Summary: A word about Hell.
The Final Word
Luke 16: 19-31
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
These are the words of William Ernest Henley’s 1875 Poem Invictus. These were the words Timothy McVeigh chose as his last statement.
As Timothy McVeigh faced his final moments we as a nation were once again confronted with the issues of justice and judgement. For the crimes he had committed against humanity-justice asked his life. For some this was not enough, and they desired that judgement would come upon McVeigh for eternity.
When confronted with the issue of an afterlife reporters quoted McVeigh as stating, "he will improvise, adapt, and overcome, just like they taught him in the Army". In a letter McVeigh wrote, "If I am going to hell, I’m gonna have a lot of company".
McVeigh, however, is not alone in his ideology about the afterlife. In December 1998 Life Magazine wrote that 80% of Americans believe in an afterlife, but only 72% believe in heaven, and even fewer, 56%, believe in hell.
This morning we will look at some of the mis-perceptions people have of hell and also the reality God’s word describes.
A. Hell Is The Devil’s Domain-It Is Where Satan Rules
Hollywood images- Pitch fork holding guy, red with horns
Satan lives in hell, commands the events in hell
Truth: Hell is the place of the Devil’s punishment
"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!’" Matthew 25:41
B. It Is Located Somewhere In The Center Of The Earth
Hollywood images; Terminology-Up to heaven, Down to hell.
-report of sounds coming from ground in Siberia
Truth: The only thing at the center of the earth is lava-it may be hot, but it’s not hell
C. It Is A Place Of Solitary Confinement
-not real punishment, just being alone
Truth: Jesus said there are two gates. One narrow with a difficult path; the other broad, or wide, with an easy path.
"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way." Matthew 7:13
D. Only Really Bad People (murderers, rapists, molesters) Will Go There
Disbelief that we are bad enough, or that God is really that mean
Truth: Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
"But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil" Romans 2:5-9
E. God Dooms People To Hell
Image of God waiting to strike from heaven-Zeus figure of wrath
Truth: "For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." John 3:17-21
"I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done." Revelation 20:12
"For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin first among God’s own children. And if even we Christians must be judged, what terrible fate awaits those who have never believed God’s Good News?" I Peter 4:17