I initially bought the book thinking it would be abouit hell. Instead, I found the book to be more about evangelism and why we do not have an "apocalyptic urgency" to share with those who are lost. I am now using the book in a 4-week study in my small group at church. More importantly, I have gained a renewed energy to share the truth with others that (1) Hell is indeed very real, and (2) Jesus died for all of us so that we don't have to spend eternity there.
Humorous & light-hearted but serious & challenging
October 25, 2011
St. Paul, MN
In the wake of Rob Bell's controversial book "Love Wins", a plethora of books have appeared clamoring to answer the question "Does Hell exist?" Most of these books take us back to the Bible and answer the question in the affirmative. A new book from Brian Jones is no exception. What is different about his book, however, is apparent from its title: "Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It)". Jones uses a healthy dose of humor and personal candor as he tackles this ever-troubling topic.
Jones shares his story of secretly disbelieving in Hell for his first four years as a pastor. When he realized his error and confessed his secret sin, he was met with bewilderment. Why confess a doctrinal shortcoming? "Pastor, we were worried there was something more serious going on!" was how many took his news. This is indicative of the sad state of affairs in the church today and part of the reason Jones has given us this book.
His book is written in a simple, straightforward style. He explains the Bible's teaching on Hell, but more than that, he gets into the question of why it is that he and so many others wanted to believe there isn't a Hell. He then finishes the book with a call for "apocalyptic urgency" and a straightforward witness to the lost around us.
He doesn't dismiss social concerns but calls the church to be more forthright in its evangelistic fervor. By the end of the book you aren't surprised to learn that he was fired from the Princeton Theological Seminary bookstore for being too evangelistic. Jones has a passion for Jesus Christ, and it shows!
This book is accessible and at times humorous. And more importantly, it won't steer you wrong. It might just spur you on toward a more serious view of evangelism. If we really do believe there is a Hell, shouldn't that belief burden us all with "apocalyptic urgency"? Brian Jones thinks it should, and I have to agree. Read this book and be challenged. You won't regret it.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by David C. Cook publishing. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Once a month, Brian would take a spiritual retreat and go off to a monastery to pray, journal, walk in the woods, and then leave late in the afternoon. One day he received a spiritual revelation at the monastery. God connected with him and impressed on him that his life as a pastor was a charade, as he wasn't preaching the whole Bible, particularly about Hell. To challenge God's words about Hell, like "Russian roulette," he opened his Bible randomly to see if what God was saying was true. To his surprise, everything he opened up to related to Hell. This led to conviction, repentance, and the writing of this book.
It seems fair to say that at least one time in many of our lives, we thought of God as a loving God who wouldn't punish anyone in hell. However, we fail to acknowledge that He is also a holy God of justice and punishes unrepentant sinners with eternal death. He cannot allow sin to enter His holy presence. Even mankind wants justice when someone has committed a crime against them. Where do we get this sense of justice?
Brian Jones, in his book, Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It), starts out with six â€˜logical' reasons why he didn't believe in hell. I am sure many of us can resonate with his objections.
Brian challenges us, based on the teachings of Jesus, to witness as though people's' eternal lives depended on it, because it does! He examines reasons why Christians avoid talking about Hell. His book is also a compilation of how-not-to and how-to methods of reaching those who don't trust and believe in Jesus. Most of the presentations are based on his own experiences. The subject headings help ground you in his style of writing.
Initially I felt the author dwelt too heavily on just avoiding hell. But as he progresses in the book, he balances out the urgency of bringing people to the Lord because He wants us to live with Him eternally in relationship. So if you seem to get bogged down part way through, keep going to the end of his book. You'll be glad you did!
What Brian doesn't mention is that eternal fire was initially prepared for the devil and his angels. But in Mathew 25:41, we see that He does send those who are accursed to eternal fire also. A sobering thought-one to spur you on to reach people for Jesus! So don't fall for today's media controversy and ideas that Hell isn't real. Peoples' lives depend on it!
Many people have heard John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." There's another powerful Scripture that deals with Jesus in Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
This book was provided by Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group, Inc., in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) by Brian Jones is an eye-opening response to Rob Bell's Love Wins. Jones was a pastor for several years but never actually believed in the existence of hell. His years in seminary and conversations with other pastors led him to believe that a loving God would never send anyone to eternal damnation and torment. An experience in prayer forced him to search the Scriptures to research what Jesus really had to say about the matter, and he was shocked to discover that he was really and truly wrong. This discovery gave him "apocalyptic urgency" to save everyone around him, often with less than successful results because of his methods. Jones first wants readers to gain that same sense of apocalyptic urgency to save those they love, and then give them the tools they need to do it successfully. He uses Scripture to shake up readers' sense of God and eternity. His words of blatant truth feel like a sucker punch to the soul, and anyone who reads the book will be hard pressed to remain unchanged by the last page. Jones' advice to teach people about Jesus is completely counter-intuitive to what most Christians have been teaching for years. Don't separate yourself from the world, make yourself an interesting person by learning about different subjects and hobbies so you can have a real conversation, and most importantly, develop a relationship. If more Christians read this book, it will change the often painful, yet true, popular image of Christians as insensitive, judgmental, and elitist. All of this could be hard to swallow by another author, but Jones is engaging and self-deprecating, making the book an enjoyable read, as strange as that seems.