This month at Bready Reformed Presbyterian Church, Rev Blair McFarland, will be discussing heaven and hell. In advance of his talk on Sunday (April 13) here’s some food for thought.
“Fear-mongering, manipulation and hell-preaching is manipulative. It’s scare tactics. It’s fear-mongering. Isn’t that what people say? For some people Christianity is seen as an often violent and oppressive ideology – think of the Crusades, torture, burnings at the stake.
“So should we avoid anything that smacks of fear-mongering and go for a soft-sell approach? Fear is appropriate at times. We teach our children to take care crossing the road for fear of getting knocked down.
“In your employment you work diligently for fear of getting sacked. You stop smoking cigarettes for fear of developing lung cancer. What if there really is something to fear?
“Our actions have consequences and not all of those consequences are good. There is a relationship between what we do and what we get. So we need to heed the warnings.
“Jesus shows us what to fear – hell. On several occasions Jesus told his followers, ‘Fear not.’ When, for example, they were caught in a boat in a storm. Experienced fishermen that they were, they thought they were going to drown and Jesus reassured them that they were being kept safe by God.
“But on another occasion he gave them an earnest warning, ‘Do not fear those who can kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear God who, after he has killed, has the authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!’
“Fear-mongering? As we consider what the Bible says about heaven and hell we are not fear-mongering. Rather, we are like a doctor who does his work conscientiously. After examining his patient he gives an honest diagnosis.
“It’s not in the patient’s best interests to disregard what his doctor says – especially if there is a remedy for his condition.
“The message of the gospel is that hell can be avoided – not by ignoring it and hoping it will go away, but by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ. He endured the pains of hell in his death on the cross on behalf of his people. Acknowledge your sin and trust in the Saviour and he will remove all unjustified fear from your life.”