Monday, August 1, 2011

7 Facts About Hell

Flashback: It is the mid 1980s. I have been invited to speak at Calvary Mennonite Church—a small congregation in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. My topic that Sunday morning: “The Reality of Hell”. As I started my sermon, something happened that I had never seen before. People rose from their seats and headed down the aisle towards the exits. I was stunned.

It was clear that the subject of my sermon hit a nerve. Many people did not want to hear anything about Hell. Little has changed in the last 25 years. People still don't want to hear about Hell. It is subject that is essentially “verboten” in many denominations and churches. Yet, it is a topic that is too important to ignore.

Recently, a book has been published by Rob Bell entitled: “Love Wins”. It essentially challenges the Biblical view of Hell and tries to replace it with a novel form of universalism—a concept completely foreign to Holy Scripture. Bell thinks that, in the end, God gets what He wants and love wins. People are given a second chance and hell is emptied. “Love Wins” has been embraced by many people including some that identify themselves as Christians and sits near the top of bestseller lists.

More recently, popular author Francis Chan (along with Preston Sprinkle) wrote: “Erasing Hell” in an attempt to counter Bell's book and provide a more Biblical perspective. Admittedly, Chan is not comfortable writing about Hell. It is a topic that he would love to erase from the Bible. However, he realizes it has been put there by God and it is something that we must accept.

It is refreshing to see that this topic is being written about and discussed so widely. As I said, it is too important to ignore. Souls are in the balance.

But what does the Bible really say about Hell and eternal punishment? In this article, I will attempt to unpack what the Bible reveals:

1. Hell is a real place. It has a location. It is not imaginary. It is not a state of mind. You don’t make our own “Hell here on earth” because of your actions. (Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 20:13-15)

2. Hell was not designed for man. It was “prepared for the devil and his angels”. (Matthew 25:41) The only reason that anyone will end up there is because they chose human effort over divine grace. They chose to believe a lie rather than the truth. (Romans 1:25) They failed to receive the free gift of Christ’s death on the cross as payment for their sins. (Romans 5:15-17)

3. Jesus talked more about Hell than anyone else in the Bible. He spoke of a place where the worm does not die. A place of unquenchable fire. A place of eternal suffering and torment. He spoke of the outer darkness. A place where their would be wailing and gnashing of teeth. If we believe Jesus when He says He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, we must also believe what He says about Hell. (Mark 9:42-50, Matthew 8:12, Matthew 25:30, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5)

4. It is a place of continuous and constant torment. It is eternal death--just as there will be eternal life to those who trust in Jesus. (Matthew 25:46, II Thessalonians 1:9) We should moan and wail just to think that anyone that we know may end up there. We should do everything in our power to make sure that they don’t. Pray. Witness. Testify. Give.

5. The Bible teaches us that there are degrees of punishment in Hell. The hottest parts are reserved for the most wicked. However, even the “most comfortable” places in Hell are infinitely worse than Heaven as all of its residents are still eternally separated from God. (Matthew 10:15, Matthew 11:21-24, Matthew 16:27, Luke 12:47-48, Hebrews 10:29)

6. God does not want you to go to Hell. He is not willing that anyone should perish but that all will come to repentance. (John 3:16-17, II Peter 3:9)

7. God has made provision for you to escape Hell through the sinless life, vicarious death and victorious resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23-26, Romans 5:8-10, Colossians 1:13-14)

Receive God’s free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ and escape the terrors of Hell.

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