I have come to the conclusion that the we are rapidly losing sight of both Heaven and Hell in today’s Christian theology.
Hell is being preached as being separated from God (which it surely is), but with no mention of any kind of eternal punishment—no torment, no fire, no weeping and gnashing of teeth. Our message to the lost concerning Hell is just one big shrug: Since people are separated from God in the here in now, why should separation from God in the future be all that bad?
We are doing a massive disservice to people with our theology of a little Hell.
Likewise, Heaven is no longer held out as being all that wonderful. We talk about being in God’s presence forever, but since the average person experiences so little of His presence in daily existence, how much of a draw is Heaven really? I sometimes wonder if the promise of a great day at an amusement park holds more hope for many than does Heaven.
We are cheating people with our little Heaven.
Why are so many churches, pastors, and teachers so afraid to talk about a BIG Heaven and a BIG Hell? We’re all going to spend so much time in one place or another that, in light of eternity, our lives right now will not even be a nanosecond in comparison. A big Heaven and big Hell was the crux of most of the preaching before the 20th century, but now in today’s rush to be self-sufficient, we don’t need to talk about either place. We cheat Hell with therapy and our money can buy us Heaven. At least we think so.
How we believe about Heaven and Hell influences every aspect of our lives. In the “olden days” you had preachers who understood the depths of both Heaven and Hell, and to save just one person from the latter would have walked over burning coals and broken glass. That depth of understanding changed how ministry was done and it drove some of the greatest growth in the Church.
Last time I heard anything of any importance about either Heaven or Hell? I can’t even remember. I can’t believe it has gotten this bad.
We need to recover the powerful reality of Heaven and of Hell in our preaching and teaching. We need to believe about them in proportion to God’s view of them and why they exist. Anything less is a travesty.