“Smiling All The Way To Hell”

This morning in chapel at the small Christian College I attend, the speaker made several statements which I found very interesting and thought-provoking:

“I heard about a man who was accused of scaring people into heaven. I asked him about this recently and he said, ‘When my children were little, I scared them from touching a hot stove or from poking something into a plug outlet… I don’t think it’s a bad thing to scare people sometimes.’

“Now, I don’t know if I believe that that is right, it’s certainly not friendship evangelism. However, there are many people in America smiling all the way to hell. I don’t think it’s wrong, with a person you have talked to several times, to warn them about what they will face.”

“Sin is shown as being happy, go your way, suffer no consequences, etc. – and it’s not wrong to bring some sobriety into the situation.”

I have to say this wasn’t something I’d considered before.

What do you think?

7 thoughts on ““Smiling All The Way To Hell””

  1. This reminds me of the sermon “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” by Ray Comfort.

    In it he uses the illustration of an airplane flight: A stewardess comes to you and offers you a parachute saying it will make the flight more enjoyable. Putting on the parachute uses up what little space you had between the seats and causes you to hunch over. The flight is definitely NOT more enjoyable. In frustration, failing to see how the parachute benefits you at all, you take it off and toss it to the side, swearing never to be taken for a fool again.

    Contrast this with the flight where a stewardess comes to you offering a parachute. “This airplane will begin disintegrating in 10 minutes, we have a few parachutes. Take this, put it on, and it will save your life.” Now you welcome the discomfort and when in turbulence the stewardess spills coffee on you, you hold tighter to the cumbersome parachute and pray the airplane disintegrates sooner.

    The law is a schoolmaster to bring us to salvation, Paul says. The law brings conviction, sorrow, and hopefully a sense of total self-inadequacy.

    Call it scaring people into heaven, it’s an important part of every salvation process.

  2. Excellent points. Scare tactics are only wrong if there isn’t a legitimate consequence. Hell is the ultimate legitimate consequence.

  3. I also was thinking along these lines the other day, in regard to how we approach sharing Christ. So often we consider their present needs, ie. “your life would be so much better if you had God to depend on and meet your needs;” which is true, of course. But I rarely remember to consider their need for AFTER this life. Hell should scare us as Christians into action as well.

  4. What an interesting perspective…to think that some humans have the ability to snatch other humans from hell. Is the inverse also true: that some humans can snatch other humans from heaven?
    I do not pretend to know where the overlap lies between God’s sovereign claim upon the soul of a man and the claimed man’s privilege to brag about that status. I do see that I am called to tell others of His marvelous work in my life, but I thought that it was (is) the unique work of Holy Spirit to lay claim to the soul of a man.
    The fallen state of man dictates that we were all once standing in the same broad queue. This queue is visible to me now in every aspect of life- grocery store, work, church, school, sports, everywhere. I know that He chose to pluck me from the line, and now I have the perspective to see what the old queue leads to. I have made friends in that old queue, have some family there, too. Even today I make new friends in that old line.
    But I lack the power to budge anyone from their place in line. I lacked the power, or will, to remove myself from that queue. It was solely the call of Him which turned my face from that common destiny. I was unknowing if Him and therefore unable to extricate myself from the lineup of humanity. He called me out.
    His calling out also elicits from me compassion for those left standing in the line. I know I am as powerless to save them as I was powerless to save myself. Yet whenever I mingle with that queue crowd, and especially those whom I know well, compassion compels me to speak of the One who freed me from the lineup they don’t know they are a part of. It is futile to try to convince anyone of a condition they don’t know they are in. But the joy of my newfound Companion encourages me to never cease mingling and telling of Him. He reassures me that He will use my voice to accomplish His calling in someone’s life.

    I don’t think we should ever stop sharing the good news-I just think we little humans haven’t much to do about His eternal purposes… much like the shiprats believing they have command over the vessel in which they sail.


  5. Ks, thanks for commenting.

    As far as the man being accused of “scaring people into heaven” that was a description given him because of the ‘tactics’, or way he presented salvation, to certain people.

    I did not mean at all that as humans we are responsible for ‘snatching other humans from hell.” I am, as you mentioned, simply responsible to share the message of salvation with the unsaved. It is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit to convict that person of their sin and need for salvation.

    In sharing that message of salvation, I don’t think it’s wrong to confront someone with the reality of hell.

    I wouldn’t choose this method the first time I shared the Gospel message with someone, but if I had what I deemed a secure enough relationship with the person, I would certainly not be opposed to telling them about hell. Too few people in this world have a correct picture of what hell really is.

  6. Hmmmm. Well, I think that sin is an inherent part of the gospel. What other reason is there for Jesus to have died for us? If we leave out the punishment part, we’re not teaching the true gospel: I think a true belief also involves genuine turning away from sin.

    However, I don’t like the “scare tactics” or whatever you want to call them when we focus so much on the afterlife (heaven vs. hell) that we forget about salvation being for RIGHT NOW, also. The main problem I’ve seen with this is people who consider themselves “saved” but whose lives show absolutely no evidence of their salvation. It seems that “salvation” is for them just a fire-escape policy, an assurance of an eternal someday. Yet the salvation talked about in the Bible is both salvation from this one ultimate consequence AND the means to become more like Christ while here on earth.

    We need to be honest about the consequence of hell, for sure, but we also need to be better about emphasizing that escaping hell is not the main reason for believing. I was one of those kids who grew up in a Christian home but accepted Christ out of the fear of hell–and spent many years trying to reconcile a picture of a loving God with my other picture of a God who was just waiting around to catch me doing something wrong, a God I’d never be good enough for. Sometimes I still struggle with that. That doesn’t mean my conversion was not legitimate–and despite all that, God still drew me into a better relationship with him. I think there’s a huge difference between someone who is convicted of their sinfulness and turns to God in repentance and thankfulness vs. someone who turns to him in fear. Again, God can use that, but I don’t know if “scare tactics” are really a means of accurately representing the gospel message. Sometimes I think we take things into our own hands, hoping that we’ll frighten people into belief, rather than speaking the simple, undramatized truth and trusting the Spirit to do the convicting.

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