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Hell Rationally Considered

hellThe Justice of Hell


by Brother Jed Smock


"All hope abandon, ye who enter here." Dante read these dreadful words when he entered the gates of Hell with his guide Virgil. Dante may well have been inspired by God when he envisioned the terrible inscription on Hell’s gate as described in his great poem from the Middle Ages, The Divine Comedy. The hopelessness of Hell may be the place’s most tormenting aspect.

When men lose hope in this life they fall into despair and depression. Psychiatrists prescribe drugs which often result in a dependency and addiction, thus preventing the person from seeking the solution to his problem, which
 would be a right relationship with God. Hopelessness may even drive men to take their own lives, expecting that only death can end their misery. The Bible warns that after death comes the judgment. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31); . . for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Those hellwithout hope will be cast into the outer darkness of Hell.

Hell And The Love of God

Hell is a witness to the justice, wisdom, and love of God, who originally created Hell not for men but for the devil and the fallen angels (Matt 25:41). If there is no Hell, there is no loving God. If God doesn’t ultimately separate the righteous from the wicked, He is not just and therefore not loving. Hell became a necessity when Lucifer led a third of the Heavenly host against God (Rev 12:4). There was warfare in Heaven and God cast Lucifer out of Heaven (Isa 14, Ezek 28). God made Hell for the Devil and the fallen angels in order to contain evil. Later man followed Lucifer in rebellion and consequently God has, at intervals, had to enlarge Hell to accommodate the multitudes of unbelievers that fall into "the bottomless pit" daily (Isa 5:14). God cannot allow Heaven to become Hell by allowing the wicked to enter. The peace and harmony of Heaven must not be disturbed. What makes Heaven Heaven, but the absence of evil?

What is Hell essentially, but eternal and absolute separation from a holy, loving, and good God? Heaven on the other hand is essentially eternal union with God. At death God gives the sinner what he always thought he wanted--complete separation from what is good and holy. In his earthly life the sinner is not looking for a relationship with God any more than a thief is looking for a policeman. God cannot establish a loving relationship with a sinner because in the nature of things love is a choice. Love is voluntary. God cannot make men love Him. He can influence and persuade, but He cannot cause men to enter into a loving relationship with Him. God has done all that He can do to demonstrate His love by giving His Son. What more can God do than He has done to demonstrate His love for man? The death of His beloved Son is the ultimate expression of sacrificial love. Yet man continues in his rebellion.

 

tearing up Bible As miserable as sinners will be in Hell, they would be even more miserable in Heaven. They have hated the church militant; so would they despise the church triumphant. They have preferred the fellowship of fools over that of the wise on earth; so they will in eternity. There is nothing in Heaven to which the selfish can relate or enjoy. Nor is their any joy in Hell.

Hell is the only solution available to God. God has a responsibility to counteract the evils of sin and repair the damage evil has done in the world. Any plan such as universalism or annihilation that could diminish or question the certainty of God's displeasure toward sin would only encourage men in their iniquity. Is annihilation of the damned soul at some point even a possible solution? Evidently not, for once having created an immortal soul, even God cannot make mortal what is immortal, nor destruct the indestructible. Hell is the most loving thing he can do for the unrepentant sinner.

The Church is supposed to picture Heaven on Earth. Often it may be a dim reflection of the Heavenly City; nevertheless, it a reflection. The Church is the light of the world. Sinners despise the Church. They love darkness and hate light. They work in the day to party in the darkness. The righteous work during the day, because they know the night comes when no man can work.

Sinners Would Not Like Heaven

Sinners prefer the upholstered sewers called cocktail lounges over the church pews. They love the bar, but they hate the altar. If they can’t stand the dimmer light of the Church, they would never be able to stand the light of Heaven, which shines above the brightness of the Sun. They would run from the light of Heaven like rats run from light. The light of Heaven would be more tormenting for the sinner than the flames of Hell. As a man can only look at the noonday Sun for seconds, the sinner could not stand the brightness of Heaven, even for a moment.

What makes Hell Hell, but the absence of God and all that is good? As originally created for Satan and his hosts (Matt 25:41), it may not have been such a bad place. It may even have had a stark beauty, since it was createdhell by God.

Prisons built in the Victorian era had an outward attractiveness. Modern prisons, though stark, have all the modern conveniences of flush toilets, central heating, running water, health care and healthy food. The notorious Alcatraz was surrounded by the waters of San Francisco Bay and sported a view of the city skyline. What makes prisons bad but the men who live there and the absence of freedom? Men in America’s prisons live with more comforts and conveniences than much of the world.

Prisons are inhabited by thieves, extortioners, drug addicts, sodomites, murderers, rapists, child molesters and the like. Not only does Hell contain all the criminal elements, but Hell is also the dwelling of all who on earth outwardly kept the law, but inwardly were ravening wolves and hypocrites who refused to submit in their hearts to the Supreme and Loving Lawgiver. Jesus described hypocrites as tares sown by the Enemy among the wheat. He said, “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity (the tares); And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42).

What is the Torment of Hell?

God is not the tormentor in Hell. God is no sadist taking delight in tormenting the wicked. The Devil and his demons will be tormenting the lost. And the damned torment one another. Yet, the torments of Hell are primarily self-inflicted, just as the torments of sinners on Earth are predominantly self-inflicted. While on Earth, drugs and alcohol ruined the physical and mental health of the dope fiend and drunkard; and promiscuity resulted in debilitating diseases for the whore and whoremonger. Sin is unhealthy physically and mentally.hell

Consider the selfish and bitter man in this life. His selfishness and bitterness like a fire consumes anything that was once pleasant in his personality. Bitterness can contort a man’s facial features. He once had a pleasant and soft countenance, but bitterness has contorted his face. And all non-Christians are ultimately selfish, for selfishness is the root of all sin and the reason men reject God.

For men to accept God they must turn from their self-centeredness and live the life of self-denial exemplified in the life of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In Hell all masks of self-righteousness are ripped off the sinner’s face. Men will be seen as they actually are, not for what they appeared to be in this life. Their selfishness and bitterness will wax worse and worse as eternity progresses. They will never reach a plateau of wickedness. They will not bottom out. Hence Hell is called the bottomless pit and the Lake of Fire.

Heed the last words of Isaiah, the prophet who described Hell: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isa. 66:22-24).

In eternity, the faithful seed of the Lord, the Triumphant Church, shall weekly gather in a great Heavenly congregation and worship in the Divine Presence. Evidently, on our way to the Heavenly Church service there will be a window to view Hell. We shall gaze at the bodies and hear the weeping and wailing of the damned, tormented with fire and brimstone. Their worm (consciousness) shall be ever aware of their torment. Like Cain of old, “They shall cry, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Gen 4:13)! But bear it they must, as their torment waxes worse and worse with the passing of the ages.

The window will serve as an everlasting reminder to the redeemed of the awful consequences of sin lest we ever forget that sin separates men from all that is good and holy.

It is often asked, “How can a Christian be happy in Heaven knowing that a lost son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister is experiencing everlasting torment?” Isaiah explained that the damned “will be loathsome to all mankind” (Isa. 66:24, NIV). In Heaven the resurrected saints shall finally understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin. They will see sin not as presented by Hollywood and Madison Avenue as something attractive; but they will view sin as God perceives sin. They will look upon even their unrepentant family member with utter contempt as one completely and continually deserving of their miserable state.

Why is Hell Eternal?

It has been asked, “Why should sinners be tormented for eternity for sins committed in a relatively short life span?” The answer is that men will not stop sinning in Hell. Men will still hate God and hate one another in Hell. The damned will continue to curse God and curse one another. As they justified their rebellion on Earth, they will justify themselves in Hell and hate God for sending them to the terrible place. On Earth they had no fear of the One who had power to cast them into Hell; neither shall they have reverence for Him in Hell. Actually, there will no reverence for anyone or anything in Hell.

Men are often deluded into thinking that they will have a big party with their friends in Hell. But they will soon discover that there is no friendship in Hell. Sinners rejected all true friends, who on Earth called them to repentance and faith. Those they thought were friends on Earth urged them unto a life of booze, drugs, sexualHell promiscuity, or perhaps more respectable pursuits of pleasure and self-indulgence, such as fame and fortune. These were not friends; they were enemies of their souls. Drugs have medicinal benefits when used wisely and can be a blessing, but the abuse of drugs sends the sinner to Hell. There will not be drugs in Hell with which the tormented will be able to drown or stupefy their consciousness. There will not be the comforts of wealth or the prestige of success in Hell.

It has even been asked, “Will there be sex in Hell?” If there is sex in Hell, it will provide no pleasure. All the women in Hell will be ugly old hags with warts. Fire and brimstone is a description for Hell. Brimstone is burning sulphur which smells like rotten eggs. All the women will stink in Hell and no one will want to get near them. Once more, the men will smell as badly, if not worse, and no women will want to get close to them.

Alas, there is no beauty in Hell which the sinner will perceive. On the other hand, the righteous will perceive the beauty of the satisfaction of Divine Justice as they peer with contempt into the depths of Hell from Heaven’s window. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

Is the Fire Literal?

There are problems that Jesus and the Biblical writers had in describing Hell. There is nothing on Earth which is exactly parallel to Hell. There is nothing above which is as bad as what is below. It has been said that the worst way to die is to be burned alive. Whether or not that is true, I know not. But, for sure, being burned alive would be a terrifying experience with death providing the only relief.

Jesus may have chosen the metaphor of a “Lake of Fire,” in order to give men but a glimpse of this terrible state of the ultimately lost: Men desperately treading in a lake of flames vainly trying to rise above the flames.

The Bible is literally true, but not everything in the Book is true literally. Nevertheless, figurative language has a literal meaning. Writers convey ideas through word pictures which can be more effective than literal language. Sinners better hope that these fires are literal, because if figurative, eternal damnation is something worse than a "Lake of Fire," since a symbol is less, not greater, than the thing symbolized. Either way, whether figurative or literal, the Lake of Fire represents something so terrible that Jesus taught that men would be better off plucking out their lustful eye or cutting off their seductive and offending hand, than for their whole body to be cast into the Fiery Furnace (Matt. 5:27-30).

“Why should sinners suffer forever for sins committed in a relatively short span of life?” The effects of sin are perpetual, and in like manner the manifestations of the disapproval of God must
be endless. How many multitudes have an atheist like Bertrand Russell, author of Why I Am Not a Christian, continued to influence through his writings long after his death? Evil is contagious, a deadly plague; it must be quarantined. The effects of his sin are infinite. Therefore, Russell, like all unbelievers, deserves endless punishment. Sin committed against an eternal God has endless possibilities of evil and deserves punishment without end. The murderer does not only take the life of one man; he cuts off the man’s seed, thus multitudes of potential souls do not even have the opportunity of life.

hellSome are under the delusion that sinners will make peace with God before their deaths. They will sow their wild oats in their youth and get right with God later. But later usually never comes. The longer the sinner puts off the salvation of his soul, the less likely it becomes that he will ever change. The older men become, the more they are set in their ways. The tendency of habit is toward a permanent state. Continuance in sin tends to a perpetual fixity in moral nature. Sin sears the conscience to the point that one may become insensible to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The sinner may lose his recuperative power; his will is fixed long before he draws his final breath and is cast into the Furnace of Fire from where there will be no recovery. Hell is the inevitable result of persistent wickedness. The sinner is engaged in a mad dash toward Hell. He is determined that neither God nor man is going to stop him.

Men can’t get right with God anytime they please. God warned 120 years before the Flood, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” He raised up Noah to build an Ark and to call men to repentance. The rain finally came and Noah and his family and the animals entered the Ark. “Then the Lord shut him in” (Gen 7:16). Multitudes must have beaten on the door of the Ark as the flood waters rose, but God had locked the door. It was too late. Men may reach a point where their minds are locked against God. "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4:17). The incorrigible sinner, who would not respond to the loving appeals of the Holy Spirit in his lifetime, will not change in Hell. There are no motives for repentance in Hell comparable to the ones presented now. The Holy Spirit is not there to draw the sinner to repentance. There will be no loving mother in Hell to exhort her wayward son to turn to God. There are no Bibles in Hell.

Men universally have a sense of justice. Men demand justice. Since there is unfinished justice (the wicked often seem to prosper and the righteous suffer in this world), final justice must come in the next, if indeed a just God reigns over all. In the end all men must get their just desserts or Justice does not prevail. Hitler’s death at his own hand was not enough to pay for his crimes against humanity. The execution of a murderer does not pay for his crimes against the dead and the living. Justice demands more. Death is the beginning of the unrepentant murderer’s torment. A holy God cannot extend mercy to the unrepentant. Mercy is a principle of God, not merely an emotion or passion in God that trumps His Justice.

Are You Ready to Meet God?

Reader, are you ready to meet God? Are you sure that you are in the Book of Life? John, the beloved disciple wrote in Revelation, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: andare you ready another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Rev. 20:12-15).

The Resurrected Lord Jesus from His Great White Throne clarified for John who would be saved and who would be damned: “He that overcometh [sin] shall inherit all things; and I will be His God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful [hopeless], and unbelieving [Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews without Christ, atheists, agnostics, et al.], and the abominable [sodomites and cross dressers], and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers [drug abusers], and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:7-8).

Hell should be a motivation to evangelize the world. Paul wrote, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Paul saw multitudes in the valley of decision about to fall into the abyss. He was motivated to warn the wicked like John the Baptist warned men to “Flee from the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7). Fear of the punishment of Hell is not the highest motive for drawing men to the ever loving arms of Jesus, yet it usually is a necessary motive for gaining men’s attention concerning their perilous state.

Even Jesus used the fear of God as a motivator. “And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him” (Luke 12:4-5).

Jesus’ final admonition to His disciples was, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

Do Christians really believe in Hell? If so, then why are they not warning about the horrible end that awaits men without God? Hell is such a tormenting place that no warning is too strong. Yet most Christians are either too embarrassed about the doctrine or ignorant concerning Hell’s rationale to so much as mention the word, except in vain. However, if there is a Hell to shun, then they should not rest day or night warning men.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Hell ascended into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and a picture of the fiery inferno flashed for all the world to see. Rather than facing the flames, many jumped from over 70 stories to a certain painful death on the concrete below. Multitudes desperately ran down the steps to escape the towering inferno while the brave and the few rushed up the stairs in the hopes of rescuing the perishing. The towers were hot enough to melt steel. And suddenly, the towers collapsed and all were lost in smoke and rubble. Oh, and how the rescuers worked and prayed that some could be saved from underneath the ruins, but all were gone forever.

It was hot in the Twin Towers, but it was not as hot as Hell. Should not Christians be as dedicated and courageous as the firemen to save those who are daily falling into the abyss and dig for those who are mired in the ruins of sin before it is too late?

After 9/11, family survivors of the dead firemen invariably affirmed that their sons, fathers, brothers, and friends were merely “doing their duty” in their vain attempt to rescue men from the Towers. The firemen understood the hazards of their profession. Many had years of experience in fighting fires and understood the possibility of not returning as they ascended the stairs of the Towers. Nevertheless, they climbed. They did their duty. They did not return. They were heroes. But in the end, they were just doing their duty.

When Jesus’ disciples said unto Him, “Increase our faith,” Jesus exhorted them to fulfill His commandments. “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:10).

bro jedChristians have a duty to risk all in order to seek and to save those that are lost in their trespasses and sins and save them from the fires of Hell. It is the mission of the Church to save men from damnation. When are we going to do our duty?

When there were great multitudes following Jesus, He turned to them and said, “If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. . .Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26-27,33).

The firemen of 9/11 put their duty to rescue strangers ahead of their families; they put their duty before their own lives; they forsook all to do what firemen are supposed to do. We Christians have our duty. Reader, do you call yourself a disciple of Christ? Then do your duty and warn the wicked to “flee from the wrath to come.”

Hell is an everlasting testimony that love wins.

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