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Chapter 15: Hell Matters

A few years ago my wife and I were driving back late at night from Washington, D.C.  After promising to help keep me awake by talking to me on our trip back, Jenny had fallen into a deep sleep about 90 seconds into the trip.  The interstate was largely deserted that late, but as I rounded one of the curves on I-70 I met a car coming the opposite direction that began to flash his high beams in my face.

My initial reaction was to get agitated and flash him back, assuming he incorrectly thought I was driving with my brights on when I wasn’t.  But that didn’t stop him.  For the next 7-10 seconds before we passed each other, he kept doing it.  It dawned on me that one of two things had just occurred.

It’s possible that he was being kind and letting me know that I was about to drive into either an accident or a speed trap.  The other possibility was that it was a gang initiation and I was about to be murdered in Western Pennsylvania while my wife slept peacefully.  I hoped for the former, but between you and me I kept checking my rear-view mirror the rest of the night for the latter.

Given that I’m writing this book, it’s pretty clear that either it was an extremely incompetent gang, or my initial assumption was right.  While I never saw the police officer if he was out there in the dark, I had reduced my speed just a tad as a precaution and tend to believe that the mysterious flasher (be careful how you interpret that) on the interstate that night saved me a traffic stop and a ticket.

When drivers do that for other drivers, they are providing a warning to their fellow man that they are about to encounter the law.  At that point you’re left with the option of whether you want to heed their warning or blow them off.  The reason I chose to heed the driver’s warning that late autumn night in Pennsylvania was because I knew he had already been where I was about to go.  He knew something I didn’t.

When it comes to the afterlife, Jesus has been where we are about to go.  And as I read Scripture, I see Him flashing His high beams at us with great frequency and intensity.  I find it beyond irresponsible to ignore that and blow Him off.

Third, the job of every Christian according to Scripture is to be Ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

As Dr. Evans explains, imagine a doctor looking at your scans, seeing the mass on your lungs and saying to the nurses, “I guess I don’t really know what it is, but it’s probably nothing.  I’m not going to worry about this one or mention it to them.”

Or imagine a police officer who saw a group of thugs throwing rocks through your business window, and looting the store in broad daylight, saying to his partner with a chuckle, “Oh geez, boys will be boys, let’s just go.”

Or how about a fireman who saw the flames climbing the stories of an office building towards trapped workers and said to his fellow fireman, “Honestly that thing will eventually burn itself out – it can’t burn forever.”

What would you say about those individuals?  Amongst other things, we could all unanimously conclude that they do not take their jobs very seriously.  In the same way, a Christian who sees what Scripture says about the reality of Hell and does not spend ample time addressing it and warning about it doesn’t take his job very seriously either.

And finally, there is not a soul on earth that doesn’t need to hear about Hell, for fairly obvious reasons.

For Christians, we need to know what God has saved us from.  The more we comprehend the reality of Hell, the more it shatters our ability to underestimate the love God has for us.

For non-Christians, they need to know why they desperately need God to save them.  The biggest cure to an apathetic mind ambivalent towards eternal matters is to introduce it to the reality of Hell.  If Hell is real, every other concern, every other problem, every other issue pales in comparison to how we deal with it.

So is it real?