Some thoughts on hell and good news

Last week on Children’s Day, April 30th, here in Mexico, Gavin and Fiona prayed to accept Jesus as their Savior. It was a really special moment, and the culmination of a process which has lasted a month or so (or years, depending on your view of educating your children in the ways of the Lord; and, yes, which never ends, until we’re in the presence of the Lord, truly sanctified. But I think we can set aside theological fine points at the moment). The process really began as Barbara-Lee was listening to a Steve Green song, “He Holds the Keys”, with Gavin and Fiona, whose little minds began to ask questions: what’s this song about? Included in the song were hell and death. So then our four-year-olds began asking about hell. What is hell like? Who is in hell? How do you go to hell? Needless to say, it left an impression and over the following weeks they returned to the subject often.

One interesting factor in the story is that we are reading through Matthew’s Gospel together at lunch, about 10-20 verses at a time and it’s interesting how many times Jesus brings up the subject (e.g. Matthew 8:10-12). In fact, you could say that almost all Fiona’s and Gavin’s information after that initial conversation came straight from Jesus, via Matthew. They will tell you that in hell people “cry and grind their teeth” (among other things). It struck me as interesting and maybe slightly ironic in light of the recent prominent book on “Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” that somehow Jesus’ teaching could come across so clearly to four-year-olds.* Yes, Jesus loves us, and maybe because of that when you study hell in the Bible one of your primary sources is going to be Jesus himself. Love and preaching hell do not seem to be incompatible.

So we kept discussing this with Gavin and Fiona for a month or so. They’ve understood for a long time that 1. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and 2. Jesus is alive (“Jesús está viiiiivooooooo!“). Only with the realization that there is a hell, and that their sin is real did they start moving toward salvation. And Mom and Dad were not pushy; several times we asked if they wanted to ask Jesus to be their Savior, but their four-year-old attention span bounced around a bit. But after breakfast on Children’s Day they both expressed a desire for and understanding of the Gospel. And there they prayed to accept Jesus. He’s the one who made hell clear to them, and He’s the One who saved them from it. We can’t see into the heart of anyone, even our children, but we trust that God is faithful, and He has given them a new heart and will continue drawing them to Himself, even as they seek to follow him.

So good news from Pueblo Nuevo!

* I wouldn’t want to imply that the author of said book is less intelligent than four-year-olds, nor that the issue he addressed doesn’t have nuances and difficulties. It was just the contrast that struck me between little kids and big thinkers.

2 Responses to “Some thoughts on hell and good news”

  1. 1
    Glenda Alley

    Praise the Lord!!! My heart rejoices whenever anyone accepts Jesus as Savior, but especially when children do. Our own children were saved at a young age and we are SO grateful!!! Thank you so much for sharing–and we rejoice with you!

  2. 2
    Jana

    Love this post, Tim! Praise God. We will keep praying for all your kiddos.


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