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Why do pastors scare people about hell?

Caller:  I’m a follower and I read a lot of books by Bertrand Russell and I would like to know—he said in his book “Why I’m Not a Christian” why pastors scare people about hell.  Okay?  Now we do not know if there’s anything such as a hell, we just hear what Jesus said, but in reality we really don’t know if there’s a hell or not until we do pass away and then we will find out if there is another life.  Why do pastors scare people by saying they’re going to go to hell?


Pastor Doug:  Well, first of all, let me answer your question as well as I can, Bill.  First of all, the Bible does teach that there is a lake of fire.  That’s in Revelation 20.  The Bible says in Malachi 4 preachers have to say what’s in the Bible if we’re Bible preachers, it says “All that do wickedly shall be burned up. 


It will leave them neither root nor branch.”  “The wicked are cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.”  Now I’m reading Revelation 20.  So there’s no question that the wicked are punished, every man according to his deeds.  Some preachers, in an effort to try to get people to come to church using fear as a motive, have expanded the teaching of hell beyond what the Bible says.  And they tell people that hell is burning right now.  Well, the Bible is very clear that people don’t burn in hell until after the judgment day and the resurrection.  So nobody’s burning in hell right now because it says they’re reserved for judgment—again in II Peter. 


So there are a lot of pastors who’ve tried to motivate people by fear, but that’s the wrong reason.  Jesus said ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments.’  He doesn’t want us to follow Him because of a fear of hell, but rather from a desire to be with Him because we love Him, because we know Him.


We have a lesson that we’ll send you, Bill, that answers this in more detail, and it’s free.  The lesson is called “Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?”  It’s a broad spectrum of Scriptures and study and interesting notes on what the Bible says about the lake of fire and hell.  Okay?  We’ll send that to you for free and Pastor Dick will give you the number.


Co-Host:  Bill, please call our resource operators—1-800-835-6747, and ask for that lesson.  It’s called “Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?” and we’ll send it to you this evening.  1-800-835-6747.



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Hell in the Bible

The word “hell” is used 54 times in the Bible. It is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
  • 31 times from the Hebrew “Sheol,” which means “the grave”
In the New Testament:
  • 10 times from the Greek “Hades,” which means “the grave”
  • 12 times from the Greek “Gehenna,” which means “a place of burning”
  • 1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”


What is Purgatory?

A tradition held by the Catholic Church that teaches people who are not good enough to be worthy of heaven, but not bad enough to deserve hell, suffer in an intermediary state until their sins are purged.

But is it in the Bible? Click here to learn more.

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