As pastors, we probably deal with death more than the average person. Just this past week I’ve been confronted over and over again with the sobering reality of death in my community. I sat down with the family of an 18-year-old girl who was killed in a car accident, followed the story of two 14-year-old boys lost at sea, and consoled the family of a middle-aged church member who died suddenly. When these things happen, it’s hard to imagine that some of these people could really be going to hell.
People have a lot of questions about hell: Is it a real place? Do people go there physically, or just emotionally/spiritually? Where is it? These are hard questions over which even serious theologians disagree.
Here’s what we believe: hell is for real. We may not know every detail, but it’s a real place where real people go when they die. This Sunday we’re going to take another look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 where we learned that everybody goes somewhere when they die. Some of those people go to heaven, but others go to hell – permanently. Death is a decisive moment and there is no going back.
Talking about death and hell can be unsettling, but as believers, we shouldn’t be fearful or angry. Rather the reality of hell and the fact that people really do go there should motivate us to have gospel conversations with those who have yet to repent and believe in Jesus. I don’t know about you, but the idea that people I know and love may go to hell doesn’t sit well with me. It motivates me to tell every 18-year-old girl, 14-year-old boy and middle-aged person I know about the gospel.