I’m currently reading Matt Chandler’s, The Explicit Gospel (Re:Lit). So far I’m a big fan. However, one point he makes — in my opinion — misses the very point he makes elsewhere. In an otherwise excellent context of distinguishing the gospel from acts we do in response to the gospel (like caring for the poor), he makes the following statement,
Making people comfortable on earth before an eternity in hell is wasteful. (p83)
But in making that statement, I believe he’s missing his following point,
The context of the gospel message is not our benefit or our salvation; the context of the gospel is the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God. (p89)
The former statement puts the emphasis on whether the recipient accepts salvation. But caring for the needs of even those who are going to hell is not wasteful because it is the act of love that glorifies God, regardless of the response of the individual.
There is an important caveat to that, which Chandler also articulates well,
Even works of righteousness, if not done through faith, are works of self-righteousness and therefore filthy rags. (p85)
Meeting needs through acts of self-righteousness does not glorify God. Doing them in faith for His glory does.
If God, somehow, miraculously revealed to us that a particular person was never going to accept the gospel message, would that excuse us from loving and caring for that person? I think not. I suspect God loves every sinner in hell and grieves over their choices that separated them from Him.