Years ago I was invited to speak at Yale University. Upon my arrival, I was warned that a group of demonstrators in the audience was ready to interrupt me on notice. As I stepped up to the podium, I saw some of those protesters holding signs.
My message that night was, “HELL: WHAT IT’S LIKE AND WHO IS GOING THERE.” I preached exactly what Jesus said: “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50). As I spoke, there was total silence in the auditorium and the atmosphere grew heavy with conviction. Afterward, everyone filed out of the auditorium in stunned silence.
I will never forget that service. There was a true fear of God in that place, a reverential awe, even among those most resistant to the gospel. A well-known writer for The New York Times covered the event and later he told me, “The place was so quiet that my pen sounded loud.”
As I walked through the lobby after the event, some of the protesters were still there with their signs. When they saw me, they turned away. They had no explanation for the majesty and holiness of God they had just encountered.
I tell you that those days of godly fear are long gone. Today Satan has unleashed a gospel of convenience. Now there are paid ads on New York City buses reading, “There Is No God — Enjoy Yourself!” On London buses, similar signs read, “There Is No God — Let’s Party!”
Why do such references to God persist over time? It is because humankind has never been able to fully shake off a fear of the consequences of sin. The world is nagged by the reality of a Judgment Day, a time of final accounting, and a literal hell. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to warn every generation, no matter how fallen. And He is speaking right now!