March 22, 2017

September 28, 2010


Sermon: Jesus teaches about Hell

Here’s the text

Today’s Gospel passage is a hard one. It is not hard to understand, but what Jesus says, is, for many, hard to digest and accept. Jesus clearly speaks of the place of torment, of hell. Any time hell is spoken of from the pulpit there is a risk.


For many it comes across as manipulative. The church’s message isn’t quite the attraction we’d like, so to the “carrot” of heaven, Christians add the “stick” of hell. This allows us to scare people into our pews and control them once they get here.

Add to that the stereotypical image, held by so many, of the self-righteous firebrand evangelist who seems to revel gleefully in the fire and brimstone and eternal punishment of everyone else…and you have a recipe that many Christians who want to reach out to people in the world like to avoid. 

We want people to see the love of Jesus. We want people to come to Good Shepherd and walk away having had a good experience of the presence and power of God.

As a preacher, I want to dwell on the more attractive elements of Christianity. I know we have guests here. I know some here are on the edge of coming faith, and I don’t want to drive anyone away. I want people to stay, become part of this family, come to know Jesus here with us and I’m afraid of passages like this because I’m afraid that you’ll run in the other direction.

Our calling, however, is not to craft a message that will bring people to Good Shepherd…more


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7 comments

That was a good sermon. I wish I was in Binghamton. I would be in the front pew. Probably the consequences discussion in the other thread should be here.

Jesus the touchy feely/warm and fuzzy wise man of the liberal progressives is a fiction.

[1] Posted by robroy on 9-28-2010 at 08:26 AM · [top]

Really good exposition and memorable illustrations for the people to carry with them.

Some folks espouse a “Jesus only” version of Marcion, saying we have to stick to “Gospel-centered” learning and ministry because Paul and all those other NT people heaped name-your-phobic stuff on top of the peace ‘n’ justice of Jesus.  Your demonstration of how Jesus is the expositor of Hell gobsmacks that position.

Matthew 25, so often cited as a warrant for “just doing social justice ministry,” also rests on the warning of Hell:

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 9-28-2010 at 08:46 AM · [top]

Needless to say, we did not hear a sermon based on the Gospel for 09/26/2010. Thanks for going there, well done.

Jesus, being from heaven, knows hell is real and he knows it is eternal and once you die your fate is forever sealed. You cannot cross the gulf between heaven and hell…

... Jesus loves you. And so when he speaks of hell, he speaks from an infinite wellspring of compassion.

I liked your summation of just who it is in the Bible who speaks of hell. We don’t hear that very often in our parish. Most of the time we hear the feel good message that we desire to hear without getting to hear the warnings.

[3] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 9-28-2010 at 09:36 AM · [top]

This was enormously helpful for me. I think though, in addition to this discussion, that some people/Christians have a neurotic obsession with hell, perhaps based on an obsessive fear of death and losing all control, and that that concept might sometime be explored. I also have come to think that the attitude of Lazarus is the attitude God prizes because when we are in that state God can get through to us.

[4] Posted by Adam 12 on 9-28-2010 at 12:23 PM · [top]

Thanks Matt. I enjoyed the sermon.

[5] Posted by Mark Carroll on 9-28-2010 at 06:31 PM · [top]

Matt+,

Great sermon, as always.

Warning: #3 appears to be a spam-scammer. The link is to a tourism advertising site.

[6] Posted by MichaelA on 9-29-2010 at 06:19 PM · [top]

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