The Good Sense To Be Afraid
And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus reminds His apostles and us of what their and our greatest concern should be. It is a fear that is healthy and necessary, which some would rather dismiss. There is no peaceful comfort in a truthful discussion of the dread of HELL.
Such fearful warnings are nothing unusual to the daily course of life. We frequently warn children to be afraid of things or people that might lead to injury or death. In spite of diligent warnings, children rush head first into those things we told them to avoid. Being afraid would have saved them pain and regret.
Adults recklessly handle their life the same way as children to. They fail to heed the warning signs. They lose the fear of those things that hurt and destroy. It is not that people have no fear. People fear poverty, rejection, failure, loneliness, disease, and death. It is the fear of losing God and spending eternity in HELL that holds no terror or fright. Some will be as plain to say, “I know I am going to hell” without a shake in their voice or tear in their eye. I doubt the one who says those words has any idea what “going to hell” means. People need a good sense of being afraid, especially of BEING LOST IN HELL!
It is sometimes forgotten that out of twelve times the word “gehenna” (hell) occurs in the Greek New Testament, eleven times it is spoken of by Jesus Christ. Three times it occurs in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, not His apostles, describes in graphic detail the horrors of hell. He refers to it as a fiery place of darkness and anguish (Matthew 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30).
Why would the gracious, loving, merciful Son of God detail such a horrible place that is a dreadful topic of conversation? Does he not know we need comfort and encouragement in a life already filled with trials and temptations? He knows that, but He also knows we need a healthy dread and fear of HELL in order to stay away from it as far as possible. All Jesus is doing is warning those who love Him that the love of this world leads to condemnation.
Every Christian should have the perfect love (Matthew 22:37) which casteth out fear (1 John 4:18). This love brings hope, but it does not remove the fear of a place that separates us from that love. One thing every Christian who has comfort and assurance should remember - HELL is an awful place. A place where ungodly men and women will be gathered forever.