I want to start by taking a minute to talk about Hell.
You might be saying to yourself “I don’t like Hellfire preaching”, to which I would say, Jesus was a hellfire preacher. Not only did Jesus say more about Hell than everyone else in the Bible, but Jesus also said more about Hell than everyone else in the Bible combined.
You might also be asking yourself “why would an article about the Great Commission start by talking about hell?”, to which I would ask, how can you start a conversation about evangelism without talking about Hell? We’ve been so comfortable in the western world that the church has lost its urgency. People are more afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone or offending others than they are about preaching the entire word of God. We are more than happy to talk about how loving and caring God is (which is important), but we leave out how just and righteous He is. We talk about all of the gifts from God but never speak of the judgment of God for non-believers. We barely hear that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
I also think it’s important to discuss Hell because it helps us realize how important sharing our faith is. It is very common for people to think of “reasons” why they won’t share their faith (I don’t know what to say, I might lose my job, I might lose a friend or family member, I might offend someone, it might be uncomfortable), but keeping in mind what happens to those who die without Jesus should help us get past those “reasons”, after all the discomforts of this world are temporary and Hell is forever (I know some of you may be annihilationists, which is fine, you’re free to believe what you want, but it isn’t Biblical, see Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46, Jude 1:7, and Revelation 14:11 as just a few examples, and stay tuned for a future article discussing the topic more in-depth).
With that out of the way, let’s begin.
I think the best place to start when talking about Hell is to look at what the Bible says Hell will be like.
Hell will be a horrible place. It is a place where God’s wrath will be poured out on sinners. It will be dark, hot, and filled with fire and the sounds of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 3:12, Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:41-42, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:41, Mark 9:43-48, Jude 1:7, Revelation 14:10-11. Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14, Revelation 20:15). It is a dry place where the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched (Isaiah 66). It is a place where all of those who rejected Christ will spend eternity away from God (Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43-48, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Jude 1:7, Revelation 14:10-11, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:1-15).
Hell is so bad that Jesus warned His followers that it is better to lose a part of your body than to continue sinning and end up in Hell (Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:45-47).
As Jesus said, we should not fear the people of this world, but fear Him who can send you to Hell (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5). Jesus also said the gates of Hell will never overcome the church (Matthew 16:18, Revelation 2:8-12).
Next, we should take some time to look at who the Bible says will be going to Hell. The Bible says the angry, the false prophets and false teachers, the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will go to Hell (Psalm 9:17, Matthew 5:21-30, 2 Peter 2:1-10, Revelation 21:8). Those who deliberately continue sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth will also fall under judgment (Hebrews 10:26-31), as Jesus said, not everyone who calls Him Lord will be saved, but only those who do the will of His Father (Matthew 7:21-23) as the way to Heaven is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). Everyone who rejects or disobeys Jesus will also find themselves in Hell (Mark 15, John 3:36, Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, Jude 1, Revelation 3:15-16, Romans 2:6-16).
Another important thing we need to learn about Hell is when people will go there. People have this misconception that those who have passed away are in Hell and being ruled over by the devil. That isn’t what the Bible says. The Bible says beings are sent to Hell in this order (Revelation 20:1-15):
- The beast and the false prophet;
- Satan (after Christ’s 1,000-year rule);
- The dead who are not in the Book of Life during the final judgment.
I know talking about Hell can be depressing, it’s not a nice place. But the great news is there is hope for every single person who is alive today to not end up there. God knew Adam and Eve would fall and that we would never be able to live a sinless life so He had the perfect plan in place. Jesus paid the price for us and became our sacrifice so those who believe, repent, have put their faith in Him, and have been born again could be saved from their sin and from Hell (Isaiah 45:22, John 3:5-21, Acts 2:14-36 Romans 6:23).
Other verses about what happens when you die for reference: While reading through you will notice verses talking about the second death which is often used by annihilationists to say Hell isn’t permanent. The meaning of death is separation the first death separates our soul and body, the second separates us from God (this will be covered in a future article). You will also note verses that seem to indicate the dead are not in Heaven, most of those verses are either in the Old Testament or referencing the Old Testament before Jesus conquered sin and death. It seems like those who died with faith before Jesus came to earth were freed when Jesus was on the cross according to Matthew 27:51–52 (this will be covered in a future article). Verses: Matthew 23:33, Luke 16:19-31, Hebrews 9:27, 2 Peter 3:9, Psalm 145:20, Luke 23:43, John 5:29, Psalm 86:13, Ecclesiastes 9:5, John 5:28-29, Luke 3:17, Acts 4:12, Matthew 11:23, Ezekiel 31:17, Ezekiel 18:20, Isaiah 5:14, Ezekiel 18:4, Luke 16:24, Matthew 23:15, Ecclesiastes 9:10, John 5:28, Numbers 16:33, Isaiah 14:9, Jeremiah 7:31, Psalm 146:4, Isaiah 47:14, Acts 24:15, Psalm 37:20, 1 John, Proverbs 27:20, 2 Peter 2:17.
Why We Should Witness
Now that we’ve covered where unbelievers go when they die, it’s time to cover why we should share our faith.
It can be summed up in Mark 12:30-31. According to Mark 12:30, we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. How do we do that? By doing what He commands us to do. One thing He commanded us to do is go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 15). Mark 12:31 says we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can you say you love your neighbor (or friends, family, and coworkers) if you know they’re going to Hell, know how they can escape it, but say nothing?
I know some people have adapted the Calvinist mindset that God already chose who’s going to Heaven and Hell and they will end up there anyway so I don’t have to say anything, but that isn’t what the Bible teaches. The Bible repeatedly talks a lot about sharing the Gospel (Matthew 9:37-38, Matthew 28:18-20 (nowadays people seem to want the lo without the go), Mark 16:15-16, 1 Peter 3:15, 1 Corinthians 9:22, Isaiah 6:8, Acts 1:8, 2 Timothy 4:5, Colossians 4:2-6, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 2 Timothy 2:15, Proverbs 11:30, Luke 12:8, Matthew 5:16, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Matthew 10:7-14, 2 Peter 3:9, Philemon 1:6, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 11:1-2, Daniel 12:3 ESV, Acts 8:4-25, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Psalm 73:28, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Luke 24:47, Luke 4:18-19, Romans 1:14-15, John 4:36-38, Proverbs 24:11, Colossians 1:28, Romans 1:5-6, Romans 15:20, John 4:37).
Not only that, it tells us that unbelievers won’t hear the Gospel and won’t be saved unless we share it with them (Romans 10:10-17) and their blood will be on our hands (Ezekiel 3:17-20).
You might be thinking, “yeah, but that’s specific to those people during that time”, to which I would say, even if it is, it doesn’t change the fact that our unsaved family, friends, neighbours, and coworkers are going to spend eternity in Hell.
How Not To Witness
It seems like every time you log onto social media you see a headline of another high profile Christian walking away from the faith. A lot of Christians are putting the blame for this on modern evangelism. I was about to type up what people see as the problems with modern evangelism but find Paul Washer and Ray Comfort have already explained it perfectly.
Watch the following two videos to hear what the have to say.
How to Witness
Now we get to what most people struggle with, how to share the Gospel.
There are many ways you can share the Gospel and they can be as hard and expensive, or easy and cheap as you want.
There seems to be a growing number of high-profile atheists coming out with their stories of how they used to be Christians and why they turned away from the faith. A lot of them say they left their faith due to their parents or other Christians not being able to answer their questions in any way except saying “the Bible says it so believe it”. I think stories like these are one of the major reasons we are seeing an increase in people turning to Apologetics (which according to the American Heritage Dictionary is the formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system). There are so many ways to go to the Apologetics route. You can go to seminary for your undergraduate, graduate, masters, and doctorate. Apologists like J. Warner Wallace, Frank Turek, and William Lane Craig have started ministries, written books, and developed curriculums you can do alone or with small groups (they also put a lot of their question-answer videos on YouTube).
Some examples of using Apologetics are:
- Pointing out how the Bible was ahead of scientists on certain things (we will look at this in the future;
- Making philosophical arguments;
- Making experiential arguments;
- Making Moral argument;
- Using Historical and Legal evidentialism;
- Pointing out prophecies in the Bible that were fulfilled and recorded in secular history (some say that Daniel and Zecharia predicted things about Alexander the Great, which we will also look at in the future).
Using the Law
One of my personal favourite ministries is Living Waters which takes a totally different approach. They noticed modern evangelism was creating 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders (or false converts) for every hundred decisions for Christ. One example of this is in 1991 when a major U.S. denomination was able to get 294,000 decisions for Christ. But they could find only 14,000 in fellowship, which means they couldn’t account for 280,000 of their decisions which seems to be normal results when using modern evangelism.
They read the Bible and see that Jesus used sin to make them aware of their guilt so the Holy Spirit can convict their conscience. They have a television series (The Way of the Master), an academy, and an online evangelism school all dedicated to equipping people share the gospel (they also put a lot of their movies and evangelism outings on their YouTube channel).
Keeping It Very Simple
You might still be thinking that everything I mentioned is overwhelming, so I want to share with you one of the most inspiring evangelism stories I’ve ever heard (outside of the Bible). The Story of Frank Jenner, “The George Street Evangelist”.
There are two things that are important, no matter how you decide to share your faith:
- Live the Christian life and let the change in your life be part of your testimony;
- Do something, it doesn’t matter what, just do something. God has put the people in our lives there for a reason, and for some of them you might be the only exposure they will ever have to the Gospel.
To end I want to leave you with one question you can use to start a conversation with anyone (I heard Frank Turek and J. Warner Wallace recommend this question during one of their videos).
Would you become a Christian if someone was able to prove to you it is true?
If the person says yes, they are open to hearing, ask them what they would need for proof, this gives you a starting point.
If the person says no, they are not open to hearing and nothing you say will get through to them. End the conversation (at least the witnessing part) and continue to pray for them.