Praise the Lord Saints
One of the most common beliefs that we have today is a belief in an afterlife and in most religions there is a heaven. If one were to ask at random, people outside Christianity, where they will go after death, almost unanimously, it’s heaven. And while heaven is each person’s preference, we know that this isn’t true. Everyone is not going to be able to go there. One of the most repugnant subjects is the opposite end, which is hell. Is there a Hell? In a survey several years ago to thousands of churches one of the questions asked was do they believe in hell. This question rated below 50% in most of the mainline churches and this was among the ministers, which is very surprising. Hell is a place no one likes to talk about, much less go there, however, Jesus spoke more on hell than on heaven and had very strong warnings to keep people He loved from going there.
As Christians, we are constantly to challenge to prove what we believe, not only from the Bible but with logic and rationale. How many times have you heard, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” or “I can’t believe in a place of everlasting punishment.” I personally encounter this a lot and I’m going to attempt to give some reasons why not only is hell a reality as much as heaven is, but that God’s love actually demands a place such as this.
Jesus spoke more about hell than all the writers of Scripture. 13% of the New Testament is on Judgment and hell, and half of the parables.
Hell is describe as a place of constant fire and smoke. Now I think we’re all familiar with the descriptive terms of fire that continues to burn, where the worm does not die and that it’s outer darkness, as in Matt 25:30 “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Away from the presence of God.
In Mt.13:49-50 Jesus tells us the angels will separate the wicked from the just and cast them into the furnace of fire. Hell is described as a garbage dump by Jesus to illustrate some points (this is called Gehenna where the corpses of animals were thrown. As complete darkness Mt.8:12 “cast into outer darkness.”
Where exactly does the Bible say hell is? The Bible describes it as down, Psalm 55:15 Proverbs 15:24, Isaiah 14:9 speak of it being beneath. The angels that sinned in Noah’s day were cast down 2 Pt.2:4. Many other Scriptures describe it as underneath, while God is up in heaven. Heaven is upward, hell is down. It’s also described as outer darkness, yet, God is described as light. These are relational terms of contrast, yet, they are literal. It’s a place at the end of the road that everyone travels on, going away from God. It’s also described as a bottomless pit, no security. It’s like free falling forever.
Jude describes hell like a wandering star in the blackness forever, no course or direction, no end. Luke 16 is not a parable but a story, it uses name that no parables use and it is giving specific information about the afterlife. It tells us it’s a place of agony and self rejection, the rich man asked for only a drop of water to quench his insatiable thirst. He still had concern for his family and felt pain for himself. It’s described by the rich man in his remorse asking to warn his family, yet he is told they will not believe even if someone (Jesus) would rise from the dead and tell them so.
This is how great their unbelief was! We see the rich men is still giving orders telling Abraham to send Lazarus, who was an invalid in life and the rich man did not care at all for , now he asking him to do him a favor. The word torment is used 4 times in Luke 16 and it is use many other places.
Hell is not just a place deprived of God’s presence or blessing. Where does the Bible describe hell as a torture chamber? Well, actually it doesn’t. It’s not Dante’s Inferno with Devils poking people with pitchforks. God is not into torturing people himself either (neither is the devil, or the fallen angels as they will be in torment too). Those who go there choose to go in rejection of God’s love, and the agony they will have is self inflicted as a direct, and deliberate decision to go away from Him because they hate His authority.
They do not want his rulership over their lives. It is like a child not listening to its parent who tells them not to go near the stove when its hot, they don’t listen and get burned. God doesn’t want anyone to go there and has done what He can to keep people from going there but they have exercised the choice not to listen.
Till next week,
Rev. Dr. Robert L. Harrison, PhD