On several occasions during my time in Pastoral ministry people have asked me, "Are you a hellfire and brimstone preacher?" And of course, when that happens, I recognize that as a loaded question.
The short answer is "yes," and I believe that we can accurately categorize Jesus in that very same way. After all, during His public ministry, Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven.
In this article, we are going to consider 3 things; errors about hell, the agony of hell, and the urgency regarding hell.
First, Errors about Hell:
One error is universalism which is the faulty idea that ultimately everyone universally goes to heaven and that no one goes to hell because as Rob Bell piously says, "Love Wins."
Another error about hell is annihilationism. They teach that in hell the soul is consumed or annihilated so they would reject the idea that hell is "eternal punishment." To them, hell is just temporary because a soul is quickly annihilated.
Another error is conditionalism. The idea there is that our soul is not inherently immortal but they say that it may become immortal upon the 'condition' of putting your faith in Jesus Christ. So essentially the conditionalist teaches that no one goes to hell.
Universalism, annihilationism and conditionalism are each staggering understatements about hell. Additionally, consider some extreme overstatements about hell.
The literature from some of the early church fathers includes exaggerated claims that "blasphemers are hanging from their tongues in hell and that adulterous women are dangling over a boiling mire, while slanderers are chewing their own tongues and murderers are being hurled into pits filled with venomous snakes."
Both these understatements and overstatements are errors regarding hell. So what is the truth? To answer that question, we must consider, the agony of hell.
Secondly, the agony of hell:
Years ago in my Bible college class, our professor instructed us to write down the following biblical explanation for hell.
He said, "Hell is the ultimate destination where Christ rejecting men and women experience, eternal, conscience, torment in fire, that is nothing less than literal."
Please notice how the professor's bible-based statement stands in strong contrast to the errors of hell that I previously described.
In Luke 16, Jesus references Hades which is the abode of the damned before final judgment. Jesus explains that hell is a place of torment in unquenchable flame. Jesus explains that part of the torment of hell is that it's residents have memories of their lives on the earth and they remember their lost opportunities to receive the gospel. Luke 16:26 indicates a permanent, irreversible, separation from God and therefore a separation from everything that is good.
In Matthew 10:28, the Bible uses the word "Gehenna" to further explain hell when Jesus says, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Gehenna hell is the final destination of both the body and the soul of the damned. (See Mark 9:43, 45, 47.)
The book of Revelation describes Gehenna hell as "the lake of fire." It explains that brimstone is what is used to fuel the dark colored flames in hell.
Brimstone is sulfur and this yellowish substance melts at 248°F. At 482°F it turns a fierce red, but at 832° it boils and turns a dark brown. Brimstone adds to the darkness of this despicable place.
Yet, the worst agony of hell is not necessarily the flame, nor the weeping and wailing, nor the memory of lost opportunities, nor is it the worms that do not die, but the worst agony of hell is that it is ETERNAL punishment.
If a criminal receives a prison sentence of 20 years, at least the prisoner can maintain some level of optimism and mark his calendar that at the end of his 20 year term, he can have his freedom. But the worst agony of hell is that the torments of the lake of fire are never ending.
After considering errors about hell and the agony of hell, the urgency of hell becomes obvious.
Thirdly, the urgency regarding hell:
One Christian leader powerfully stated, "Our job as Christians is to preach the exceeding sinfulness of men, the fearful punishment of hell, but also to boldly proclaim the gracious and loving God who offers His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our merciful Savior."
Christians often lack an urgency in evangelism and instead a lethargy exists. Very sadly, many Christians have some kind of distorted sense of discretion when it comes to hell.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are on the wrong side of the issue if you ridicule Christians who warn people about the dreadful hurt of hell.
The professor had it correct when he said, "hell is the ultimate destination where Christ rejecting men and women experience eternal, conscious, torment in fire, that is nothing less than literal."
The fact is we're all sinners, and we all need a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. He is the exclusive way to Heaven. If you've never been born again, today is the day of salvation!
If you have already been saved, you're watching this video as a Christian, allow the reality of hell to foster a fresh urgency within you for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
So, am I a "hellfire and brimstone preacher?" The answer is "yes." And all the souls currently residing in hell would want it that way for your sake. Trust Christ today.