"This is one of those easy to read, laugh out loud, quote-highlighting, you gotta hear this kind of books. It takes you by surprise as humour and heart are interlinked to bring a compelling Biblical argument for the reality of Hell and at the same time strips away our reservations in presenting it to unbelievers.
There are portions of the book that present God in such a harsh light that it will make you want to put the book down. Jones is quite blunt as he contrasts the love of God with the wrath of God. He uses the term “Apocalyptic urgency’ for the sense we ought to have that not only is the return of Christ imminent but so also is the entrance to hell for so many. There was one line that particularly caught my attention, “Apocalyptic urgency is not about saving your friend from hell. It’s about saving your friend from God.” That’s a shocking statement until you consider the inherent truth - it is the wrath of God that a sleeping world needs to be made aware of and the consequence of that wrath is hell!
There are moments in the book when Jones will likely offend you and other moments when he will draw you with conviction to repent. Certainly the book is more than a discussion on the reality of hell, it is one of those spurs that God uses to move us to agree with truth and change some of the ways that have caused us to neglect discussing this topic with those whom we know are yet not Christians. Jones takes the time to lay out several practical steps in the book on evangelism, good ideas but the first eight chapters are what will catch your attention and challenge you to respond. Well worth the read."
Recently, the media has ignited in a brimstone blaze of controversy over the question of Hell, and the idea that’s generating so much attention is that Hell isn’t real, and even if it were, a loving God wouldn’t possibly send people there. Is Hell real, or is it a concept that is misguided and out of place in today’s Christianity? Many believe the answer to this question will have profound implications on the future of the faith, and important personalities on both sides of this question are drawing lines in the sand.
Brian Jones, a pastor in suburban Philadelphia, can relate to this controversy. Jones had a secret he’d been hiding for years: He didn’t believe in Hell. In Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) (David C Cook, August 2011), Jones relates that after seminary he came to the conclusion that “the Bible’s teaching about Hell was inaccurate at best and hateful at worst. What I was taught as a child was a lie, and now that I was becoming a pastor I was sure I’d never perpetuate that ridiculous myth again.”
But after an amazing experience that required him to rescue several people from an apartment fire, Jones began to re-think his stance on Hell. His uncertainty on the subject led him to Scripture, and as he studied God’s Word, he felt an overwhelming sense of conviction. “What I discovered shocked me. I had always assumed that the Bible contained only a few scattered references to Hell. I was wrong; it is taught everywhere.”
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Drawing upon Scripture and his own experience as a pastor who didn’t believe in Hell, Jones began writing Hell Is Real with the hope that he would humorously and transparently push readers into a head-on collision with what he calls “apocalyptic urgency,” the all-consuming conviction that overtakes someone when they realize that Hell is real and it is within their power to help people avoid going there. The key to this apocalyptic urgency, according to Jones, is for Christians to realize that the largest need that faces mankind is the need to be saved from God’s wrath, which results in a real, literal Hell. Without the urgency that a belief in Hell instills, Christians “will inadvertently create the single greatest holocaust human civilization has ever seen.” In the end, Brian believes that the reason most Christians don’t tell their friends about Jesus has nothing to do with not knowing how—it’s because they don’t think they need to. “Hell Is Real is about transforming apathetic Christians into sold-out evangelists,” states Jones.
In a world eager to toss aside the distinctive beliefs of historical Christianity, voices like Brian Jones’ must be heard. It’s imperative that Christianity is represented by people who have wrestled with these relevant questions, but who’ve come to more thoughtful and traditional understandings on such crucial matters. Hell Is Real is interesting and entertaining, but it is, above all, unflinching in its endorsement of a literal, biblical Hell.
About the Author: Brian Jones is the senior pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley, an innovative community of faith in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Brian is a graduate of Cincinnati Christian University (B.A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M. Div.) and has served in leadership positions in churches for over twenty years. His humorous and raw style has made him a popular speaker for conferences, seminars, churches and retreats.
Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) by Brian Jones
David C Cook/August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0572-0/272 pages/$14.99
www.brianjones.com ~ www.davidccook.com