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Should Believers Fear Going to Hell?
by Bob Wilkin
What motivates you to live a godly life? Some church people today are motivated out of fear that they might not really be saved. Others are motivated out of fear that they might lose their salvation. Although one is Arminian and one Reformed in their theological perspectives, both are motivated to obey God out of fear of hell.
The Scriptures do not support either of these views. When we place our faith in Christ He forgives all of our sins-past, present, and future (Col. 2:13; Heb. 10:1-18). The Holy Spirit seals us forever (Eph. 13-14). Jesus guarantees that He will not lose even one believer (John 5:24; 6:39; 10:27-29; 17:2). Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ (Rom. 8:38-39).
In addition, assurance of salvation is the birthright of every believer (John 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 11:25-27; Rom.8:38-39; 1 John 5:13). The newest babe in Christ can and should know with certainty that he is eternally secure.
Fear of hell is a good motivation to trust in Christ. However, once we trust in Him, we know that we will never perish (John 3:16) and that we never need fear hell again. To continue to fear hell is to doubt that Jesus has forgiven us.
What motivates us, then, if we are not motivated by fear of hell?
First, we love the Lord and are grateful for what He has done for us (2 Cor. 5:14). He who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47).
Second, the Lord blesses obedient believers with joy, peace, and contentment (Gal. 5:22-23). Obedience pays. While there is no certainty of material and physical prosperity, there is the promise of inner prosperity for obedience.
Third, since God loves us, He disciplines us when we disobey Him (1 Cor. 11:30; Heb. 12:3-11; James 5:19-20). Of course, not all difficulties in our lives are due to sins we commit (Job; John 9:2-3; James 1:2ff). Yet some are. SIN NEVER PAYS. Never. The passing pleasures of sin are far outweighed by its deadly consequences.
Fourth and finally, the Lord Jesus some day is going to evaluate our lives. This will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). If He finds that we have lived faithful lives, He will praise us and grant us treasure, a special abundance of joy, and a position of rulership in His kingdom (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 19:11-19; 1 Cor. 9:24-27). But, if He finds that we have lived unfaithful lives, He will withhold treasure, a special abundance of joy, and the privilege of ruling in His kingdom (Luke 19:20-26; 2 Tim. 2:12; l John 2:28). Salvation is a free gift; rewards are not.
Those are four powerful reasons to obey God. Assurance of salvation doesn't promote sin. An earthly parent can motivate his or her children to obey without threatening them with hell. So can our Heavenly Father.
Bob Wilkin is the Executive Director of Grace Evangelical Society.
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