December 30, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I Wish You A Taste Of Hell! That’s a terrible title for a blog to start the new year, just two days away! And yet, as they say, “There’s a method to my madness!” You see, if we have a realistic view of hell, it will be an impetus for at least three things:
• To be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ for salvation! As Paul wrote in Romans 3:32, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And because of being sinners, the apostle further says in Ephesians 4:17 and 18, that unbelievers live “…in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the hardening of their heart….” And in Colossians 1:21, 2:13, and 3:6: They are “…enemies in…[their] mind by wicked works…dead in trespasses and….[living under] the wrath of God…[which is] upon the sons of disobedience.” According to the Bible, we need to be reconciled to God! We need to escape His wrath, which finally lands us in hell if the sin problem is not resolved!
But God has made the way through His Son paying the full price for our sins! (See II John 1:16, 17; Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13; I John 1:7). All we have to do is receive Him as our Savior, believing He died for me, paying for my sins! (See John 1:12; Acts 2:28; 10:43;16:30, 31). So, if we have an understanding of hell, we look to God’s way of salvation – the only way (see John 14:6) – to escape hell!
• For giving us “…so great a salvation…” (Hebrews 2:3), we will want to live our lives in a godly way to say, “Thank you, Lord!”
• In the same way that we would not stand idly by if we could physically help someone escape a fiery death, so, if we have a biblical knowledge of the unbeliever’s eternal destination, we will want to share with them the way of escape – that they must personally put their faith in Jesus Christ!
There is the true story (although I cannot recall the details of who, when, and where) of a seminary professor who faithfully taught his students during their years under his tutelage. Just before their graduation, in their last class with him, he told them:
I wish I could do one more thing before you go out into the world from this
seminary. I wish I could dangle you on a thin string over the open pits of
hell for just three seconds – and then turn you loose to go tell a lost world
of God’s salvation!
Oh, what powerful witnesses for the Lord they would then be!
Perhaps the next best thing to that would be a serious study of what the Bible tells us about hell! And now, we finally get to our featured Scripture, Revelation 21:8:
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which
burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
I have heard it said more than once by one who is not a Christian and is warned of going to hell: “It’s fine with me! All my friends will be there, and we will have one big party!” But look again at the list of those inhabiting hell in our this Scripture: “…the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars….” Plus there will be there “…the devil…the beast and the false prophet…” (Revelation 20:10). It sure does not sound like company to eternally keep!
There are other Scriptures also that can add to our knowledge of hell.
• Hell is an eternal experience of torture! Revelation 14:11 – “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night…” (see also Revelation 20:10).
• Those in hell are fully conscious! In Luke 16:22 through 24 (King James Version) it is written:
The rich man…died and was buried. And in hell he lift 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
tormented in this flame.
• Hell is likened to the Valley of Gehenna in Mark 9, verses 44, 46, and 48. What is the Valley of Gehenna? Located just south of Jerusalem…
…this place [is where] human sacrifices were offered to Molech; these altars
were destroyed by Josiah (2 Kings 23:10). The valley was later declared to be
‘the valley of slaughter’ by Jeremiah (Jer. 7:30-33). The valley was used as a
burial place for criminals and for burning garbage. (William Crockett, Four
Views of Hell, p. 58).
Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I remember taking garbage to the Amenia dump. It was a large dump where people had been disposing of garbage for years, throwing it over the steep hill, into smoldering fires at the bottom. After heaving our load over the side, my friend and I walked over to an older part of the dump. It was getting dark and we couldn’t see much down the dark slope. But we could hear the constant gnawing and moving about of rats, worms, and other creatures. I picked up a rock and tossed it down on the dark surface of the hill – and the dump surface started to move – up toward us! It was covered with rats! And they were coming up the hill to attack their attackers! Needless to say, we ran to the car and got out of there as fast as we could!
This incident reminds me of what Jesus said three times in Mark 9, as mentioned above:
…if your hand (foot, eye) makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to
enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire
which shall never be quenched — where their worm does not die and the
fire is not quenched.
So avoid hell at all costs! But realize, the cost has been paid already by Jesus Christ! Put your faith in Him! And with that lingering Taste Of Hell, tell others also how they can be saved!