Preaching on Hell

Hell is not cool, PC or even fun to preach; not if you take it seriously. It's a heavy, sober and genuinely terrifying topic. My Theology Matters series wraps up this week with a sermon on Hell, and I thought I would share why I believe preaching on hell is valuable.

1. It demonstrates the holiness and justice of God.

Throughout Scripture God makes it clear that he cannot overlook sin. He will not give our pride a pass, nor look the other way when we covet or lust, nor will he just forgive us. His righteousness demands satisfaction against all unrighteousness, and because God is so wonderfully consistent in his person and work we face the terrifying reality that our sin demands satisfaction. Preaching on hell reveals a holy and just God.

2. It uncovers the seriousness and heinousness of sin.

It's impossible to see our sin as too ugly. I think most people tend to see sin as little more than an interruption to a happier day. But it's the reality of hell that helps us to begin to grasp just how serious an issue our corruption is. It is worthy of and earns God's wrath. We are corrupted and condemned because of our sinful actions, thoughts and nature. Preaching on hell uncovers the ugliness of our sin.

3. It reveals the severity of the sufferings of Jesus on behalf of sinners.

I do not believe Jesus, after his death on the cross, went to "hell." But I do believe, with Calvin, that Scripture teaches Jesus went through hell (the wrath of God) on the cross. Christ propitiatory work on the cross is what allows God to be both just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Preaching on hell forces us to confront God's holiness, our ugliness and the wonder of the cross where these two realities came together in the all satisfying work of the Savior.

So I'm preaching on hell - not to scare people away from hell (in fact, I don't think that generally works). I am preaching on hell to highlight law and gospel. As we see our guilt and just condemnation (hell deserved), we are then drawn to the grace and redemption offered in Jesus (hell satisfied).