What's So Bad About Hell?

Posted on 01/26/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***



*******

Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.

*******


KING OF KINGS

King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Glory, Hallelujah!
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Glory, Hallelujah!

Jesus, Prince of Peace
Glory, Hallelujah!
Jesus, Prince of Peace
Glory, Hallelujah!



HIS NAME IS JESUS

He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

...of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
to deliver evermore


You are the King of Kings
You are the Lord of Lords
Your name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- you are the King

Your name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more

You can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors

You can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors

Yes, you can heal my broken heart and
open wide my prizon doors

And you're able, yes you're able
to deliver evermore



WORD OF GOD SPEAK

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say


CHORUS:

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak


I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

(chorus)

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

(chorus)

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***


Today I'd like for us to talk about a very happy, cheery subject. It's one about which everyone wants to hear as much as possible. It's one that tickles people's ears and is politically correct.

And the title of today's message is, "What's So Bad About Hell?"


You've probably heard people say that in hell, at least they'll be with all their friends. Some have said it will be one big party. After all, the devil is cool -- he's a rebel, a party animal -- and the devil is in charge of hell, right?

Matthew 25:41 says that hell is "the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Does that mean he's going to run it? Of course that question is rhetorical. We know from many passages of Scripture that hell was created as a place in which satan and the fallen angels will be tormented for all eternity. It's made specifically for them.

I've joked in the past that if hell were created specifically for me, that instead of being a lake of fire, it would be a lake of ice. I hate being cold. I'd rather be hot than to be cold, although obviously I wouldn't want to be on fire.

But besides being really hot, what's so bad about hell? Well, just hang in there with me for a few minutes while we look at how the Bible describes hell, and then we'll get to the point I'd like to make today.


In Matthew 10:28 (KMV), Jesus says this:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Imagine if someone had a gun at your head, or something that's even more frightening to me, a knife to your throat. Since we see things like that on television so often, it might be difficult for us to realize how terrifying that would actually be. But when people's lives are threatened, they do things they would never otherwise do. Most people would do pretty much ANYTHING to save their life.

But Jesus said that's not what should scare us. He said we shouldn't be afraid of the person who is about to take our life; they're nothing compared to the one we should REALLY fear.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Is Jesus talking about the devil? Isn't satan the one who can destroy your body and soul in hell? Well, the translators capitalized the "H" in "Him." The original Greek word translated as "those who" and "Him who" are both the same word. But it makes sense to assume that the one who can destroy body and soul in hell isn't satan. Why? Well, who is it who says, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord?" And who is it who also says, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity!" resulting in their being cast into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels? It's certainly not the devil on the throne of judgment.

So if the man about to break your neck scares you, how should you feel about God?

Now, the subject of the fear of the Lord is a big one, and we're not going to delve into that today. But we can put it into perspective with a couple of down-to-earth examples.

Let's suppose someone has broken into your house. They haven't found you yet, but you can see they have a gun, and they're speaking your name, obviously looking for you. You've just dialed 9-1-1, and the police are on their way. Of whom are you more afraid? The police? Or the one from whom they're coming to save you? When they get there and enter with THEIR guns, wouldn't you see them as your heroes?

Let's turn the tables a bit, and suppose that, for whatever reason, you killed someone, and because of the circumstances, you know there is absolutely no way you could get out of being found guilty. If the police catch you, they're going to lock you up and throw away the key, in prison where your life is constantly in danger from hardened criminals, and you might even be sentenced to death. Your life will be over. And let's suppose that you've been hiding in an abandoned building, and a police car pulls up outside. How do you feel about the police NOW? Wouldn't you be just a little bit terrified? Wouldn't you do whatever you could to get away from them?

Or how about this. Imagine that you are in court, and you know that you're innocent, and you know that the judge knows you're innocent. The evidence is overwhealming. Your lawyer is the best of the best and he stands NO chance of losing. And the judge is good, fair, and just, a righteous man. How do you view him?

On the other hand, imagine that you're the murderer, and you're sitting in that same court room under that same judge, and that amazing lawyer is on the other side of the room testifying against you. You're doomed. You don't stand a chance. And then the judge opens his mouth to deliver the verdict. How do you view him now?

Well, It's the same with God. If your sins have been pardoned and your slate has been wiped clean, and the lawyer who has never lost a case is testifying on your behalf, then He is your strong, safe friend. But if your sins have not been forgiven, if you've been running away from Him, and if you realize that He is about to announce your guilt and sentence you to never-ending torment for your sins, then you should be afraid; VERY afraid.

And that is a picture of the fear of the Lord. It urges the unrepentant sinner to turn from their sins and receive forgiveness before it's too late to be forgiven; and it causes the penitent believer to have a heart full of gratitude, along with a reminder that walking in sin is no longer an option for them.

And for the one who refuses to turn from their sin, or the one who refuses to admit their sin is even sin at all, they have no options except to run from the thought of God, or to deny God even exists, or to invent a new god who doesn't judge them, and then live with their delusion that the REAL God is someone else's false idea.

So do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

And that brings us back to today's topic: hell. What's so bad about it? Is it just because it's so hot? Or because there's a bit of a water shortage?

Well, that certainly SHOULD be frightening enough. If you've ever gotten burned, or had a really bad sunburn, you know how painful burns can be. Well just turn up the heat in your imagination, and spread the pain to every inch of your body. If the fires of hell are literal, that's pretty frightening.

But is fire itself bad enough to, in itself without any other factors involved, be sufficient torment to strike fear in our unrepentant hearts?

Well, let's turn for a few minutes to the Old Testament, the book of Daniel, and chapter number three. And here we read the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, as they refuse to bow down in worship to an idol.

Next, well let's just read it, in Daniel chapter three, starting with verse 13.

Daniel 3:13-25 (NKJV)

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?
15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.
20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."
25 "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

So here was a furnace. That's a scary place to be tossed, and you didn't stand a chance of living. Your death would be quick, but incredibly painful. I can't even imagine. But that wasn't good enough for Nebuchadnezzar. No, he was REALLY mad, so he commanded that the furnace be made seven times hotter than normal.

In Biblical numerology, seven is the number of completion; and we could assume that hell is "completely hot." And the furnace was so hot that the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into the furnace died from the heat.

I have a feeling if they didn't fear for their lives if they disobeyed the king, they wouldn't have gotten that close. If it killed them, it must have been incredibly painful. You can have your skin blistering without dying from the heat, so I can only imagine how hot that must have been.

But the fire alone wasn't enough to kill Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. In fact, when they came out, there wasn't even the smell of smoke on them. They were completely unhurt. Which suggests to me that a lake of fire is not necessarily enough to destroy body and soul in hell.

Why? Well, it wasn't WHERE they were that mattered. Rather, it was WHO was with them that made all the difference.

"Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

Jesus was with them in that fire. And when Jesus is with you, your circumstances cannot destroy your soul.

So it's not the PRESENCE of the fire that makes hell such an unthinkable place to go; rather, it is the ABSENCE of God that is the true source of torment.


At least that's what I believe. Think about it: hell is referred to as "outer darkness." Generally when you think about fire, you think about light. Of course sulfur burns with a dark flame. It doesn't produce a lot of light. But I believe the darkness goes beyond that.

1 John 1:5 says that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." So when I think of a spiritual place of eternal darkness, I think of a place without God. And hell is not just darkness, it is OUTER darkness. Once again, "outer" sounds like a place of exclusion, a place that is removed, a place that is outside of where one might want to be. Perhaps a place that is outside of the presence of God.

Many people question God's goodness, or even His existence, because of all the pain they see in the world. But pain isn't all we have. We also have comfort. At the very least, when we finally drift off at night, we have the comfort of sleep. And if your sleep is tormented by nightmares, you have the comfort of finally waking up.

Even for the most abused people who have the most pain, there are moments of comfort, moments of some sort of kindness, and maybe even moments of a glimmer of hope.

And if you're listening to this or reading the transcript later, and obviously you are, then you have a level of comfort that many people will never know.

Well guess what? Every moment of comfort, even moment of rest, every breath with which you fill your lungs, every drink of water that quenches your thirst, every morsel of food that gives you nourishment, every pleasant interaction with a friend; all of these are proof of the glory of God. Without Him, you would have none of these, and fire or no fire, you would be in hell.

Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV) says this:

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

When God's light shines in the darkness, the darkness disappears. And those who think they love the darkness either scurry away or try to shut down the carrier of that light.

But anyone who thinks they love the darkness simply have never experienced a total absence of the light. If you think you'd be better of without God, it's only because his comfort and provision has always surrounded you, and you have no clue how things would be if He ever completely went away.

That's hell. That's a burning, consuming darkness. No more comfort. No more provision for even your basic needs. Nothing but non-extinguishing death. Complete absence of anything even remotely good. That's hell. And that is NOT a place you want to be.

But right now, you live in the presence of God. He hasn't removed Himself from you. You might be distant from Him, either because you haven't believed or because you've let your love grow cold, and the noise might have cleared enough for you to see the dark void inside, that dark emptiness that is a symptom of a lack of God's presence.

But the opposite of darkness, the opposite of death, the opposite of torment of the soul, is the presence of God.

That THAT is what's so bad about hell -- GOD isn't there!

Psalm 16:11 (KMV) says of God,

11 You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

There is no sin, no compromise, that is worth giving up His presence. Press into Him. Seek Him with all your heart. Lay aside your distractions and chase after Him with abandon. Heaven is only so amazingly blissful because He is there. And when you're walking closely with Jesus, even the darkest night will shine like the brightest day.

As Psalm 34:8 (NKJV) says,

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!


Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.

And I'd like to ask you today, wherever and whenever you're hearing this message: are you walking with God? And not just a feel-good judge-no one God, but the One who revealed Himself to us through the Holy Scriptures?

If not, I hope you realize today that you do not want to spend eternity separated from Him. Every single one of us will experience the first death -- the separation of our spirit from our body; but the second death is the death Jesus came to destroy -- it is the separation of our spirit from God.

Well today the invitation is open. Whosoever will. Whosoever is thirsty, let him drink of the water of life freely. God wants to fill you with His goodness, with His light, with His life. Just let go of your sin, and give your life to Him.

It's really that simple. Jesus said that those who come to Him, He will certainly not cast out. Come to Jesus. Lay your own ways down at His feet. And experience true life today.

Or maybe you've walked with the Lord, but you've allowed some distance to build between you and Him. You can know this is the case if there was ever a time during which you were walking closer with Him. Well come back to your first love. Come back to life.

This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, please instant message one of us, or if you're listening outside of Second Life for you're listening here but later in the week, then you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Prayer Room or Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way to the room up the steps to your left when you're done here, and we'll gather there in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

Come, and let's draw close to God.


Lord God, thank you for your word. Thank you for giving us clear direction for our lives, and for painting such a clear picture of life with and without you.

I pray that these words wouldn't fall to the wayside or be crowded out by the cares of our lives, but that they would take root and that we would act upon them today.

And I ask that you would continue to pursue everyone here or listening or reading later, and that your Holy Spirit would hover over them, drawing them ever closer to You.

And we ask all these things in Jesus' glorious name.

Amen.