Summary: It is not God’s intention that any humans end up in this place. If they end up there it is because they have willfully aligned themselves with the destructive and wicked tendencies of the devil.
IN GOD'S IMAGE 84 - REVELATION 20 -HELL
This message is part of a series of 90 sermons based on the title, “In God’s Image – God’s Purpose for humanity.” This series of free sermons or the equivalent free book format is designed to take the reader through an amazing process beginning with God in prehistory and finishing with humanity joining God in eternity as His loving sons and daughters. It is at times, a painful yet fascinating story, not only for humanity, but also for God. As the sermons follow a chronological view of the story of salvation, it is highly recommend they be presented in numerical order rather than jumping to the more “interesting” or “controversial” subjects as the material builds on what is presented earlier. We also recommend reading the introduction prior to using the material. The free book version along with any graphics or figures mentioned in this series can be downloaded at www.ingodsimage.site - Gary Regazzoli
Last time we looked at the second resurrection, when that great mass of struggling sinful humanity are raised to life again and stand before Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge on the Day of Judgment.
• We saw because of God’s great love and graciousness towards His creation, how the odds are stacked in favour of them accepting God’s invitation to join Him in heaven.
• Given the circumstances, it’s difficult to imagine anyone turning down the invitation to join Him in eternity.
• However, it seems there are some recalcitrants who are not so enthusiastic to have their names moved from the book of deeds to the book of life.
• Unlike those involved in the first resurrection, this group is subject to the second death, that is, spiritual death.
• Revelation 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
This introduces the subject of hell.
• Again, this is another of these subjects that has invited all manner of speculation over the centuries.
• So we should be careful not to read too much into an area in which scripture gives us few details.
• However we can discern a number of principles from scripture.
• First, rather than focusing on the temperature of hell, such as fire (Matthew 18:8-9; 25:41), and darkness (Matthew 8:12; 22:13, 25:30) which are mutually exclusive, or of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), we need to understand these images are not intended to describe the literal characteristics of hell, but rather what it means to be cut off from their God who is their Creator, Father and Savior.
• It comes back to relationship; heaven is to be in communion with God, hell is to be cut off from God.
• Second, we should not embrace the sadistic pleasure some of our reformation forebears displayed when talking about the wicked being condemned and thrown into everlasting hell.
• Ezekiel 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
• As we have witnessed throughout this series, God is not about the destruction of His enemies, but rather loves them and wills their redemption (Romans 5:10).
• Third, the Judge they are brought before is none other than Jesus Christ, the one who loves them and gave His life for them.
With that let’s look at the subject of hell.
• I think most of us are familiar with the traditional understanding of hell so we don’t need to spend a great deal of time on it.
• In this view, hell is the place where the wicked will suffer excruciating pain in a lake of fire which shall never be extinguished for all eternity (Luke 16:22-24; Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 20:10, 14-15).
• But in recent times, this view has come under increased pressure.
• The main objection to this view is how this horrific scene reflects on the nature and character of a loving God.
• If the subject of God allowing evil to exist in the world is a challenging one for Christianity, then the subject of hell, at least when viewed from a traditional standpoint is even more difficult to reconcile with an all-loving God.
• How do we explain this understanding of God in subjecting these recalcitrants to a miserable existence of conscious eternal suffering?
• How does this interpretation of hell square with what we read in Revelation 21:3-4?
• Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”