Is hell for real - Part 1

SERMON TOPIC: Is hell for real - Part 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 26 February 2023

Topic Groups: HELL, JUDGEMENT

Sermon synopsis: Regarding hell, C. S. Lewis wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it”.
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FEEL GOOD PREACHING

Much preaching today is just motivational speaking covered over with Christian language. It's mostly a “make people feel good” and “talk about things that are positive” type preaching.

For that reason; sin, hell, and judgment are almost entirely never ever spoken about. Why do preachers do that?

THINK FAKE NEWS IS BAD? TRY FAKE PREACHING

They are hirelings. They have their eye on their congregation's wallet and not their souls. They simply want large tithes, so they are careful not to offend tithers.

They just want to be liked and popular. So they just give the people what they want.

They don't really love people. If they loved them, they would warn them.

They got their theology from TV or from a preacher but not from the Bible.

They don't really believe that the wages of sin is death, that hell is a place where souls burn eternally, and that God will judge the unrepentant sinner.

THINK FAKE NEWS IS BAD? TRY FAKE PREACHING

They want to build up their own kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God. They want to fill seats on the pretext of being inspirational and caring. Hence the pastor of America’s largest megachurch readily admits to focusing on optimism in his sermons. “People have been beaten down enough by life” by the time they go to church on Sundays, he said. His aim is for people to leave his events inspired.

They simply aren't saved themselves. They don't preach the true gospel because they were “saved" by a false gospel.

THINK FAKE NEWS IS BAD? TRY FAKE PREACHING

IS HELL FOR REAL?

Regarding hell, C. S. Lewis wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it”. *

*The Problem of Pain, HarperCollins, 1940, pp. 119–120

WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT HELL?

Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in the Bible.

Reality: Jesus taught that hell is a real place where some beings will spend eternity (Matthew 23:33, 25:41; Mark 9:43). In Jesus’ teaching, hell is not figurative or symbolic; it is a real place in which real experiences take place. Jesus portrayed what hell is like with vivid imagery such as fire and darkness (Matthew 5:22; 8:8–12). *

* https:// gotquestions.org/ Jesus-teaching-on-hell.html

WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT HELL?

Words translated as “hell” in English Bibles include:

Hades (the interim dwelling place for the wicked dead)

Gehēnna (the final Lake of Fire).

Tartarus (the abode of the fallen “Watcher” angels of Genesis 6.) Most English Bible translations render the word Tartarus as hell in the following verse:

2 Pet 2:4 (HCSB) For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus [tartarōsas] and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment

Hades was the Greek word for the realm of the dead, but Jesus uses it more specifically to refer to a place of torment (Luke 16:23), a place that is the opposite of heaven (Matt 11:23). *

Originally gehēnna referred to Hinnom Valley south of Jerusalem, where centuries earlier child sacrifice was practiced (2 Kings 23:10; Jer 7:32). By the time of Jesus, gehēnna was a picture of hell, such that Jesus warns "fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell [gehēnna]" (Matt 10:28). *

* https:// christianity.com/ jesus/life-of-jesus/ teaching-and-messages/ did-jesus-say-there-is-a-hell.html

GEHENNA

There is no actual evidence for the common assertion that the city’s refuse was burnt in the Valley of Gehenna at the time of Jesus.

Gehenna is the “Valley of Hinnom”. Jeremiah warns the inhabitants of Jerusalem of coming judgement because they had burnt their children in places of worship constructed there.

Jer. 7:31- 32 (NIV) They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire … So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room.

GEHENNA

Reference to fires in the Valley of Hinnom to burn corpses is made in a commentary on Psalm 27 by Rabbi David Kimhi (c. 1200 AD).

G. R. Beasley-Murray says, “The notion…that the city’s rubbish was burned in this valley, has no further basis than a statement by the Jewish scholar [David] Kimhi (sic) made about A.D. 1200; it is not attested in any ancient source.”64 David Kimhi, a medieval rabbi, wrote in his commentary on Psalm 27: “Gehenna is a repugnant place, into which filth and cadavers are thrown, and in which fires perpetually burn in order to consume the filth and bones, on which account, by analogy, the judgment of the wicked is called ‘Gehenna.’” *

* https:// rethinkinghell.com/ 2018/ 01/ 23/ gehenna-the-history-development-and-usage-of-a-common-image-for-hell

Luke 16:19-31 (NIV) There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.

Jesus talked of people having a consciousness out of the body.


At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died

and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.


The rich man also died and was buried.


In hell (Hades), where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.


So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’


But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’


‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’


He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’


Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’


‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’


He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’

PARABLE OR NOT?

Some who are uncomfortable with the message of this story will say that it is a parable.

However, Jesus never used names (like “Lazarus”) in parables. He would say things like “a man”, “a farmer”, “a certain nobleman”

Parables teach a spiritual truth by means of using an earthly truth e.g. Jesus would communicate spiritual principles by using stories that people could relate to about shepherds, farmers, fishermen, masters & servants etc. This is clearly not a story about a physical earthly event that anybody could relate to.

PARABLE OR NOT?

SOUL SLEEP

According to SDA teaching: Humans are an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit. They do not possess an immortal soul and there is no consciousness after death” (commonly referred to as soul sleep). *

* Fundamental beliefs 7,26 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Seventh-day_Adventist_Church

SOUL SLEEP

Others who believe in soul sleep include:

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Christadelphians

various Church of God organizations and related denominations which adhere to the older teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God.

CONSCIOUSNESS

So Jesus is teaching us that hell is a place where there is consciousness (i.e. no ‘soul sleep’ or annihilation)

Jesus taught that the rich man:

Could see – he saw Abraham & Lazarus

Could speak – he called out to Abraham

Could hear – heard Abraham’s reply

Could feel – he was in agony

MEMORIES

He could remember. He recognized Lazarus and remembered that he had a father and five brothers (Luke 16:27-28)

Abraham also appealed to his memory of a misspent life.

Luke 16:25 (NIV) But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things…’

Memories will be there for eternity. Remembering all the lost opportunities will add to the suffering.

REASON

He could reason – he wanted to warn his brothers. (Luke 16:27-28)

Abraham made it clear that we need to heed the Bible if we don’t wish to have a similar fate.

Luke 16:29-31 (NIV) Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’

So what does the Bible teach about hell?

A PLACE TO BE FEARED

Luke 12:4-5 (NIV) I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Heb 10:26-31 (NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God… For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

A PLACE OF TORMENT

Matt 8:29 (NIV) Legion shouted to Jesus: “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

Rev 20:10 (NIV) And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And in the account of the rich man which we read earlier:

Luke 16:23-28 (NIV) In hell, where he was in torment …

“I am in agony in this fire…”

“Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.”

SEPARATION FROM GOD

2 Thess 1:9-10 (NIV) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power …

Matt 25:41 (NIV) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed …”

SEPARATION FROM GOD

Andrew Naselli * has said that is “a reality that we can’t relate to immediately on earth.” Because even unbelievers experience God’s blessings, although often unknowingly.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” And he said in Luke 6:35 that God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Why? Because as Romans 2:4 says, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” **

Those who do not accept God’s gift of salvation tragically spend eternity in hell, separated from God, left without access to love, hope, peace, and other blessings of God.

* Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament, Bethlehem College and Seminary ** https:// christianity.com/ wiki/ heaven-and-hell/ what-is-hell-like.html?amp=1

SORROW & REGRET

The rich man Jesus spoke about, regretted the choices he had made which led him to hell as his final destination.

In Dante Alighieri’s (1265-1321) fictional work Inferno, the inscription at the gate of hell is said to be “abandon all hope ye who enter here”.

SORROW & REGRET

Jesus often warned against this terrible place using the vivid word gnashing, which means biting or grinding (Strong’s 1030). He spoke of those who “will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 8:12, NIV)

THE WICKED LAZY SERVANT: And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matt 25:30, ESV)

THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT: He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 24:51, NIV)

SORROW & REGRET

THE DRAGNET: … The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:49-50)

SORROW & REGRET

THE TARES: They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:42, NIV)

SORROW & REGRET

THE MAN WITHOUT WEDDING GARMENTS: 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.’ (Matt 22:13, NKJV)

Jesus spoke of hell as “outer darkness” (Matt 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). The oldest book of the Bible has this to say:

Job 10:21-22 (NIV) “before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”

DARKNESS & LONELINESS

So hell is not a place where you’ll be ‘partying’ with your friends.

2 Pet 2:17 (NIV) These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.

A PLACE OF FIRE

Jesus mentioned fire in relation to hell at least 27 times.

Luke 16:24 (NIV) So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

Matt 5:22 (NIV) … But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matt 13:40 (NIV) Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

Matt 13:42 (NIV) and will cast them into the furnace of fire. … (cf. Matt 13:50)

cf. Matt 18:8, Mark 9:43-48

Rev 20:10 (NIV) And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur…

Rev 9:2 (NIV) When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.

HELL FIRE

Matt 18:9 (NIV) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. (cf. Mark 9:47)

Mark 9:43 (NIV) If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.

Mark 9:45 (NIV) And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.

HELL FIRE

Jesus also speaks of fire in his figurative warnings about the punishment of the wicked.

Matt 7:19 (NIV) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

John 15:6 (NIV) If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

ANNIHILATION?

The belief in Soul Sleep is traditionally accompanied by the belief that the unrighteous soul will cease to exist instead of suffering eternally (annihilationism) * e.g. SDA, JW, Christadelphians and the followers of Herbert Armstrong.

Annihilationism is a belief that after the final judgment some human beings and all fallen angels will be totally destroyed so as to not exist, rather than suffer everlasting torment in hell (the lake of fire). It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life. They assert that God will eventually destroy the wicked, leaving only the righteous to live on in immortality. **

* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Soul ** https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Annihilationism

ANNIHILATION?

Annihilationists hold that eternal torment is a disproportionate punishment, because humans have a finite lifespan and can commit only a finite number of sins.

The counter-argument is that all sin is against God.

Ps 51:4 (NIV) “… Against you, you only, have I sinned…”

The punishment for a crime is proportional to the status of the wronged individual. God’s infinite dignity requires that any transgression against him warrants an infinite punishment.

ANNIHILATION?

Annihilationists claim that Jesus inferred that the wicked are completely destroyed in hell, by using the word “destroy” rather than “torment” in the following passage.

Matt 10:28 (NASB) “… but rather fear Him who is able to destroy [apolesai] both soul and body in hell.”

But destruction or ruin does not necessarily mean ceasing to exist (i.e. annihilated), though it can mean that (Matt 26:52; Jude 11). Something can be destroyed or ruined for the purpose to which it was to serve, but still exist - such as wine-skins that burst, * or food gone bad. **

* Matt 9:17 (ESV) Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed [apollyntai]. ** John 6:27 (ESV) Do not work for the food that perishes [apollymenēn], but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you …

ANNIHILATION?

Annihilationists claim that by calling the lake of fire “the second death” (Rev 20:14-15) it implies total destruction of those “thrown into the lake of fire”.

Death in the Bible never means extinction, but separation:

Physical death: separation of the body and soul/ spirit.

Spiritual death: separation of man and God (Gen 2:17 “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”. Adam didn’t die bodily on that day but he was separated from God).

Second death: permanent separation of man and God.

ANNIHILATION?

Why would God resurrect the bodies of the wicked simply to immediately annihilate both body and soul?

Rev 20:5-15 (NIV) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) … Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it … And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne … The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books … The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

Annihilationists claim that everlasting punishment is a concept not found in the OT, yet Daniel writes:

Daniel 12:2 (NIV) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Isaiah spoke of everlasting burning for the godless.

Isa 33:14 (NIV) The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?’

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

Many OT passages like Psalm 78:66 and Jeremiah 23:40 refer to eternal shame for the wicked.

Ps 52:5 (NIV) Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.

Jer 25:9 (NIV) “I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin.”

To experience shame requires consciousness. If you have been annihilated, how could you have everlasting shame?

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

John writes that Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet are “thrown into the lake of burning sulphur” where “they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev 20:10, NIV)

The same fate awaits unbelievers.

Matt 25:41-46 (NIV) Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ … Then they will go away to eternal punishment…

Rev 14:11 (NIV) And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

Jesus spoke of those who are “cast into the everlasting fire” (Matt 18:8) and “hell, where the fire never goes out” and where “the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:43-48)

What need is there for an eternal fire if those thrown into it are exterminated immediately?

Jude 7 (NIV) They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

2 Thess 1:9 (NIV) They will be punished with everlasting destruction…

THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE

Isaiah also spoke of a fire that will not be quenched and worms that will not die.

Isa 66:24 (ESV) “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

Jesus quoted this passage in Isaiah applying it to hell.

Mark 9:46–48 (ESV) 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.’

THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE

In both texts the word translated as “worm” literally means a “maggot.” A maggot would have an obvious association with a dead body; however, the maggot Jesus speaks of “will not die.”

Taken at face value, this text is one of the most horrific descriptions of what hell is like. The thought of eternal torment, likened to maggots eating away at a rotting corpse, is undoubtedly ghastly. Hell is so awful that Christ said, figuratively speaking, it’s better to cut off the hand that causes you to sin than to end up in hell. *

Mark 9:48 does not mean that there are literal worms in hell or that there are worms that live forever; rather, Jesus is teaching the fact of unending suffering in hell—the “worm” never stops causing torment. *

* https:// gotquestions.org/ worm-will-not-die.html

THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE

Notice that the worm is personal. Both Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48 use the word their to identify the worm’s owner. The sources of torment are attached each to its own host. *

Some Bible scholars believe the “worm” refers to a man’s conscience. Those in hell, being completely cut off from God, exist with a nagging, guilty conscience that, like a persistent worm, gnaws away at its victim with a remorse that can never be mitigated. No matter what the word worm refers to, the most important thing to be gained from these words of Christ is that we should do everything in our power to escape the horrors of hell, and there is only one thing to that end—receiving Jesus as the Lord of our lives (John 3:16). *

* Ibid.

A PLACE OF FINALITY

Hell has no fire escape.

There is no second chance to change your mind about serving God after you die.

Luke 19:26 (NIV) ‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

Heb 9:27 (NIV) Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment …

ANNIHILATION?

Annihilationists believe that God is too loving to torment his creations forever.

The Scriptures do teach that “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

But is also holy (1 Pet 1:16) and just and will ultimately punish sin that is unconfessed and those who have not repented.

2 Thess 1:6-8 (NIV) God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

ULTIMATE JUSTICE

In a sense, the concept of hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance, that our behavior has consequences lasting to eternity, that God himself takes our choices seriously. The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without a conviction of ultimate justice, people’s sense of moral obligation dissolves, and social bonds are broken. (Chuck Colson)

The torments of hell are attributable not to a defect in God’s benevolence, but in human free will.

A benevolent God prefers to see everyone saved.

2 Pet 3:9 (NIV) The Lord is… is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But he also allows man to control his own destiny. As Jesus spoke of hell as being “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41), man indirectly chooses it as his own destiny by rejecting God.

THE GOSPEL

The only way to escape hell - is not to enter. Jesus, the one who warned the most about hell, is the only one who can save you from hell.

Matt 16:18 (NIV) … and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell (Hades) shall not prevail against it.

Through faith in Christ, anyone can be reconciled to God.

John 3:16-17 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 5:24 (NIV) Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Have you repented of your sin and put your faith in Jesus for your salvation? If not “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).

YOUR CHOICE

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36, NIV)




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