I’ve discovered a good way to turn off a conversation. You know that person who always seems to call or show up right as you’re about to make an important phone call, are headed out the door, or having dinner? The one who doesn’t know how to take a hint, who would consume your entire day if you let him, and whose favorite topic in the world is himself?
Here it is: bring up the subject of hell. It’s a proven non-starter, and almost always guaranteed to keep your untimely guest moving right along. And if you’re really needing to keep things short, introduce the name of Jesus into the conversation and watch how quickly you find yourself freed. Works like a charm.
Of course, I would hope that such weighty and sobering subjects might actually lead to a much more serious discussion, especially given that eternal stakes are hanging in the balance. But most people would simply rather not even think about it.
Can I say something, if you’re still reading, that is? I want to say this in love and compassion toward you, but with gravity of heart because of the magnitude of the truth: The day of God’s judgment will come soon enough, where the righteous will receive their heavenly reward, while the wicked will be condemned to the fiery furnace of hell.
If you’ll stay with me for a moment, allow me to unpack this briefly.
In no uncertain terms the Scriptures tell us that at the close of this age the Lord will judge the world. We read in Acts 17:30-32, for example: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The fact is that we will all be held accountable to God. Christ Jesus will come in all His glory and will sit on His glorious throne. The nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another. His judgments will be righteous and just, for He knows the hearts of all men, all their thoughts and intentions, their deeds and their words, and everything hidden will be exposed by the light of His presence.
The result of His judgment will be eternal life for the righteous and eternal punishment for the unrighteous.
The righteous are those who have been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus. They have humbled themselves in repentance, confessed their sins before the Lord, received His forgiveness, have been born again, and endure through faith and obedience to Jesus their Lord and Savior. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Those who will be condemned are those who do not believe in the name of Jesus (John 3:18). They have refused God’s merciful and gracious offer of forgiveness in Christ, and will suffer the wages for their sins, which is death and hell (Romans 6:23). Jesus speaking of hell describes it as an eternal, fiery furnace: “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42).
I cannot sugarcoat this truth for you. All I can do is pray for you and plead for you to repent and flee the wrath to come when Jesus returns as Judge. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Maybe you didn’t want to hear that today, but if you’ve hung around long enough, maybe it’s exactly what you need.