NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–About 10 years ago, end-times speaker and author Hal Lindsay visited the area where I lived. My friend Brad and I went to the Palm Beach Roundtable, where Lindsay would be speaking. His fascinating presentation ended with a Q&A session. A woman of the Palm Beach blue-hair variety stood, in all her finery, and with clipped accent posed this question: “Do you really believe, Dr. Lindsay, that a tender, loving, merciful God, whose beauty and love are seen throughout the world, would send someone to hell?”
She sat down to await his answer. Brad and I looked at each other with broad, knowing smiles, anticipating Lindsey’s deep, biblically sound explanation of the doctrine of hell. Lindsey paused a little while, perhaps for dramatic effect. You could feel the anticipation in the room.
Finally, Lindsey answered, fooling Brad and I with his simplicity:
“In a word, ‘Yes.’ Next question.”
So why do I bring up the subject of hell? It is Halloween season, and there is no more appropriate topic. This is the most important of four holidays for witches, as well as time of intensified satanic activity. Those of you who think this is a friendly, soft, get-some-candy kind of holiday are being fooled; demonic activity is rampant. Hell’s demons are alive and well. You won’t find them behind ‘Spiderman’ masks, but they want to devour the tikes who wear them.
Yet most of the country doesn’t want to talk about hell. They’re kind of like that Palm Beach lady — seriously doubting whether our loving God actually allowed for such a place.
At this season, many Christian churches take advantage of the Halloween culture to warn people about hell. A walk-through drama called “Judgment House,” or any of several take-offs, is presented to the community. This year “Judgment House” depicts a house fire that costs two members of a family their lives and shows the eternal destiny of each. Some Christian churches — of the much softer, “cultural Christian” variety — take offense at this presentation. They protest because it is scary, frightening, disconcerting, deeply troubling.
So is hell. That’s the point.
Tell me, those of you who are parents, exactly why do you pull your toddler’s hand away when he reaches for the stove? Because it is hot!
Exactly why do Bible-believing Christians (I should not have to quality the term Christian with “Bible-believing,” but in this culture, I must) tell their spiritually lost friends about hell? Because it is hot! It is a place of eternal torment. We don’t want anyone to go there … do we?
What kind of parent would NOT tell their toddler that the stove is hot?
What kind of pastor would NOT tell his congregation that the result of failing to repent and follow Jesus Christ is to spend eternity in hell? A soft, wimpy, perhaps intellectually unprepared and certainly culturally oversensitive one. (And perhaps a “lost” one). One who has bought into the evil of excessive tolerance, who doesn’t want to “offend” anybody.
Yet the greatest offense is to never tell someone the eternal danger they face, then have them go head-long into it. As my friend and mentor Cal Guy preaches, “I don’t like the doctrine of hell, but it’s not mine to change!”
The church family I am part of, First Baptist Church of Indian Trail, N.C., presented a “Judgement House” the weekend before Halloween, as it has done in years past. Youth pastor John Sprinkle received many condemning letters and phone calls from area pastors. An excerpt from one this year: “1/4 are you telling children and young people that if they die without recognizing Christ as part of their life — according to your standards — that they will be damned? I find that a very narrow and graceless view of God.”
God’s way is narrow. He is full of grace, however, having made salvation — thus heaven for eternity — available to all who receive him. But not all receive, and for them the alternative is eternity in hell. It doesn’t matter whether we like it; that’s the way God says it is.
The issue is the Bible — do you believe it? The doctrine of hell is plainly spelled out in the Bible (Rev. 20:10-15 and other places). If you don’t believe it, then which parts of the Bible do you believe? Do you pick and choose? And if you pick and choose, who does that make god … God, or you? The Bible says not to add or subtract from it. If you don’t believe it, then you might as well trash the whole thing and join the witches and Satanists — they’re having great fun this time of year.
Lee is a producer and columnist for Crosswalk.com news, sports and information Internet site at www.Crosswalk.com.