Several years ago, I brought my colleague and her son to church. After attended that one Sunday, she decided to attend another church. Out of curiosity, I asked her why she did not come back. To my astonishment, she told me that her son started having nightmare after attending the children’s sunday school on that Sunday. The children sunday school teacher taught the class on that Sunday that if they do not accept Jesus, they will all go to hell. He then went on great length to describe hell. No wonder that boy had nightmare.
I wonder how many of us like that children sunday school teacher, thinking that we are sharing the gospel by telling people that if they do not become Christians, they will go to hell. I wonder how many Christians become Christians because we are too scare of hell and want assurance of a eternal life after we die but have never experienced for ourselves the overwhelming love of Jesus.
We must stop and repent from using scare tactics of evangelism, thinking that we are sharing the gospel, but in fact, we have failed to show people the love of Christ, the actual good news. There is zero biblical ground for such evangelistic approach. Hell is never the message of Jesus’ Great Commission.
Hell is the consequence of our sins. It is a given and definitely not the news. It is absolutely not the good news Jesus entrusted us. Fear is the opposite of love. Anyone who accepts Jesus out of fear of hell after death and therefore want assurance that they will live on after they die has not accepted the love of Jesus on the cross. If we only tell people to accept Jesus in order to have eternal life, we have not shared the gospel because of our unbiblical definition of eternal life.
People who become Christian through the fear of hell has never been touched by the love of Jesus on the cross. While this may be how many begin, until and unless they come to a point of encountering Jesus, the Person, and His love, their lives have not yet been transformed by God’s grace. They practice Christianity as a religion, taking part in Christianity’s religion’s rituals, such as attending church programs, but their lives have never tasted the first love for Jesus nor do they have personal encounter and relationship with Jesus, a love relationship that never happens (Read: Am I a Christ-less Christian ).
John 17:3 said, “this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The word “know” in this verse is not just to know about, but to know at a personal level intimately. Then there is no such thing about having a life after death, as most people think what “eternal life” means, without knowing God the Father at a personal level in our sonship. In other words, if we do know God the Father at a personal level in our sonship, we are already living in our eternal life here on earth.
There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. Whoever fears has not been perfected in love [1 John 4:18]. The GOSPEL is about God’s love, whose love for us is so intense that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sake. His resurrection brings us victory. There is no need to call for a response to a message of hell because without God, we are there already. God is calling for our response to His love. New life begins when we choose to respond to God’s love by giving Him our life, our everything. It is a response of love to His love. A personal, loving relationship with Jesus has begun.
Using the fear of hell can never trick people to heaven. Instead, Jesus commands us to be His witness of His love. Be Jesus’ witness of the love we receive from Him, to proclaim good news, bring freedom, blessings and healing, bring the Lord’s favour (Isaiah 61).
How about you? Did you become a Christian because of the fear of hell but have never encountered Jesus and His overwhelming love personally? I pray that you will seek Jesus love. He promised you that if you seek Him, you will find Him. It is my prayer that you will know the truth of Jesus love, and may this truth set you free.
Hell is not the gospel. Fear is not God’s love.