20 February 2011 (Rishon/Pesach)|
Day #341, 5934 AM
There's No Place Like Hell
Direct Talk About the Place of Torment
One of the reasons given by Jo Stefansson, a retired preacher, for the lukewarmness and lack of spiritual revival amongst Swedish Christians today is because many pastors and believers in general no longer believe in hell. And those that do, fear to preach it because it is no longer fashionable or politically correct. Your modern Swede, like most other secularised Westerners, just doesn't want to believe in such a place. So they prefer to see the scriptures that speak of it as being merely 'metaphors', like all the other Bible teachings they rather would not have to accept. And not a few even believe that even God is just a metaphor. They do, of course, think differently about the Swedish State and Swedish Law. No one pretends they are metaphors.
I have never been one who believed we should frighten people into heaven by threatening them with hell but at the same time I also believe it is very dangerous not to preach about it occasionally. Likewise I believe we should be focussed on life rather than death, but at the same time we must know about death and be prepared for it. So while I am not a hellfire-and-damnation preacher, and believe the way into the Kingdom is through the attraction of Divine Love and Truth, I absolutely do believe that a minister who fails to teach about hell is in dereliction of his duty. Hell is real and people need to know about it in case they end up there. If life is as much about what you want to do as about what you don't want to know, then salvation is as much about where you want to go after death as where you don't want to go.
A frightening number of messianics dismiss the existence of hell because they have swallowed the soul-sleeping lie of Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christadelphians, the Armstrongite Churches of God, and others, who say that there is no consciousness after death so that no one could possibly suffer in such a place. Though some genuinely have misinterpreted the scriptures, others just can't reconcile such a place with a loving Elohim (God) so they redefine Him in their own image and invent a false god.
Yah'shua (Jesus) pulled no punches about hell. He makes it very clear that it exists and that the lawless and unsaved should fear it:
It is not my purpose today to discuss whether hell is eternal or whether hell, and all those in it, are one day annihilated. Those are the subjects of different discussions. I wish only to present the truth that it is not merely an inner state but also a literal place to which the spirits of the unsaved and wicked go and suffer in the way that Yah'shua (Jesus) described. Furthermore, had hell not existed, Yah'shua (Jesus) would not have gone to all the trouble of suffering and dying for our sins to reconcile us to Elohim (God). Why else would Yah'shua (Jesus) have said:
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness (Torahlessness), and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt.13:41-42, NKJV).
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched -- where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-- where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire -- where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (Mk.9:42-47, NKJV).
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before Elohim (God), and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades (Hell) delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades (Hell) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev.20:11-15, NKJV).
The whole reason for Yah'shua's birth, death and resurrection was that so we "should not perish". He was as much concerned about our getting eternal life as He was about us not perishing. They're simply two sides of the same truth. The Greek word appolumi, which we translate into 'perish', literally means 'fully destroy'. Yah'shua came that we might not be fully destroyed. The same sense is to be found in the Aramaic.
"For Elohim (God) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16, NKJV).
However you wish to define hell, we have to accept the minimal truths that Scripture - and especially Yah'shua - teaches. It's real, it hurts, and you don't want to be there. Accepting Yah'shua (Jesus) and living His teachings isn't just a 'nice option' for those who might be 'interested' in a particular religious product from a wide range of equally valid choices, but it's absolutely essential! The alternative is just too dreadful to contemplate. It's 'A' or 'B', life or death, heaven or hell. Period. Which is why He came, and died for us, so that we might be spared that awful fate. And it's not as though to 'perish' is just some future state, for the Greek text literally says:
The way Yah'shua phrases this conveys the sense that He is preaching to every generation - it's the present-continuous tense - those who are not trusting Him now are already perishing - not 'will' perish - but 'are perishing' - they're hell-bound so long as they don't choose Him. And should their life be terminated, they would go to the literal place to which they were already bound.
"For thus Elohim (God) loves the world, so that He gives His only-begotten Son, that everyone who is believing in Him should not be perishing, but may have life eonian" (Jn.3:16, CLNT).
Such a teaching is not only unpopular but frequently angers those who are perishing when they hear it. Why? Because their demons know they are hell-bound and it's already too late for them - they want to drag their human captives down with them, and so naturally they react in anger through those who are their slaves through their unbelief and rebellion.
The doctrine of hell is one of those unpopular teachings that the world has to hear along with the message of redemption. It cannot be omitted. It's one of those teachings that the world hates precisely because the masters of this world are hell-bound. So will you preach it and will you teach it? You owe it to the billions who don't know Yah'shua to warn them of it!