Jesus didn’t sugarcoat hell. Jesus made things absolutely clear, in the eyes of a Christian like me: He is the bridge to the everlasting. We are all unworthy and therefore doomed like chaff to the fire. Jesus is the Savior, without whom we get no ticket to eternity. It is that simple.
Sometimes, Pastors take an equally subtle approach. But, they make a major error in singling out a particular group. Take this Australian Pastor who has caused the latest uproar. The title of the news article says it all: “Baptist raises hell in Jewish dialogue” — ugh.
A BAPTIST pastor has admitted telling Jewish leaders that Jews were “going to hell” and faced a fate “worse than the Holocaust” because they had not accepted Jesus as their saviour.
. . .
[The Pastor], a US-trained minister from Virginia, said his comments applied to all people who rejected Jesus, not only Jews, and were based in scripture. “The Bible says that all have sinned and all are worthy of hell,” he told the Herald. “That includes everyone, until we receive Jesus as our saviour.
“Jesus and the Apostles were Jewish. They explained that the Old Testament Jewish faith looked forward to the messiah and the New Testament reveals Jesus as the messiah.”
But despite [The Pastor’s] attempt to clarify his remarks, [a Jewish person present to hear the remarks] said he was shocked to hear the leader of a Christian congregation speak so bluntly.
“It was a chilling experience,” he said. “While one is only too aware that there are fundamentalist beliefs and extremist preachers out there, his brazen approach and the fact that he is influencing others on a daily basis are the issues of real concern.”
The Jewish person’s response refers to the idea that “Jews who don’t believe in Jesus are going to hell” as “fundamentalist.” It isn’t “fundamentalist” in the sense that a liberal would refer to, say, a Christian who won’t let his kids watch Harry Potter. No, the correct word would be FUNDAMENTAL.
The fact is that ANY Christian, by definition, would say that Jews who do not believe in Jesus are going to that place called “hell.” The Bible tells us so.
It’s just that it isn’t just Jews. It is everybody.
Admittedly, this kind of situation isn’t always the fault of the alleged victimizer, so I will give the Pastor some benefit of the doubt. For instance, certain groups (e.g., atheists and Jews) will ask questions that pointedly include their specific group. For instance, in my experience with atheists online, I often hear this question when I’m talking about Jesus: “I’m atheist. So, am I going to hell?”
And, when we Christians simply answer “yes,” we are entirely missing the point and missing an opportunity to help open someone’s eyes to Jesus. A usual response I hear to a “yes” answer given by someoine else is: “Well, you’re condemning me to hell!”
Believers in Christ don’t condemn to hell. God does. So, we shouldn’t single out any particular group because it sounds that way. I remember personally feeling condemned when I was given the “straight scoop” as a non-believer. It never works. It just adds another nail on to the door that Jesus is knocking on.
What we should do is we should always state the simple fact that we are all equally unworthy. In Jesus, we have a way out.
The Pastor, in this case, does explain in this manner in this article… but it is after the fact. A non-believing Jewish person (like I once was) reads the title and intro to this article and won’t see an explanation. He’ll just think he is being singled out for condemnation in hell.
This poor Pastor would have never gotten into this hot water if he, instead, said that “we all are hell-bound without Jesus. So answer the knocking door already!”