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Sunday, December 28, 2014 am                            Basics Index

BACK TO BASICS (42)
The End Times
Hell – The Destiny of the Wicked

 This month we have been discussing some things associated with the end times.  We began by discussing the 2nd coming of Jesus.  This was followed by a lesson about the Day of Judgment.  Last Sunday we discussed, heaven – the destiny of the righteous.  Today, as we conclude our study of the end times (AND our study of Back to Basics 2014) we want to discuss the eternal destiny of the wicked.

 I.                    Hell is a real place

a.        As with everything else associated with the end times, there is much controversy and discussion about this subject.  Many deny the existence of hell, including some brethren. 
For some it seems to be incompatible with the concept of a loving and just God. 
Some see the concept of hell as merely a means to scare people into submission.
Others have lessened its severity or its timing.

b.       While we may not like to think about this subject or we do not fully understand its theological ramifications that does change the fact of its reality according to scripture.

c.        Hell must be real because of the reality of sin.  Where there is sin (which is transgression of the Law – 1 John 3:4) there must be a consequence for sin.  If not, the concept of sin is meaningless.  Why is there a warning to repent and/or avoid sin in our lives if there is no consequence? IF there is no  hell (consequence for sin) why did Jesus die?

d.       There are multitudes of passages that make no sense and prove the Bible a lie, if hell is not a real place.  Consider passages such as:

                                                   i.      2 Peter 2:20-22 – it teaches the latter end being worse than before one becomes a Christian.  NOT only does this teach the possibility of apostasy, it also calls for a punishment that will be meted out if man does not repent

                                                  ii.      Mark 9:43-48, consider what Jesus said to do to avoid “hell”.   He said, if need be, cut off you hand or foot or pluck out your eye rather than to be case into hell.  This makes no sense if there is no consequence when this life is over – no hell!
Jesus used the word γεένν
  (geennē)  often to describe a place of punishment awaiting the wicked.   He spoke of it as a very real place.  We will discuss more about the meaning of this word in a few moments. 

                                                iii.      Matt 10:28, “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.  Consider what this means if there is no eternal punishment in hell.

                                                iv.      2 Thess. 1:6-10 speaks of God being righteous by repaying with tribulation those who persecute and trouble the godly.  He will be, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9)

                                                  v.      MANY more passages could be added to these which establish the reality of hell (Rom. 2:5-9, Matt. 23:33).  We will notice some of these as we continue our examination of what hell is like.   IF the Bible be true (AND IT IS) then hell is a very real place – whether we like it or not.

 II.                  What will hell be like?

a.        Gehenna - The word translated “hell” most often in the NT is the Greek word, Gehenna.  A word spoken primarily by Jesus and described a valley (ravine) just south of the city of Jerusalem.  In the OT, wicked kings such as Ahaz and Manasseh offered their children in sacrifice to Molech (possibly an Ammonite or Moabite god) - 2 Chron. 28:3, 33:6.  Righteous King Josiah defiled the valley because of its evil so that it could no longer be used for these ungodly sacrifices. (2 Kings 23:10-13) 

It was in this state during the time of Jesus.  At that time it was a vile and defiled place where the refuse of the city was carried – the garbage dump of the city.  It is said that the bodies of animals and at times condemned criminals were cast there and burned.
Jesus took this place, the vilest of places, and used it as a description of the eternal destiny of the wicked.  BUT, He didn’t just describe it as a place with no existence, but rather a place of eternal suffering and misery.  He found the WORST possible place and said, “Imagine spending eternity there”. 
The physical place probably does not give adequate understanding of how horrible hell will be.

b.       Hell is eternal – the first description we need to consider is how this place is eternal

                                                   i.      Rev. 20:10 – speaks of the defeated devil being cast into a lake of fire and brimstone… “And they will be tormented day and night forever.”

                                                  ii.      Matt. 25:46, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  NOTICE in this text that this everlasting punishment is as long as eternal life (both are the same Greek word, and it is also the word used to describe God – Rom. 16:26)

                                                iii.      Matt. 10:28, when Jesus said to fear God who can destroy (a word that means to ruin or irreparably damage, NOT annihilate) the body and soul in hell, the implication is that it is eternal.

                                                iv.      2 Thess. 1:9 speaks of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”

                                                  v.      Friends, eternity is a long time!  IT is a concept difficult to grasp, but something we need to think about. 

                                                vi.      In the descriptions that follow, we find adjectives that also imply eternity.

c.        Word pictures of hell:  IMAGINE a place which is described as:

                                                   i.      Torments – The parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man awoke there “in torments in Hades.” (Luke 16:23-25, 28 – “this place of torment”).
The word torments (βασάνοις, basanois) means severe pain, even torture.   The idea being that the rich man was in great agony.  His misery was so great he saw Lazarus resting in Abraham’s bosom and requested that he be sent to touch the tip of his tongue with water for momentary relief.  The request was denied!  

                                                  ii.      Where the worm doesn’t die – Mark 9:44-48 (3x).    The idea of the word (skolex) is that of a maggot that is constantly eating away at rotting flesh.  How do you feel when something is crawling on you (a spider, bug, snake, etc.)  Image the feeling of maggots eating away continually. But it does not die!  That is the picture of hell Jesus gives here.

                                                iii.      Unquenchable fire – again in Mark 9:44-48.  Also in passages like Matt 13:42 where the tares are cast into the furnace of fire; 25:41– the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; Rev. 21:8 – the lake of fire and brimstone. 
I see a picture of molten lava that is so hot it consumes everything in its path.   Burns are horrible injuries.  They are extremely painful and damaging to the body.  Imagine eternal burning that is never quenched. 

                                                iv.      Weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matt. 8:12, 13:42, 25:30 - a picture of one gritting his teeth because of the intensity of pain.

                                                  v.      Darkness – imagine being in a place that is completely dark where you cannot see anything in front of you.  Total darkness.  Like the depths of a cave! IT is a source of fear. 
Hell is often described in terms of darkness - Jude 13 describes false teachers as facing “the blackness of darkness forever.  (als0 2 Peter 2:17)
Matt. 25:30, the one talent, wicked and lazy servant was cast into “outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

ONE thought with darkness.  “God is light, in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  One of the things associated with darkness is that God will be totally absent from that place.  There will be no light and no warmth.  Think of eternity without God.  Oh how miserable that will be.

                                                vi.      No rest day or night - Rev. 14:11, speaking of those who worship the beast of that chapter (in contrast to serving God) we read, “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.”  Last week, we described heaven as a place of rest (Rev. 14:13).  Contrast that with a place where there is no rest.   Constant pain and sorrow and NO relief – EVER!

                                               vii.      Clearly this is NOT the place where you want to spend eternity.  Take your worst fears and torments and exponentially multiply that and you only begin to comprehend how terrible hell will be. 
There are many today who with profane tongues DAMN souls to this place.  They use the term flippantly and act without caring.  Some profess to want to live there with Satan (Satanists, occultists, etc.).  Others with their rough and tough exteriors act as if they anticipate going there and being able to tolerate it.  HELL is NOT pleasant in any way. 
I have said in times past, if only we could spend 5 minutes in hell – we would be converted and do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to avoid that place.

 

 III.                Who will be in hell?

a.        Rev. 20:10 tells us that the devil will be cast into “the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are.  And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” 
Matt. 25:41, tells us that it hell (the everlasting fire) was actually prepared for the devil and his angels BUT that text also tells us that they will NOT be there alone.

b.       Matt. 25:41 is actually addressed to the “goats” judged and condemned.  It is those who didn’t care about others.  We find here and many other texts that he will not be alone.  Matt 25:46 tells us they will face everlasting punishment.

c.        Rev. 20 15 after speaking of the devil being judges speaks of the Day of Judgment.  IT says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8 says, “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.”” (NKJV)

d.       Matt. 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.   The majority of the world will be lost.

e.       Gal. 5:19-21, 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and other passages give lists of sins which if not taken care of before God will result in them not inheriting the kingdom of God.   If you do not inherit the kingdom of God, the only other destiny is hell! 

f.         In Matthew 25 we read of unprepared “virgins” being left out (vs. 11-13) and the wicked and lazy one talent servant (vs. 26-30).  Many other such examples give us descriptions of who will be in hell.

g.        Many sincere souls will be there – Matt. 7:21-23 describes some who are sincere.  They think they are doing the LORD’s will but they are not. 

John 8:24 – speaks of you dying in your sins if you do not believe in the LORD – that is obey the gospel. 

h.       2 Thess. 1:6-10 – those who do not obey the gospel, those who torment the godly will be eternally condemned.

i.         The unfaithful who return back to the world – 2 Pet. 2:20-22 is a strong passage warning us that we must remain faithful.  If we fall away, we will stand condemned.   Hebrews 10:26-31 is equally strong.

j.         False teachers – both the books of 2 Peter and Jude address false teachers.  There are warnings there for us to avoid them but also descriptions of their eternal destiny.   The blackness of darkness is reserved for them. 

k.        As we conclude, consider this.  We lock our doors now because of a handful of people who MIGHT target us!  Imagine spending eternity with them.  And all the righteous will be gone!

 

Hell is a terrible place.  IT is described in scripture in such a way that if you think about it you ought to do ANYTHING to avoid going there.  Because of God’s love that is possible.  No one has to face eternal condemnation.  God wants you to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:1-4), but he is NOT going to force you into that.  Why not surrender your life to Him today?