In 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached the fiery sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” As he waxed on about the horrors of hell for those who reject God’s salvation through His Son Jesus, some people were so convicted that during the sermon, they repeatedly interrupted him, shouting, “What shall I do to be saved?” Since then, that sentiment has changed. A new survey of Americans reveal that while 62% believe in heaven and think they are going there, only 43% believe in hell as a place of suffering and punishment where people go after they die. That attitude may help to explain why we don’t hear many sermons today about hell. One writer said the devil’s most powerful tool is convincing us that he—and hell—do not exist. Years ago, God told Jeremiah to deliver His message to His people, but he told him not to omit the bad news. We read this in Jeremiah chapter 26: “This is what the LORD says; Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the LORD, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.” The truth about hell is taught throughout the Bible, and especially by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we fail to present this aspect of the Gospel, we disappoint God who commissions us, and we shortchange the people who remain ignorant.
Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More