A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis concludes that a belief in hell is good for the economy. The report was based on studies that included 35 countries. Those with a wide-spread belief in punishment in the afterlife for sins committed, tended to have the highest standard of living.
It has long been obvious that corruption was the primary factor in keeping a country poor. Much of the population of Africa and Latin America suffer grinding poverty while a rich, corrupt leadership revels in luxury.
Haiti is a classic example. Widely considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, millions of dollars have been poured into it by relief organizations. Yet there has been little improvement in the situation of the common people.
When one corrupt dictator, "Baby Doc" Duvalier, was sent packing, he showed up on the French Rivera driving a Lamborghini and paying $2,500 a night for dinner for his friends. Corruption had stolen the money that should have built roads, bridges and power plants necessary to support a growing economy.
Again, the Bible is right: "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Prov. 14:34). When we began legalizing sin, our prosperity came into jeopardy.
The Bible standard was cast aside to make drunkenness, abortion, homosexuality, and even gluttony acceptable. Instead of God seekers, we became pleasure seekers, as one author has put it: "Amusing ourselves to death."
Never before in history have so many people in a nation lived so well as we have. Righteousness has exalted us, but now, without revival, we are sliding into "reproach." But revivals in the past began in the common people, by a saturation of the society with gospel tracts. Pamphlets with a clear call to repentance were sown widely by concerned believers.
Hell has been a taboo subject in the church in recent years. Modern Bible translators have avoided the word, preferring not to translate the Hebrew "sheol" and Greek "gehenna" and "hades." Since these are unfamiliar words instead of the familiar "hell," it blunts the force of the word that Jesus clearly emphasized in His teaching.
Chick Publications has tried to be consistent in reminding readers that hell is a real place. Many people have written to us that they could not shake the image of the angel dropping the sinner over the cliff into the lake of fire. The result was, sometimes years later, surrender to Christ.
Powerful forces in America today are determined to destroy the righteousness that fueled our prosperity. They believe we can continue to promote sin without any consequences. In the Old Testament, God`s dealings with Israel teaches us that it won`t work. The only hope is a return to righteousness one person at a time.
Gospel tracts are a proven way to challenge a person to face the truth and repent. But unless they are widely distributed, they cannot do the job. Soul winners, we need to get busier.