There is a certain word in the Bible that is rarely heard in church, although it is widely used in private and public conversations. We hear it almost every day. Some use it for emphasis or exclamation, such as “What the h—?” or “h— no!” or “h— yes!” Sometimes it appears to be a measurement, such as an “h — of many.” In sports, it’s used as a compliment: “He’s an h— of a player.” The word has become so common that we all recognize it, and so taboo that we don’t talk about it.
When we come to church, the word is missing. We rarely, if ever, refer to it. We avoid it in our pulpits and Bible studies. But when we read the New Testament, it’s there. Jesus used it and warned about it. The apostles Paul and Peter spoke of it and John described it in Revelation.
Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother will be guilty in court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You for nothing,’ will be guilty in the highest court; and whoever says, ‘You fool’, will be guilty enough to enter fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22).
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In another passage, Jesus described a rich man who lived his life in luxury, ignoring the plight of a poor beggar at his door named Lazarus. Jesus said, “The rich man died and was buried. In hell, where he was tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance, with Lazarus by his side. So he cried to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am terrified in this fire’” (Luke 16:19-31).
In another place Jesus said, “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and then have nothing left to do. But I will warn you of those whom you must fear: fear the One who, after He has slain, has authority to cast into hell; yea, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-6).
Like most people, I would like to think that everyone goes to heaven, except when I hear stories of atrocities, such as the stories of innocent children being abused, raped and murdered. Then hell seems logical. I remember watching the movie “Ghost” when the killer was dragged to hell by the demons. It was chilling.
According to what Jesus said, we all have reason to pause. Perhaps what we believe and how we behave has eternal implications that we haven’t fully considered.
When the afterlife consists not only of heaven, but also of hell, the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross takes on even more meaning. We have all sinned and failed to meet God’s requirements. We all need the Savior who paid the penalty for our sins and was raised from the dead to give us new life. (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 10:9-10; 6:4-5).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experiences from a faith perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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