Summary: The horrors of hell and the hope of God
THE END IS NEAR
Part 5, “Hell is not a Party”
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Hell is not a popular subject. One researcher looked at one hundred years of scholarly writings and found not one single entry regarding hell. Why would anyone want to talk about hell? There’s nothing pleasant about it. There is nothing redeeming about its existence. It is plain and simple a place of eternal separation from a God who has spent all of history offering to reconnect with His creation.
Today’s message details some of the Scriptural evidence of the reality of hell. While it may not seem so for much of our time today, the message is really about God’s grace.
Adam Clarke said, “A righteous man goes to heaven because Christ died for him; the sinner goes to hell because he deserves to go there.”
1. Hell is a physical place
a. Many jokes are made about hell. Many people use “hell” in their everyday language to describe everything from bad situations to wonderful situations. We hear it all the time. This flippant use of the worst of all possible destinations does the devil a favor. If we minimize hell then the reality is lost in translation.
b. A prominent charismatic pastor in the Midwest was excommunicated for his teaching that hell is the suffering we have in this life and that everyone will go to heaven.
c. Many books are written about heaven. You hear stories about people going to heaven and coming back. Most “out of body” experiences are good experiences. The validity of these is questionable. Recently there have been some writings about those who have caught a glimpse of hell.
d. Years ago a man was taken to the hospital and in the emergency room died from cardiac arrest. Dr. Sam Honeycutt was working with the nurses on this man and they were able to resuscitate him. The man cried out, “I’m in hell” repeatedly. The nurses were used to people dying but this shook everyone in the room. The man calmed down after many minutes but never regained full consciousness and died later that night in the intensive care unit.
e. Hell is a real place. Many Biblical images are given to describe hell but these vivid descriptions should in no way be misconstrued to mean that it is not a physical reality.
f. It was not designed for you or me. Matthew 25:41 tells us it was made for the devil and his angels.
g. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus it describes the fixed gulf that is impossible to pass.
2. Hell is a pathetic place
a. In Dante’s “Inferno” a sign above the gate to hell proclaims, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!”
b. The description in Mark 9:48 is one where the things that eat and gnaw on us do not stop.
c. Imagine a place where there is no influence of God. Even on earth people enjoy the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. The worst of mankind laughs on occasion. The joy of others can be seen.
d. Imagine only being around people who are full of hatred, opposition, bitterness, unchecked evil!
e. In hell we have mental capacity. Jesus illustrates this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. While the parable is not meant to be taken literally it illustrates truth. The rich man is fully aware of his condition.
f. Hell is a place of punishment
g. Job 31:12 describes it as a place of destruction.
h. Revelation 9:11 calls it the Abyss, or a bottomless pit.
i. Jesus described it as being like the city dump in the valley of Ben Hinnom. The fires were kept going constantly to consume the refuse.
3. Hell is a permanent place
a. Mark 9:48, “The fire is not quenched.”
b. Matthew 25:46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment.”
c. Oh, how I wish that hell was temporary. I wish it was a place where sin was punished and purged and then people could join the rest in heaven. Even if this were true you would never want to spend one moment there.
d. But it is not temporary. It’s not even lengthy. Hell is forever and ever. If you reject God’s love and grace freely given through Jesus Christ you will set your course for this place.
4. Hell is a popular place
a. Highway To Hell (1979)
Highway To Hell
Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I’m on the highway to hell