Summary: the doctrine of hell and our response
October 20, 2002 Sermon Series on the End Times - Eternal Damnation
For years and years Art Linkletter hosted a TV show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” This was usually a very entertaining show because kids do have a tendency to say things that nobody else would say. Sometimes it’s pretty funny. A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am." Sometimes, it’s rather embarrassing. After the church service, a little boy told the pastor, "When I grow up, I’m going to give you some money." "Well, thank you," the pastor replied, "but why?" "Because my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had." Sometimes, it’s rather straight forward. A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human, because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was impossible. The little girl said, "When I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah." The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."
In the Bible, you would be surprised at how sometimes straight forward God speaks. For instance, the Song of Songs is not pornographic, but it does have sexual connotations and sometimes straight forward talk. God compares our sins to a dirty menstrual cloth. Sometimes these things make us blush. Just this past week Andy Rooney ridiculed the fact that women were on the sidelines in football games doing commentary because they “don’t know anything about football.” As ridiculous of a statement as it was, some people found it refreshing because it was straight forward. After decades of being afraid to offend anyone, are we going to be more tell it like it is people now? Maybe it would be refreshing.
Even though 71 percent of the people surveyed believe in hell, it is, as Anton said, “getting the cold shoulder.” Why? “It isn’t sexy enough anymore,” said Faris, pastor of Crown Valley Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Anton added, “The rise of psychology, the philosophy of existentialism and the consumer culture have all dumped buckets of water on hell.” “It’s just too negative,” said Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at the Denver Theological Seminary. “Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer oriented. They feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding.” So nobody talks about hell too often. They don’t even like to pronounce it as they say instead “h e double toothpicks.” Whether it makes you blush or refreshes you, today we’re going to buck the trend. Instead of ignoring the doctrine, we will try to fan the doctrine into a spiritual flame, as we -
Put Some Sticks on H E Double Toothpicks
One of the saddest pictures I have seen is a drawing by Dore, called “the End of All Flesh.” In a depiction of the flood, it pictures a tiger and several children sitting on the top of a mountain, surrounded by raging water. Clinging to the edge are several adults, trying to hold the children up on the top of the mountain so they don’t drown in the flood. It brought home the vividness of the flood to me. Millions of people and animals died at that time. It wasn’t a cute little picture of a boat floating around. It was a disaster!
As terrible as that picture of the flood was, it is nothing in comparison to God’s own descriptions of what hell are like. Scriptures certainly aren’t lacking in a description of what it is like. Jesus described it as people who are sent out from God’s presence - into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22) Later on he called it the . . fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Mt 25:41 In Revelation John called it “the lake of fire.” In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus said that the Rich Man called out from hell - ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ (Lk 16:24). He begged for one just drop of water on his tongue. Think about what a terrifying picture this is! Every time we get a drink from a water fountain, we are enjoying something that anyone in hell would die for! And you want to know the worst part about it? Paul says, They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 2 Th 1:9 It would be bad enough if this were a temporary punishment, but God’s Word repeatedly says that it lasts FOREVER.