I experienced something for the first time, using my imagination of course.
    I started reading your post, while drinking a cup of coffee, not unusual, but maybe I need to be more careful.
    First paragraph went well, started 2nd paragraph, glanced to the right, saw the picture there, burst into a laugh imagining you up in the air, pointing, yelling at the congregation. Somehow you and that picture did not jive. Somehow, I kept some coffee in my mouth, did not choke on the rest of it, and did not spit any over myself or my iPad.

  5. farmgirl

    Deuteronomy 18:10. How do you feel about it? Would God have people punished in a way that he himself hated? Would that make him hypocritical? Also could it be that perhaps the religious leaders were condemning people to hell by there standards. Lazarus after death was in a higher position than the self righteous? Just sharing my thoughts.

    • Interesting questions. I’ll have to think about it. Thanks for asking.

    • OK, I’m going to try to answer this the best I can, but I may need some clarification from you, OK?

      First, let’s look at Deut. 18:10. I am assuming you are referring to “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire,” correct? If so, then the “fires” of hell and “passing through the fire” are talking about different things altogether. Hell is a place of punishment, but the offering of children into the burning arms of Moloch is idol worship. The ones being offered to this demonic god in a horrible way were innocents, not those who rejected their parents. So, in that context, I would not consider it hypocritical.

      Now, as to the last two parts of your question, the ones about religious leaders and Lazarus, I’m a little confused. Could you give a little more detail?

  6. farmgirl

    Luke 18:11-12 and Matthew 23:5-7. Pharisees were self righteous. Jesus shared an illustration with them. Showing that they had the wrong attitude.

    • Do you really live on a farm?

    • I’m still not completely sure what you are asking about the Pharisees and Lazarus, but I’ll try to give some insight. The Pharisees were certainly self-righteous, and they had every right to be – from a legalistic perspective. I mean, if righteousness could be determined by how well someone kept the law, the Pharisees would have had the right to call themselves the most righteous around. From that perspective, they looked down on everyone else. There are people like that even today; they judge the righteousness of others by comparing others to themselves. I used to be that way. I had a list of do’s and don’t’s that I thought a righteous person would keep, therefore, if someone I saw didn’t keep the list like I did, that person by default was “not right with God.” The story of the Pharisee and the publican was a real smack in the face to the Pharisees because through it Jesus pointed out their wickedness. They kept the letter of the law, but not the heart of the law. And, on top of that, they were boastful of keeping the law, as if that could save them.

      As for Lazarus, we really know nothing of his spiritual condition before he died the first time. All we know is that he was a close friend of Jesus and Jesus loved him. The fact that Jesus raised him from the dead had nothing to do with Lazarus’ law-keeping or humility; it had everything to do with showing that Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life.

      I hope what I’ve written addresses your concerns in some way. If not, just let me know.

      • farmgirl

        I wasn’t asking anything about the Pharisees just another way of looking at it. Not sure how those verses prove hell Is real.

      • I’m not sure how any of the verses you shared can be used to prove hell exists. I do see that if you go down to Matthew 23:14-15 Jesus speaks of condemnation and being a “child of hell.” There are, of course other verses that teach of hell, but not in the verses you gave me, unless I read them wrong or missed something.

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