Hell

April 2, 2017    Matthew 10:26 – 39   Hell  

 

     I think every few years pastors should preach on heaven and hell.  Hell may not be very popular topic but we need to be reminded of how important our calling from God is.  We need to love lost folks and be reaching them for Jesus.   It is important for each of us to fulfill the calling that God has for you.   There is a creator God   We are not beings that evolved from some form of liquid and over millions of years evolved into monkeys and then became man.   There is a creator God who happens to be the God who moved men to write the bible.  Our lives your life has more meaning than just living on this world because there is life after death and we have a creator.    To the Christian that changes everything.  There is a heaven and there is a place called hell.  Jesus spoke of it and it is not a nice place.  Life has meaning and your life has meaning.   The thought of hell should motivate and move the Christian.   It certainly motivated God.    It should remind us that people are precious and decisions we make have a profound impact not only on earth but in life after.”   The thought of heaven should motivate us.   Is heaven mentioned more in the bible or hell? 

     Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the message one man left on his tombstone.    It said, “Consider, young man, as you walk by, as you are now, so once was I.    As I am now, you soon shall be, so prepare, young man to follow me.”  That sounded pretty profound, but one fellow took a knife and scratched a response on the tombstone that read, “To follow you is not my intent; until I know which way you went!”  There are only two directions you can go after death heaven and hell.   God wants every person to know him and to go to heaven.   God is not willing that any should perish.  God loves every person and He doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.     Jesus wept over Jerusalem.   C.S. Lewis put it this way: Sin is man saying to God throughout his life, “Go away and leave me alone.” Hell is simply God saying to man, “You may have your wish…”    Hell is real. Seems like the world talks more about hell than the church.  Why?   

     In the King James version, we see the word hell is used 53 times in the bible.  Is Hell mentioned more in the Old or New Testament?   It is mentioned 31 times in the O.T.   Which book of the bible is hell mentioned the most?  The book in the bible that uses the word the most is Matthew.   Jesus in Matthew teaches on hell 8 times.   Jesus spoke of its reality.    It was real to Jesus.  Jesus knew there was a place called hell.  It is mentioned more in the Old Testament than the New Testament. In the Old Testament it Hell is mentioned the most in Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah.      

   Well what did Jesus have to say about hell in Matthew?   Chapter 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, Raca, is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Chapter 5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  Chapter 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  

   One way to think about that is that God destroys them forever and they never come back to life.  They are destroyed forever and they are gone forever and they are not tormented forever.  Some believe that God removes the memory of them forever.  We will not be in heaven thinking I wish my son or my husband would have walked with Jesus and could experience the wonder and beauty and joy of heaven.  That would be tough.  I am not saying that all Christians believe that.  Here are some more verses in Matthew about hell or hades. 

    Chapter 11:23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens?   No, you will go down to Hades.   For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  .Matthew 16:23And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.     Matthew 18:9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.  Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.    Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?   Hell is real and we have to tell people in a loving gracious way.  You can ask someone what do you think about heaven?   Do you think there is a hell?  Most folks are willing to share their opinions. 

    Here are some other verses referring to hell.     Jesus was very plain about hell and there are several times where the place of punishment is mentioned but the word hell is not used.    In Matthew 13:40 on he says as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire so it will be at the end of the age.   The son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.   They will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.   Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father.   He who has ears to hear let him hear.     Hell is a literal place of pain and torment.    The bible says it is a lake of fire Revelation 20:15.  A devouring fire Isaiah 33:14   A bottomless pit Revelation 20:1     A furnace of fire Matthew 13:41, 42   A place of torment Luke 16:23    A place where there can be no second chance Matthew 12:32.   These verses give us an idea of what the lake of fire or hell will be like.     

    Hell is one of the doctrines of the bible that requires further study to understand it and indeed there are different views and different beliefs among Christians.  I would hope that this church and Christians in general could get along together even if we have different ideas and beliefs ab0ot hell.  A quote from Zondervan Bible Dictionary states Sheol the Hebrew word most frequently used for the place where the dead were believed to dwell.  The KJV translates Sheol as the grave 31 times and as hell 31 times and as the pit 3 times.  It was considered as a place in the OT as darkness and whose inhabitants cannot praise God.   Sheol, Hades, death, Gehenna and hell have been lumped together.   The OT place of the dead was not a place of torment.   When people tell others to go to hell that is really the place where the dead are.   That is where the saved and the unsaved are - sleeping.   I think the unsaved may be sleeping also.  Bakers Dictionary of Theology ties hell or Hades as a place of opposition to the church.  Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church.  

      In Revelation chapter 20 verse 14 death and Hades which also means hell are cast into the Lake of Fire.   I believe that the Lake of Fire is where the torment takes place and that will happen after the Lord returns and everyone is judged.   McArthur says that death and Hades (the grave and the temporary place of punishment for everyone whose name was not found in the book of life) were thrown into the lake of fire.   The lake of fire McArthur calls the final hell.   Many Christians believe that those that die today without Jesus are in hell.  I do not believe that.  I could be wrong.    In Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats Jesus said when the son of man comes in his glory everybody or all nations will be gathered before him The sheep are on his right hand and the others on his left.  Those on the right will be invited into the kingdom.  To me that means they are not already there.  And the others will go away to eternal punishment.     MacArthur believes that the saved immediately go to heaven when they die but I believe that they sleep.   

    Gehenna is another word used which Baker says see the word Hell.   Zondervan Bible Dictionary says Gehenna literally is the Valley of Hinnon south of the Jerusalem which was a dump which burned.    But it represents the final place of punishment for the ungodly.    The valley of Hinnon was where children were sacrificed to the god of Molech and later where garbage and the wicked were burned with fire.     Some bible versions translate it as Hell.  The Lake of Fire is the place of punishment of the ungodly and what people mean when they talk about hell.    It is a place of torment and punishment.  It is not a place to party as some people talk about it.  Is hell an example of tough love?  God is love.  God is a loving God.     

    Hell was never intended for human habitation. Jesus said in Matthew 25:41, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”   Hell was designed for Satan and his demons, not people. But because of our sinfulness, we are all born with a reservation for hell.    People think and ask if God is a God of love how come there is a place called hell.   A judge that let everyone free would be a terrible judge.  We do not question a judge that sends a serial killer to prison or to the gas chamber.   I suppose even law breakers would be angry if they were wronged and came before a judge and the judge said well I am sorry for what they did to you but it is ok with me and I am going to let them go free and they would cry foul. 

     God is also a judge.   God is also holy.  God is also just.  I think many people paint a bad picture of God.  Some would think or say God does not love or there would not be a place called hell.  Have you ever thought about how hard this is for God?   God likes to bless.  Jesus died so that people could be in God presence.  God does not delight in the death of the wicked or the saints.   God wants to be with his people.  Even in Chapter 22 of Revelation we read the bride and the spirit say come.  God invites us from Genesis to Revelation.  

   Sin has to be paid for and Jesus paid that price.   If we refuse that then we must pay for our sin and wrong.   When we repent of our sins and come to Jesus, He forgives us and cancels our reservation in hell, and makes a new reservation for us in heaven.   God loves you so much that Jesus died so you wouldn’t spend eternity in hell.  God paid the price.   God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved.  God wants a harvest of lost souls.   God and Jesus suffered greatly when Jesus was on the earth and on the cross.   God wants a harvest of souls.   God has earned them and only God.      

    A number of Christians think they know about hell.  The bible speaks of it and we get ideas about hell.  Billy Graham makes an interesting comment.  Billy Graham said in an interview.   “The only thing I would say for sure is that hell means separation from God.   That is going to be hell.  When it comes to a literal fire I don’t preach it because I am not sure about it.  When scripture uses fire concerning hell that is possibly an illustration of how terrible it will be – not fire but something worse a thirst for God that cannot be quenched.   Some have perhaps gone overboard on the fire part of it.  J. Edwards preached sinners in the hands of an angry God.    Can you picture being separated from this awesome wonderful God forever?   We will be so blessed in heaven and who in their right mind would want to miss out on that?    Hell will be terrible.  We can be sure of that much.

    Do you think you would be more motivated to share Jesus if you spent 10 minutes in heaven or 10 minutes in hell?  Which would be your choice?   Is that something you would ever desire?   Would you ask God for a taste of heaven?  Would you ask God for a taste of hell?  Do you really believe your friends that do not know Jesus are going to hell?  If you do not tell them about Jesus do you really love them?   I am glad God is the judge.  He knows everything perfectly.   It will be more tolerable for some than others.