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