Hell – An Important Part of the Gospel – Part 4

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

Hell doesn’t fit into today’s market driven church environment or sensitive, Madison Avenue version of the Gospel. We attract people with programs, resources, entertainment and promises of blessings. Hell just isn’t “seeker friendly”.

Is that to say that the Gospel should be all about scaring people and threatening them with impending doom without declaring the love, mercy and blessings of God. Of course not, that’s my point. We need a healthy, Biblical balance of the complete Gospel as presented by Jesus and the Apostles. That includes both heaven and hell. That includes both love and anger. That includes both blessings and consequences. That includes both forgiveness and punishment.

It makes sense from a human standpoint to package the Gospel in the most attractive way possible. As Christians, we have become very concerned about the world’s opinion of us. We don’t want to appear to be “fanatics” or old-fashioned kooks. We want to attract people to Jesus through the lure of how salvation benefits us. We want to “attract” people, not inform them. We are selling to them, instead of witnessing to them.

A story in the Wall Street Journal reported that a growing number
of churches have services aimed at…. pets.

Yes, pets. (WSJ, 3-10-04). Church services are held to improve the lives and CHANCES FOR SALVATION for pets. It is believed that more people will come to church if church is more “relevant”. (don’t laugh; how many things are done in fundamental churches today in the name of relevancy that would have been borderline ‘heathen’ ten years ago). Pets get to partake in communion. Funerals and “bark mitzvahs” are held for them.

Okay, that is an extreme example, granted. But it is the natural and logical result of man trying to “package” Christianity to be more appealing. When the techniques, tricks and seeker-friendly methods are questioned, the next claim that arises is: “What’s wrong with it? It works!”.

It must be okay because it works. That is what you call “pragmatic truth”; truth that is decided based on what is tested and works. The problem with that is…. God doesn’t work that way. He has declared what TRUTH is, and our responsibility is deliver His message to the world exactly as He has given it to us. GOD IS REPONSIBLE FOR THE RESULTS, NOT US. Again, we are Ambassadors, not Sales Reps!

A quick review …

Why is hell a critical part of the Gospel message? Umm, isn’t it obvious? Millions are people are headed there. Any one of them could go at any second. How is it that you have to convince Christians that telling people about hell is not only necessary but COMPASSIONATE.

Hell is an important part of the Gospel because Jesus and the Apostles considered it important. The talked about it an awful lot: Matt. 11:23;16:18;Luke 10:15;16:23;Acts 2:27, 31;Rev. 1:18;6:8;20:13, 14; Matt. 5:22, 29, 30;10:28;18:9;23:15, 33;Mark 9:43, 45, 47;Luke 12:5;Jas. 3:6;2 Pet. 2:4;Matt. 3:12;Matt. 5:29 v. 30.;Matt. 7:13 v. 14.;Matt. 8:11, 12;Matt. 10:28;Matt. 13:30, 38–42, 49, 50;Matt. 16:18;Matt. 18:8, 9, 34, 35;Matt. 22:13;Matt. 25:28–30, 41, 46;Mark 9:43, 44 vs. 45–48.;Matt. 5:29. Luke 3:17 Matt. 3:12. Luke 16:23, 24, 26 vs. 25,28;;Acts 1:25. 2 Thess. 1:9;2 Pet. 2:4;Jude 6, 23;Rev. 9:1, 2 Rev. 11:7. Rev. 14:10, 11;Rev. 19:20;Rev. 20:10, 15;Rev. 21:8 Rev. 2:11.

They obviously did not consider it trivial, rude or poor marketing. Hell is real. Look at the next person you see. If they are unsaved, they could drop dead from a heart attack and be in hell right now this second. So are you being rude or being compassionate by informing them of that truth?

Hell is an important part of the Gospel because it inserts an element of urgency that is otherwise missing. Trying to “sell” the Gospel leaves people with the idea that there is time to ponder, consider and weigh the decision about Christ. This is simply not accurate, nor compassionate. The time to obey Christ is NOW because you are not guaranteed one single second of life. There are a thousand ways to die at any given moment.

Hell is an important part of the Gospel because of the finality and eternality of the decision. Telling someone that “Jesus will improve your life”, and you get to go to heaven to boot, does not convey the tragic result of what happens if you reject Christ. This decision affects eternity. You can only be wrong once. No second chance. People need to be very, very clear what their rejection of Christ really means.

Hell is an important part of the Gospel because it helps the hearer to understand the full nature of God. It is not enough to simply appeal to them on the basis that “God is love”. God IS love; perfect love. But He is also perfect justice, jealousy, anger, wrath and power. Including the reality of hell in the Gospel presentation allows the hearer to get a complete picture of Who they are dealing with. God is love and mercy and kindness and patience and forgiveness and blessing…… oh yes, people need to know that. But they need to know the terrible wrath of God that comes with rejecting His offer of love and forgiveness.

Hell is an important part of the Gospel because it gives us reason to persevere when times get tough. Consider this story (I didn’t make it up, but I can’t remember where I read it):

A guy gets on a commercial airliner and is approached by the airline attendant. She tells him to put on this big bulky parachute saying that it will “improve his flight”. She explains that the flight will be more pleasant, that he will feel better and that the flight in general will just be more enjoyable. And when the flight is over, he will be safe. So he puts on the parachute and tries to squeeze into the cramped little airline seat. Well as the flight goes on he gets more and more uncomfortable. His back hurts, his shoulder hurts, he can’t find a way to sit that is relaxing. What’s more, people begin to make fun of him. They snicker and laugh at him and make comments about what an idiot he is to wear a parachute on a commercial flight. After awhile he gets sick of hearing the criticism and taunts, and along with the discomfort and aching muscles, decides to take the parachute off. The parachute apparently does NOT make the flight better, so why bother.

Guy number two gets on the airplane and the airline attendant gives him a parachute is well. Then she leans over and whispers in his ear “at 30,000 feet we are going to open the door and throw everyone out”. This guy sits down and experiences the same discomfort, the same aching muscles, the same taunting and criticism but of course there is no possible way that he is going to take the parachute off because he understands the consequences of the decision.

You can see where I’m going with this. Many people put Jesus on for a while because they have been told that “Jesus will improve your life” which is all well and good unless you leave out the part concerning the consequences of rejecting Jesus. So many people give Jesus a bit of a chance and then the inevitable hardships of life come upon them. Then the equally inevitable criticism and taunting begins to occur and pretty soon you are left with a person who feels like Jesus did not live up his promise to make their life better.

Without a clear understanding of hell, then you have neglected to give the person a second very compelling reason to obey Jesus – if you don’t, you will be condemned to eternal torment and suffer the wrath of God.

That’s a powerful motivator, not fire insurance. Hell is an important part of presenting the Gospel.

Holy God, Help us to understand, accept and communicate to a lost and dying world the reality of their eternal destination. Help us to do it with a balance of love and compassion, yet urgent and truthful. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Do you think that the Gospel can be presented effectively without mentioning hell? Are you being compassionate or cowardly to leave that part out?

Application: True compassion speaks the whole truth. If you are speaking to an unsaved person, you will be doing them a great disservice if they do not come aways from your message about Jesus not understanding the consequences of rejecting him. It’s not “mean” or “rude” or “intolerant”. IT’S THE TRUTH!.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:32)


Hell – Lies, Myths & Heresies – Part 3

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Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

Hell is real. That is considered a controversial and “extreme” position to hold today.

Chalk one up for Satan. He’s knows how to play the game. Take away one of the most effective, urgent and critical arguments (the existence of hell) for sinful man to repent and you’ve got half the game won. Then Satan just waits to let people discover that Jesus doesn’t really keep His “promise” to “fix” everything and make life easy… and what you’ve got left is a whole world of people who have “tried Jesus” and it didn’t work.

Or, Satan convinces everyone that “all truth is God’s truth” and “all roads lead to heaven”. Hell becomes irrelevant or fiction; take your pick.

The “Jesus will improve your life” Gospel is very popular today along with the “tolerance” movement that says we all have a right to believe the way we want – all roads lead to God eventually. Well, not according the Living Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus taught a very narrow, frightening and intense view of hell.

A quick review …

The reason why hell is either ignored or considered so lightly, is because 1) Satan has introduced myths which belittle the idea of hell; and 2) churches are propagating poor teaching as well as ignoring the subject all together. Let’s take a look at some of the common fallacies the make the rounds in churches and society at large:

Hell is temporary

This false teaching comes in many forms. One of the primary is that of “purgatory”. The Catholic Church teaches that Purgatory is a hell-like place where sinners are punished for a finite length of time, then once they pay their penalty, get to go to heaven. Only those who reject Catholicism are destined for the “eternal” hell.

The problem with that is 1) the idea is utterly foreign to Scripture, and most importantly, 2) it has the sinner paying his own penalty for his salvation which violates the fundamental principle of salvation: justification through Christ by faith alone (or in plain English “the only way you can be saved is by trusting and obeying Jesus Christ”; Rom 3.21-26). The Bible simply, plainly and with great clarity declares there is no second chance after death:

  • Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (NKJV)
  • Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (NKJV)
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (NKJV)

Hell is just annihilation

What this means is that God will simply cause all the lost multitudes to disappear from existence.

  • Luke 16:22-23 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. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (NKJV)

It’s a little bit difficult for someone who doesn’t exist to “lift up their eyes”, see someone “afar off”, and in the next verse, speak. It is equally hard for the non-existent to have memories, thirst for water, be in pain, be frustrated, weeping and gnash their teeth (Matt. 3:12; 13:41–42; Mark 9:43; Luke 16:19–31; Luke 16:24; Rev. 14:10, 11; Matt. 13:42; 24:51; Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 15; Hab. 3:2; Rev. 14:10; Matt. 25:41).

Hell is NOT annihilation. It is real, it is eternal; and it will be real people there in torment and punishment.

Hell is a bunch of “bad” people having a party that God sort of frowns on

Referencing the same group of verses, the notion that hell is frat party for the “naughty people” is ridiculous. You see cartoons, commercials and sitcoms joking about hell as the place where all the “bad” people spend eternity drinking Budweisers and making fun of the “goody-two-shoes” in heaven with their little wings and white robes.

Or you get the idea that hell is just sort of “not heaven” and the people there are a little grouchy that they got a bum deal. Satan has done a masterful job painting hell as anything except what it really is. It is considered almost a joke to present hell in Biblical terms and proportions… “you can’t be serious! You don’t actually believe that nonsense from the Dark Ages do you?”

Hell is the demon hangout or playground

Another spin on the previous myth, is that hell is where all the demons and Satan hang out to plan their mischief and deviltry. The demons are ugly little midget things running around bickering like little children while Satan towers annoyingly over them in his red suit and pitchfork. You have a few demons over in the corner snickering about a dirty joke, and a couple over there whispering about something they “got away with” when God wasn’t looking.

Hell is such a joke now, that it illicits little more than snickers, taunts or patronizing when someone stands up to tell the truth about it. People’s response range from “you’ve got to be kidding me” to “how quaint”. Here’s a sample of an email I received just today:

“Brent’s view on hell seems to coincide with most Western belief systems. I just never have for a moment believed in the concept of a fiery Hell… For me to believe in Hell I’d have to believe in the bible as the Word of God. And I do not. I think men wrote what they wanted people to believe and left out critical perhaps controversial things that did not go along with their teachings… my belief system makes me happy as yours does you… We’re all on different paths but they all end up with God.”

How tragic that this false belief will only become clear one second after the person dies… but then it will be too late.

Hell is simply a description of evil

Sometimes people say that hell is just a state of mind, or a way to describe the totality of evil. It is implied that anything “not God” is “hell”. It is amazing the lengths people go to in order to keep hell from being a real place (especially when the very same people glady accept that heaven exists). Hell is real. It is a place, it exists probably in another dimension from us, but nonetheless real. It is not a euphemism. It is not symbolic.

The Bible declares plainly that hell is a real place
that will trap and torment real people for a real eternity.

Satan is the ruler of hell

Satan is not King of Hell. God rules hell. Hell is a prison for Satan, not a “kingdom” he will have free reign in. Hell is a place of punishment for fallen angels, not a retirement home:

Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (NKJV)

There is a heretical teaching making the rounds today and being propogated by some of our most publicly visible “Christian” personalities. The heresy goes something like this: Jesus was born a man. He became God when He was baptized by John. He lost His deity when He died on the cross. Jesus went to hell, got beat up on by Satan for three days. Then Jesus was “born again” and became “god” again; yes, “born again” – just like us (hence, it is said by these teachers that WE are “gods, little ‘g'”; that we are created in God’s image and born again just like Jesus which makes us ‘gods’).

Although every part of this teaching is a damnable heresy that constitutes preaching “another Jesus” (Gal 1.8-9), the part of interest to our lesson is the idea that Jesus went to hell and got beat up by Satan for three days.

First of all, Satan is not in hell. He is on the earth, ruling the wicked (Gen 1; Ezek 28; 2Cor 4.4; John 12.31). He wants NO part of hell because He knows that is his future prison (Matt 25.41). He fears it every bit as much as we should. Second, Satan is not the ruler of hell, God is. God controls hell, not Satan. Satan isn’t in hell beating up on anybody MUCH LESS JESUS! What does Satan care about who is in hell? He only cares about those who are NOT there yet! (and Jesus did not go to hell for punishment but to declare victory to those imprisoned – but that’s another lesson; 1Pet 3.19)

This teaching goes mostly unquestioned because of typical ignorance about what the Bible declares about hell. Satan does not rule hell. God does.

A loving God would never send his creation to eternal punishment

This is the most common objection to hell. You hear it ad nauseum, even in the church; even in fundamental churches. While this myth is partly caused by ignorance about hell, it is more the result of a lack of teaching about God’s character. Consider this:

God would not be loving,
If He did not send people to hell for all eternity.

Why? Because God is Perfect in all ways. Perfect love requires that God be true to His nature. Being true to His perfect nature means that God must keep His word; God must punish sin; and God only has two choices: life or death. No sin can exist in the presence of a perfectly holy God, so a sinful person has to be penalized and the only acceptable penalty is death.

A person who has accepted and obeyed Christ is no longer sinful because God has supernaturally applied (imputed) the righteousness of Christ to the sinner (who never sinned, thus does not deserve punishment); God punished Christ for our sin thereby satisfying the need for sin to be punished by death.

There are many theological reasons why death is the only acceptable punishment for sin, but it will suffice here to simply say that the Creator has declared to the creature (you and me) that the result of sin is death, and we need no other reason than that. (Rom 3.23)

So God is love, and love provided a way for us to be saved. That same love would not be perfect love if it did not punish those who reject the offer of love. On a simpler level, what loving earthly father does not administer both love and discipline to his children with equal diligence? It is not hard to understand that a parent does not truly love their children if they do not follow through with appropriate discipline and punishment when necessary.

A loving God will, and must, keep His word and condemn those who reject His Son. What an insult it would be to Jesus for God to excuse those who turn their back on Him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hell is not a myth or a symbol or a cartoon. It is a real, terrible, awful, horrible reality. We warn people constantly of dangers that are nothing in comparison to hell; and yet consider it rude to confront people about the imminent danger of eternal condemnation. How sad for us. How devious and cunning of Satan. Chalk one up for the Father of Lies – he loves being underestimated.

Holy God, Help us to understand, accept and communicate to a lost and dying world the reality of their eternal destination. Help us to do it with a balance of love and compassion, yet urgent and truthful. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: How many of these myths and false ideas have you heard, or believed? Do you think it is necessary, and helpful to study about hell?

Application: With love, patience, compassion and urgency, we need to dispel the silly notions that exist about hell. Satan has successfully reduced hell to a joke, a cartoon, an old fashioned ridiculous notion of days gone by….. We should warn people about hell as sure as we warn them about anything that is life threatening… even more so, because hell threatens not only this life, but the one to come.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:32)


Hell – The Bible Speaks – Part 2

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

If you were standing in the middle of the train tracks, unaware that a train was coming around the corner at 70mph and going to run you over any minute… would you consider it negative, harsh, or a “scare tactic” for me to warn you about your impending death? What if I just told you how soft the grass was on the side of tracks and pleaded with you to come on over and enjoy the scenery?

Or would you want me to warn you sternly and passionately? Obviously, you would want me to be urgent and truthful about the oncoming danger.

Is hell less scary, less dangerous or less imminent than an oncoming train?

If you are usaved, there is only one correct answer: it’s eternally more scary, infinitely more dangerous, and not only imminent, but inevitable apart from Christ. So why would we warn the lost with any less urgency, passion or truthfulness than we would warn someone about a train barreling down the tracks they are standing on?

Well, it’s time for my daily disclaimer: Yes, the love of Jesus, God’s mercy and the blessings of salvation are a vital, crucial and inseparable part of the Gospel message. My point all this week is that the part about hell is just as vital, crucial and inseparable. Balance. Scripture. Truth. The first step in simply and truthfully telling the lost about hell is to know what the Bible says about it. So let’s look…

Hell is a place of eternal fire and torment

  • Matthew 3:12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJV)
  • Matthew 13:42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (NKJV)
  • Mark 9:43-44 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’ (NKJV)

There is a reason that hell is associated with fire. Fire is one of the most fearsome, painful and destructive elements known to man. Even a small burn can keep you in agony for days. No doubt, hell will be much worse than anything we can imagine about fire, but it is probably the closest tangible thing God can describe to us to give us a sense of what it will be like.

The Bible calls hell a “furnace” which is an oven type device used specifically for creating the highest temperatures possible. The furnace of hell will never go out, never lessen and never go down for maintenance. That is why Jesus warned us that it is better to get to heaven maimed, disfigured and disabled, than go to hell with a whole body. This was not a simple scare tactic… it is the compassionate truth that the Lord is trying to get through our thick, stubborn skulls.

You always remember what you lost and regret your decision to reject Christ

  • Luke 16:19-31 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 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. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “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.’ 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. 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.’ “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 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.’ ” (NKJV)

It is a common misconception that as soon as you die, you become someone or something else; or that you become detached from the memories of your life on earth. Not according to the Bible. We will know each other in heaven; we will recognize those we have known (I think we will instinctly know every person, but that’s my opinion). We will have our memories, good and bad, but somehow we will have such a full understanding that they will not make us sad anymore (Rev 21.4).

There is no reason to think that those in hell won’t remember the lost chances and the rejections of the Gospel. There is no reason to think that intense, unbearable remorse and regret for ignoring the truth will not be part of the suffering of hell.

It is devastating to even think about. Stop for a minute and try to imagine that after a million million years of unbearable suffering, your regret won’t lessen your time in hell one single second. One second after entering hell you will know will full clarity the tragic mistake you have made – and it will be too late.

You will be thirsty, but never get a drink

  • Luke 16:24 “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.’ (NKJV)

Water is the primary element of life. So it makes sense that part of the suffering in hell will be a deprival of refreshing water. Heaven will have the River of Life flowing from the Throne (Rev 22.1). The Sahara desert is a swimming pool compared to hell.

Very few of us in the West have every really experienced life-threatening thirst. We have a hard time grasping the awfulness of extreme thirst. Your skin burns; you’re tongue swells up. Your eyes dry up; you cramp and ache. You become delirious and fainting. You’re entire being is consumed with only the thought of getting water. It becomes maddening and desperate.

Can you imagine a continuing and intensifying torment of thirst? Why do you think God chose to make water an issue in hell? Because Jesus is the water of life, and everyone in hell will remember by their thirst the Living Water they rejected:

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (NKJV)

You will be in agony, pain and constant misery

  • Revelation 14:10-11 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (NKJV)

This is one of the well known characteristics of hell – suffering/punishment. You will be in pain. You will never get a break, never receive comfort and the torment will never lessen. The “smoke of their torment” will ascend forever. You will never rest, ever. Not one second of relief will ever come no matter how much crying, begging and pleading is heard. Only misery. Only pain. Only hopelessness. Think about it.

You will be bitter, angry, frustrated and desperate for all eternity

  • Matthew 13:41-42 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (NKJV)
  • Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NKJV)

Wailing and gnashing of teeth – this is a picture of frustration and break down. It is the ultimate level of being “sick and tired”. Those in hell will thrash about, flail their arms, scream and grind their teeth in frustration and hopelessness. There will be the never ending wailing of death and despair. It will be a million times more sad and bitter than any situation you can possibly dream of on this earth.

You will experience the full fury and wrath of God

  • Revelation 14:10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (NKJV)

For those in hell, God’s mercy is gone. His patience has ended. There is no more restraint or pity. The “full cup” of His anger will be poured out for all eternity. It will never end, never cease, never lessen and never change in any way. Can you imagine being the target of God’s anger for one second? How about a thousand years? A million? The thought should make you quiver.

You will never, ever, ever, get a break or be allowed to escape

  • Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (NKJV)
  • Jude 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJV)

EVERLASTING – lasting or enduring through all time : continuing long or indefinitely : tediously persistent : wearing indefinitely
ETERNAL – having infinite duration : continued without intermission : seemingly endless : existing at all times : timeless

Punishment that never ends. Indefinite agony. Persistent torment. Misery with no breaks. Endless hopelessness.

Any questions?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hell is all about extremes. If you make the extreme choice to ignore, deny or reject Jesus, you will suffer the most extreme punishment imaginable by an all-powerful, jealous and angry God. BUT.. never forget that everyone in hell, is there by personal choice. God is never to blame for even one lost soul.

Holy God, Help us to accept the reality of hell. Help us to understand it, and communicate it with love and compassion to those who are destined for it. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Is hell real to you? Do you believe that it really will be as horrible as we have learned today? Or do you think that the Bible is exaggerating hell in order to scare people? Should we tell the lost about hell? Or just take a “positive” approach?

Application: Hell is real. Hell is imminent for anyone who has not responded to Christ in obedience. Hell is final. Hell is forever. We warn people about AIDS, cigarettes, drunk driving and drugs. Is hell less dangerous, less real, less permanent and less tragic?

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:32)


Hell Gets a Bad Rap – Part 1

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

Hell is getting a bad rap. Okay, not hell itself, but the topic; or more specifically, whether or not it should be routinely discussed, studied or used in presenting the Gospel. Why do I say that?

Because it has become almost considered down right rude and archaic to 1) tell a sinner they are headed to hell at any moment, 2) discuss the reality of hell in the Church today. It’s considered bad selling; “scaring people” or promoting a “negative” Gospel rather than a “positive” one. Satan has succeeded in reducing hell to silly imagery, desensitized vocabulary and snicker-producing ideas:

  • Fire & brimstone (typically meant to describe and “old fashioned” type of preacher
  • Hell is where Satan and the demons party with the sinners
  • Satan has a red suit, pointy tail, horns and pitchfork
  • Satan and demons are routinely banished and defeated by mortal men constantly in Hollywood movies giving us a very unBiblical view of what they really are
  • Phrases like “what the hell” and “go to hell” desensitizes people about the reality of hell and causes them to think very casually about it
  • Hell is an old fashioned religious idea
  • Hell can’t be real because a loving God wouldn’t send people there
  • If hell is real, it’s ridiculous to think God would send you there for all eternity
  • Only the really bad people go to hell; that’s not me
  • Hell is not real, its just a state of unhappiness, or is merely a euphemism for evil
  • Hell is the complete annihilation of “evil” people

And on and on. Satan has done a masterful job at causing people (including Christians) to see anything but the hard core truth about hell.

It’s considered laughable by the world to present hell as real.
It’s considered a poor selling technique or “harsh” by the Church.

That’s a pretty tough thing to say, but how many churches, evangelistic outreaches or teachers present WITH EQUAL BALANCE the realities of hell? Modern Christianity is dominated by a “Jesus will improve your life mentality”; a “Madison Avenue, accentuate the benefits, downplay the costs” sales & marketing type of Gospel.

At this point comes the most common comment I hear… “Oh, so you’re supposed to SCARE people to heaven, huh?”; “You don’t get people saved by offering them fire insurance!”; or “people want to hear about love not hell!”. An objective observer would rightly conclude that the Gospel today is “Jesus loves you and will make everything better”. Now don’t get me wrong, that of course is completely true especially from an eternal perspective. The problem with that mentality is that it has turned the Gospel into a man-made effort to persuade or “sell” people on Jesus based solely on “features and benefits”. Sales 101.

The Bible doesn’t present a Gospel that is Sales 101
(features & benefits; downplay the cost).
The Gospel of Scripture is Truth 101
(the reality of hell; the solution of Jesus Christ)

But that is for another lesson this week. We are going to study about hell all this week. On Friday I am going to have in my devotional a project I have been working on for a couple of weeks – a “Brent Riggs translation” of the Jonathan Edwards classic message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. As you can guess, yes, it’s about hell. It is one of the most famous on the subject and produced the most extensive and intensive revival in American history. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Now, just in case you fall into that category of people who think lessons on hell, or a Gospel presentation that includes hell, is not useful, productive or Biblical, let me give you a taste of what we will cover this week:

  • What does the Bible have to say about hell?
    • It has eternal fire and torment
    • You will remember and regret your chance to obey God
    • You will thirst but never drink
    • You will be in misery and pain
    • You will always be angry, frustrated and desparate
    • You will be alone
    • You will feel the full weight of God’s anger
    • You will never, ever, ever leave
  • Myths, heresies and false teaching about hell
    • It is not temporary
    • It is not annihilation
    • It is not a bunch of “bad” people enjoying their sinful ways for all eternity
    • It is not the demon hangout or playground
    • It is not simply a description of evil
    • Satan is not the ruler of hell
    • Yes, a loving God will send you there
  • Hell and the Gospel
    • Why it is avoided today
    • What is the effect of leaving hell out of the message
    • The “Jesus will improve your life” Gospel
    • Should it be included in evangelism
    • How should it be communicated to sinners
    • How should it be taught to Believers
    • Why it is not “fire insurance
    • Hell, one second away

I want to give you reasons each day to help you realize that sharing the wrath of God is just as important as sharing the love of God. You see, we believe that warning about hell is a scare tactic that produces emotional, false converts to Christ. Let me propose that more false converts exist because of the “Jesus will improve your life” Gospel, than will ever exist by “scaring” someone about hell.

Why? Because when life gets tough, Christians who were converted because Jesus was supposed to fix everything, bail out. The deal falls through. They were sold a product that doesn’t work. But people who clearly and unmistakably came to Christ because they understood the consequences of rejecting Him, do not bail out when the storms hit. Does that mean that scary “hell talk” is the only real way to share the Gospel? NO, NO, NO and NO again!

We aren’t responsible for the results of the Message… God is!
Our responsbility is to deliver the Message, the whole Message.

We are responsible to deliver the Joe Friday “just the facts, ma’am”, balanced courtroom version of the Truth… “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. We are to give a balanced, honest and full disclosure of what Jesus is all about: eternal life and blessing; or eternal death and the wrath of God.

We are not SALESMEN!
We are AMBASSADORS!

We’re not selling a product, we are delivering a message. God has determined what that message is, and it is not up to us to re-work it into something a little easier to swallow. Heaven or hell. Life or death. Jesus or Satan. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I’ve touched on several issues, concepts and points very lightly in this introduction today to give you a hint about what we will study this week. If you are a person who thinks that a study about hell is “unloving” or simply unpleasant and therefore to be avoided, I hope you will prayerfully reconsider. There is a lost and dying world all around you. Any lost person can die at ANY SECOND and be instantly in the flames of eternal hell. If that was true about you and you didn’t know it, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you?

Holy God, Hell is not a pleasant subject but it is most certainly reality. Thank you for saving us from hell by giving Your only Beloved Son. Open our eyes about the importance and need to speak the truth in love to those who are but one second from the eternal torment of hell. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Do you know about hell? When is the last time you warned a sinner about hell? Do you think it is necessary? Do you think that “using hell” when presenting the Gospel is “fire insurance”? Do you think people who are “scared” into accepting Christ aren’t genuine? Is the answer to just share “the love of Jesus” and leave “fire and brimstone” out of it?

Application: Measure, contemplate and even write down your current beliefs and attitudes about hell. Go through this study this week and see if any of them change in any way. I propose to show you that sharing the truth about hell is just as important as sharing the truth about heaven and God’s love.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:32)