June 24, 2015
In Psalm 86, you'll notice in this psalm that David, quite often is, throughout the psalm, giving a lot of praise to God and speaking a lot of the things of God's great attributes, namely His mercy and His compassion. If you look down there at verse 15, it says, "But Thou, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy and truth." I believe that David was able to give God these great attributes because of what he recognized that God had done for him in his life. If we were to look back in verse 13, we see where David recognizes one of the greatest things that God could ever do for anyone. He says, "For great is Thy mercy toward me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell." David knew what his Savior had done for him. He knew that he was worth of hell, and he knew that it was God that had delivered him from hell.
That's a subject I want to talk about a little bit tonight, is the subject of hell. It's not a very pleasant subject, nonetheless, that needs to be preached, I believe, quite often, regularly, at least, from pulpits. I just want to go through it first, just some of the basic descriptions of hell. This might be elementary, but even these simple truths today are being attacked. First thing we'd like to look at is over in Proverbs, just a few pages over. Proverbs chapter 5 and verse 3. One of the descriptions of hell is that hell has a direction. Hell has a specific direction. In chapter 5 verse 3, the Bible says, speaking of the strange woman, "Her feet go down to death. Her steps take hold on hell." The Bible is saying that her feet go down to death, and her steps take hold on hell, insinuating there and showing us that hell is beneath us.
If you go over to a few chapters over, to Proverbs 17, speaking about a similar woman, in verse 25, the Bible says, "Let not thine heart decline to her ways. Go not astray in her paths, for she has cast down many wounded. Yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." There again, the Bible's showing us that hell is down from us. It is a direction. In Amos 9:2, you don't have to turn there. I'll read it for you. If you turn to Matthew chapter 5, I'll read to you from Amos chapter 9. The Bible says, "Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them." It doesn't say specifically the direction of where hell is, but anyone who's ever done any kind of digging knows there's only one direction you can dig. That would be down.
In Job 28:5, the Bible says, "As for the earth, out of it cometh bread and under it, it is turned up, as if it were fire." Again, they're showing us that hell is something that is beneath us. It is actually right beneath our feet. Another description of hell over here in Matthew chapter 5, in verse 22. Jesus gives this description of hell, calling it a place of fire. This is a description of hell that Jesus emphasizes a great deal when He speaks about hell. In verse 22, it says, "But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca', shall be in danger of the council, but whosoever shall say, 'Thou fool', shall be in danger of hell fire."
If you go over to Matthew chapter 13, and verse 40, there again, Jesus showing us that hell is a place that is beneath us. It is also a place of fire. In verse 40 of chapter 13, the Bible says, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world." Again, He's talking about the end of this world, when God is going to judge. He's using the analogy of the tares being gathered and burned in the fire. Though that's an analogy, it's quite literal that one day, God is going to burn those that do not know Christ in fire. Go over in the same chapter to verse 49, the Bible says, "So shall it be at the end of the world, the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. There shall be weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
We've seen two attributes so far. One, that it is a direction, and that it is a place of fire. Also, in Matthew chapter 18, if you would, we'll also see that perhaps the worst attribute of hell is that it never ends. Matthew chapter 18 and verse 8, Matthew 18 and verse 8, where Jesus said, "Wherefore if thy hand offend thee or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee. It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire." Matthew 25, verse 41, we'll see where He emphasizes the eternal punishment of hell. Matthew 25, in verse 41. "Then shall He say unto them on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'" Again, the Bible is showing us again that hell is a place of eternal fire.
He goes into a great detail in Mark chapter 9, if you'd turn over there to Mark chapter 9, verse 43. Mark chapter 9, verse 43. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than, having two hands to go into hell and into the fire which shall never be quenched, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off. It is better for you to enter halt into life than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." Again, it goes on showing us that hell is a place of eternal punishment. These are some pretty negative attributes.
People might be asking even now, "Why even preach this? Why even preach about hell? Why should we even dwell on such a negative subject?" I would even say, probably the most negative subject you can find in the Bible. Why would we even want to preach it? The main reason it needs to be preached is because it's not being preached. The fact is, this is my first time in the pulpit tonight, but by the time I'm done, I'll have preached about hell more than a vast majority of the preachers will ever preach in any of the pulpits across America. It's a negative sermon, but it's a negative book. We serve a God who has some aspects of a personality that is negative. We need to put an emphasis on what the Bible emphasizes. We just read over a dozen verses out of Jesus' own mouth in the first two books of the New Testament where Jesus goes on and on and on about hell. God puts an emphasis on hell. We need to put an emphasis on hell.
If that's not enough, those words coming out of even Jesus' own mouth, consider what John the Baptist said in Matthew chapter 3. You don't have to turn there. He said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." You've got to remember that John here is talking to two groups of people. He's talking to the reprobate Pharisees who are not going to believe on Christ. They cannot believe, and to just poor, lost sinners. The people that believe, they're going to get baptized with the Holy Ghost, but these people over here that are not going to believe, they're going to reject Christ, they're going to be baptized with fire.
We shouldn't mistake that with the fire that took place in Acts chapter 2, where it talks about the cloven flames that sat upon the apostles when the Holy Spirit was given to them. I've heard people try and say that that's what He's saying when He says that they're going to be baptized with fire. That's not the case. He goes on and says, "Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Again, a description of hell. We need to preach on doctrines that are under attack. We need to preach on doctrines that are neglected. The doctrine of hell is just one of many doctrines today that are under attack. Even just these simple descriptions, people would deny these things.
There's many different cults, many different sects out there that would have different false teachings on hell. I really want to bear in on just one particular group. Out of the many people that would pervert or deny the existence or nature of hell, there's one group in particular. We run into them out soul-winning. That's the Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses have a very messed-up and incorrect view of hell. I've actually gone to their website, JW.org. I looked at their article, "What is hell? Is it a place of eternal torment?" That's published on their official Jehovah's Witness website. I found several errors in this very brief article.
I want to say right away, what struck me most about this article is just a total absence of Scripture. Such an important doctrine that you think, I just went through dozens on hell. They have just a little bit here and there. You'd think, if you were going to try and prove your point about such an important doctrine, you'd have it chock full of Scripture, but they just don't. That's because there is no Scripture that backs up what they teach. One of the first errors that they teach is that hell, the word hell and grave are synonymous terms. They say that hell and the grave mean the same thing in the Bible. That's just not the case. They say these are synonymous terms used in the Bible, but if we were to go over to Revelation chapter 1, verse 18, this first error really is the most critical. They get a lot of their doctrines wrong because they don't understand this simple teaching that hell and death or hell and the grave are two separate things. Hell and the grave are two separate things.
In Revelation chapter 1, verse 18, Jesus said, "I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen, and have the keys." That's plural, keys "of hell and death." Why would He need keys if hell and death were the same thing? It's a plural term. He's talking about two different things. He talks also about, in Revelation 20, you're all familiar with that one, in verse 13, where he says in Revelation 20 verse 13, "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." Death would obviously be referring to the physical grave. That's what he's referring to here. Hell would be where the soul is. This is during that Great White Throne judgment when death, the body that's in the grave, and the spirit, which is in hell, is brought back together, and then it's cast into the lake of fire.
That's why it says that the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and gave up the bodies that were in it, and that hell delivered up the dead which were in them. We see that it's two different things, that death and hell are two different things. Again, this is a critical error. Because of this, because of this understanding, they go on. They get a lot of things wrong. I'm going to quote to you what they teach about this. You would say, "Where do they even come up with this? Where do they even come up with the idea that hell and the grave mean the same thing in the Bible?" What they say here in their article is that "Some Bible translations use the word hell for the Hebrew word scheol, and the matching Greek word Hades, both of which refer to the common grave of mankind." They just, with a broad stroke, "They're just referring to the common grave there." They use Acts 16:10 and Acts 2:27 to back up what they say.
They go on and read, "Many people believe in a fiery hell, as shown in the religious artwork accompanying this article. However, the Bible teaches otherwise." They're about to show us, from the Bible, how a fiery hell is not what the Bible teaches, despite all the verses in the New Testament. Their proof text is Psalm 16:10. Don't turn there. It says, "For thou will not leave my soul in hell. Neither will Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." A lot of people, not just the Jehovah's Witnesses, are getting this verse mixed up, and where it's quoted in Acts 2, and saying, "See there? He won't suffer the Holy One to see corruption." What they don't understand is that he's speaking about the flesh, the body. The soul is not left in hell, and the body is not allowed to see corruption.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19, don't turn there, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal." He's using the word corrupt in association with rust and moths, things decaying, things waxing old, things falling apart. That's what it means by corrupt. In Acts 22, let's turn there to Acts 22. This is the proof text from the Jehovah's Witnesses to teach us that the Bible does not teach a fiery hell. Acts 2:22, excuse me.
Acts 2:22. "Peter, speaking, said, 'Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge, ye have taken, and by wicked hands, have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that it should be holden of him.'"
Right there. Isn't that clear? Isn't that just obvious? That's the Jehovah's Witnesses' proof text that hell is not a fireplace of torment. If they were to keep reading, they go on to verse 27, where, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither will they suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption." That's the only verse they have. That's the only verse they quote in this article to back up their claim that the Bible does not teach a fiery hell. Just like so many false doctrines, if we just were to turn to these passages and continue reading, we would find how wrong they are. That's what we're going to do here.
If we keep going on, it says in Acts 28, "Thou hast made me to know the ways of life, and thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely to speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us today. Therefore, being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn an oath to him of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He, seeing before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption." If you just keep reading, you understand right away that this passage is referring to the corruption of the flesh, and not the corruption of the soul in hell. It doesn't make any sense.
That was the first one. The next error that they have in this article is, "Hell is not a conscious state of being." When you go to hell, you won't even know you're there, so don't worry. Even if it were eternal and fiery, and a terrible place to be, you won't even know it. You've got nothing to worry about. It says in JW.org, "Those in hell are unconscious, and so cannot feel pain." Then why does it even have to have fire? If you thought this last passages that they used, these proof texts were rough, you really need to buckle your seatbelts here. I hope you guys are grounded, because I'm going to take you to their proof text. This might shake you.
Ecclesiastes 9:10, I'll read it for you. By the way, they don't use the King James. I transferred all this over to the King James. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest." That's their proof text on this article. Again, the problem here is that they are taking grave and death, mistakenly, to mean, to be synonymous with hell. That's the problem. That's where they're getting mixed up here. Again, this is the basis upon which all the Jehovah's Witnesses areas concerning hell is laid.
Error #3, we won't spend too much time on #2. Really, not a whole lot on Error #3. This boggles my mind. The saints went to hell, according to the Jehovah's Witnesses definition of hell. JW.org says, "Good people go to hell." That part I agree with, because it's not about how good you are. It's about what God did for you, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." We know that we're saved by grace through faith. It's not about how good we are, or how bad we are. I would agree with that part, that yes. Good people go to hell, because again, it's not about being good to get you into heaven. It's about trusting what Jesus Christ has already done for you.
JW.org says, "Good people go to hell. The faithful man Jacob and Job expected to go there." Did you know that? That's news to me, too. Genesis 37:35, I'll read it. This is their proof text. "And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him." This is speaking of Jacob. "But he refused to be comforted, and he said, 'For I will go down into the grave unto my son, mourning.' Thus his father wept for him." Speaking about when Joseph, they came back and told him that Joseph had been torn by the beasts. He began to mourn for him. He's saying, "I'm going to die being sad for my son." He's not saying, "I'm going to go to hell." The problem, again, that's why that first error is so critical. They get it mixed up on what the grave and hell, they're two separate things. Once you get one thing wrong in doctrine, it just leads to all kinds of different things.
Their other proof text is Job 14:13, "Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in the grave." Job's just praying that he would die. He was in such a miserable condition, he just wanted to die. It doesn't make any sense to say that, "Job is saying he wanted God to send him to hell." Job already knew, and we know from other passages in Job, he said he will see his Redeemer in the flesh. We know that that's not what Job is saying. They're turning to a book where a man is speaking very poetically and trying to build doctrine on it, which is just not a good thing to do. Really, only someone unsaved and ignorant of clear Scripture could even turn to these passages and say, "Yeah. Grave and hell are the same thing, and the patriarchs of old were all expecting to go there." It doesn't make any sense.
Error #3, or I guess this would be Error #4. This is an error that actually transcends, and I want to spend a little bit of time on this one. This goes out the scope of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion. This is one we hear a lot, soul-winning. Atheists say this. People of other religions say this. This is something you hear a lot. That is that a loving God would not send anyone to hell. That's a common objection made by many outside of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion. If you would, I'll have you turn to 1 John 4. JW.org says, "God does not even contemplate eternal torment. The idea that He would punish people in hellfire is contrary to the Bible's teaching that God is love." They use 1 John 4:8 as their primary text to prove this.
I'd better get over there myself, 1 John 4:8, where it says, "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love." That's true that God is love, but it's not, the way God loves us is even greater when you consider the fact that He does send people to hell. The Bible says in 1 John 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love." Again, as earlier, the problem they're making here is, they're not continuing reading. "In this was manifested," it goes on in verse 9, "the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." The love of God is shown to you because of the fact that He doesn't want you to go to hell, and He's made a way for you to not go there.
God is perfectly just, and could send everybody to hell, and let them go. That'd be perfectly. We're going to look at some passages where God, He has every right to send everybody to hell, wipe His hands clean, and it would be perfectly just. That wouldn't be a loving God, would it, if he just threw you in hell? It would be a righteous God. It would be a holy God. It would be a just God, but the love of God is, as in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." We go to Matthew 25:41. Matthew 25, verse 41. Matthew 25, and verse 41. God is a just and holy God, and He punishes sin and iniquity. People don't want to hear it, but that's what the Bible teaches. "Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devils and the angels.'" We read that earlier. Again, there's God casting people into hell.
2 Thessalonians, chapter 1. You don't have to turn to all of these. I'll just read these to you. 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 7 through 9. "And you who are troubled, rest with us. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." If someone wants to say that God is not a loving God, that's perfectly fine if they want to say that and have that as their opinion, but please don't turn to 1 John and say, "God is love" and use the Bible as your authority to back it up.
Yes, God is love, but as we've looked at just a few passages here, and I won't turn to several others that we could go to right now where it's showing us that Jesus Christ is going to punish people. He's going to take vengeance on them in flaming fire. They're going to be punished with everlasting destruction from His presence. Just don't make the Bible your authority, if you're going to make those kinds of claims, because you're contradicting yourself. These people, they don't understand what the love of God is. We really don't get a full sense of what the love of God really is, and how great it really is, until you understand that God can punish you in hell and be perfectly just in doing it. When we understand that, then we can really understand, "Wow. God really, really does love us."
He is a loving God. In His mercy, He saves from His just and righteous judgment. In Ephesians chapter 2, verses 4 and 5, Ephesians chapter 2:4-5, the Bible reads, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace are ye saved." We could go to other passages, Titus, looking at some of the positive aspects of God and His love. Titus chapter 3, verse 3. "For we ourselves were also sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another, but after that, the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
There's other ones. We quoted Romans 5:8. I'll read to you Lamentations 3:21, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." Again, as we saw in Psalms 86, the very first passage we looked at, it was the fact that God can cast you into hell and David recognized that. That was what gave him the ability to extol and praise God for His loving mercy and His kindness, was his understanding that God can and will toss people into hell. Really, if you turn over to Luke chapter 16, I'm going to wrap up with this Jehovah's Witnesses and move on to something else. If you look at Luke chapter 16, we could really turn to just this passage and prove all of their doctrine wrong, and learn quite a few things about hell from this parable that I'm sure many people here are familiar with.
Luke chapter 16, verse 19. "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. There was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man died also, and was buried. And in hell," now, wait a minute. He was just buried. It says he was buried, and then it says, "In hell". Which is it? Is he in hell, or was he buried? Jehovah's Witnesses are going to tell you he's in the same place, but the Bible is saying that he was buried, and that he was in hell. Where do you bury somebody? Where do you bury a body?
Congregation: In the ground.
Steven: There you go. In the ground. What's he doing in hell? You bury a body in the ground. You bury it in a graveyard. There's one right down the road, a cemetery, a graveyard, we would call it. Bible says in verse 23, "And in hell", he does several things going on from here that would contradict the Jehovah's Witnesses teachings about hell being synonymous with the grave. It says, "He lift up his eyes". Again, hell has a direction. It's down. It's beneath us. It has a specific direction. Therefore, it is a specific place. "Being in torments", the Bible goes on and says, "Seeth Abraham and cried." This is not the description of someone who was unconscious and free of pain, as the Jehovah's Witnesses would have you believe. He says, "I am tormented in this flame." Again, a specific description about hell, therefore proving that hell is a very specific place.
I'll read you Luke chapter 16, verse 26, where he says, "And besides all this, between us and you, there is a great gulf fixed so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot. Neither can they pass to us that would come from thence." Worst thing about hell, again, is that it's eternal. There is no getting out. We've looked at some pretty negative things about hell. We've looked at what the Jehovah's Witnesses believe. It's really sad that there's people out there that teach this, that are deceived by this religion. They don't even believe in a place that, one day they're going to end up there, if they keep following this false religion. They're going to end up in that hell, and they're going to see that it is a real place. That's sad. We should try and reach these people with the gospel.
Really, we should try to reach everybody with the gospel. As sad as it is that some people teach falsely about hell, I think what's even sadder is the people who are right about hell. They know, they believe in hell. They know what the Bible teaches about hell, but they ignore it. They ignore the reality of hell. That's really what I want to focus into tonight. Why would someone simply ignore the reality of hell? Why is it that we don't? Obviously, it's not something that you want to dwell on all the time, but it's not being preached in pulpits. It's not being taught across pulpits.
People, even in their lives, they're not thinking about hell as they go about their lives, or considering the fact that someone they know is going to hell. They might believe in it, but they really don't have that understanding of how real hell is. We would all say, "Yeah, we believe in hell. We believe hell is a real place." Have we really let that sink in? What do we have to do to really let the reality of hell sink in? Why would somebody try to ignore it? First of all, I think it's laziness. I think, because a lot of people know that if you start thinking about hell and you start dwelling on hell, and you start coming to terms with the reality of hell, you're going to be motivated, hopefully, to do something about it. You're going to have to go out and go soul-winning, which is hard work. It would require a sincere walk with God, for you to be an effective soul-winner.
You're going to have to put some effort into it. As it says in Luke 10, I'll read to you from verse 2: "Therefore, He said unto them, 'The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.'" Soul-winning is work. Going out and getting lost people saved is labor. That's why a lot of people don't really want to dwell on hell. They don't want to be convicted about it. They don't want to be convicted about the fact that people are dying and going to hell. I've heard, every four seconds, someone's dying. Just every four seconds, someone slips off into eternity. We don't want to think about that. We say, "I have something to do." We have to get up off our laurels and go out and get soul-winning.
1 Corinthians 3:9, I'll read to you. "For we are laborers together with God." "We're laborers together with God, and you're God's husbandry. You're God's building." You know what we need to do, if we're lazy about our soul-winning? We need to just go. We need to memorize the Scriptures. If you're not good at it, if you don't know how to do it, if you've never done it, just go be a silent partner. Be a silent partner. Make the time to do it. That's a big excuse, "I'm too busy." Sometimes, we do get too busy, but we're not always that busy. Are we really always that busy, that we can never go soul-winning, ever? We make time for so many other things. It's the most important thing. Memorize the Scriptures, make the time, and pray. Pray that God would help you to be a good soul-winner.
What's another reason that somebody, people might choose to ignore the reality of hell? This is one that I can definitely sympathize with. I can see why people would shy away from it. They have lost loved ones that are there. That's really hard to come to terms with sometimes. We don't want to think about hell sometimes, because we know people that, in all likelihood, are there or are going to go there if they don't get saved. As hard as that is for us as individuals, as hard as that is for us to come to terms with and to grasp and to accept as a cold, hard truth, we have to understand that affects everybody. We're not alone like that. I think, a lot of times, you get this, "I'm the only one who has a loved one that died and went to hell." There's a lot of people. Everybody.
I bet if I asked to raise of hands, everybody who thought that they knew somebody that went to hell, every hand would go up. I'm not trying to de-emphasize it or say that it's not important, but we have to understand, that's not an excuse that we need. We need to go out anyway. If we know someone there, what do you think the people in hell would want you to do? What would they want you to do? What did the rich man do? He cried and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." He's crying out for help. He goes out and says, "Send Lazarus to my brothers, so they don't come into this place, and be tormented as I am."
I'm paraphrasing there, but what if we were to read that, and replace our name with Lazarus? "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send, put your name there." Is there someone in hell that you know tonight, that would put your name there, and say, "Send so and so. Tell him to go tell my brother. Tell him to go tell somebody else I know." I was thinking about this the other day. If we were to go soul-winning and help somebody else get saved, we might spare them that grief one day, that we feel. We feel that grief, "Man, this person I know died and went to hell. I feel terrible about it." There's nothing you can do about it. It's too late. Maybe you could go out and get somebody else saved, and spare somebody else from having to feel that same way you do about that. That's the reason to go.
It's a grim reality for a lot of people, a lot of people. Jesus said in Matthew 7, "Enter ye at the straight gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat, because straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth until life, and few there be that find it." A genuine burden for the lost comes from a genuine and real understanding of the reality of hell. Paul knew it. Paul knew the reality of hell. He said in Romans chapter 9, I'll read for you, "I say the truth in Christ. I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Paul knew the reality of hell. He knew how terrible it was, and he was even willing to go there in place of those that he knew and loved.
Hell is a very sobering subject. That would affect the quantity and the quality of our soul-winning. I think that if we really dwelt on, if people really got a grasp of hell, it would not only affect the quantity of it. We'd see more people soul-winning, but those that are already going, it would affect their quality. The Bible says in 2 Peter chapter 3, I'll read for you, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Jesus said, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." That was His whole mission, was to get people saved, and we should share in that mission, to get people saved.
You'll notice He said, "To seek and to save". If we don't seek, we're not going to see anybody saved. We can want people to saved all day long, but if we don't go out and seek them, they're not going to get saved. You're not going to seek what you don't consider lost. Why look for something you don't think is lost? If you don't have a burden for the fact that somebody's going to hell, you're not going to care about it. We need to get a real understanding of hell. I'll wrap up here, but I've heard people preach on hell. It's a subject that I think we all know about. It's a simple doctrine. The hardest thing about understanding about hell is the reality of it. I've thought about, what's the best way? What's the closest? What can we do to get the most realistic idea of hell without actually having to go there? What can we do? What can we think about? How can we convey the reality of hell to ourselves?
Scripture, the Bible we just read, really, that should be enough. That should be enough, because we say the Bible is our final authority. We believe every word of it, and it goes on and on about hell. The fact is that it's not enough. People read the Bible. We get so used to reading about hell and hearing about it or just thinking about it. We almost become callous to the thing, potentially. Scripture really should be enough, but often, it isn't. We could go on. I could start waxing eloquent about some parable. Jesus used parables. Talk about the raging river of souls that are drifting off into eternity, and just go on and on and on and try to really stir you up to understand the reality of hell.
If we were to meditate and just imagine hell as it is described in the Bible, I thought about this. I would never do it, simply because there's kids in here, but what if we were to turn the lights off and just close our eyes and just think about hell and what it would be like to be there tonight? Jesus said that in Matthew 22, "Then said the King to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.' There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Let's turn out the lights. Maybe we should do that. Maybe that would help us come to terms with the reality of hell, and close our eyes, and just imagine on it.
The Bible says that in hell, the worm dieth not. While we've got our eyes closed and the lights out, maybe we should all take a bucket of worms and just dump it upon our heads and let them crawl all over us. That's disgusting. Billions of people, right now, are experiencing that very thing. Worst of all, you think about how terrible hell is, with the fire and the fact that it never goes on and the worms that don't die, and it goes on, and the darkness, but really, when I think about hell and I dwell on it, I think the most terrifying thing about hell is the sound of it. Think about the sound that is in hell right now. The weeping and the wailing, the Bible says. If we really let that set in.
I don't want to scare any kids. What if we turned out the lights and just all start screaming at each other? Really, though. It's funny, but really. That's what billions of people are doing right now, just bumping each other in the darkness, full of worms, screaming their heads off, wishing somebody would have told them. We get calloused sometimes about people going to hell, because there are people. Don't get me wrong. There's people that deserve to go to hell: wicked, evil, vile, filthy reprobates deserve to go to hell. Enemies of God, there's no hope for them. What about the poor, lost sinner who just never heard? He's there tonight, suffering that exact same torment as some reprobate, because we don't go. We don't go tell them.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here. This church is a soul-winning church. There's a lot of great soul-winners. There's some of you that don't. You need to start, self included. Those of us that are going, why are we going? Why are you going soul-winning? Are you going soul-winning so you can raise your hand and report a number? I'm not against numbers. I'm really not, but is that the only reason you go, out of duty? Duty is great. Where desire fails, duty prevails. That shouldn't be the reason we go, is out of just a sense of duty. We should go, when we don't have the desire, duty should make us go, but do we still have that desire to see people get saved from hell tonight? That's why we need to go.
You say, "What a negative sermon." Turning the lights off and screaming at each other and pouring buckets and dwelling on hell, meditating upon hell? I don't want to meditate upon hell. Just do it for a week. Just do it for a little while. See how it affects you. See how it affects the way you treat other people in your day-to-day life. You'll be nicer to people. "That guy might be on his way to hell. Maybe I can give him the gospel. Maybe I could be kind." It'll make you a nicer person, really, to other people, make you want to give the gospel.
As unpleasant as we find the fact of dwelling on hell, we have to understand something, that God dwells on hell and sees hell every single day. Every single moment of every single day, God sees hell. It says in Proverbs 15:11, you don't have to turn there, "Hell and destruction are before the Lord." "Hell and destruction are before the Lord." He sees it. It goes on and says, "How much more, then, the hearts of the children of men?" God sees hell, and He has a burden for the children of men. He's looking at us, going, "Go get them. Help them. Don't let them go there." If you don't go soul-winning, you need to start. If you do, let's do it with the right motive. Let's do it out of a desire to see souls saved, a desire to get people from not going to hell.
We're not going to get everybody. I think about that analogy of the raging river. We're like the fisherman. There's just this torrent of souls that are just pouring down this river, and going over the abyss. We're just like fishermen, just trying to snag a few out, just trying to get as many as we can. Let's not give up. Let's do it for the right reason. God loves those people. We ought to see them saved. Let's close, and have a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for this time together, that we can come and read from Your Word. Lord, as unpleasant of a subject that it is, I pray that You would help us to understand that it is a reality that You behold and that many others are living and experiencing at this very moment. Father, that we would be moved by it. That we would go out, Lord, with weeping, and Lord, that we would bear that precious seed, Lord, that we would be able to bring many sheaves to You again in the future. Lord we love You. We thank You that You saved us. Lord, as David said in that Psalm, that, Lord, he was able to praise You for Your mercy and Your lovingkindness. Lord, as we think about hell this week and whenever we do, Lord, we can always think about how great Your love is toward us and that You spared us from that terrible, terrible place. Lord, we just give you all the praise and the glory and the honor for all the things You've done for us. In Jesus' name, Amen.