The Reality of Judgment

  It's almost Halloween -- a time when kids play trick- or-treat and visit haunted houses. Even churches get into the act these days, sponsoring so-called "Hell Houses," with devils, pitchforks, and elevator trips to hell. But when the excitement's over, some kids may think this a just a story -- jut a myth, like Santa Claus. If your youngster should ask you whether hell is real, would you know what to say? Well, you may find some helpful answers in my new book, Answers to Your Kids' Questions. The question of hell's existence came up when I gave a talk in England a few years ago. The eminent historian Paul Johnson was in the audience that day and was given the opportunity to ask the first question. He said, "I think the biggest problem facing the modern age is what to do about the doctrine of hell. Mr. Colson, what do you think?" Well, I was taken back. The question had nothing to do with my address. But, as thought about it, I realized just how right the question was. You see, when the Church doesn't clearly teach the doctrine of hell, society loses an important anchor. In a sense, knowing the reality of hell gives meaning to our lives -- it makes our alternatives clear. And it tells us that the moral choices we make every day have eternal consequences. When people don't believe in final judgment, they don't feel accountable for their actions. There's nothing to restrain their sinful impulses. There's no fear of God in their hearts. People need to know that the doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It's a fact, clearly set forth in Scripture, and clearly necessary if God is to hold his creation accountable. And it's a fact with important social, as well as spiritual, consequences. Without the certainty of ultimate justice, our sense of moral obligation quickly dissolves, and social bonds are more easily broken. But even when they understand that hell is a real place, your kids may wonder as if the Devil and his demons actually live there. The youth culture tends to make them into cartoon characters. But Scripture teaches the Devil and his demons are fallen angels, in rebellion against God. They're just as real as their heavenly counterparts. Now, don't make the mistake of thinking that all evil is brought about by Satan and his demons. The Bible teaches that humans are responsible for most of the world's evil. We can't avoid responsibility by claiming, all the time, that we're victims of spiritual warfare -- or that we're just pawns of supernatural powers. And remember the converse: All good is not done by angels. We are the body, God's people, who should accomplish works of righteousness in our society. Well, this Halloween, you can help your kids get a balanced understanding of the reality of hell and demons. If they're confused -- if they think hell is just some fictional place inhabited by characters dressed in long, black capes -- set them straight. And you may find some help in doing this in my book, Answers to Your Kids' Questions. Call us here at BreakPoint, and we'll tell you how to get a copy. The book explains, not only the doctrine of hell, but how to avoid it -- through the saving power of Jesus Christ.


Chuck Colson



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