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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hell Pt 2: "What Is Hell?" - (Matthew 25.31-46) Luke 16.19-31


{Here is the second installment. You can go here to get the audio file. Mike}

Hell Pt 2: What is Hell? Luke 16:19-31
We stand at the edge, Lord God, and we tremble! Dare we look into this subject? Should we risk it, and glance over the brink? O God, O our God! Have mercy on us, and show us the things we need to know, and make even clearer to us how deep is your love for us in Christ. Amen.

Os Guinness once wrote: “Hell is nothing less than the truth known too late” (“The Dust of Death,” 358). On one hand, I would disagree. Jesus talked about hell more often than he talked about heaven so that we would know now and turn to him now. On the other hand, Guinness was right – the truth about hell will become personally real for many and truthfully experienced by many – but it will then be too late. This evening we will take a serious look into this terrifying truth to see what we can, for four reasons: (1) Because Jesus mentions hell more than any other person in the Scriptures; (2) So that we might see better what it is that Christ has saved us from; (3) So that we might better know what the Scripture means when it repeatedly warns us to Flee From the Wrath to Come; (4) Finally, to answer the voices clambering in our own hearts and our own heads that often ask: “How can a good God send someone to an eternal hell?”
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What is Hell?
It is a Real Place (Luke 16.19-31):
a. A Real Place Created and Ruled by God and Exists for His Glory! V. 28! Rev. 4:11 – The Devil will NOT reign in hell (contra Milton in Paradise Lost) – And it is not a mistake or an accident.

b. A Real Place with a Real Population: My buddies in the Air Force used to say – I’d rather go to hell because all my friends are there. Really? “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41). “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8).

c. A Real Place of Justified Punishment. V. 23-25 and 28 (grounded in v. 14-15). I know that some will consider this kind of punishment barbaric. But it is a punishment which marks God’s hatred for moral wrong and His commitment to right. (Westminster Shorter Catechism 84: What does every sin deserve? Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.). Therefore Hell is not remedial – 16.25-26. It is A Place of Unchangeable Destiny for the Non-Believer at Death. This is why the Gospel is so urgent NOW – “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2b). “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn. 3.36).

d. A Real Place of unceasing sinfulness! V. 24 and 27-28. If we are conceived in sin, born in sin, and die in our sinful state, then we will go on into our everlasting abode as perpetual sinners, perpetually guilty of defying God’s perpetual Justice! Our whole existence without Christ will be a continuation of the downward spiral of sin. It is only by trusting in Christ, being reborn by the Spirit of Christ and filled with God in Heaven will sin utterly cease!!!!! Westminster Shorter Catechism 37: What benefit do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; etc.”! Can you see the greatness of what Christ did for you – He died to bring you everlasting, indestructible, unconquerable life in place of never-ceasing death of sin. 

A Real Impoverishment (Matthew 25.31-46):
a. Abandonment: ““in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,...” (2 Thess 1:8-9). “Come” (Mt. 25.34) vs “Depart from Me,” (Mt 25:41). Why? “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (Jn. 3.19). A self-generated abandonment! May not sound too bad to some folks, but realize, that no one lives without God or the gracious kindness of God! Reflect on these questions: Have you ever experienced the joy of love; melting affections for a husband/wife; pleasurable time with parents, siblings, children; warm glow of friendship; that “High” at sporting events...the satisfying sense of fulfillment? All of these are gifts of God. But Hell will be the deprivation – the depriving you – of those things: no flowers, friendships, laughter, fulfillment, no love, and no joy. Those in Hell will recognize the extent of their indebtedness to God with piercing clarity forever….too late!

b. Deconstruction: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thess 1:9). They will not evaporate in thin air and ashes, but they will continue to be eternally perishing; experiencing the ruin of all that was once worthwhile in themselves. Matthew 25.41 and 46. They will lose everything “good” about themselves, and everything bad in themselves will be let loose – all their evil passions, bitterness, anger, lusts, greed, envy, etc, will burn in them. They will be consumed in the fumes and flames of their own rage, greed, self-centeredness, lust, etc...The only people in hell will be perpetual sinners perpetually guilty of defying God’s perpetual Justice! Think of Romans 1.24, 26, and 28…Illustration: Hymnbook and Hand.

c. Racking Agony: Matthew 8:12, “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” [Used by Jesus in 13:42, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30]. The rich man cried out; “I am in anguish in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

d. “Our God is a Consuming Fire” (Hebrews. 12:29). It is important to contemplate this: the Lord is the enemy of those who make themselves His enemies. “( . . . ) his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psalm 11:5). And “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb.10:31), and “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him” (Nahum 1:6). Look at it this way, God will be the heaven of one person, and the hell of another. Think of the good policeman – he’s the delight of the person being mugged, and the scourge and fear of the mugger. There is no contradiction in the police officer himself over this; no contradiction in the mind of God, or in the being of God over this!

You who can hear me, I ask you: Which will God be for you? Will He be your heaven, or will He be your hell?


Please, please – I implore you - hear this good news: Jesus said; “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1). “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1.21-22). 

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