Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:10-15
Title: What Jesus says about Hell
Sermon: Given in the tone of love and with a heart towards God and all of creation we must allow God to reveal to us the realities of Hell – 1. Hell exists 2. Hell is Honest 3. Hell never has to be our everlasting home
Grace and peace from God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
This month we have been looking at Scary Things-
+We have looked at the subject of Fear and how in Christ and through the Holy Spirit we can have victory over fear, anxiety and even depression
+We have looked at the reality of demons –
Yes, they do exist and they are doing their best to interrupt our lives, possess our hearts, minds and souls and cause us to miss everlasting life with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That has always been their ultimate mission.
But, at the same time we realize that in Christ – IN CHRISTOS – we have the power to defeat demons and all evil. In Christ and through the power of His Holy Spirit we can enjoy salvation and freedom and live the abundant life here on this earth and on the New Heaven and Earth to come.
This morning, I would like for us to look at another scary subject. It is a subject that very well may bring a bit of unease into our hearts, minds and souls. And it is a subject that we must approach with the proper tone of love, of grace and mercy and understanding. We also must allow God to speak and reveal to us His truths regardless if those truths are pleasant or not.
The subject this morning is about the place the Bible calls Hell.
Now, in just saying that word – Hell - it might bring some uneasiness and some pain. It’s a difficult subject to think about and talk about. Hell is not a popular subject in the post-modern church.
Heaven, however, is just the opposite. The majority of people in the United States like to talk about heaven. It’s popular. Over 80% of the people in our nation state that they believe in a place called Heaven and almost that many believe that is exactly where they will go when God calls them home.
Hell though is a whole different matter. Only about 40% believe that there is a literal place called Hell. That is a 40% gap – or if you put it in raw numbers – 261 million people in our nation believe in Heaven while only about 131 million believe in a place called Hell – a gap of around 130 million people.
And while almost 75% of our nation believes that they will be ushered into the gates of Heaven fewer than 10% actually believe that someone they know or have lived near is bound for Hell. The only people really going to Hell are the very worst of society and even then many believe that 10% is a very liberal number – it should be more like 6% or less that are actually going to Hell.
The word HELL is a common and popular word in our post-modern age. It is virtually impossible to watch a movie or even listen to some radio stations without hearing the word Hell said a few times. There is no doubt that the world uses the word Hell more times than it is said in most churches and in most pulpits.
More than once we have heard people say things like – “War is Hell” or even “I went through Hell” after enduring a sickness or a tragedy. These expressions of course are not to be taken literally but they do reflect our tendency to use the word hell to describe something that is full of pain, suffering, death, depression and/or destruction.
At other times, the word Hell is trivialized and of course it is often used as a common sports metaphor referring to what kind of game a certain player has just played. The word Hell is also used as a curse word and one that is most popularly used when someone is angry at another person and wants them to let them know that they are angry.
But, this morning there is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea or subject of Hell.
Let me say that again – “there is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea or subject of Hell.”
It is a subject that many people do their best not to think about, read about or even listen about. A great many people have merely decided to:
+Skip the whole idea of Hell – ignore it – act like Hell does not exist or that there is no way that it could exist.
+Deny its existence and instead adopt a belief (Annihilation) that can best be summed up in these words:
“I have always felt that when I die, I am dead and gone, my conscious life will end, my interactions with others will end, and I will be simply GONE. I don't know what causes consciousness (call it spirit, call it soul, I don't mean to pick sides with my words), but I expect that it will end. My afterlife will be in the memories of those I knew, those who loved me, those who carry me on in their hearts. I, myself, cease to exist.” (https://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/05/what-do-atheists-think-of-death/187003/)
+Be a Conditionalists – Believe that after death everyone will be given a 2nd chance. At that point those who choose God will of course go to heaven and those who do not choose God will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will be totally consumed – they will simply be burned up and be non-existent.
+Be an Universalist – hold to the belief that some way, somehow the LORD is going to find a way for every bit of creation including people, demons and the Devil himself to be brought into the Light of Salvation. Universalists believe that God is not going to permit any of His creation to forever exist in a place called Hell.
Many universalists believe that the main purpose for Hell will be corrective and remedial in nature if in fact there is actually a Hell. And if there is, then, it will only exist until the last person, demon or devil whose correction or some type of spiritual behavioral modification is healed/saved. After that God will destroy Hell leaving only Heaven and the New Earth.
So, can we know or say anything for real about Hell?
The truth is the only way to understand the truth about Hell is to allow the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY to tell us the truth. In other words, we must allow the LORD Himself to speak about Hell.
After all, it really doesn’t matter how Hell has been portrayed in history, in books, magazines, theological journals, on TV and film or even on social media. The truth is we must go God’s Word itself to understand the existence and nature of Hell. And it is with those thoughts that I would like for us to look at what could be called “THE REALITIES OF HELL”.
I do so hopefully with the proper tone. Not a tone of condemnation or to cause anyone any pain or heartache.
-But for us to understand the truth of Heaven we must also understand the realities of Hell.
-For us to understand the mission of Jesus we must understand why that mission was so vital.
Jesus was not playing some strange cosmic game when He gave His life on Calvary. He was not playing when He defeated Hell, death and the grave. He was not playing when He sent us His Holy Spirit. All of those things were done so that every boy, every girl, every man and woman would be able to receive His grace, mercy and love, experience the New Birth and therefore be able to live forever with Him on the New Heaven and New Earth.
All of that was done so that no one born on this planet would ever have to endure an eternal death called the Second Death in a place called Hell.
With all that in mind this morning, let’s see what God reveals to us about Hell.
I. Hell does Exists
Almost all of our biblical teaching about Hell comes from the lips of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus made no qualms about sharing with us that Hell exists and that it is a place that no human being or any part of creation would want as their eternal home.
The Jewish people had different words that we translate as Hell:
+Sheol – which is mostly found in the Old Testament and was seen as a type of shadow world – a world in which the righteous and the unrighteous would co-exist until the time of the final judgment.
+Gehenna – Gehenna was an actual place – it was located in the valley of Hinnom near the city of Jerusalem and was a place at one time where people worshiped all kinds of false gods like Molech and Baal. It was a desecrated place and for hundreds of years it was a dumping ground. People would go to Gehenna and dump their garbage, their waste, dead animals and the bodies of criminals. Gehenna was a place where there was a continuous stench, a constant fire and a steady presence of maggots, rats and vultures.
+Hades – Hades was seen much like Sheol as an in between place in which both the good and the bad awaited their time for the judgment.
+Tartaroo (tar tar ah o) – was seen as the lowest place of Gehenna. Tartaroo was the place that many Jews believed that the fallen angels were assigned to after Satan and them had been defeated by Michael and his angels.
Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartaroo are the main four words that we find in scripture that are translated as Hell. Each one is a little different but each one points to the same reality – we are to clearly understand that there is a place called Hell.
Now, I can’t tell you how hot Hell will be, how large Hell will be or even its precise location – but this morning I can tell you that from Jesus’ mouth that Hell is real – it does exist.
Jesus describes it as a “lake of fire”. It is a place of hate, horror, greed, rage, lust, unsatisfied desires, envy, jealousy, malice and revenge. It is a place that is full of fear, guilt and shame. It is a place of darkness, of eternal pain and suffering.
Jesus talks about Hell being an “unquenchable fire” where there will be gnashing of teeth and everlasting sorrow. It is a place where there will be no rest, no peace and no joy. It is a place where God is not. Hell is a place where there is no love, no joy, no victory, no life, no kindness or peace. There is only pain, torment and darkness – forever and ever and ever.
Honestly, I don’t like thinking about Hell. I don’t like thinking about such a place. I don’t like thinking about that somewhere there is a place where human beings are going to eternally condemned and have to endure such suffering forever and ever. But just because I am uncomfortable and I don’t want to think about it does not abolish Jesus’ teachings and warnings. I am not in control. You are not in control. God is and if God says that there is a Hell – then there is a Hell.
But in saying all of that we need to also be very careful we understand another truth - Hell was not created for humans. Hell was created for the Devil and his demons.
Listen to that again – Hell was not created for any human being that has ever lived or that will ever live. Jesus tells us plainly that Hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
Now, let’s take a moment and reflect on that fact.
The Bible does not give us all the details of how Hell came into existence.
+All we know is that it is a place that was prepared for the devil and his angels.
+All we know is it is the one place in all of creation that God’s love, God’s holiness and God’s presence is 100% absent.
+It is the one place where there is no fruit of the Holy Spirit – no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control.
+None of those things exist in Hell. And we know that there is no grace and no mercy in Hell.
Again, let’s make it clear – no humans were ever created nor will be created to be in Hell. We were made to live with God. We were made in the image of God. We were made to spend eternity with God. We were made to live in a world of love, holiness, joy, peace and grace.
But all of that changed. We can read about what happened in Genesis chapter three. When Adam and Eve, the first man and woman fell – when they choose sin and rebellion over holiness and obedience; sin entered into our world and everything changed.
No longer were we innocent and pure. Sin had changed us. Sin had not only changed us the Bible says that sin brought chaos, destruction and death into our world. Sin changed everything.
+Before sin we enjoyed a perfect relationship with God.
+Before sin we were destined to fill the earth with other human beings and be good stewards over God’s good earth.
+Before sin we reflected God’s image of love and holiness.
+Before sin the fruits of the Holy Spirit were as natural as breathing.
+Before sin we enjoying life, food and fellowship not just with one another but with all the animals and with God Himself.
Sin changed all of that.
+Sin separated us from God and from creation and from one another.
+Sin brought about shame and fear.
+Sin brought about condemnation, pain and a multitude of sorrows.
+Sin caused Adam and Eve to have to leave the Garden of Eden.
+Sin brought forth death; for the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death.
However, there is some good news – but we will get to that a little later. For right now, we are to understand that not only does Hell exist – the Bible tells us secondly, that:
II. Hell is Honest
In this life we experience and see a great many things that are appear to be unfair. It’s all because of sin. It’s all because like Adam and Eve, humanity still chooses to rebel and reject God.
We witness the poor being manipulated and mistreated. We hear about things like rape, molestation and human trafficking. We hear things about senior citizens being robed, taken advantage of and left to barely survive.
We hear people being cursed. We witness marriages falling apart and families being torn apart. We witness starvation, alienation, chaos, disease and destruction all over our planet.
We wonder about all the senseless killings, the terrors of war and the carnage caused by terrorist groups all over God’s Good Earth. We wonder about all the horrors we witness on TV and social media.
But as unfair, cruel and dishonesty that we see here on earth what the Bible tells us about Hell is it is honest – no one will be in Hell by mistake. No one will be in Hell unless they honestly belong in Hell.
In Jesus’ revelation of the Rich Man that St. Luke shares in Luke 16:19-31 we see the honesty of Hell. The Rich Man had a great materialistic life here on earth. However, the life he lived was a life without God – he ignored the teachings of holiness and he ignored the need to have his sins forgiven.
The poor man in the story did the exact opposite. He did not ignore God’s will and he did not ignore the need to have his sins forgiven and live a life pleasing to God.
As a result of the life he lived after his death the man found himself in Hell. He was not there by accident but by choice. He had rejected God. He had rejected God’s Holy Spirit. He had rejected God’s grace and mercy. He had rejected living a life of holiness.
Hell is honest in other areas as well:
Hell is honest in the fact that there is no exit – there is no such thing as just visiting hell for a few centuries and then finding the escape exit.
While that would be nice it just is not going to happen.
Hell is called the Second death for a reason. There is a life that is existent in the here and now and there is what we call an afterlife – a life after this mortal life. What type of life that is depends on our choices. We can choose an everlasting life of happiness and holiness with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or we can choose what the Bible calls the Second death in the lake of fire called Hell.
One scholar has described the Second Death as everlasting chaos, destruction and decay. A life that is so opposite from what we call life here and now. A life being without God, being without love and a life going ever and ever more evil, corrupt, and pain filled. All of those are concepts that frankly are beyond my ability to conceive and yet the Bible calls Hell the Second Death. All I know is, I don’t want anything connected to it.
Again, we see this man in our parable wanting a do over – a second chance – a plan of escape. And while we may feel compassion for him, while we may want to invent a means of escape the reality is there is none. Once in Hell there is no escape. There are no parties. There are no moments of joy and there are is nothing fun. There is no escape - Period.
Hell is honest in its loneliness.
To me this is one of the most devastating aspects of hell.
Matthew 8:12 describes Hell as a place of outer darkness. Hell contains a darkness that can be felt, smelled and tasted.
Even though there is fire there is no light. How a place can have fire and no light is beyond me but it is not beyond Hell. It is a mystery – one that I plan never to experience.
One of the worst moments Jesus experienced on the Cross is recorded in Matthew 27:46 –
“And about the three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, Le ma sa bach tha ni” that is, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
Of course, with all words of Jesus, there have been many interpretations. Was Jesus merely repeating the words of Ps. 22? Or was Jesus talking about having taken on the full measure of man’s sin therefore causing the Father and Holy Spirit to turn away from God the Son?
I believe both. I believe that the worst agony Jesus suffered on the cross was not the nails, the beating, the thorns, the pain or even the shame of having to have his mother watch him being crucified. All of those of course would have been more than we would ever want to bear this morning.
No, I believe the greatest pain was being for a moment separated from the rest of the Trinity. Taking on all of man’s sin, its effects, its pain, its death was Jesus’ greatest suffering. That brief amount of time – be it a micro second or whatever that He was separated from the Father and the Spirit was the worst of Jesus’ suffering. In that moment Jesus took on Hell for all of us – He paid the price – He redeemed us – He did what was necessary for us to be reborn, to be rescued and redeemed and He made it possible once again for us to be a genuine reflection of His grace and glory.
What He experienced – all that Hell means – He did for us so that we would not ever have to experience it.
Jesus knows Hell exists. Jesus knows that without His grace, mercy and love we will have to endure Hell – not for a moment – not for a day – but for all eternity. Hell is honest – it is honest in its choice, it is honest in its loneliness and it is honest in there being no exit.
But all of this leads us to the Greatest News about Hell –
III. Hell never has to be our Eternal Home
We were not made for Hell. Hell was not made for us.
It is not God’s plan for any human being to go to Hell.
Jesus paid the price and made the way so that no human being ever has to spend eternity in Hell.
Simply put – Hell never has to be our Eternal Home.
There is a way of escape – there is a door and a way of life that we can live and we will never ever have to fear Hell. That door and way of life is found in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can rescue us, redeem us and transform us so that we will never ever have to be worried or afraid of Hell.
All we have to do is what Peter tells us all to do in Acts 2:37
“Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
All we have to do is to do the same as the Apostle Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31 –
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved …”
Or what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 10:9-10
“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
That is all it takes to be reborn – to go from being a Hell bound sinner to being a Child of the Most High God – to being Redeemed by the blood of Jesus and infilled with His Holy Spirit.
Then what do we do?
What do we do when we surrender our all to the LORD JESUS CHRIST?
How do we stay pure and holy ready for the LORD to receive us as His Bride?
How do we make sure that Hell will never be our home?
We do exactly what Jesus taught us to do: (These passages became a handout)
+We grow in grace –
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:4-8 (NKJV)
10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:10 – 18 (NRSV)
3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – Colossians 3:1-17 (NKJV)
+And we spread the message of Jesus to others (these passages became a part of the handout)
18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:15–16, NIV
For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
"I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, NIV)
“How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" – Romans 10:14 - 15
And finally abide by these six thoughts that the Jesus Film Shares with Us: (Jesus Film - excellent source)
1. Pray regularly for opportunities to share the gospel.
If you’re serious about sharing the good news, you will be asking God to give you more and more opportunities.
2. Be watching and thankful.
Since you're praying for opportunities, you're going to be on the lookout for them, thankful when they occur.
3. Pray for opportunities for others to share the gospel clearly.
You'll also pray for others to have opportunities to share the gospel, and that they would do so with power and authority.
4. Be wise about how you treat outsiders.
You'll learn to think of every conversation as an important part of your evangelism. It's not that you’re always sharing the gospel; it's that you don't want to do anything that undermines you before you do.
5. Make the most of every opportunity.
Making the most of your opportunities requires a lot of vigilance and grit. You need to be on guard to recognize your opportunities, and you need to have the resolve to take advantage of those opportunities when they surface.
6. Ensure that your conversations are full of grace.
It's so important that we recognize that our conversations reflect the gospel—even when we're not talking about the gospel.
Hell is Real
Hell is Honest
Hell does not have to be our Everlasting Home
Now, let us do our best to help others know and find Jesus
Closing Prayer – Sending Prayer – Benediction
Let’s do all we can to make sure that Hell is never our Everlasting Home nor is it the Everlasting Home for our families, for our friends, for our neighbors and for all those we meet in this life.