By God’s grace, I’m going to be writing to you about a Biblical reality that most do not want to mention in today’s polite, but extremely corrupt society. This topic is so controversial that even the most conservative Evangelical churches tend to be silent and avoid its implications for lost humanity. This sobering subject is so disturbing that the majority of the world and liberal Christianity denies its existence altogether.
If you have not guessed it by now, the doctrine in question is the Biblical teaching of hell. As a result of this revulsion to the doctrine of hell, the world and a few in the visible church have concocted a few heresies. There are three main ones for brevity’s sake that will be mentioned. The first is Universalism. This false doctrine teaches that all souls will be saved in the end. Recently, the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book Love Wins Out brought this debate to the fore once again. Some take this teaching to the extent that even Satan and his demons shall be redeemed in the end.
The second is annihilation of souls. Atheists and agnostics hold out this hope to vainly try and escape the reality that they will face a Holy God on Judgment day to give an account of their lives. They tragically believe when this physical life ends, they end. To their horror, they will find the “fun” has just begun. The third is reincarnation. Supposedly, mankind goes through cycles of death and rebirth till we all reach “Nirvana” and become as drops in the ocean. All these views God’s word condemns. Hebrews 9:27 states, “And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
As one weighs the totality of God’s word, one finds that God is rather tight lipped when it comes to the afterlife. The majority of God’s word is concerned about how man is to live on this earth and how man is to be redeemed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Precious few verses actually reveal heaven or hell and in those that do, hell is far more emphasized.
Mark 9:42-48 states:
And whoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if your hand offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if your foot offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye offend you, pluck it out: it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.
Here Jesus speaks of the seriousness of sin. Many today have a careless view of sin. We think it is a trivial matter. It is the root of our lives, however, that will produce the dangerous fruit of everlasting torment.
It is so serious that Jesus speaks of dismembering the offended part of our bodies causing us to sin. In reality, He is not advocating a literal mutilation of our bodies, but He is warning us to deal with our sin nature through the grace, power, and truth of God word or it will deal with us and cost us greatly. Mercifully, Proverbs 28:13 provides God’s escape plan, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.”
When Jesus speaks of hell, He refers to a place where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” The book of Revelation concurs as it states, “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever (Revelation 14:11).” A physical worm can only consume a corpse. Once the corpse is gone, however, the feast ends. Not so with the worm in hell. It never stops feasting on damned souls. The same holds true with fire. It has an avarice appetite. It consumes everything it touches. Once a fire runs out of consumable objects, it ceases its destruction. Not so with the fire of hell. It will consume souls forever and never be quenched. In this, we should take heed to the warning from Proverbs 27:20, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” In other words, the more men pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, the more hell enlarges itself (1 John 2:15-17).
I lost a good friend because of this doctrine. As a young man, he experienced a powerful conversion. God used a shooting star to get his attention. We were driving along after I came home from serving in the military for two years. I talked with him about being in the infantry, sleeping outdoors and beholding the majesty of God’s creation. The subject of shooting stars emerged in the conversation. He informed me that he was 20 years old and he had never seen one. I was shocked.
Later, we pulled up to his sister’s house in Westport, CT. The others went inside, while my friend and I stood on the porch gazing up into the brisk, winter night sky. The stars were breath taking. At that moment, I was inspired to pray. The prayer went something like this, “Dear Lord, my friend has never seen a shooting star. Would you show him one now? At the question mark of that request, a brilliant shooting star covered the spectrum of the night sky. Both of us were compelled to hit our knees in Holy Fear. God gave His own altar call that evening and my friend surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Afterward, as we studied God’s word, he became offended at the doctrine of hell and eventually walked away from God. To this day, as far as I know, he is a committed New Ager. Why, because he still longs to be “spiritual” without being encumbered with his dislike for the doctrine of hell. Well, just because we do not like something in the Bible, it doesn’t mean we can remove its reality. Besides, I asked him who he thinks I should believe and obey. Is it him, whom I knew the good, the bad, and the ugly or Jesus, who is God in the flesh. Should I trust the creature or the Creator? Without hesitation, I will trust the Holy One, the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world. I told him as well that it would not be safe for our souls to trust our fallible perspectives, especially when they reject the infallible teaching of Jesus Christ.
Origins of Hell
Matthew 25:41 states, “Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Notice that hell was not initially prepared for man, but for the devil and his angels. If this is true, than how will billions of men find themselves in everlasting torment?
This truth can be traced back to sin and the demonic realm. 2 Peter 2:4 states, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment.” The Bible teaches that God defeated Satan at the cross, judged him and cast him out (John 12:31). Jesus further stated, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you (Matthew 12:28).”
The Old Testament speaks of the coming Kingdom of God as well as mentions Satan in a few passages. It is not till the Holy Ghost comes upon Jesus, however, that we see demonic activity reaching its zenith. Why, because it is a sign that there is a new sheriff in town, one called King Jesus! To this day, if you want to gage the effectiveness of the church being governed by the Gospel and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the signs are the world will become angry and demons will manifest (Acts 17:1-5).
We have become so unclean; however, in the modern era that evil has found a resting place in the House of God. Therefore, instead of evil being exposed, it flourishes unchallenged by the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit. Of course, all this is covered up by the new “Luv” Gospel that would not dare put a period, where God has placed a comma. In other words, God is still speaking today and all His moral commands have been abrogated in order to not offend America’s immoral sensibilities. Thus, we end up literally “loving” people right to hell.
Demons according to God’s word are currently bound in chains of darkness. If this is true, then how do men still find themselves harassed, oppressed and possessed by Satan? It is like a rabid dog on a chain. If you stay a safe distance from him, he cannot harm you. But if you get too close, the dog will savage you. Sin and disobedience to God leads us closer and closer to the rabid dog on the chain. Beware of dogs my brethren and wolves that come in sheep’s clothing. They seek to devour unsuspecting souls.
The Wicked shall be turned into Hell
Psalm 9:17 states, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
From this passage of Scripture, we can glean that hell is life without God. Man forgets God. God is not in any of his thoughts (Psalms 10:4). Hell is merely an eternal extension of what rebellious, sinful men crave on this earth, which is life without God. Look at America and our current pitiful and pathetic state. In the 1960s, we handed God his official “Eviction Notice.” We kicked him out of our government, schools, and the public life of our nation and my, my “how the mighty have fallen?” C. S. Lewis stated it brilliantly. He said, “Hell is God saying to the sinner, ‘Your will be done!'”
I’ll conclude this article with a powerful testimony of how God used the revelation of hell to convert a couple who were practicing Jehovah Witnesses. David Woodrow, founder and director of New Life Drama Company, was the son of this couple. Though his parents were involved in the Jehovah Witness cult, his grandmother was a godly, born-again child of God. Naturally, he grew up in the cross fire of the theological wars that ensued between his parents and grandmother at family gatherings.
There was one gathering, however, that would rock the Woodrow world and change this family forever. It started with a fateful Thanksgiving Day celebration. The Woodrow family came together for the family feast. Providentially, the topic of hell came up in the conversation. Jehovah Witnesses conveniently disregard the doctrine. Not to be silent at this Biblical error, David’s grandmother insisted that there really was a burning hell. The dialogue got so heated (pardon the pun), David’s father ordered his family in the car and left in a huff.
As they were driving down the road clearly upset by the theological argument, they saw a little old lady on the sidewalk hitchhiking. Puzzled by the sight and being good Jehovah Witnesses, they decided to do their good deed for the day. They opened the car door, invited her into the car, and asked where she was going. She responded, “I’m not going anywhere. I was in my house minding my own business when the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me. He instructed me to go outside, stick my thumb in the air and the first car that picked me up I was to inform them, “THERE REALLY IS A BURNING HELL!” After delivering God’s mail, she went back inside and left behind two repentant and former Jehovah Witnesses who came to the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I hope it is obvious by now to those who seek to make it to heaven, man’s will must bow to God’s will, but what is His will? According to 2 Peter 3: 9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 1 Timothy 2:4 concurs, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Acts 2:37, 38 states:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
How about you my friend? Does this message prick your heart? I sincerely pray it does. May this message produce in you an anxious heart that understands these sobering truths. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. May Acts 26:18 become a reality in your life, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Amen!