Fear the Holiness of Jesus
LHC: Message Forty-Five (980830PM)
Week 45: Fear the Holiness of Jesus
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you learn to fear the holiness of Jesus!
SUNDAY: The Holiness of Jesus “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” —Matthew 25:41, emphasis added Perhaps no scene in the entire Bible grips our minds and stirs our souls as much as the last verses of Revelation 20. Imagine the scene: in one moment all the angels and all the humans who have ever lived on this planet—perhaps as many as forty-five billion souls will be assembled.1 In utter silence the scene opens. In the glow of God’s glory surrounding His throne stand the redeemed of all the ages. Behind them, in countless ranks, are all the angelic hosts. The four angelic creatures hover about God’s presence while our representatives, the twenty-four elders, stand, and then kneel before the throne. All the dead, small and great, are in this assembly. Every single person who has ever lived is there: not one soul will escape this summons to the court of God Almighty— His last and greatest and final roll call. All the “Ivan the Butchers” of this world are present. Those evil emissaries of Satan that gassed women and children hide no more in disguise to escape penalty; they each stand exposed. All the “Genghis Khans” of this world who flayed their enemies alive now have no armies to protect them; they, too, stand alone before the Judge. The Scythians, the murderous horsemen who killed their foes and used their skulls as cups to drink blood, stand silent. The ashes of countless cremated warlords and ruthless business executives cast to the winds and seas, hopeful of escaping God, are now reassembled into bodies. Souls imprisoned in Hades now regain habitation in the bodies in which they sinned and turned from God. All God-haters, from Voltaire to Hitler, now face the One they despised. The Godresisters who denied God and said no to Him are now assembled, from Pharaoh to the priests of Molech, and they, too, are quaking in dread. They are all present—no one can escape this, the final hour. Before this silent multitude, speechless in the sight of the God they never wanted to know, nor ever wanted to meet, is the eerie flicker of the cauldron of God’s holy wrath, the Lake of Fire.
It is a lake; it is on fire. It is already filled with the devil, his two apostles (the beast and the false prophet), and all the malignant hordes of evil angels. They have already sunk into utter blackness to begin their eternal plunge to the never-ending depths of the blackened pit of darkness. Eternally tormented with the very desire that gripped them—to be away from the Light, the Truth, and the Life—they plunge downward. As for the billions who stand frozen with the dreadful fear of inescapable doom, the last word of the final judgment begins. This section of Revelation divides into five sobering truths which I will state now, and we will examine later in the week: 1) the Judge is great (v. 11); 2) the judgment is inescapable (v. 12); 3) the standard is exact (v. 13); 4) the sentence is final (v. 14); and 5) blessed is the Book of Life (v. 15). Before you end up in the congregation of the doomed at that Great White Throne, bow to the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you know Him, as His child by grace, bow your heart before Him in worship. Cry out to Him for insights that will impact your life from His Word! My Prayer for You This Week: Father, we know that You are not desiring that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the Truth, to repentance, and to life eternal. You have told us that those who go to hell have fitted themselves for destruction by their refusal, either actively or passively, to say yes to Jesus. We pray that the horror of eternity apart from Your grace, and facing Your wrath, will motivate us to be like the Apostle Paul who confessed as his testimony: “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” May we go out to a dying world and point them to You as their only hope for the resurrection and the life. May we soberly, knowing Your terror, persuade lost souls to receive the free gift of eternal life, to repent, and to follow and obey You. Open our hearts to this challenging portion of Your Word so that Christ will be exalted in our lives! We ask all these things in the precious name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.
MONDAY: Jesus Spoke of Hell More Than Heaven “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” —Matthew 10:28, emphasis added We are examining the most horrifying doctrine in God’s Word for humans to talk or think about. The fact is that God Himself talks more about hell than He does about heaven. Therefore, I want to remind you of the reality of an eternal hell that has been prepared for those Jesus said did not receive Him. In Christian circles we speak more of heaven than hell. Yet, Jesus warned of hell from the very start to the end of His ministry. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, from chapter 3 through chapter 26, you will find this common theme: eternal judgment. Jesus preached continually about the horrors awaiting the unsaved lost ones—in public, in private, with saints, and with sinners. Jesus spoke much of it; we speak little of it. Over twenty years ago I began an intense study of every verse in the Bible. As I read through the Scriptures, I looked for verses on the doctrine of the eternal
punishment of the lost. Later this week we will examine some key passages. But for now, I want to give you a summary: “That hideous doctrine of hell is fading. How often have you thought of it in the past month, for instance? Does it make a difference in your concern for others, in your witness? Is it a constant and proper burden? Our Lord’s words on the subject are unnerving. In Luke 16, He tells us of a rich man who died and went to Hades (the abode of the unsaved dead between death and final judgment).”2 Hades is the place where all who reject Jesus Christ, from the time of Adam and Eve through the time of the end of this planet, go. All of those who die without Christ go to the same place—Hades. From that story and a few other revelatory facts, we can infer several characteristics of hell. Hell is a place of great physical pain. The rich man in Luke 16 is a living immortal soul in the vestibule of the Lake of Fire. This is not hell proper. The Bible describes hell in the last book of the Bible, and it is called Gehenna. Jesus talked about that, too, but Hades is “the waiting room” before the final judgment. In other words, Hades is the abode of the dead, and the rich man was there. “The rich man’s initial remark concludes with his most pressing concern: ‘I am in agony in this flame’ (Luke 16:24). We do not make enough of this. We all have experienced pain to some degree. We know it can make a mockery of all life’s goals and beauties. Yet we do not seem to know pain as a hint of hell, a searing foretaste of what will befall those who do not know Christ, a grim reminder of what we will be spared from.” Do you realize why Jesus spoke about hell so often? He wants us to be like Paul, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11a). “God does not leave us with simply the mute fact of hell’s physical pain. He tells us how real people will respond to that pain. Our Lord is not being macabre; He is simply telling us the truth.” Hell is a place of “weeping” and “wailing.” “There will also be ‘weeping’ (Luke 13:28). Weeping is not something we get a grip on; it is something that grips us. Recall how you were affected when you last heard someone weep. Remember how you were moved with compassion to want to protect and restore that person? The Lord wants us to know and consider what an upsetting experience it is for the person in hell. “Another response will be ‘wailing’ (Matthew 13:42). While weeping attracts our sympathy, wailing frightens and offends us. It is the pitiable bawl of a soul seeking escape, hurt beyond repair, eternally damaged. A wail is sound gone grotesque because of conclusions we can’t live with.” Hell is a place of “gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28). “Why? Perhaps because of anger or frustration. It may be a defense against crying out or an intense pause when one is too weary to cry any longer.” More than heaven, Christ spoke of hell. More than love, Christ spoke of eternal destruction. More than the church to come, Christ Jesus warned of God’s wrath and judgment and hell. Every year, about fifty-six million people enter eternity—the vast majority of them without Christ. I believe that it is imperative for us to pause and reflect on the
destination of all those travelers who are leaving the earth to experience eternal suffering. Why? Because Jesus did. And what is important to Jesus should be important to us!
TUESDAY: The Horrors of Eternal Darkness “Are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” —Jude 7b, emphasis added What I am about to share in today’s devotional is a continued summary of what an insightful person once wrote of all the verses on the doctrine of hell.3 If you synthesized them together, and put them in a flowing passage, this is how it would read. “Hell has two . . . aspects, rarely considered, which are both curious and frightening. On earth we take for granted two physical properties that help keep us physically, mentally, and emotionally stable. The first is light; the second is solid, fixed surfaces. Oddly, these two dependables will not accommodate those in hell.” Hell is a place of darkness (Matthew 8:12). Imagine the person who has just entered hell—a neighbor, relative, co-worker, or friend. After a roar of physical pain blasts him, he spends his first moments wailing and gnashing his teeth. But after a season, he grows accustomed to the pain, not that it’s become tolerable, but that his capacity for it has enlarged to comprehend it, yet not be consumed by it. Though he hurts, he is now able to think, and he instinctively looks about him. But as he looks, he sees only blackness. In his past life he learned that if he looked long enough, a glow of light somewhere would yield definition to his surroundings. So he blinks and strains to focus his eyes, but his efforts yield only blackness. He turns and strains his eyes in another direction. He waits. He sees nothing but unyielding black ink. It clings to him, smothering and oppressing him. Realizing that the darkness is not going to give way, he nervously begins to feel for something solid to get his bearings. He reaches for walls or rocks or trees or chairs; he stretches his legs to feel the ground and touches nothing. Hell is a “bottomless pit” (Rev. 20:1–2, KJV). The new occupant is slow to learn. In growing panic, he kicks his feet and waves his arms. He stretches and he lunges. But he finds nothing. After more feverish tries, he pauses from exhaustion, suspended in black. Suddenly, with a scream he kicks, twists, and lunges until he is again too dizzy to move, too nauseous to think, and too exhausted to even continue. He tumbles onward, alone with his pain. Unable to touch a solid object or see a solitary thing, he begins to weep. His sobs choke through the darkness. Those sobs become weak, then lost in hell’s roar. As time passes, he begins to do what the rich man did—he again starts to think. His first thoughts are of hope. You see, he still thinks as he did on earth, where he kept himself alive with hope. When things got bad, he always found a way out. If he felt pain, he took medicine. If hungry, he ate food. If he lost love, there was more love to be found. So he casts about in his mind for a plan to apply to the hope building in his chest. Of course, he thinks, Jesus, the God of love, can get me out of this. He cries out with a
surge, “Jesus, Jesus! You were right! Help me! Get me out of this!” He waits, breathing hard with desperation. The sound of his voice slips into the darkness and is lost. He tries again, “I believe, Jesus! I believe now! Save me from this!” Again the darkness smothers his words. Our sinner is not unique. Everyone in hell believes. When he wearies of appeals, he does next what anyone would do—assesses his situation and attempts to adapt. But then it hits him—this is forever. Jesus had made it very clear. He had used the same words for “forever” to describe both heaven and hell. Forever, he thinks, and his mind labors through the blackness until he aches. “Forever!” he whispers in wonder. The idea deepens, widens, and towers over him. The awful truth spreads before him like endless, overlapping slats. When I put in ten thousand centuries of time here, I will not have accomplished one thing. I will not have one second less to spend here. As the rich man pleaded for a drop of water, so, too, our new occupant entertains a similar ambition. In life he learned that even bad things could be tolerated if one could find temporary relief. Perhaps even hell, if one could rest from time to time, would be more tolerable. He learns, though, that “The smoke of [his] torment goes up forever and ever; and [he has] no rest day and night” (Revelation 14:11, NASB). No rest day and night—think of that. Thoughts of this happening to people we know, people like us, are too terrifying to entertain for long. The idea of allowing someone to endure such torture for eternity violates the sensibilities of even the most severe judge among us. We simply cannot bear it. But our thoughts of hell will never be as unmanageable as its reality. We must take this doctrine of hell, therefore, and make sure we are practically affected by it. A hard look at this doctrine should first change our view of sin. Most believers do not take sin as seriously as God does. We need to realize that in God’s eyes and in His actual plan, sin deserves eternal punishment in hell. We can actually learn, by comparison, to hate sin as God hates it. As the reality of hell violates and offends us, for example, so sin violates and offends God. As we cannot bear to look upon the horrors of hell, so God cannot bear to look upon the horrors of sin. As hell revolts us to the point of hatred for it, so also God finds sin revolting. The comparison is not perfect, but it offers a start. Second, the truth of hell should encourage our witness. Can we ever hear a sigh of weariness, see a moment of doubt, or feel pain without being reminded of that place? In all honesty, can we see any unbeliever, watch his petty human activities, realize what he has in store, and not be moved with compassion? It encourages us to witness in word and in deed. That hideous doctrine may grip our souls in dark terror and make us weep, but let us be sure it also prompts us to holiness and compassion.
WEDNESDAY: God’s Last Word “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” —Hebrews 9:27, NIV; emphasis added
Two thousand years ago, God spoke these words to His church as a warning to be shared. We need to grasp the implications of this incredible spiritual law from God. It is man’s destiny to die. From Eden onward, anyone who sins dies. Without Christ, no one can escape death’s penalty. Every person born on planet Earth is destined to die ONCE: no reincarnation, no second chance, no intermediate step. God says that life is a oneway street: no returns. Literally, it is a dead-end street. At God’s final appointment with all who ever lived, without Christ, they face judgment. They will be lost, forever lost, and they didn’t have to be—they chose to be! Meditate on the immensity of that thought! Let’s now look at Revelation 20:11–15, which divides into five sobering truths. Truth 1: The Judge is great—“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them” (v. 11). God is great because of His majesty—He is the Creator, Sustainer, God of Gods, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Rock, and the Endless of Days! The throne is white because of His holiness; He has revealed Himself as the Light, life everlasting, and the consuming fire. Truth 2: The judgment is inescapable—“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (v. 12). We know from Paul that at death believers are instantly transported to the presence of Jesus in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6–8). As most scholars believe, the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) takes place then; as believers we are analyzed by Jesus for our degree of obedience to Him in this life, and then rewarded. John seems to imply that this event is all complete by Revelation 19:8, when the saints are at the great banquet of Christ’s redeemed. In Revelation 20:12, however, we now see the last, the greatest, and the final roll call. No one will go to hell because they didn’t know about Jesus; it doesn’t say that in the Bible. The only thing that will send someone to hell is sin, not failure to hear of Jesus. He is the only remedy, but the cause of hell is sin. Jesus said, “You will die in your sins.” That is the most horrible thing He could say. Anyone who dies in their sins instead of being in Christ is condemned at that moment eternally, and will be banished forever from the presence of God. Why? Because God said, “No sin will be allowed to exist eternally with Me in My holy presence. Only those whose sin is dealt with, who have Jesus as their covering, are allowed in My presence.” So the works of every dead person are to be exposed: every act, thought, word, and intent of the heart is revealed one by one. Truth 3: The standard is exact—“The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works” (v. 13). They will be judged both by Christ’s words and by their works: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Jesus has spoken, and He has revealed Himself. Psalm 19 says that His voice has gone throughout the whole world. All unbelievers will give an account as to why they rejected “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). The Light has come to all who have been born into this world “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that
they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). Those who reject that Light cannot escape His judgment, which is a very exacting standard. Truth 4: The sentence is final—“Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (v. 14). Each personal account will be finalized. The self-righteous will see that they are wearing filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The vain babblers will be dumb before Him (Matthew 22:12). The greats of earth will be pitiful in wretchedness that day (Psalm 2:1–5). Each will get their sentencing, but don’t think that everyone will receive the same degree of punishment. There will be individual portions (Matthew 24:51). It will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for those who were alive during Jesus’ ministry and heard His words (Matthew 10:15). It will be easier for Tyre and Sidon than for the city and people of Bethsaida (Matthew 11:21–22). There are different levels of punishment within the horrors of hell. Matthew 12:42 says that the Queen of Sheba will rise up in the judgment and condemn the generation that lived through Christ’s ministry. And “then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ ” (Matthew 25:41). God prepared the Lake of Fire for Satan and his angels, not for humans, but those who follow the devil and his rebellion will follow him into the lake. Truth 5: Blessed is the Book of Life—“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (v. 15). The names of all souls who experience the saving process of Jesus’ blood are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What is our hope as those who believe in Christ? Revelation 17:8 sums it up: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit [where Satan was kept for 1,000 years] and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Do you know whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life? The ones whom Jesus will bring one at a time before the Father, confessing: “This is My blood-bought child” (see Revelation 3:5). Imagine your joy when you hear the Father saying, “Bring the best robe and put it on My child!” Jesus will say that to all who will come by faith and trust in His finished work. I now ask you what the hymn writer asks: Are you Washed in the Blood? Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you washed in the blood, In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? —Elisha A. Hoffman (1839–1929)
THURSDAY: Jesus Describes Hell “ ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’ ”
—Mark 9:44, emphasis added In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that life has: Two entrance gates—the wide and the narrow. Two roads—broad and difficult. Two destinations—destruction and life. Two groups of travelers—many and few. Two lifestyles—the sayers and the doers. Two inevitable ends—being thrown in the Lake of Fire and entering the kingdom of heaven. After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically warns everyone to flee—to avoid the Lake of Fire at all costs by doing whatever it takes to not end up there. He warns us over forty times in the Gospel of Matthew alone. Since Jesus preached on hell so much, we need to give this doctrine, tough as it may be, the attention He wants it to have. Therefore, today and tomorrow we will look at many references in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus warned about hell. Because the doctrine of hell is being lost by our generation as a true doctrine, it would be a good idea to mark these in your Bible. (Emphasis added to the verses.) Jesus Describes Hell: The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Jesus’ baptism were vehemently asked, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (3:7). Following that rebuke was an illustration of a tree that does not bear good fruit being “thrown into the fire” (3:10) and worthless chaff that is burned up “with unquenchable fire” (3:12). In one of Christ’s most well-attended sermons (probably over 30,000 people), Jesus said that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause “shall be in danger of hell fire” (5:22). In verses 29–30, He went on to warn that if one part of your body causes you to practice sin, it is better to get rid of it than have “your whole body to be cast into hell.” He was convinced that there is a judgment coming for those who never turn from their sin, repent of their iniquity, and embrace Christ as their only hope. And so it was very loving to warn them of such consequences ahead. Jesus warned to choose His narrow path because the broad one “leads to destruction” (7:13). The person who does not bear good fruit is to be “thrown into the fire” (7:19) and will hear His “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (7:23). Jesus pointed out that what matters is not merely saying the right thing—it is what you do in life that counts. Everything Jesus said about salvation in all four Gospels, and the need to bear good fruit, is summarized right here in these verses where He is basically saying: “Salvation is not based on whether or not you said and did great things; it is whether or not God did something inside of you. That is what the gospel is all about. When the gospel takes root in the heart, it brings forth good fruit.” Jesus said that the “sons of the kingdom” would be “cast out into outer darkness” (a place of inky black, impenetrable darkness) where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (8:12). In verses 28–29 we see a testimony from
the other side—from a demon, an immortal intelligence, a living spirit that has phenomenal powers that are thousands of years old, and has been in the very presence of God. Look at what this demon says: “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” The demons know that Jesus is the Judge, and that there is a time of torment and inescapable judgment coming. For them, however, there is no hope, no opportunity for salvation; they chose instead to go in rebellion with the devil, thereby denying God and going against Him. But we are the ones that the angels look at in wonder. Why? Because we have the Son of God who became a Son of Man so that the sons of men could become sons of God! In Matthew 10:15 Jesus warned that “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” Even in hell there are levels of tolerability. For those who have grown up hearing the gospel and seeing it lived before them, it will be excruciating to have that awareness of how close they came to knowing Him, but never embracing Him, than for the person who is in hell because of being a sinner rather than rejecting Jesus. And so it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (the land characterized by homosexuality, bestiality, and sinful, grotesque licentiousness) than for the people who have had the light of the gospel upon them. Therefore, in verse 28 Jesus says to “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (10:28). Jesus warned that it would be “more tolerable” (Matthew 11:22–24) in the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon and the land of Sodom than for those who dwelled in cities where He’d done mighty works. Why? Because Jesus lived there; it was His hometown, and His ministry headquarters. Those people actually lived with God and chose to reject Him. Although they lived with the miracles of heaven around them, they told Jesus: “All that You do is great, but we really don’t care about that. We want our sins more than You.” Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would “not be forgiven . . . , either in this age or in the age to come” (12:32). Hell is all about unforgiven, unatoned for, and uncleansed sins. In verse 36, Jesus said that for every idle word that man speaks, he will “give account of it in the day of judgment.” No one goes to hell; the condemned are cast into hell. The initial place called Hades is where people go before the judgment, and it will only be emptied momentarily at judgment time. At the end, as it says in Revelation 20, whoever does not have his name written in the Book of Life will stand before God speechless, and acknowledge that He is just and right to send him to hell.
FRIDAY: More of What Jesus Says About Hell “[Apostates are] wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” —Jude 13b, emphasis added In the following verses, Jesus gets even more graphic in His description: “Let both grow together until the harvest, and I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’ ” (13:30). Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age (13:40). And [the angels] will cast them into the
furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (13:42). In verse 48 we see that when the dragnet “was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.” Jesus said to let the true and the false, the fruit bearers and the non-fruit bearers, grow together. In the church, there are some who merely appear to be Christians. They can “talk the talk” and even seem to “walk the walk” so well that it is difficult to sort out the real Christians from the fake. It is like wheat and tares, all growing up in the same field. Jesus was saying, “Don’t clear out the church. There will always be believers and unbelievers, but let them be together. At the time of the harvest, I will sort them out.” Notice that all of Jesus’ stories are clear-cut choices: good and bad; righteous and evil; fruit bearing and not fruit bearing; heaven and fire. There is no middle ground here— either you make it or you don’t. In verses 49–50 Jesus therefore warns: “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (15:13–14). Now look at these verses: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (16:18, 25, 27). Jesus also told a lot of parables and stories that don’t have what we would call a happy ending. In Matthew 18:34 Jesus speaks about the agony in life of having bitterness and anger: “His master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.” These “torturers of life” that we don’t deal with—emotional pain, depression, and anger—are merely a tiny foretaste of the horrors of hell. The judgment of the Jewish leaders against the wicked vinedressers turned out to be Christ’s judgment against them: “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons. . . . And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (21:41, 44). This is speaking again of the intensity of the eternal judgment. In Matthew 22:7 we see another picture of what judgment will be like: “When the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Jesus continued in verse 13: “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” Jesus sternly rebuked the scribes and Pharisees: “Hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive
greater condemnation. . . . For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (23:14–15). Now look at verse 33: “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” Jesus said that the master of an unfaithful evil servant will come, when he least expects him, to “cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (24:51). The weeping is because of the pain, and the gnashing of the teeth and wailing is due to the inescapable punishment. Matthew 25:30 speaks of the unprofitable servant who will be cast “into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Have you heard this enough to catch your attention? In verse 41 are Christ’s last words about hell; this is the judgment, and Jesus is sitting on the throne: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” Hell was not made for humans. God did not plan for, and want to deliver, the lost to the place of everlasting judgment. Therefore, He is not willing that any should perish. Now tie that with John 3:16: “that they should not perish but have everlasting life.” God does not want you to go to the everlasting fire. It was prepared for the devil and his angels. But look at verse 46: “And these [the cursed who practice iniquity—who reject Christ, and refuse to believe and repent] will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Life in heaven will be endless, but so will life in hell. The only reason hell even exists for mankind is because they love their sins instead of the living and written Word of God. Have you embraced God and His Word? Are you sharing His gospel with others so that they do not become cursed and be cast into the everlasting fire?
SATURDAY: The Apostles Add Their Warnings of Hell “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” —2 Corinthians 5:11a, emphasis added Now that we have seen what Jesus spoke about hell, let us finish up this subject with what Paul, Peter, Jude, John, and the writer of Hebrews had to say on this subject. (Emphasis added to the verses.) Paul wrote: “tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil.” (Romans 2:9). In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 he said, “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” The writer of Hebrews warned, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). And Peter had this to say: “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4). In Jude we learn that “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, . . . He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the
great day.” The apostates will be “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” They are like “wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (See Jude 6–13 for a complete description of this judgment.) In Revelation 14:11 we are told: “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Now look at Revelation 19:20: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Finally, in Revelation 20:10–15, we see: “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. . . . Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” What happens when we receive the Word of God? Why did the rich man of Luke 16 go to hell? What happened to him? He refused to let the Word of God change him; it never pierced his heart. When God’s Word is received by faith, our life begins to change: self-centeredness begins to die; self-indulgence begins to be disciplined away; selfsacrifice begins to be pursued; and compassion, kindness, caring, and love take root and grow. Make a Choice to Live in Hope: This has been a hard week’s reading, hasn’t it? Although it is painful to have your eyes opened to the realities of the horrors of hell, it is absolutely essential that you not be “in the dark” regarding the Truth about this doctrine. What is the most important point that I want to drive home in this week’s devotionals? This amazing Truth—Jesus Christ died for sinners. All who receive Him are forgiven of their sins—past, present, and future. All who are forgiven receive eternal life! Have you received Jesus Christ? Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your sins have been removed? If they have not been, I exhort you, with all that is within me, to delay no longer! No one knows how long they will live, and you could be ushered into eternity at any moment. Oh, dear reader, make a choice to live in hope. Choose to bow your knee to Jesus Christ, who loves you and gave Himself for you! If you know the Lord Jesus, quietly rejoice in your heart that you have been born again, and then glorify the Lord by worshipfully and gratefully singing this song to Him. Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity! Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Which wert and art and evermore shalt be. Holy, Holy, Holy! Tho the darkness hide Thee, Tho the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee Perfect in pow’r, in love and purity. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity! —Reginald Heber (1783–1826) 1 How many people are we talking about? Some have calculated that there have been up to 40 billion souls who have lived on earth. In a one-hour judgment, 40+ billion people would take over 5 million years! After the Flood until Christ’s day, Noah and his family (eight people) produced a population of just over 100 million people. From the time of Christ to George Washington’s death (1,800 years later) the population rose to 1 billion; by 1930, which was 130 years later, we arrived at 2 billion; 45 years after that (1975) we doubled to 4 billion. Today (2006) we have over 6 ½ billion souls. At the present rate of growth, in less than 25 years we will be at 10 billion. (According to an article in Time, Jan. 2, 1989, pp. 26, 48). This growth is despite 4,000 children dying of starvation daily, plus 1,000 each day lost in various wars, plus the death factor of all who die of natural causes each day.
2 During the next two days, the text has been adapted, paraphrased, and quoted from: John Thomas, “That Hideous Doctrine,” Moody Magazine, September 1985.