We’re about 10 weeks from gathering in Indianapolis for the CROSS student missions conference. The aim is to mobilize students for the most dangerous and loving cause in the universe: rescuing people from eternal suffering and bringing them into the everlasting joy of knowing and worshiping Jesus.
Why do people need rescuing? Because hell is real.
Hell Is Real
Some professing Christians would rather skip all the “unseemly” bits about eternal judgment at the hands of a wrathful God. In the mildest form, these Christians are uncomfortable about this teaching. They don’t deny it; they simply wish it wasn’t there. In the most strident form, these Christians may reject the doctrine of hell altogether as unworthy a loving God and perhaps a throwback to less enlightened eras.
But what if we believe what we say we believe about the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible? Then from Moses to the Lord Jesus’s earthly ministry to the concluding scenes of Revelation, the Bible confronts us with this harrowing truth: Hell is real. Souls are punished there. Escape is impossible. And it lasts forever.
It’s almost too much to think about. How many millions and millions of souls now suffer God’s just punishment for their rebellion in sin? Christianity isn’t made acceptable by removing thoughts of hell. Christianity is made urgently beautiful by properly considering the reality of hell.
Time Is Short
How many will depart this life to a Christless eternity before you finish reading this article?
- 55.3 million people die each year.
- 151,600 people die each day.
- 6,316 people die each hour.
- 105 people die each minute.
Ultimately, the death rate is 1:1.
But those raw numbers don’t tell the whole story. Those aggregate numbers hide an alarming spiritual disproportion. More than 2.9 billion people live in “unreached” people groups in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of the world. This means each minute, each hour, each day tens of thousands die without any real access to the message that would save them from hell and save them for God’s love.
As you’ve pondered those numbers, another 105 persons have left time and entered eternity. How many do you suppose went to be with the Lord, and how many were consigned to the pit?
Friends, time is short.
Jesus Says ‘Go’
If you’re reading this article, chances are the gospel has already reached you. You are, after all, reading this on a Christian website.
But the gospel was never intended to stop with you and me. The gospel reached us on the way to others. We’re part of a relay team, made up of Christians spanning time and space all the way back to those 12 who first followed the Lord. We have a part in God’s missionary purpose to make for himself a people out of all the peoples of the earth.
I love the way Ed Stetzer once put it: “It’s not that God’s church has a mission; it’s that God’s mission has a church.” We serve a missionary God, which means we must be a missionary people. And it means we shouldn’t be surprised by our Lord’s parting instruction: “Go make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19–20).
Go. A simple word with profound implications. A simple strategy addressing the staggering reality of endless judgment. For many people, the yawning mouth of hell is blocked only by the obedient, sacrificial, hopeful, loving, God-glorying work of missionaries.
CROSS exists to call this generation of college-aged students to join that force of missionaries who stop the mouth of hell through missions. The world needs Christians to recognize what theologian Carl Henry once said: “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”
Hell is real. Time is short. Our King says go.
Let us bear our cross by crossing borders to preach his cross.
- Pray. Give. Go. (David Platt)