Evangelism and the Doctrine of Hell

Evangelism is not something I am gifted at, and I know most Christians feel the same way. Many of us go years without sharing our faith with an unbeliever. This is not the way it should be. What prevents us from evangelizing more? Fear and not “feeling” adequate to the task. In other words, as we look to ourselves we feel we are not intelligent enough to evangelize. That is one of the core problems; we make evangelism about us instead of about what’s best for others and about glorifying Christ.

This discussion came up with our small group. My answer given for a lack of evangelism, “Perhaps it’s because we do not think about the doctrine of hell enough.” I would like to explore that for a moment.

 As Christians, we believe that everyone has an eternal destiny. Everyone will go to either eternal joy with the Lord in Heaven or to eternal conscious torment in Hell. Every person we meet is an eternal soul headed in one of two directions: toward God or toward punishment. If we dwell on the reality for a moment, how can we not go to those who do not believe, how can we not share the gospel of salvation?

One passage that illuminates this stark reality is Luke 16:19-30. In this passage, we read of Lazarus and the rich man. Both of these men die and Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to Hell. In Hell, the rich man experiences torment because of his sin in this life. The thing that sticks out to me is what the rich man says to Abraham once he realizes there is no way out for him, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—in order that he maywarn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.”

Yes, this passage is a parable and yes Abraham’s response is people will not believe anyways even if someone came back from the dead. For the purpose of this discussion, it is interesting that those in Hell desire for you and I to share the good news with others. To put it another way, people in Hell are calling out for us to evangelize, to share the good news.  So why don’t we? One reason is that we do not rightly understand what awaits those who do not believe. Imagine this for a second, people in Hell crying out begging that someone would share the gospel with their loved ones.

This post is not meant to guilt you into sharing the gospel. Rather, it is meant to shift our focus away from our limited resources to what is at stake. Souls are at stake. God has provided what we need. We must not make evangelism about us and our gifts. It is primarily about the character of God and the needs of others.

So what do we do? We should start by looking for those who God has placed already in our lives and seek to share the gospel with them using words. You and I have neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members who are on a path straight to hell and the only hope for them, and for us, is Jesus Christ. If we make evangelism about what we are not good at, instead of making it about God and the needs of those who are perishing, then we have lost focus of what is important. It is not about us. It is not about whether I am good at sharing the gospel or not; rather, we must trust the Spirit of God to move as we share the gospel no matter how poorly we may do so. It is never about us.