I attended a missionary secondary school, which ran on strong Christian indoctrination- with assemblies like mini-church services and regular midweek services alongside Sunday evening services. Once it was 5am (weekdays and weekends alike), you could hear the loud blast of sirens, followed by the sound of numerous shuffled feet- towards morning devotions.
In hindsight, I appreciate the training- a man must learn to dedicate the early hours of the day to communing with God. Notwithstanding, I had negative experiences at that time- especially with seniors and teachers who felt that morning flagellation was a way to bring me closer to God. Their early morning lashes with cold belts interrupted my dreams severally- especially one in which I was already manning up to speak to my JSS3 crush.
Amidst all these services and devotions, one season stood out for me as a student of the school- the season of the Seven Columbian Youth. During our services, we usually had these type of film show sessions- and so, we were told on this particular Sunday that we’d be watching one of such. However, this was different. The video was about the Seven Columbian Youths, from Columbia who gathered to pray for a long time. Suddenly, they all had a vision of heaven and hell that spanned hours. I don’t remember much of what they said about heaven, but their description of hell was vivid and scary.
As you would expect, that period was a season of ‘giving’, ‘collecting’ and ‘rededication’ of lives. The whole school became sober and altar calls were always met with large responses- no one wanted to go to the hell described by the Seven Columbian Youths. I mean this was a school filled with children and teenagers with very impressionable minds. However, there was a problem in all of these for me. I always saw the need to come out when an altar call was made- because, amongst other listed sins, I was a die-hard fan of Hip Hop. So every Lil Wayne song seemed to draw me closer to hell. This was the story of a lot of students during this season. I remember that at some point I gave up- I was never going to stop listening to Lil Wayne, or would I? I was tired of the back and forth of “altar calls” and retreating back to old vices.
Years later, with evident growth (by God’s grace) and godly doctrine, I now know that those constant responses to altar calls, inspired by fear did nothing to help my faith. Based on these,
I’d like to give my two cents about Hell and how Christians should respond to Visions of Hell
– The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation, not the fear of Hell.
Everyone who has been taught about hell knows that it is a terrible place. However, the emphasis of the gospel is not on Hell Fire, but on Jesus Christ and his redemptive work.
In the book of Acts alone we have over half a dozen instances of people preaching the gospel and not once was hell the emphasis of their message (Acts 2:14-40, Acts 3:12-26, Acts 4:5-12, Acts 7, Acts 10:28-47, Acts 13:16-41, Acts 14:3-7). Reference after reference, the emphasis remained the same- the fact that Jesus Christ died for sins, was buried and resurrected on the third day and how salvation comes from believing in this. This is the emphasis God would have everyone embrace.The emphasis of the gospel is not on Hell Fire but on Jesus Christ and his redemptive work. Click To Tweet
– The Authority of Scriptures.
As Christians, our only point of reference or guide is God’s Word, the Bible. Hence, we must not seek to do things outside the teachings of the Bible. We must not- for the reason of improvisation, devise means outside the scriptures to preach the Gospel.
For clarity sake, we have accounts of people who were raised from the dead in the Bible. Lazarus is a case in point (Luke 11:18-38). We don’t see him come back from the dead and start a ministry, centred around recounting his tales of his experiences in the after-life. We must honour the word of God above everything.We have no biblical precedence about 'believers in hell', because the Bible clearly tells us that God himself ensures that everyone who believes in Jesus is kept. Click To Tweet
Specifically, we have no biblical precedence about “believers in hell”, because the Bible clearly tells us that God himself ensures that everyone who believes in Jesus is kept (Jude 1:24, John 17:12). The believer has an assurance of salvation hinged on God’s promises in His word- which again, are not subject to visions of hell. This is why Paul could assure the church in Thessalonica that they would see their dead loved ones again at the resurrection of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Your Christian convictions do not rest on videos or Nollywood, but on the infallible word of God.The believer has an assurance of salvation hinged on God’s promises in His word- which again, are not subject to visions of hell. Click To Tweet
In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. Notice Abraham’s response in verses 29-31 to the rich man’s request in verse 27-28 that he send Lazarus to go and warn his siblings about hell.
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Apparently God will only convict the world of sin, it’s consequences and the need for salvation only via his word spoken by men. Living men. No other message. No other method.
Heaven is real. Hell is real. But more real is our salvation, and more real is God’s word which assures us that we are KEPT by God, even till the end of time. SelahHeaven is real. Hell is real. But more real is our salvation, and more real is God's word which assures us that we are KEPT by God, even till the end of time. Click To Tweet
So true and I agree. Hell shouldn’t be our focus or motivation to draw close to Christ. We are safe and secure in our salvation.