Welcome to article one of Moments of Good News. This is a community outreach ministry of Marilyn Jones-Bryant Ministries (MJB Ministries). It is our hope to inform, transform and reform our community simply through the word of God. We believe that a few Moments of Good News can lead to a lifetime of happiness.
A few months ago, as I was perusing my Facebook page, I heard a sermon that was quite disturbing. Well, at least it was for me.
This one-hour-plus eulogy was spoken at a 19-year-old male’s funeral. He had been shot.
Yes, I said “funeral” — one-hour-plus eulogy. Shot. No point necessary.
Well, to get right to the point, the officiant told the congregants about 30 minutes into the message, and I quote, “We have been sold a lie.” “Hell is a fairy tale.” “If you believe in hell, you may as well believe in Santa Claus.”
OK. Yes. Pick up your jaw! Stumped me, too.
You must understand this church was filled with bereaved family members and friends who were already dealing with the tragedy of one lost by the way of gun violence. Young people, the millennials, elderly people, saved and unsaved, believers and nonbelievers were present. Can you imagine what this may have sounded like?
Yes, finally a way of escape. Wickedness, immorality, sin without punishment! We can keep living like we are living! Hip-hip-hooray! Thank you, sir! Glad I came today!
No, no, no. This is the kind of preaching that has brought us to the evil of today.
So, here is the message of the day. We have not been sold a lie. Hell is not a fairy tale. Santa Claus, on the other hand, is not my concern today. To each his own. My concern is not the messenger but the message itself and everyone who hears or heard it.
According to Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (King James Version). Of course, the New International Version says it this way: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
I am positive, at this point, it has gone viral in social media and throughout the Christian and non-Christian community.
First, I have to admit I am no Bible scholar, but I can read, interpret and understand very well. As a student and teacher of the Holy Bible, some things we expect because it tells me so. Please understand that I am not here to condemn or condone the brother.
Secondly, contrary to popular belief, I feel when it comes to the word of God, all of us who believe have got part of it right, but I don’t feel any of us has it all right. However, all is necessary.
It’s important that we understand that hell is NOT a fairy tale. A fairy tale, by definition, is: 1) a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands; 2) something regarded as resembling a fairy story in being magical, idealized or extremely happy; or 3) a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.
Hell is none of those things.
As Paul admonished Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14-17, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
Everyone will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14-15). Everyone has only one life in which to determine their destiny (Hebrews 9:27).
We are not like cats with nine lives, but God certainly does give us a lot of chances to get our life right.
Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts trust) in Christ alone to save him or her (John 3:16, 36).
No, I realize this is not all the Holy Bible says about hell. There is a whole lot more about hell, but we will address that in the next article. However, what I do know at this point: Hell is a real place, at least in my mind and according to the word.
What do we say to the messenger? The answer lies in the rest of the text in 2 Timothy 2:23-26: “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient (i)n meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (a)nd that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
I believe the word just said all.
Let us be mindful what we take in our psyche. It can really damage our faith, our principles and our moral values. As we can see, it can ruin our community, too. We definitely warrant a belief system, or we are in bigger trouble.
Again, I say, “Hell is NOT a fairy tale.” I am one who has no intention of being in hell. I am also one who has no plans on waiting until the last minute to find out if hell is real or not.
I would much rather believe that hell is real and not go to hell than believe hell is not real and end up there.
What is the moment of good news?
Rest assured. Hell is not a fairy tale, and neither is heaven.
•Marilyn Jones-Bryant is founder and pastor of Marilyn Jones-Bryant Ministries.