“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” – Luke 13:3
Jesus wrapped volcanic words like those above in a blanket of love, sensing no inner conflict when doing so. God’s Son did not give a preface or disclaimer to what He was going to say. He just stated the truth to those who desperately needed to hear it. He told His listeners that, if they did not change their minds about Him, their sin and the Kingdom, then they would perish in their refusal to repent.
Additionally, when we read Luke Chapter 16, we find that Jesus offered an entire teaching that intentionally communicated the awful realities of Hell. He did not hold back when describing it as a place of torment, anguish, fire and an impassable separation from relief. There is no indication that Jesus amped up his delivery, or spoke with hostility, or moved in any threatening manner. He merely revealed these hard truths about Hell as facts. It was not open for debate. Those who listened to the Savior knew that He was releasing hard truths when He spoke to them of Hell. It would seem that Jesus was content to tell the truth, and to allow the people to either repent, wrestle with the teaching, or reject it altogether. He loved them enough to speak of certain judgment to come. He never hid these truths. He did not dilute them. He let them hang in the air to be understood for what they clearly were: a warning that demands decision.
In our generation, we seem to refrain from saying uncomfortable words like those shared by Jesus. We call our silence concerning judgment love, and it is ominous that the modern Church senses no inner conflict with our reluctance to share these types of hard truths. Are we presumably kinder than Jesus Christ? Perhaps we fancy ourselves more sophisticated than He was. Maybe we are more clever, presuming that we can bypass hard truths about Hell and alternatively insert slick calls for people to give a nod toward Jesus as the One who can make their lives better. More than once, I have been told that mentioning judgment and Hell is the opposite of love, grace or kindness.
I have never believed anyone who protested to me along these lines. I knew immediately that they had been seduced by the spirit of the age. You may be surprised to know that nobody else in the New Testament spoke more on eternal judgment than Jesus Christ. Not Paul. Not Peter. Not James. Jesus takes home the trophy for the highest volume of words concerning the destiny of those who do not repent. If we are truly following in His steps, we will find ourselves also loving people enough to say the hard truths that Jesus said. If we love them, we will warn them. We will be specific. We will be consistent. We will care more about their eternities than we do our reputations. Sometimes we will need to be direct, snatching them out of the fire as the Apostle Jude wrote in his little letter toward the backs of our bibles. There will be other instances when we can take our time and offer a more gentle presentation of these hard truths. We can win them with a positive witness of the Gospel accompanied by a gentle warning about what awaits those who reject the Gospel. Our methodology can alter depending on the person with whom we are speaking. What we cannot do is continue to cloak these hard truths when the time for people to decide is shorter than it has ever been.
Friends, we need God to deliver us from the American Gospel and bring us back into the power and beauty of the biblical Gospel. The Western Church needs repentance and rescue. The appetites of the people in the pews has too long driven what is being communicated from the pulpit. A demonic shift has muzzled men and women who have been entrusted by God with the truth of His word. The great expectation of our generation is for Christians to be, above all other things, nice. Niceness over truthful? Apparently. Some of those truths about Hell seem brutal when first heard by unredeemed ears. Yet, they must be spoken clearly and consistently. What terrible accounting awaits Christians who substituted fabricated relational sweetness for commanded spiritual honesty. Christians are promised that we will all appear before King Jesus and give an account for how we lived as believers (2 Corinthians 5:10). I shudder to think of having to answer the question, “Jeff, why did you listen to the voices of your generation instead of My voice? Why did you not clearly communicate to dying souls that, unless they repent, they will die forever? Were you ashamed of My hard truths, Jeff?” I cannot bear the thought of that potential conversation occurring between the Master and me. I have made up my mind to remain resolved to tell the truth, the hard truths and the necessary truths. Yes, I believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell. I know people who are in those same fires Jesus spoke of in Luke 16. They are there right now, even as I type. They will never be released. More accurately, they will be relocated from Hell to an eternal lake of fire with Satan and his demons after the final judgment. No escape. No reprieve. No relief. No additional opportunity to change their minds. They are damned because of their unbelief. Isaiah 5:14 declares that Hell has enlarged itself and swallowed countless souls. In the meantime, it is the en vogue methodology of the Western Church to pour falsehood on top of this hard truth like salt on a slug, hoping it will dissolve from our view.
But it won’t. It is not going away. The most loving and kind human to ever walk earth spoke these hard truths from lips that cannot lie. Jesus warned those who needed to repent and believe on Him. It was a warning wrapped in perfect love. He could not complete the Father’s assignment without telling His generation to flee the wrath to come.
We cannot do anything less.
Hard truths. We cannot avoid them. We cannot salt the slug to make it go away. Now, more than ever before, we need to reclaim the message that witnesses for Christ and warns of Hell.