Ever seen Monsters Inc? There was a place called the “scream factory” and the monsters powered their city with the screams of kids they would scare, well it worked as effective energy, until, at the conclusion of the movie the monsters discovered the power of laughter!
Is this not true with the ways of God and Jesus Christ our Lord? Fear of judgement is powerful, but the love of God experienced in a human heart is even more so!
Now, it is true that there is a place and time to strongly exhort someone who does not yet know Christ of the eternal reprecussions their rejecting Christ will bring. Yet, many people outside of Christianity sometimes, of course not in every situation, but often are on to a valid point: “Fear mongering drives people away.”
On the same token we must also maintain a balanced approach to this insight since a Christian’s final counsel and advice should be rooted in scripture, but it is not unscriptural to state that always preaching sermons only about eternal hell can drive people away. Jesus spoke of the reality of hell but not all the time, he knew how to address each audience he spoke to according to what they needed to hear. He never was at a loss to what to say or how to say it, and it is true that some people will only reconsider their lifestyles to “have the hell scared out of them” yet, the best approach is not formulaic but rather “Listen to the Holy Spirit, let your words be determined by Him so you know what He knows is best for this individual you share God’s message of the Gospel of Christ with.”
Let’s not forget, always gently and with kindness, not sinful anger or impatience: After all, the Bible speaks of “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4) and that is what it does!!
Once a person realizes how much they have sinned against a holy God, and how he still loves them enough to save them through Christ on the cross, as well as His resurrection from the grave, by faith in this, they are transformed, if indeed it penetrates their hearts not just their heads through some abstract concept.
Knowledge is good, but when knowledge of God moves from the head and takes root in one’s heart then that is when it becomes experiential and liberating!
Some Christians need to know God better, including myself! Not just theologically but inwardly and experientially! You can never know the Lord too much. Theology is wonderful but let your theology become your lifestyle and you have power!!
-The Christian’s primary motivation to not sin should not be the fires of hell, no, but the loss of sweet companionship with the Savior, the loss of the sweetness that comes from walking in His ways This is the same motivation a couple has when they try to please eachother, that is in an ideal marriage. They do not avoid offending or hurting the other not out of fear of divorce, although this is at times the only thing that holds some couples together, however, the best motivation is: “I love my spouse, I never want to grieve them.” This is also what is ideal for a Christian obeying and loving God.
Another reason:The Christian should fear losing his effectiveness and failing to be “salt and light” (Matt 5:13) and ceasing to be influential for the kingdom!
Also: The Christian ought fear chastisement “For the Lord disciplines those he loves and chastens those he accepts as sons” Hebrews 12:6
In addition: The Christian ought fear losing eternal rewards and being ashamed before Christ on judgement day that he squandered his life! -(1 Corinthians 3:13-15 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.)
For if we get our motivation centered on not fearing judgement as much, but rather think to ourselves “I hate sinning against God because I love him so much” then our hearts become less self centered and more Christ centered!
” There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
As we grow to love God more we will want to sin less against Him and follow more after Him!