"On the most somber of occasions, he sought to comfort the mourning. The cold casket adorned a chilled body as the eyes of family and friends, swollen from grief, gazed up at the speaker. He wanted to bring whatever consolation he could. And so, he did what many well-meaning pastors have done in his situation: he abandoned the truth," he states.
"Many can sympathize with the impulse to do so," Morse continues. "The woman before him lived as worldly as they come, blaspheming God and his word whenever the opportunity presented itself. With all her friends and family gathered, it hardly felt like the appropriate time to tell them what God actually said. And so, the pastor proclaimed that — deep down — she was a good person and was with the Lord in heaven."
Morse continues narrating the story, "It was at that moment, when all sat pleased at the pastor’s words, that a young woman spoke up:
'It’s a lie! Do not believe him! We will not all be in a better place! That hope is false! Only those who believe in Christ, the Son of God, the one who died and was raised, will be saved! Only those who repent and believe and follow him until the end will be in a better place. Wrath awaits all who die in sin! Please believe! He stands ready to forgive you!'
"People stared, aghast. A funeral usher approached to invite her to leave. One person furiously told her to shut the hell up — and so she was trying," the writer continues. "Hell’s mouth gaped open. Souls were at stake. God’s truth was being butchered. She tried, alone, to warn her loved ones off the path to perdition."
Then Morse reveals, "My wife was at that funeral home a decade ago. She witnessed the minister’s sentimental words, saw the usher approach, and heard the crude language addressed to her. She was the young woman who, with trembling voice, offered all who would listen grace at the gates of hell."
The memory is one that illustrates the sad reality that many modern Christians aren't teaching that sinners go to hell, and rather they err on the side of preaching such a merciful God that people don't even have to repent of sin.
But this version of "God" is a false one.
"The true God," Morse reminds us, "holds the unrepentant by the nape of the neck to do them unspeakable injury if they will not bow to his great love and mercy, and take up his terms of peace and eternal joy offered them in the blood of his own Son."
The author reminds us that the Bible clearly states that hell exists and that sinners go there. Morse challenges Christians, asking, "Will we speak honestly about hell? Will we cross the breadth of the street to tell the lost? Will we embrace our great fear of social awkwardness and press through?"
The lost need to know there's a God who's looking for them, pursuing them.
In the words of the great theologian and preacher, Charles Spurgeon, "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for."
"The gospel is the power of God for salvation from the wrath all mankind sits beneath." Morse charges us, "So we tell them in the streets. We tell them around our dinner tables. We tell them in coffee shops. We tell them while walking around lakes. We tell them in funeral homes... we err on the side of boldness instead of caution."
The reason? Morse says, "Love invites us, compels us, demands that we speak."