Summary: Most people believe in existence beyond the grave, with the majority assuming everyone will eventually wind up in heaven, or some place of euphoric bliss. Heaven is reserved for the saved, but hell will be a reality for those apart from Christ.
An Honest Word about a Horrific Place
Mark 9: 42-50
As I studied this passage, I was reminded of the common attitude that permeates modern society. We live in an age when most believe that truth is relative, rather than absolute. Most believe in existence beyond the grave, with the majority assuming everyone will eventually wind up in heaven, or some place of euphoric bliss. While some may agree with the premise of those who have denied God, living a life of sinful rebellion, finding themselves in a place of eternal judgment, most do not believe they would ever be forced to dwell in such a place. While some may actually believe in a place called hell, they certainly are not worried about going there.
The Scriptures reveal that we are all born in sin, separated from God, and condemned because of our sin. We stand accountable for our sin, and in danger of eternity in hell. While most may believe they would never be forced to endure the horrors of hell, apart from the saving grace of Christ, all are bound for that reality. Modern philosophy may teach that we are all basically good, and as long as the good outweighs the bad, we will be accepted of God. That may be popular, but it certainly isn’t biblical. The only way to escape the righteous judgment of God is to be declared righteous through the atonement of Christ.
This topic may be little discussed today, but Jesus wasn’t afraid to deal with it. In fact, He preached more about hell than He did about heaven. This passage deals with the horrors of that place of eternal judgment. As we consider the admonitions of Jesus, I want to preach on the thought: An Honest Word about a Horrific Place.
I. The Warning of Jesus (42-48) – As Jesus continued this conversation with the disciples, He offered a serious warning regarding hell. Consider:
A. The Declaration (42) – And whosoever 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. Just prior to revealing details about the conditions in hell, Jesus admonished the disciples about offending a little one. Keep in mind the context of this conversation. Jesus had invited a child to sit in their midst. John had just spoken about rebuking one who had cast out devils because he was not walking with them. This appears to be in relation to the previous comments. Jesus loved all who believed in Him and considered it a serious offence to offend one of these young believers. In fact, He said one would be better to have a millstone hung around their neck and cast into the sea than to be guilty of such offense. (This is quite sobering when we pause to consider it. We must be careful how we treat others, especially those who are young in the faith. We must never be guilty of discouraging them or hindering their pursuit of the Lord.)
B. The Devastation (44, 46, 48) – Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Clearly speaking of the torments of hell, Jesus repeated this exact phrase three times. He emphasized the suffering and misery of hell. It will be a place of eternal torment and devastation. The worm will never die, and the fire will never be quenched. He often spoke of a place of outer darkness where there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is beyond our ability to comprehend such a place. The rich man in Luke 16 found himself there, and begged for a single drop of water to bring relief to his scorching tongue. He begged for someone to warn his brothers about hell, hoping they would escape the reality of it. Hell will be a place of unimaginable pain and suffering. It will be a place of darkness, although the fire will never be extinguished.
C. The Duration (43, 45, 47) – than…to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Again Jesus repeats this warning three times in the conversation. He emphatically declared that the fire will never be quenched. There will be no end to the eternal flame. There will be no reprieve from the intense suffering it brings. There will be no escape from the horrors of hell. Those who deny the shed blood of Christ and His finished work of atonement will spend eternity separated from God in this awful place of suffering and torment. Matt.25:41, 46 – Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.