Occasional editorials written since 2001 

Passion yes, aggression no. Harry Potter All roads lead to God?  
Value of a soul. Homosexuality Passion of the Christ
Islam and Christianity  Love not the world Persecution coming
Biblical or secular world view? Freewill offering Letter or Spirit?
Faith The sacred and non-sacred Test your self
Discernment The gospel of me Repentance
Sinking sand That awful four letter word Sin
When God offends. Walls, gates and electric fences The curse of pornography

 

That awful four letter word!

I am continually shocked by the use of this four letter word.

Perhaps you are too.

So I usually avoid saying it, because I don't want people to be shocked by it either.

And like most people, deep down I want people to like and respect me.

I think most Christians avoid saying it because of the reaction it can cause amongst decent folk.

You know which word I am alluding to, don't you?

But brace yourself because I am about to spell it out.

Here goes..

hell

No, I need to be bolder. I'll spell it again.

H E L L

There I've done it.

I may have heard it mentioned in church over the past 22 years. I just can't recall when.

Once or twice, in my childhood, I think I heard street preachers (common in those days) shout the word through a megaphone, but like the very word itself, I confess I was somewhat embarrassed by their bold confrontational activity.

But Jesus wasn't embarrassed by saying it.

Because it is a truth. A terrifying truth.

For Him not to have spoken of it would be similar to a man knowing that a massive tsunami was approaching but refused to speak the word lest people would be seriously discomforted or terrified.

Yet telling people gives them the chance to run to the safety of higher ground.

Hell, for many, is the approaching tsunami, and Jesus is the higher ground.

Contrary to some declarations, Jesus spoke more of heaven than hell, but He did speak more of hell more than any other biblical figure. Approximately 13% of His teaching and about 50% of His parables were about punishment, judgement and hell.

So it is important to take a few minutes to really read, and really absorb what Jesus said on this issue. [All emphasis in the verses below are mine.]

 

Matthew 8:11-12

 

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

Matthew 13:41-43

 

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

 

Matthew 22:12-13

 

He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.” Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

Matthew 25:30 & 41 & 46

 

And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

 

 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

Mark 9:43-48

 

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

 

Luke 13:27-28

 

“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

 

Even in the last book of the Bible Jesus is still speaking on this terrible fate for those whose names are not written in the Book of Life.

 

Revelation 20: 12-15

 

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Jesus makes it clear in the scripture quoted immediately above, that this lake of everlasting, tormenting fire is essentially for the devil and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God.

But - and this is vital to take onboard - He also makes it clear that those still under the rule of the god of this world will follow him to his destination, while those who follow Jesus will follow Him to be with Him where He is.

Here are some of the descriptive terms used to describe the reality of this hellish place.

  • ..the fire that shall never be quenched
  • ..where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched
  • ..this place of torment
  • ..outer darkness
  • ..wailing and gnashing of teeth
  • ..everlasting fire
  • ..everlasting punishment
  • ..fire and brimstone
  • ..tormented day and night for ever

I wish it were not so. But wishing it were not so does not make it not so.

Using various words such as Hades, Sheol, Gehenna, Abyss, Abaddon and Tartaros the Old and New Testament declare this to be so.

And of course as we've seen, Jesus Himself declares it to be so, and He does not tell lies.

If these things were not so He would have told us.

Who is bound for this awful eternal state? Unless redeemed, everybody.

A genuine enquirer invited my wife and I to dinner in order to have some of his troubling questions answered. He had been a church attender for many years and was (I suspected) reasonably confident of his own righteousness as 'a good man'.

One question was this.

"What sin could be so bad, so heinous, that a loving and merciful God would not let the person who committed it into heaven?"

That question was easy, but the answer perhaps unexpected.

"Have you ever told a lie?" I asked.

"I certainly have" the man said.

"Then that's enough" I replied.

Listen to Jesus confirming this truth in the final pages of scripture.

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:7-8


Is there any person alive who cannot plead guilty to at least one of these sinful descriptions?

As Paul says, we have all fallen short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

Nothing defiling has ever, or will ever enter heaven. Until we understand that we can be easily confused or deceived.  (Revelation 21:27)

Using spirit mediums satan deceives many people into thinking that this hellish state does not exist. Roman Catholicism speaks of a middle ground called purgatory where those on earth can, by prayers, rituals, sacrifices and indulgences, see souls, not bad enough to go to hell, but not good enough to go to heaven, eventually being released into heaven by their earthly efforts.

Even well meaning ministers and pastors can give the impression at funerals that the un-redeemed are now safely with their loved ones in heaven.  It is a sensitive time and the urge is to guard the listeners hearts and be sensitive to their grief.

I think it is safe to say that the majority of people think death automatically takes you to be with your loved ones in heaven, or else they think that the choice is between Christians spending eternity with God singing His praises or a total wipeout. No awareness after death.

And so they escape facing the Biblical reality.

Jesus said that unless we (you and I) repent, we perish.  (Luke 13:3)

God's heart is that no one should perish, but that all should repent.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

Hell is what we are saved from. That's why He sent Jesus. That's why the cruel cross. That's why the bloodied tortured Messiah.

It made a way, the one and the only way, to heaven. There is salvation in no other Name.  (Acts 4:12)

Listen to what Jesus said about the very heart of God.

For God SO LOVED the world that He gave HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16 - my emphasis)

That's why satan, the god of this world, offers so many religions without Christ as Redeemer.

That's why the early church - until recent decades - took the 'go into all the world' commission seriously.

I heard it put this way, and it simplifies things.

Passengers on a train end up where the train driver goes. Running down the train corridor in the opposite direction is to no avail.

Safety is dismounting from the devil's train and boarding Jesus' train.

Then and then only can we safely proclaim

“ O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 

  1st Corinthians 15:55


Hell is real.

Terrifyingly real.

There, I've said it.

And it has changed how I pray for the unsaved that I know.

 


On an American troopship, the soldiers crowded around their chaplain asking, “Do you believe in hell?” “I do not.” “Well, then, will you please resign, for if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray.” - Christian Beacon

I recommend watching Mark Driscoll teaching on this subject

 

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