Life is precious.Life is short.Death is certain.The time of our departure from this earth is something none of us now know or will ever know with any certainty.James warns in James 4:14, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”According to scripture, there are only two options which lie in front of us in regards to where we spend eternity: hell and heaven.Both are real, both are permanent and which one we abide in will be determined by what decisions we make in this life.
Christ provided the preview as to what will determine our eternal resting place when, in Matthew 7:13-14, he says, “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many are they that enter in thereby.For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.”The enormity of this statement should not be missed by anyone.Few will spend eternity in heaven because they will not be willing to be obedient to God Almighty in this life.Few will spend eternity in heaven because they will not be willing to submit to the truths found within the Holy Scriptures.Few will spend eternity in heaven because they will be unwilling to give up the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life and the riches of this earth for the Promise of God.
Faced with all these facts, consider the following: when was the last time you heard a sermon describing the horrific certainties of hell?Unfortunately in the Lord’s church today you have too many cowardly preachers and spineless elderships.They treat the subject of hell just like they do so many subjects that deal with sin, “if we don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away.”And we wonder why we are losing our children in record numbers?We wonder why apostasy is running rampant in the church of Christ?It is because we do not have men willing to emulate Paul, Peter, James, John and many others of our first century brethren who knew what is was like to stand firmly for the truth, regardless of the cost.
My friends, hell will NOT go away.It is as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.Christ gave us a brief glimpse into the horrifying reality in the story of the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke 16.Beginning in verse 19 we are told, “Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the [crumbs] that fell from the rich man's table; yea, even the dogs come and licked his sores.And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried.And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish.And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us.”
It would take a novel to direct you to all the characteristics of hell that the bible describes.It is my desire to point out just a few so that we understand how real hell is.
First, we must ask what is Hell?It is the final and eternal abode of those who die apart from God.The word meaning eternal hell, Gehenna, is found twelve times in the Greek New Testament.Christ stressed that it would be better to proceed through life with great loss (e.g. deprived of an eye or a limb), rather than having Gehenna as a final destiny (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:9; Mk. 9:43-47).On another occasion, the Lord said: “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5).
Gehenna involves a state of awareness. It is very important that this point be made, because there are those who allege that hell will consist in the wicked being annihilated.
First, when the Lord affirmed that God will “destroy” both body and soul in Gehenna (Matt. 10:28), he employed the word ap-ol'-loo-mee (used about 92 times in the New Testament). It is translated by such terms as “destroy,” “perish,” “loss,” and “lost.” The term does not suggest the sense of annihilation.The Bible employs a number of expressions to describe the emotional state of Gehenna, which can only imply the concept of conscious agony. It is depicted as a place of “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:44); fire being a metaphor for “the extreme punishing torments which the wicked are to undergo after their life on earth.”The Lord describes Gehenna as a place of “eternal punishment.”Punishment implies consciousness. It would be absurd to describe those who no longer exist as being “punished.” The wicked will be “tormented” with the fire of Gehenna (Rev. 14:10-11). I think we all understand that the term torment implies awareness (Rev. 9:5; 11:10).
Hell will be a place of darkness.2 Peter 2:4 states, “…God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…”Jude 13 describes it as the blackness of darkness forever.Hell is the thing that is farthest removed from God, the Light.John wrote in 1 John 1:5, “…that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”God cannot associate himself with darkness, the darkness of sin, the darkness of eternal hell.Luke, in writing the book of Acts, describes Paul’s recounting of the Lord’s words to him on the road to Damascus.Chapter 26, verse 15 begins, “that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me.”Paul’s mission was to preach to the Gentiles so they might have hope of God, the power of light.Where darkness abides, God will not be.
Hell will be a place of pain (Matt. 25:30), a place where no relief will be found (Luke 16:24-25), a place of no hope (Matt. 25:46), a place of no rest (Rev. 20:10).
As we close this message, please take a few moments to see who will be on the invite list for eternity in Satan’s abode:
1 Cor. 6:9-10
2 Peter 2:4-22
“Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many are they that enter in thereby.For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.”
My friends, toward which gate is your life taking you?