Jesus, in John 12:32-33, said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John then writes, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
Halloween is fast approaching, and its approach means many churches and Christian groups will put on what are called “walk-through dramas” primarily aimed at teenagers. In many of these productions, the audience witnesses a car crash involving high school students where the kids die and are depicted as facing the judgment seat of God. In some of these dramas, demons drag the dead to hell. Depending on the resources of the people who put on the event, death and judgment and hell are more or less graphically portrayed, and depending on the acting skills of the kids involved, the screams and sobs and agony sound more or less genuine.
But at the end of it, a gospel summary is presented, and those leading the event will ask the kids if they want to be saved. And, of course, many kids say they do, so they meet with counselors to pray and receive Christ.
Now, I’m not saying that no teenager has ever become a Christian at those events. Not at all – I’m sure some kids have. God can use all kinds of means to accomplish his purposes. In the book of Numbers, in the Old Testament, God opened the mouth of an ass to get Balaam’s attention. If God can use an ass, he can use one of these events.
But what I am saying is this: no one is ever driven to the cross. No one is ever terrified into Christianity. No one is ever made to feel guilty enough to go to the cross.
You can only be drawn to the cross.
Our job as Christians when we tell others the good news of Jesus (and it is our job to tell others this good news) is not to play on the emotions and fears of people or flood their imaginations with fantastical images of hell. Of course, we must explain what sin is, and of course it must involve explaining the wages of sin– namely, death, God’s judgment, and his wrath.
But we don’t major on those things. Our emphasis must be on explaining the good news of the grace and mercy and love of Jesus Christ in such a way that our hearers are drawn to him.
The big question is not: are you scared to go to hell? That question is easy to answer: if hell exists, then yes – all are frightened of it.
Rather, the question is: “Are you irresistibly drawn to the one who saves you from hell?”
Are you drawn by Jesus’ love? Are you drawn by his mercy? Are you drawn by his sacrifice? Do you want to go to Jesus and love him and obey him whether or not there is a hell?
When you see Jesus high and lifted up from the earth, dying on the cross, do you reject him, are you apathetic about him, or are you irresistibly drawn by his beauty? Is it attractive to you because you know you deserve to be there and your Lord is dying as your substitute?
Can you sing: “My song is love unknown, My Savior’s love to me; Love to the loveless shown, That they might lovely be. O who am I, That for my sake My Lord should take Frail flesh, and die?” That’s the only question that matters. No one gets saved because they are scared of going to hell, but only because the Holy Spirit puts in their hearts the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.