Jesus warned frequently about hell

Msgr. Charles Pope: "No 'heresy' of our day is more widespread or pernicious than the denial of hell, its existence, and its sad frequency"

“The Descent into Hell” by Jacopo Tintoretto

Many people today put Hell in opposition to the love of God, but Jesus combines them. Here is an important truth: No one loves you more than Jesus Christ, yet no one spoke of or taught on Hell and Judgment more than He did. He gave warning after warning and told parable after parable, practically shouting about judgment and the reality of Hell.

No “heresy” of our day is more widespread or pernicious than the denial of hell, its existence, and its sad frequency. I use quotes around the word only because I, as a simple priest, do not have the power to declare formal heresy. However, “heresy” in a broader, more descriptive sense simply means picking and choosing among revealed truth. Confronted with truths that are in some tension (such as God’s justice vs. His mercy or human freedom vs. God’s sovereignty) the “heretic” chooses one and throws out the other in order to resolve the tension. Orthodoxy says “both” but “heresy” picks one and discards the other.

With respect to the teaching on Hell and judgment, the “heretic” cannot reconcile God’s love and mercy with the reality of Hell and eternal separation from Him.

Yet the Lord of Love, Jesus, spoke of these more than did anyone else. The problem is in us, not in Jesus and not in the Father.

We simply refuse to obey what is taught and to accept that because we have free will, the choices we make ultimately matter. We have been bewitched by the fairy tale ending that everyone “lived happily ever after.” We deny that the sum of our choices constitute our character, and that our character ushers in our chosen destiny. We refuse to take responsibility for the fact that we make choices that build over time and which we will one day never be able to renounce. Instead we blame God and call Him (who sent His own Son to save us) the bad one; we say that He is responsible for whether we go to Hell or not.

Meanwhile God is pleading, “Come to me. Come to me before it is finally time to rise and close the door!”

Bottom line: either God is love and we are free to choose Him or not in our own act of love, or God is a slave driver and no matter what we go to His Heaven and live with Him forever. In other words, freedom means choice and choice permits us to say “no” to God. Therefore, there is Hell.

We need to be sober about this; Jesus certainly was. He warned and warned and warned; He pleaded and pleaded and pleaded. He knows whereof we are made; He knows how stubborn and stiff-necked we are, that we don’t like being told what to do. Yes, Jesus sadly observed that many—indeed “most”—prefer Hell to serving in Heaven (cf Matt 7:13 inter al).

We must overcome our smug presumption that salvation is a done deal and hear the pleading of our Messiah and Lord, Jesus. We must allow Him to warn us in love, we must allow Him to ignite in us a holy, even servile, fear in order to sober us and draw us to be serious about the work necessary to save us.

In service of this plea, I’d like to present a collection of “warning texts” as a sort of antidote to this “heresy” of modern times. Note that these are only some of the passages I could have used. Please feel free to use the comments section to add to my list. I will publish a final version once I’ve finished collecting any input. As I hope this compilation will show, those who deny Hell or its possibility must reject a huge number of biblical texts in order to do so.

Let us all realize this basic truth: No one loves you more than Jesus does, yet no one warned of Judgment and Hell more than He did, no one. Allow the Lord to wed these ideas in your mind. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling, O Sinner, come home! Do not buy into the modern “heresy” of universal salvation. Jesus did not teach this; neither did the Apostles, His appointed spokesmen and successors in ministry. Do not try to overrule or correct Jesus. Just accept what He taught and listen in love and faith. Hell is real. We need a savior, but He needs our “yes.”

Here then are many texts that warn of Hell; most of them are right from the mouth of Jesus. These quotes are available in PDF format here: Texts on Hell and Judgment.

Full post, including texts on Hell and Judgement, at Monsignor Charles Pope’s blog.

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Comments

  1. Predestination is scriptural and Catholic doctrine. From eternity, God has predestined the elect to heaven. The reprobate will go to hell. This column comes too close to Pelagianism for comfort. By referring time and again to God’s “pleading” to get us to choose goodness, the author is strongly implying that heaven is earned by good works. No mention at all is made of God’s grace, which preveniently, operatively and cooperatively acts upon us and makes possible our good free choices. God pleads, but God also gives grace that makes it possible for us to respond to his pleas.

    • Steve Seitz says:

      Sawyer,
      I suspect that Fr. Pope merely assumed that his readers already understood that God’s grace is necessary for us to go to Heaven.

      • St. Christopher says:

        I think you are correct, “Steve Seitz”: Christ made it clear that He alone was the one path to salvation. His Church, in its most nascent stage then, was declared to be the path by which to follow Christ. Of course, Our Lord was devastatingly clear about (1) the reality of sin, (2) the promise of Hell for the unrepentant, and (3) the “narrow gate” through which Heaven was attained. Christ was no sissy; He did not mince words.

        Today, our Church is full of Satan’s children, playing at being priests and bishops. Their rejection of Hell is the work of the devil, but real nonetheless. People will go to Hell due to what Catholic priests and bishops fail to teach and enforce.

    • Anne T. says:

      Grace was included or implied in the blue link under the sub title of Heb. 12:14, where it is written in red: “Only those open to God making them holy can endure the bright lights of the Kingdom of God.”

      “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus make our hearts like unto thine.”

    • Linda Maria says:

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church has always taught that the term, “predestination” includes three things– God’s grace, man’s co-operation– plus, God’s foreknowledge of everything mankind does! Also, God is often described as trying to communicate to mankind, in “whispers,” from Heaven– (not in crude, crass, human, worldly terms!) to get us to change our behaviors. The heretical Pelagians described predestination as Salvation attained more by man’s efforts, aside from God’s grace– and the heretical Calvinists viewed predestination as Salvation being at the whims of God, regardless of man’s cooperation with God’s grace.

  2. Faithful and True says:

    Excellent article – refreshing in simplicity and clarity. We thank you Fr. Pope!

  3. Anne T. says:

    “Once saved, always saved” is not taught in the Bible. Those who teach it take “proof texts” out of context. Beware! I have had people tell me they were “saved” while they were committing very grave sins. We cannot judge their conscience, but we can certainly judge their actions and not go along with it.

  4. ann tagonism says:

    St. Christopher: re #3, the “narrow gate” When translated from the
    Russian language, the narrow gate also conveys the sense of : “enter through
    the (narrow) gate “that is closing.” Sobering thought.

  5. Pre Vatican II Catholic says:

    What else can we expect after 51 years of truncated , twisted, or non-existent catechesis ? Millions of Catholics are ignorant of their faith – thus we are in pathetic condition worldwide. The world has historically looked to the Holy Catholic Church for moral leadership and truth. At least it has for most of the last 2000 years. Other “religions” believe as they wish, but they all know in the depths of their being where the Way the Truth and the Life is, and Who it is. Hell is one of the most important Dogmas ignored but there are many others. Pray for the Conversion of the Catholic Church, starting with the Hierarchy, down to the most ignorant, and thusly will the world be converted. But we will have much to suffer as…

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