Summary: Jesus believes in hell... so should we.
Jesus Believes in Hell
It is an interesting reality that a much higher percentage of people believe in the existence of heaven than believe in the existence of hell.
Yet, according to the Bible, hell is just as real as heaven.
The Bible clearly and explicitly teaches that hell is a real place to which the wicked/unbelieving are sent after death.
QUOTE: R.C. Sproul “It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.”
The problem many people have with hell is not that some people go there.
Most can imagine very evil people like Adolph Hitler and the Emperor Nero being there and suffering for their many heinous sins.
What challenges many people, and even causes them to reject the idea of hell, is the biblical proposition that the majority of people in the world will be there for all eternity.
In fact, the Bible teaches that relatively nice and basically moral people will be in hell.
I know many people who reject the Christian faith just on this basis alone.
Illustration: “Love Wins” Years ago, a man named Rob Bell wrote a book called “Love Wins” wherein he challenged common Christian doctrines, most notably that of the existence of hell.
He argued that in the end everyone in the world will be saved because of God’s love.
While it was almost universally rejected by conservative biblical scholars, it received rave reviews from audiences because it removed the reality that God will ultimately punish sins, and that is what most people - especially unsaved people and nominal Christians - want to believe.
Oprah Winfrey even put Rob Bell on her “Spiritual A-Team” after having read his books and interviewed him.
It is obvious that many people would rather have a system of faith wherein the idea of eternal punishment is non-existent.
For the Biblical Christian, however, this is not an option.
The Bible teaches the truth of Hell.
Jesus Christ is so convinced of its existence that He speaks of it more than any other single individual in the Bible.
In fact, to deny the existence of Hell is to deny the ability of Christ to properly communicate eternal truths (We have seen this already, multiple times, in the Sermon on the Mount).
The truth is, however, that while Hell is a biblical reality, many people do not understand the Bible’s teaching on this subject, and have instead had their understandings skewed by books, television movies and other sources of popular media.
This morning, my goal is to help us understand the truths about hell and what they mean to us as believers.
We are going to look at a series of questions:
What is Hell?
Why does Hell Exist?
Who are going to be in Hell?
WHAT IS HELL?
The word Hell, or one of its derivations, is mentioned 167 times in the Bible.
The word the Bible uses to describe a burning hell is “Gehenna”.
This comes from an actual burning place, the valley of Gehenna adjacent to Jerusalem on the south.
Gehenna is an English transliteration of the Greek form of an Aramaic word, which is derived from the Hebrew phrase “the Valley of (the son[s] of) Hinnom.”
In one of their greatest apostasies, the Jews (especially under kings Ahaz and Manasseh) passed their children through the fires in sacrifice to the god Molech in that very valley (2 Kings 16:3;2 Chronicles 33:6;Jeremiah 32:35).
Eventually, the Jews considered that location to be ritually unclean (2 Kings 23:10), and they defiled it all the more by casting the bodies of criminals into its smoldering heaps.
COMMENTARY QUOTE: “In Jesus’ time this was a place of constant fire, but more so, it was a refuse heap, the last stop for all items judged by men to be worthless. When Jesus spoke of Gehenna hell, He was speaking of the city dump of all eternity. Yes, fire was part of it, but the purposeful casting away—the separation and loss—was all of it.” - GotQuestions
It was this place, a horrific place of constant burning, that Jesus used to compare the eternal state of the wicked.
The punishment of the wicked dead in a fiery hell is described throughout Scripture as:
“eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41)
“unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12)
A place where “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44-49)
A place of “torment” and “fire” (Luke 16:23-24)
A place where “the smoke of torment rises forever and ever” (Revelation 14:10-11)
A “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
We see that the visual of “FIRE” is synonymous with hell.
It is also called a place of:
“everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)