Summary: A look at the reality of Hell. This is part of a series of sermons to equip Christians to answer some of the popular objections to Christianity in our culture.
Roll Video “Hell” Immediately following announcements. No introduction.
Serving Up Omelets—Part 3
If there is one idea or doctrine in the bible that I would like to erase, it would be the subject of my message today. When I get to heaven, if I find out that there is this loophole around this doctrine and it really doesn’t mean what I believe it means, I’ll be one happy man. I want to talk to you today about Hell.
Contemplating the horrible consequences for His unrepentant people, Jesus wept: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" Matthew 23:37 (NIV). Likewise, the Apostle Paul solemnly cried out, "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race" Romans 9:2-3
Hell is one of the most talked about subjects in the Bible. While it is only mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, it is a major topic of conversation in the New Testament. All four Gospels, the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John, and the Book of Revelation all talk about eternal judgment. Do you know who talks about hell more than anyone? Jesus. So while we might be tempted to abandon the idea of hell, or to dissociate it from the person and message of Jesus, we simply cannot.
JESUS TAUGHT THE EXISTENCE OF HELL.
Jesus warned, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt. 10:28). Later, He declared, "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’" (Mt. 25:41). Elsewhere He affirmed: "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out" (Mk. 9:43-44). In the very vivid story in Luke 16, which, unlike parables, uses an actual name of a person (Lazarus), Jesus tells in graphic detail about a rich man in hell.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT THERE IS A HELL.
In addition to our Lord’s words, the other inspired writings of the New Testament affirm the existence of hell. Perhaps the most vivid of all is found in Revelation. John declared: Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Apostle Paul spoke of everlasting separation from God, saying that those "who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus... will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thess. 1:7-9). The writer of Hebrews added a note of finality when he wrote, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
Contemplating eternal separation from God——namely, "hell"——is a horrible reality. No wonder many unbelievers deny its existence and even some believers at times doubt it.
Fire is the dominant image used to describe hell in the Bible, and the image most commonly associated with hell: roaring flames, smoldering caves, and inescapable heat. Dante described hell as an eternal Inferno that was nine layers deep.
We have to remember that Jesus and the writers of Scripture are trying to help us understand something beyond our knowledge and experience. Hell belongs to another realm, another reality. Because there are no earthly words or concepts with which to describe it, the writers of Scripture turn to something familiar.
Contemplating the nature of hell has become fascinating for philosophers and pop culture.
Scene Setup: Pintel and Ragetti -- two reanimated pirates from the first film -- sit on the deck of the ship sailing to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones’ Locker.
Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (DVD Chapter: 4 Start Time: 0:23:02 End Time: 0:24:08)
You can call it Davy Jones’ Locker, the Nether Regions, the Pit, but the best description for where Jack Sparrow is located is hell. And despite the plot devices you can see in fantasy films like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, once you go to hell, there is no coming back. No one can ride, or sail, to the rescue. But the film’s description does get three things right: hell is a place of punishment, it goes on forever, and "it is the worst fate a person can bring upon himself."