Sunday, March 6, 2022

7 Facts about Hell: A Guided Tour of Hell

What is hell? I prayed about this topic, just seeking God’s guidance and indeed the Lord indicated that it would be wise to study such a place, even though such a place is best left forgotten, in the end.

So buckle your seatbelts, because you may find this message today quite disturbing. However, if you will endure with me through this message, you will find a gift for you wrapped up inside of it.

Yes, a gift, just for you, a very special gift. This is a gift that I received many years ago, and have found it immensely powerful and useful in my walk with the living God. It is the fear of the Lord. Yes, the fear of the Lord. 

The book of proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). I’m going to give you a huge gift today, in Jesus name, that is the gift of trembling before a Holy God. And as much as God’s love is a prime motivator in my life, similarly the fear of God helps me to steer clear of evil and temptation and sin.

Luke 12:5 additionally says, (ESV) “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

So let us begin our journey together down, down, down into the abyss, the abode of the damned, the place where in fact, sadly, most humans will spend their eternity.

From what I can tell, at least in our era of the world, most humans have decided they do not want God and would prefer to spend their eternal life in hell. From my calculations, I would guess only about 1% of humans born on Earth go to heaven, most head down that broad highway, which is the wide path to hell. Of course, I don't know for certain. But it seems, very few journey down the narrow path of salvation through Jesus Christ our savior.

So today we consider hell. Let’s look at a scripture about hell, from Luke 16:19-31 The Rich Man and Lazarus “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."

So we begin our journey in this example that Jesus gave, of a rich man in hell. Point number one, hell is torment. What would it be like to be there, right now? What would it be like to be in hell? Imagine it for a moment. Many are there right now from what I can tell, billions upon billions of people, receiving the judgment they deserve for their sins.

But we see the rich man is, it says “in flame.” We often hear the phrase “burn in hell” right, well that’s apparently a reality of hell. We would be, on fire, there. Have you ever put your hand on a hot stove, or accidentally burned yourself? It’s terribly painful. But that is a daily reality for those in this place. To burn.

We see the rich man has his senses about him in hell. He can see, he can hear, he can even feel his parched tongue, because he has no access to water there. So a person in hell is still themselves. They’re still who they are. But they are in sorrow, in flame, and terribly thirsty. This is their permanent state.

Second point, hell is the result of sin. We see another scripture about hell spoken by Jesus, he said, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”-Mark 9:43-48

We really see here the severity of our situation. Sin is such a danger and a temptation for us, but Jesus challenges us to set it all aside, and to go to any lengths necessary to repent. He goes as far as to say that if your hand causes you to sin, you should cut that hand off, even if it’s your good hand. That’s the lengths we should go to, to be free from sin and live pure in Jesus Christ.

We’ve all sinned in many ways, disobeying God’s commands for the world in which we live. Our flesh tempts us to sin, and we have all yielded to that temptation to sin.

Sin is the problem, and heaven is a place without sin. So hell, in contrast, is a place where sin is punished. Sin destroys everything. It’s like a cancer. It’s why the world today is so messed up and awful. Sin is the problem. Hell is the quarantine area for sin.

When we sin, we tend to brush it aside, and hide it in our past. But God sees our entire past, present and future. And it’s all documented in heaven. That’s why we need Jesus Christ, his perfect sacrifice, is what washes away our sins, so that they are no longer recorded in heaven. They are covered over, and our slate is clean. But without Jesus, on judgment day, we will be judged by the things recorded about our lives.

Point number three, hell is a place of remembering. In hell, supposing we end up there, is a place where memories are continuously brought to mind, of all the times we sinned. And I think we would see it from a perspective of justice, "look at what I did," it was wrong, and we’ll know in hell, through and through, that we deserve the punishment we’re receiving. 

We’ll remember all the sins we committed and think to ourselves, "yes, I did that, yes, my punishment is just." Very sad, but I read one man’s book, where he had a near death experience, his name was Brian Melvin, and when he was shown his sins, he really came into agreement with God, and agreed, "yes, hell would be a fair punishment for what I did." So we would see sin, finally, the way God sees it, as something truly unthinkably horrible and deserving of justice. 

The other thing I think we would remember in hell, with great regret, is every opportunity we had to receive Jesus as our savior and yet refused. There were opportunities in my past that I refused. And I’m certain I would remember those in hell, and think to myself, "Why oh why didn’t I listen? Why didn’t I just receive Jesus as my savior?" What if, would be the question, what if I had made different choices?

Point number 4, there seem to be different locations in hell, based on what sins we committed on the Earth. We hear of different Hebrew and Greek words that describe hell in different ways, Gehenna, hell, hades, Sheol, the pit, the grave, punishment, destruction, outer darkness, and so on. According to the Holman bible dictionary, four times in the bible Sheol, often translated hell, is described as the place farthest from heaven.

So I think it would a fair supposition to suggest that perhaps there are sections of hell, one area for those who were adulterers, one section for liars, another section for thieves, another section for manipulators, another section for rebels, and each section’s level of punishment would correspond with what each person did when they were on the Earth. From testimonies and near death experiences we hear about different parts of hell. Dante in his epic Inferno tells of different layers. Those are secondary sources, but we do also learn a great from our primary source the Bible. 

We hear of some accounts in the scripture that talk about being burned in fires, and others of a person having worms consuming them within their bodies in hell, and in other places in scripture we hear about outer darkness, a place where you literally can’t see anything, and this place is usually linked with descriptions of weeping, and gnashing of teeth. So someone in that place would be prone to cry, in sorrow, and to grind their teeth because they are so sorrowful to be in that particular section of hell.

Truly terrifying don’t you think? Brothers and sisters, the God we serve is a God of love. That’s why, despite the fact that the human race rebelled against Him, He still offers us hope. The human race took up arms against him and turned the planet earth into a sin-fest, never-the-less God came, as Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, and die for us on the cross, to pay our debt of sin, and win us back to Himself. That’s his love for us, it’s incredibly massive love!

Yet, our wonderful God is also a God of justice, and for those who reject Him and live for sin and pleasure, he has reserved this place of hell for humans who refuse His love and grace and forgiveness.

Point number five, in hell you would be completely alone. While in heaven we talk about sweet fellowship with God, with other believers, with animals, and beauty, in hell, there is no fellowship whatsoever, you are alone, receiving your punishment, in the endless thoughts of the sins you committed and the opportunities to know Christ that you rejected. There are no other people, no animals, no beauty, and most of all, no God. God is not there. In hell, one is totally cut off from God. That is sorrow beyond imagining. 

From what I can tell the only fellowship in hell would be with demons, who seem to be tasked with increasing the sorrows of the damned by adding to their torments. Hell seems to be a sort of “home base” from which demons attack the Earth, and attempt to tempt and deceive humans to that place. 

Ever since these angels fell and rebelled with lucifer, their only purpose now, is to test the inhabitants of the Earth, to see what is in their hearts. There is no hope for demons, their judgment is set, so they hate us humans, who still have opportunity to turn to Jesus and find forgiveness for our sins. They want to take as many humans to hell with them, before their time runs out. 

Point number six, this is for me the most scary part of hell, Hell is permanent. This would become apparent as soon as someone enters hell and is assigned to their particular section. It would be a sort of instinctually known knowledge in hell, that this is permanent, I can never get out. I can never repent. I can’t cry out to Jesus Christ for salvation. It’s too late. God’s judgment is set, it’s done, you had your chance, you wasted it, and now it’s over.

People who thought they were atheists will believe in God at this point, though it’s too late. People who never even thought about it, people who said, "hell isn’t real," people who said God isn’t real, people who had different beliefs, people who believed in different gods, they will find out that hell is real, and heaven is real, and God is real, and Jesus is real, and it’s all real. But it will be too late, unfortunately, for them.

I can’t imagine the utterly hopelessness, of being in hell, knowing that forever, I will be in sorrow and pain, and I can never die, I’m immortal, but I’ll always be here, a permanent rebel against God. It is truly a fate so terrible, it’s beyond imagining. 

Some people struggle with mental health issues, and hope that suicide will offer a way out. "I’ll kill myself, then my suffering will end," no, suffering will begin, for a sinner after death. For a born again Christian, suffering will end after death, and we’ll receive eternal joy, and fellowship with God, and new adventures, but for those who reject God, they will always be alone, no hope, and no future.

Point number seven, what is the endgame as far as hell goes? Well, in the book of Revelation, chapter 20, we see what happens. Satan and the people he deceived march on the city of God, Jerusalem, after the millennial reign of Christ is completed.

It describes Satan’s final defeat like this: "And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then it says, “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Revelation 20:9-10,14-15

So hell itself is placed in this sort of “new hell” called the lake of fire. At the end of the bible we see the coming of the new heavens and new earth. Well there is also a new hell called the lake of fire. What exactly that would be like, I don’t really know, it sounds terrible beyond all belief, and it does seem to imply continued conscious torment.

So that is the end game: There is no end to it. It’s infinite. Just like heaven is infinite.

Now it’s wise to consider these things, it reminds us to fear God, and to revere God as holy. God isn’t your therapist, whose going to give you unconditional positive regard no matter how bad the choices you make are, God is the holy righteous loving creator of the universe and the human race. And he loves us deeper than we can possibly imagine, and God loves justice, he believes in right and wrong, and if we rebel against him and live in sin, he will honor our choice, and send us to hell. But he much prefers that every single human receive that free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, and come to heaven, so he can love them there forever in beautiful and wonderful ways, because he is our God and we are his people.

Dwell on these things brothers and sisters, dwell on hell. Dwell on heaven. Consider carefully the choices you make. But use this wisdom wisely, use this knowledge of hell as motivation to live for God and to fear God, which is the beginning of all wisdom. But also don’t focus too much on hell. It’s a place best left forgotten, in the long run. I made the mistake I think in the past few years of thinking a bit too much about hell, and it can become traumatic over time as we reflect on it.

But I think it’s extremely useful because it’s sobering. We can get going in life having fun doing what we want and we start to forget about God. And a good reminder about hell can be sobering and remind us, hey, I need to be living every moment of my life for God.

We may also be tempted to raise questions, if God is really good why would he send someone to hell? If God why evil? And so on and so forth. But honestly those questions are difficult to answer, because how are we going to judge God? We can’t judge God. And we don’t understand the way he does. Some people use hell as an excuse to not believe in God. But on the day of judgment, they will at last understand just how terrible sin is. And on that day my friends, when we stand before God, we will understand exactly why hell was necessary. So until then, trust God. Don’t get too crazy asking these sort of questions. God is good, and love. But God’s justice is a good thing. Otherwise, sin would never end. It would keep polluting everything, forever. Trust Him, in the end, trust Him, and I know on that day of judgment you’ll understand, and you’ll say oh, so that’s why it was set up like that. Trust Him until then.