"Tell Me About Hell"
Tell Me About Hell
A. The idea of Hell is debated in the Christian world. There are some who read the Bible and believe that there is a place that is an ongoing, eternal punishment. A place described as outer darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place where fire is constant and the worm never dies; a place that cannot be described in human words. Others believe that Hell is a not so much a place but the point in which at some point in time God will destroy both body and soul in Hell; a place where finally an annihilation will take place and you in your consciousness will no longer exist. Others to so far as to say that there is no such place as Hell. That a loving God simply could not create such a place.
B. So what does the Bible tell us about the topic of Hell? Well, I can fully understand the first two points that were debated as being possibilities. My own understanding is that Hell is a real, created place that will contain the souls of all who are not marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit when the Day of Judgment arrives. Tonight we want to take a brief look at this topic and I hope to get you to begin your own study.
I. Original Words
A. There are three words that generally translated Hell in most English translations. The Hebrew word “sheol.” It occurs 65 times in the OT. In the KJV it translate this word as either “grave” or “hell.” The truth is there is not good evidence of a Hebrew word that means what we think about as Hell. The word we see in the OT can be better understood as grave or even underworld. So there is little we can learn about Hell from the OT.
B. In the NT we see two words that are used. One is “hades” which we understand as Hades. The KJV translates this word has hell in the 10 times it used in the NT. It is used as the Greek word for the Hebrew word “sheol.” We see this word in two predominate passages: Jesus telling Peter “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (the kingdom)” and Jesus telling us the story of rich man and Lazarus. It seems that Hades is more of a temporary waiting place of the soul than the eternal punishment we call Hell.
C. The word that we think of when we talk about Hell is the Greek word “ge-henna.” It is used 12 times and 11 of them are by Jesus himself. The original meaning is that of a place outside of Jerusalem. It was the Valley of Hinnom. Kings Ahaz and Manesseh sacrificed children in this valley. Jewish apocalyptic literature developed the idea that God would purify that area with fire. The Greek word does not mean the actual place but follows the idea of the apocalyptic meaning of fire and where the worm never dies. It is used as the place of punishment. Matt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 23:15, 33
II. Why Is There A Hell?
A. Okay, so I really do believe that there is a some place of great punishment that Jesus warns us about, but what is the purpose of Hell? That was the question I was asked.
B. Let me start back in Matthew 25. In this telling about the final judgment, (verses 31-33). Now jump down to verse 41-46. The reason for the creation of such a horrible place is because of Satan and his angels (or what we normally call demons). 2 Pet. 2:4 “the angels are sent there.” Rev. 20:7-10.
C. Hell was not created because mankind sinned. Hell was created because Satan and his angels sinned. But they will not be alone in this place of torment. There will be souls of mankind with them in that horrible place as we read in Matt 25.
A. We have seen that some of the words translated “hell” are more appropriately translated “grave.” I want to stop for a moment and consider why “hell” in any form is so terrible.
B. To do that, I want to start with the first sin. What is it that God said would happen if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? (DEATH) Understand that in the greater sense than just this physical body. I believe the greater aspect of death is a separation from God. The one thing Satan had over us was death. But even in that first sin, God began to show his plan. The enmity between the offspring of woman and Satan was Jesus. Yes, it is true that Satan would be able to bruise the heel of Jesus, but in the process, Jesus would bruise the head of Satan. Jesus was going to take away the one thing Satan had over mankind – death.
C. What makes “hell” the “torment” that Jesus talks about in the rich man and Lazarus is that we are separated from the presence of God eternally. Listen to 2 Thes. 1:5-10. I don’t know how God will destroy both body and soul in hell, I don’t understand what he means by eternal punishment with weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I do understand that I will not be in his presence. Prayer will have no avail in hell. The cries will not be comforted. The agony of lonely will not be relieved simply because you are not alone. We don’t understand what it means to be alone until we think about what it means to be separated from the presence of God. That is death.
D. We have heard stories about children and adults who supposed spent just five minutes in heaven. But I wonder what life would be like if I could spend five minutes in hell and then return to this life. Luke 16:19-31. Five minutes in the company of the doomed. What I know from the rich man is that he did not want his brothers to be where he was. I know that if we really could comprehend the intensity and horribleness of hell we would do all we could to tell people not to be there. Maybe our lack of evangelism is based upon a lack of belief in hell or a lack of understanding of hell.
E. People are not in hell because of a desire of God or that they have sinned so greatly that God cannot save them. People are in hell because the will not repent, because they do know God in relationship.
A. 2 Pet. 3:8-13. God gave himself in the form of Jesus to give us the opportunity to not spend eternity with Satan. God has done all to save us, but now calls all men everywhere to repentance. The time of ignorance is over, the time of obedience and faithfulness is here in the grace of God if we will but come to him.
B. If you physically die today, you will either awake with God or awake cast away from presence. The choice now is yours. Time is not something you need to take for granted. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The time to repent is now as we stand and sing.