Chapter 25. Hell Is Still a Burning Issue (from the book, FROM QUEER TO CHRIST)
Understandably, Hell is an uncomfortable subject. No one wants to believe such a place exists but if Jesus talked about Hell, shouldn’t we? He spoke more on Hell than Heaven, signifying the importance of believing in such a place.
In Mark 9:43, 45, 47, Jesus said: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” Jesus is making a point. Hell is no joke.
Jesus often spoke in parables which were used to illustrate a truth in a way people could understand. Parables are not myths. They are earthly stories with a Heavenly meaning and a spiritual truth. The following parable is the only one in which Jesus used the names of real people: Lazarus, Abraham, and Moses. In this parable, Jesus portrays two destinies upon death: Heaven and Hell. “Physical death” is the separation of soul from the body, while “spiritual death” is the separation of the soul from God. Jesus warned we should be most concerned about spiritual death: “…fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)
In the beginning portion of Luke 16:1-18, Jesus addressed the religious leaders. They were concerned with outward appearances. Jesus was concerned with what was on the inside that could defile a person. It’s the heart that matters. The religious leaders scoffed when Jesus accused them of being self-righteous and trying to earn their way into the Kingdom on their own terms. They refused to believe He was the Messiah. God’s Word is silent about Lazarus’ belief but somewhere in his life he had to have come to the knowledge that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and believed.
We can glean enough information from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to know this much about Hell. The rich man has his memory. He not only remembers Lazarus but he also remembers his brothers and pleads with Abraham to have someone warn them about “this place of torment.” He can physically feel for he is in pain and torment from a flame. He is also thirsty. The rich man had everything life could offer and what did it gain him in the end? Nothing…
Sadly, most preachers today refuse to acknowledge Hell for fear of offending or frightening people. We, as Christians, are called to be soldiers for Christ: unafraid, uncompromising, and unashamed in speaking the truth of God’s Word. All of it.
Hell was not created for us and God never intended for us to be there. Jesus said that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), and that in His Father’s house are many mansions and that He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). Just as there is a literal Heaven, Jesus’ literal blood was shed to save us from a literal Hell. To contradict God is equivalent to calling Him a liar. If there is no Hell for unrepentant sinners then there is no Hell for Satan and his angels. God has already declared where they will spend eternity (Revelation 20:10). The Lake of Fire will be the perpetual abode of Satan, his angels, and impenitent sinners who rejected God’s plan of salvation.
Why would a loving God create such a horrific place? Until we understand the intensity of God’s love for us, only then can we understand the intensity of His judgment. None of God’s characteristics will be found in Hell. It is the complete antithesis of Heaven. Here is what we know about Hell, according to God’s Word:
* Hell is a prison that houses every enemy of God.
* There is no light in Hell because God is light (1 John 1:5). Hell is described as “outer darkness” and flames. (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; Revelation 16:10; Jude 1:13)
* God is life (John 1:4). Things we take for granted here on Earth such as the beauty of flowers, lush green meadows, and colorful leaves on trees in the fall season, are not found in Hell.
* The sounds of Hell. We are told it’s a place of “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth forever” (Matthew 13:42; 22:12-13; Luke 13:28). You won’t hear birds singing, the soothing sound of rain, or the laughter of children in Hell.
* Because God is love (1 John 4:16), without the presence of God in Hell, no love will be found. You will never hear another individual tell you how much they love you.
* God is merciful (Psalm 36:5). Hell is void of any mercy. There will be horrific torment in Hell.
* There is no water in Hell. The rich man asked for only “one drop of water to cool his tongue” yet that request was denied (Luke 16:23-24).
* Jesus is the “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6). You will never have a moment’s peace in Hell due to the torment and screams. You will never have a moment of silence.
* “…and they have no rest day nor night…” (Revelation 14:11) You don’t even get to sleep in Hell.
* Hell is a fiery furnace where the fire is never quenched…meaning it will never go out (Matthew 13: 49-50; Mark 9:43-48). God’s Word speaks of “fire and brimstone” (sulfur). It is said that the boiling point for sulfur (before turning from a liquid to a gas) is approximately 832 degrees Fahrenheit. This gives us some idea how hot Hell is. It is also said that the fumes from sulfur are “toxic and dangerously irritating” and that you will not be able to bear it as gives you a choking feeling. It will be hard to breathe in Hell.
* There is no hope in Hell. There is no exit door, no hope of ever escaping Hell (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:25-26). God’s eternal decree confirms there is a gulf that is “fixed” between an eternal Heaven and an everlasting Hell. Once you pass through the doorway of death without Christ, your fate is sealed.
* You will have your memory in Hell (Luke 16:27-28). Your conscience will torment you, living with the eternal regret of not heeding God’s warning. You will live with the fact that God made a way for you to escape Hell but you refused to listen.
Where I spend eternity is my decision and I only have two choices. Jesus firmly declares that there is only one chance to escape Hell and that’s in this life, before you die (John 5:24; John 3:16). In Luke 16:22-23, Jesus makes clear that when the rich man died he immediately went to a place of torment. Death is sudden and Hell is immediate.
I often hear people say, “God is loving and wouldn’t allow people to suffer like that.” Well six million Jews suffered and died at the hands of Hitler. Christians have been persecuted and murdered all over the world for centuries. God allowed His Son, Jesus, to suffer and be crucified. So what makes us think He won’t allow suffering in Hell for unrepentant sinners who deliberately rejected Jesus?
God is dogmatic about the way you must come to Him. There is only one way to God and only one way to escape Hell and that’s through Jesus. It grieves God to see souls going to Hell. God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that they repent and turn from their evil ways.” (Ezekiel 33:11) He “…is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but that everyone come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
If you want more information on how to come to know Christ as your Savior: http://georgecarneal.com/discover-christ/
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