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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Why are pastors afraid of preaching about hell? What’s the solution?

Why are pastors afraid of preaching about hell?

  1. It’s an extreme topic. Wisdom often counsels moderation, but there’s nothing moderate about hell. It’s a difficult reality to contemplate, much less proclaim to a room full of people.
  2. It’s been used to manipulate people in the past. There’s no doubt that some pastors have preached hell in order to manipulate people into making a hasty decision for Christ, or as a bludgeon to enforce a moralistic agenda.

But the difficulty of the topic and the potential for abuse are no excuses for a pastor to be silent about what God has clearly revealed. What then is the solution?

  1. Speak about hell as much as Jesus did. Jesus often warns people to fear hell and flee all paths that lead to hell (Matt. 7:13-14, 21-25; Mark 9:42-28; Luke 12:4-5, 13:5). So teach what Jesus taught.
  2. Be faithful to Scripture. If you’re preaching through books of the Bible you will encounter passages that speak plainly about God’s wrath and hell. Don’t skip over or soften these passages. Instead, prayerfully preach them and plead with people to repent of their sin, trust in Christ, and be saved.   
  3. Trust the Holy Spirit. Your job as a pastor is not to make people like you, but to faithfully declare the whole counsel of God. So faithfully proclaim all that God has revealed in his Word and trust that the Holy Spirit will bring good fruit from your preaching.