Summary: Gain a clearer understanding of Hell, what blinds us to it’s trap, as well as how to stay out.
I’d like to give you a short, one-question quiz today. Ready? Here we go…
Q: Of the following topics, which two did Christ talk most about in his preaching? Heaven, Marriage, Money, Children, Hell, or Sandals. Go ahead. Take your 2 picks.
Believe it or not, it is hell and money! That’s right – hell and money were two of Christ’s most prominent subjects during his three years of public preaching and teaching. So we shouldn’t find it odd that they are both linked in this passage. Which is why we are not separating this text into two parts – on the contrary! They are linked, and there is good reason for it as you will see in a few minutes.
Yet, these two subjects are probably the ones most people wish the church didn’t talk about. But I’m here today to do exactly that – talk to you about hell and money.
You see, I believe better about the people at First Family Church; I think you’re like the soldiers who greeted the new chaplain at their army base one day. He was proper and confident with an obvious desire to be well liked. The soldiers asked him several questions, and then one young warrior spoke up and asked him, “Do you believe in a literal hell?” When he replied that he did not, the men asked him to resign immediately. Their reasoning to him was that “if there is no hell we don’t need you, and if there is Hell we don’t want you to lead us astray.” As hard as this may be to hear, I know you want the truth from God’s Word on these two very important subjects.
So take your Bibles and locate Luke 16, would you? Then put your finger on verse 19. It is the story of the rich man and Lazarus – a sobering, spine-tingling account of what hell is like. In fact, at least five disturbing truths about hell arrest our attention
1. Hell is physical. Do you see 16:23? There are those two words, “In hell”!
He had a literal body in a literal place. In fact, it was the next stop after death. And it was just as real as his life on earth, just not as visible.
This is not current or popular thought. According to a recent poll by George Barna, only 3 in 10 believe in a literal hell. That means the rest of people either don’t believe in hell at all or believe in some kind of symbolic hell, a place that isn’t real but not non-existent. And yet, these same people want a literal heaven! Isn’t it amazing how so many people choose to ignore the plain teaching of the Scriptures? As hard as it maybe to put your arms around this, the Bible teaches there is a real place where real people who really don’t believe end up – it’s called hell.
Truth is, it’s a real as Hell, Michigan. That’s right – there’s an actual town called Hell. And you know what the sign says as you drive into town, don’t you? You guessed – welcome to Hell! Weird, no doubt!
Rest assured, church – though you can’t see the biblical hell, it’s a real as the town in Michigan.
2. Hell is terrible. Look at 16:24…see the words “in agony”? 4 times the word “torment” or “agony” is used, and there are at least 2 other references to the concept of fiery pain and punishment. This simply supports what Christ taught elsewhere – that in hell there is “gnashing of teeth” and an “unquenchable fire” (Matthew).
3. Hell is mental. An intriguing word jumps out in 16:25 – “remember.” He not only recognized Abraham, but also recollected his brothers, as well as his life on earth. Yes, I do believe hell will be a place of regret, where our memory of the times we said “No” to the loving call of Jesus will haunt us forever. Our choices to refuse the invitation to life will ring in our ears for eternity. How sad!
4. Hell is eternal. Do you see what Abraham said about the great chasm in 16:26? He said it was “fixed.” The chasm was permanent; there was no going back, whether it be to earth or even to heaven. Perhaps that is one of the oddest things about eternity – you decide where you will spend it before you ever get there. And once you’re there, you can’t change your reservations.
This is difficult for most Americans, because whenever we buy anything, there is always a refund guarantee, isn’t here? If you don’t like it, you get a refund, or at least something you do like. In fact, there are even credit cards now that promise a full replacement if anything – even accidentally – happens to your item.