Sometimes the negative in
our lives is good for us. The
threat of academic failure and possible expulsion may help us to become
better students. The reality
of losing our privilege of driving may help us to show more courtesy on
the road. The possibility of
a bank’s nasty foreclosure might help us to get our finances in order.
Showing children a jail might help them to determine that they
don’t want to spend time there. Watching
videos of horrible car accidents might help teenagers to become more
cautious drivers. Seeing the
terrors of war has motivated some men to become missionaries.
Experiencing the negative is not often pleasant, but sometimes it
may be just want is needed to bring about a positive result.
Jesus said in John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this; for the
hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice,
and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life,
and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
Jesus said in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized
will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
Then in Matthew 25:46, he said, “And these [i.e. the wicked]
will go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal
As we mentioned last week,
let’s begin 2008 with THE end in mind.
Last week we looked at the final judgment, but that is really
only a stepping stone towards two eternal destinies which are truly the
end: heaven or hell, life or condemnation, glorious light or outer
darkness. Most any preacher
would love to take the teaching about eternal condemnation out of the
Scriptures because it would be so much more comfortable not to disturb
anyone with it. But Jesus,
the source of all truth, used the word “hell” more than anyone else
in the New Testament. We
cannot be true disciples of Jesus if we ignore this subject, however
unpleasant it may be. Experiencing
the negative is not often pleasant, but sometimes it may be just what is
needed to bring about a positive result.
With that spirit, this lesson is presented.
Yes, sometimes the negative is good for us, so this morning let
us reflect soberly on these four aspects of hell: its purposes, its
descriptions, its sorrows, and its consequences.
first notice the purposes of hell. The
apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 4:8: “Be sober, be vigilant, because
your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom
he may devour.” Let's
take just a few moments to explain something about our adversary, our
enemy, our nemesis. Satan
spoiled paradise, he destroyed Job's livestock and children, and he
caused the deaths of 70,000 Jews in David's day.
The devil tried to kill Jesus at his birth, he tempted Jesus in
the desert to abandon His mission, and he tried to entice Jesus while He
was on the cross to leave it (Satan loves to attack people when they're
down; he doesn't fight fairly). According
to Revelation, Satan brought about the deaths of thousands of Christians
through Roman persecution! And
these are just the atrocities recorded in biblical history, who knows
how many more lives he has taken (certainly, more than Hitler, Stalin,
and Hussein combined) and how much more havoc he has caused throughout
subsequent centuries since he is called a murderer and a liar (John
8:44), the destroyer (Revelation 9:11), the accuser (Revelation 12:10),
and the deceiver (Revelation 20:10)!
Now most people like to think that Satan is a little impish
cartoon character in a red suit who couldn't hurt a fly!
How Satan has blinded us if we believe such nonsense!
Brethren, remember we are in a cosmic war, and Satan is still our
arch foe! Reading Ephesians
6:6-10 shows us that Satan is smart, supernatural, strong, and sinister!
Although he is not omnipresent nor eternal, let's never underestimate
his powers to bring about destruction in this life!
He is the ultimate terminator!
Jesus says to the wicked in Matthew 25:41: “Depart from Me,
you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
You see, hell's first purpose is to serve as a prepared
punishment for man's arch adversary and his armies!
Could a just God not do otherwise?
look at Revelation 21:7-8: “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.”
This passage shows us that the second purpose of hell is to serve
as a fulfillment for all those who chose the way of wickedness that
leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
You see there are only two classes of people.
Jesus said it this way in John 3:18-19: “He who believes in
Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already,
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
God allows us free choice—narrow or broad, light or darkness,
love or hate—and there is no middle ground.
If we have not determined to be in Christ's camp, then we are
surely in Satan's camp! One
modern writer puts it this way: there are those who say to God in this
life, “Thy will be done,” and then there are those to whom God will
one day say in the life hereafter, with a tear in His eye, “Thy will
be done. You chose darkness
in your lifetimes, so now have outer darkness for your eternity”
(Lewis)! Could a holy God
not do otherwise?
look at 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: Jesus will come “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.”
Now here's hell's third purpose: God will separate and banish all
that is evil from all that is good for eternity.
Just as Jesus, who felt forsaken when God separated Himself from
Him while bearing the sins of the world, so those in hell will forever
be separated from God and from His care.
Can you image anything more depressing and devastating than to
live in an isolation ward and to be excluded forever from the source of
all that is good, beautiful, and lovely?
God will never hear your prayers, never offer His blessings, and
never dry your tears after that banishment.
Could a righteous God do otherwise?
So hell's three purposes are: eternal punishment of Satan and his
forces, unending fulfillment for those who desire to have no God, and
everlasting banishment from God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the
let's quickly look at several descriptions of hell. The word that Jesus
used for hell described an area outside of Jerusalem that served as the
city’s dump where fires were kept continually burning to destroy dead
animals, garage, and other filth, and the stench and putrid sights would
usually turn a person's stomach. Another
image to describe hell is “outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30).
When God sent the ninth plague upon Egypt, it was called a
darkness that could be felt (Exodus 10:21).
Such darkness would produce great fear.
Another description is a place “of weeping and gnashing of
teeth” (Matthew 24:51). Are
these sounds the results of pain, or of frustration, or of agony or from
something else? Whatever the
cause, it will be horrible. Revelation
14:11 describes it as a place of unending torment.
If the torment from Nazi or Japanese concentration camps causes
us to wince, just imagine what the excruciation of divinely prepared
torment will be like! 2
Thessalonians 1:9 called it a place of destruction.
Nothing constructive will be found in hell; it will be one
tragedy and disaster after another.
And lastly, the most used description in the New Testament is
fire. “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 a furnace of fire. There
will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42).”
Since most of us have probably seen lava flowing from a volcano
on TV, it is easy to envision a lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15 states: “And anyone not found written in
the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
So the composite picture of hell is that: of a dump, of darkness,
of crying, of torment, of destruction, and of fire.
Now multiply that description with the truth that the whole thing
will last forever, and ever, and ever, and ever!
No, hell will not be a wild party; it will only be eternal pity.
Friends, we don't want to go there!
let's quickly think about the sorrows in hell.
“God is love (1 John 4:8).”
So, there will be no love there.
“Every good gift is from God” (James 1:17).
So, there will be no goodness there.
“The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy”
(Romans 14:17). So, there
will be no righteousness, peace, and joy there.
“Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”
(Galatians 6:2). So, there
will be no help for one another there (everyone will be suffering their
own anguish alone). “The
smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest
day or night ...” (Revelation 14:11).
There is no rest or relief there (no medications or ways to dull
the pain). “God is holy”
(1 Peter 1:16). So, there
will be nothing holy there. “Christ
is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).
So, there will be no hope there.
Are you getting the picture?
Hell is the opposite of all of God's blessings—it is a place of
hatred, wickedness, unrighteousness, strife, sadness, loneliness,
restlessness, unholiness, and hopelessness.
Friends, we don't want to go there!
what are some of the consequences in hell?
First of all, it is a place of utter indifference.
How can we know that? Well,
that's exactly how the wicked who are there lived in this life.
They really didn't care about anything (except maybe themselves),
and that same lifestyle will continue there.
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still and he who is
filthy, let him be filthy still” (Revelation 22:11).
Secondly, it will be a place of regret.
There is no next time or second chance in hell.
Many people there will be thinking, “How could I have been so
stubborn? I knew the Gospel
and that I needed to become a Christian, but I couldn't give up my fun
and bring myself to make Jesus the Lord of my life!
I blew it, and now I'll never have another chance.”
What frustration and self-remorse!
The same question will be asked over and over, “Why didn't I
change when I had the chance? Why
didn’t I change when I had the chance?”
Thirdly, if the purposes, descriptions, and sorrows are anything
close to accurate, hell will be a place of great pain.
Again, we look at the opposite.
Heaven is described in this way: “And God will wipe away
every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor
crying. There will be no
more pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation
21:4).” So applying this
verse negatively, hell will a place where God will never wipe away any
tears, and there will be eternal sorrow, crying without end, and
unceasing pain. The physical
pains in our lives will be nothing in comparison to the emotional and
spiritual pains in hell! Lastly,
it will be an eternity filled with utter evil.
Filth, profanity, vileness, and vulgarity will never stop!
Hell is an eternal existence of indifference, regret, pain, and
evil. Friends, we don't want
to go there!
A Texas rancher once had a younger son who was his pride and joy. Tragically, in the midst of a summer harvest, without warning, the boy lost his mind. With unfailing love, his parents tended to him like a baby trying to nurse him back to sanity. Nonetheless, his poor, unbalanced mind conceived that his mother hated him, and all the family was plotting to murder him. After his mother had worn herself out with months of care, the pitiful demented lad pulled a knife and would have stabbed her to death had he not have been restrained. The family physician pressed them on their inescapable duty: “You cannot give the boy back his mind, and you cannot risks your own lives. The only place for him is a padded cell in an insane asylum where trained people can assist him.” They saw the wisdom of their doctor’s advice. With broken hearts, they made arrangements for him to be carried to the asylum by the local sheriff (Rice in Hutson). God is like those broken-hearted parents. To do right and to be just, He must provide for the safety of His own. Merciless demons, evil villains, and impenitent sinners must be isolated in the madhouse of hell. A loving God gave His Son to keep people from perishing in this awful place of doom. “God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish [in hell] but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)! To those who determine not to accept God’s salvation, the scriptures plainly teach that their destiny will be eternal isolation. Salvation or isolation, life or condemnation, glorious light or outer darkness! Friends, we don’t want to go there! May this negative truth prompt you to respond in a positive way. Flee from the terrors of hell by falling into the extended arms of a loving Savior right now!