The Innocent Will Warn
There now is a cause of death classification for “selfie-related” deaths. People die while taking pictures of themselves. It sounded almost funny to me at first; death by narcissism. But after reading some personal accounts of what happened, I see it as nothing less than tragic.
In June 2014, a 16-year old Italian girl, Isabella Fracchiolla, died after plunging 18 meters (60 feet) onto the rocks below, while trying to take a photograph of herself by the seafront during a school trip to Taranto, Italy. This young girl severely fractured her femur, pelvis and skull. And she didn’t die immediately. She was brought to a hospital where doctors were unable to save her life.
If you happened to be in Italy that day and saw Isabella walking toward her death, would you say anything to her? Would you warnher?
What happens to a person, who doesn’t hear the gospel and come to Christ, may be the most compelling reason we have to declare it to them with great urgency. Eternity in hell is far more terrifying than plunging off the edge of a cliff!
So let’s look at what Jesus says about hell.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
In this account, Jesus describes hell as “a place of torment” and “anguish” where men hope to escape but cannot. The rich man begs for his family to be warned not to come there. And Abraham tells him the prophets were warning enough. It’s healthy for us to remember what’s going to happen to our neighbors if they don’t hear the gospel and fall in love with God’s Son.
I live in a predominantly Muslim country. Every time I drive through town, I pass this little shop where a man sits outside carving gravestones for his community. And I’m grieved. Because, in a place where every person is taught from birth that God has no Son, that means every gravestone we see is marking the site of a person in anguish, begging for someone to warn their family not to come to that place of torment.
God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel to the watchmen of Israel saying, that if God were to give a warning for a wicked people and the watchman did not warn them, the people would die for their iniquity but their blood would be required at the watchmen’s hand. Before leaving Ephesus, Paul shared an emotional goodbye with the church there. During their farewell, he declared that he was, “innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." Paul said that he, like a good watchmen, was free from this bloodguilt. Implying that if he had not declared the whole counsel of God, he would be guilty of their blood. And so would we, who withhold warnings today.
If we would speak up to warn a girl in Italy not to step off a cliff, how much more should we be comfortable with warning our neighbors “not to come to this place of torment”! Our responsibility to the unbelieving person extends beyond just an invitation to the gospel. It includes a warning; that if they don’t accept, they will have to face a just God on Judgment Day without Jesus or his blood as their Advocate and Defender. I want more for them than that.
 See: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/teenager-plunges-60ft-death-onto-3681522 and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2656419/Italian-girl-plunges-60ft-death-attempted-selfie-jagged-rocks-seaside-town-Taranto.html
 Luke 16:19-31
 Ezekiel 3:16-19; 33:1-9
 Acts 20:26-27