Hell – Its Realities and Implications – Part 2
This is the second and final post on the series titled “Hell—It’s Realities and Implications.” In PART 1, we saw the following 4 realities of hell:
1. Hell is a real place
2. Hell is a place of eternal conscious torment
3. Hell is a place where the utterly wicked and even the decent people will be together
4. Hell is a place of no hope
In light of these horrific realities, here then are 4 implications—3 implications if one is a Christian and 1 implication if one is not a Christian.
Implications for the Christian.
1. We should always be THANKING GOD.
Jesus cried out on that cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” [Matt 27:46]. And because he was forsaken, we who have, by God’s grace, been enabled to trust in Jesus will never be forsaken. In other words, Jesus, by his suffering, absorbed all the wrath we deserve. He tasted death [Heb 2:9] so that we would never ever have to suffer the horrors of hell—even a single moment! No wonder the apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that “Jesus…rescues us from the coming wrath.”
Shouldn’t this truth cause us to always abound at thanksgiving? Do we even have a right to complain when things don’t go our way here on earth? The only suffering we will ever experience—is here on earth—and that too for a very temporary time. However, compare that to the joys of heaven for all eternity! He has rescued us from an eternity of suffering in hell. Why should we stop thanking him just because we go through a temporary period of suffering here on earth?
The next time we are tempted to grumble or even get discouraged due to the trials of this life, let us pause and reflect on the horrors of hell and how Jesus has rescued us from it by suffering on our behalf. Then we will abound in thanksgiving even during the midst of that trial.
A city missionary in London was called to an old building where a lady was dying and in the last stages of a disease. The room was tiny and cold, and the woman was lying on the floor. This missionary tried to help this lady and asked if there was anything she wanted, and this is what she said, “I have all I really need, I have Jesus Christ.”
Well, the man never forgot it, and he went out of there, and he wrote these words, “In the heart of London City mid the dwellings of the poor these bright golden words were uttered, “I have Christ, what want I more?” Spoken by a lonely woman dying on a garret floor having not one earthly comfort, “I have Christ, what want I more?” He who heard them ran to fetch her something from the world’s great store, it was needless, died she saying, “I have Christ, what want I more?”
Oh, my dear, my fellow sinner, high or low or rich or poor, can you say with deep thanksgiving, “I have Christ. What want I more?”
2. We should always be PURSUING HOLINESS.
Frequent reflection about hell will cause us to keep fleeing from sin and pursuing holiness. In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus said, “29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
In essence, what Jesus is saying is this: The cost of obedience—even if it is a high cost is not at all that high when compared to the cost of disobedience, which leads to hell. The broad road is the path to destruction. On the other hand, the narrow road—the road of self-denial, the road marked with suffering, is the path to eternal life. So, the next time we are tempted to sin, let us reflect on the realities of hell and remember it’s not worth sinning. Pursuing holiness will pay off—for all eternity!
The movie The Hanging Tree was set in a western gold-mining camp in the late 1800s. Gary Cooper played the role of a doctor for the camp. One day, a young boy was seen robbing gold from the camp. He was shot from a distance but managed to hobble into hiding. All hands in the camp spread out to see who would be the first to kill him for this offense. The doctor found the hurt, frightened youth. He took him into his cabin, nursed him, and removed the bullet.
After the boy regained consciousness, he inquired what the doctor would do with him now. The doctor held the slug in the boy’s face and said, “You will be my servant for as long as I want you to be, maybe forever because that is how long you would be dead if this slug had remained in you.”
That is the length of condemnation for the slug of sin if it remains in us. The Great and loving Physician Jesus has already performed the surgery to remove the slug. The painless operation of trust in him is the only requirement. It is our privilege and our duty to be servants of the One who healed us forever, for, without his healing, we also would be dead forever—enduring eternal suffering in hell!
3. We should always be REACHING OUT TO THE LOST.
Reflecting on the realities of hell—what a terrible place it is—should make our hearts bleed in love for the lost. If we believe [and we should] that hell is real, eternal, and that people without Jesus will go there for an eternity of suffering, then should there not be a tremendous burden in our hearts to pray for the lost and share the gospel? Should not our thoughts be more centered on evangelism? Should we not be willing to invest more of our money so that missions can be furthered? Why are we living with so much energy focused on temporal things rather than eternal issues?
The rich man in Luke 16:19-31 had a great desire to evangelize his living family members because he experienced the horrors of Hades [Lk 16:27-28]. We don’t have to go there to understand the realities of it. We believe by faith what the Bible says about hell. And that belief should motivate us to plead with the lost to turn from their sins and turn to Christ. God himself pleads with people through his prophets about turning to him and thus escaping the horrors of hell. Here is an example.
Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?'”
Likewise, we too must plead with people on behalf of God to turn from their sins, get a new heart and a new spirit and in that way, escape the eternal horrors of hell. We cannot be afraid of rejection. We cannot think about our ego. We must realize the endless suffering in hell that people will face because they reject Christ, and that realization should motivate us to plead with them in love to come to Christ.
We must be willing to sacrifice our pleasures and live sacrificially so that many could be reached with the gospel. There’s much at stake here. Jesus wept for lost sinners as he entered Jerusalem [Lk 19:41] because he loved them. And we must have such love for them—a love that shows through prayer for them and through preaching the gospel to them!
Hudson Taylor lived in the 1800s and was one of the first missionaries to inland China. Before he left for China, he worked as a medical assistant. One of his first assignments was a man with severe gangrene in his foot. This man was an atheist with a violent temper. When someone offered to read Scripture to him, this man loudly would order him to leave. And when a pastor had visited, this man spit in his face. Hudson’s job was to change this man’s bandages every day. He also started praying earnestly for his salvation. The first few days, he shared nothing of the Gospel but focused on carefully changing the man’s bandages. This greatly eased his pain, and the man was deeply touched.
However, Hudson Taylor was concerned for this man’s eternal destiny. So the next day, after carefully changing the bandages, he did something different. Instead of heading out the door, he knelt down by the man’s bed and shared the Gospel. He explained his concern for the man’s soul, told of Jesus’ death on the Cross, and that he could be saved from his sins. The man grew furious, said nothing, and turned his back to Hudson. So, Hudson got up, gathered his medical equipment, and left.
This pattern continued for some time. Every day Hudson tenderly changed his bandages, then knelt down by the man’s bed and spoke of Jesus’ love. And every day, the man said nothing—and turned his back to Hudson. After a while, Hudson Taylor started wondering—was he doing more harm than good? Were his words causing the man to become more hardened?
So with great sadness, Hudson Taylor decided to stop speaking of Christ. The next day he again changed the man’s bandages. But then, instead of kneeling by the bed, he headed toward the door to leave. Before he walked out the door, he looked back at the man. He could tell the man was shocked—because this was the first day since Hudson had started sharing the Gospel that he had not knelt down by the bed and spoken about Jesus.
And then, while standing at the door, Hudson Taylor’s heart broke. He started weeping. He went back to the bed and said, “My friend, whether you will hear or not, I must share what’s on my heart”—and he earnestly spoke of Jesus, again begging the man to pray with him. This time the man answered—”if it will be a relief to you, go ahead and pray.” So Hudson Taylor got down on his knees and prayed for this man’s salvation. And—God answered. From that point, the man was eager to listen to the Gospel, and in a few days, he prayed to trust Christ.
Hudson Taylor’s takeaways.
a. Often in my early work in China, when circumstances rendered me almost hopeless of success, I have thought of this man’s conversion and have been encouraged to persevere in speaking the Word, whether men would hear or whether they would forbear.
b. Perhaps if we had more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our own feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our lack of success.
(From Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor’s “Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul,” pp.178ff.)
The more we reflect on the realities of hell, the more we should be compelled to proclaim the gospel to the lost.
Implications for the Non-Christian.
If you are not a Christian yet, there is only 1 implication: You need to flee from the wrath to come [Matt 3:7]. It does not take much to get into hell. Just keep living the way you are. Keep on rejecting Jesus. Refuse to repent of your sins. You will undoubtedly end up in hell.
Friend, is that what you really want? Hell will not go away just because you don’t believe in it. Hell is a real place. That’s why Jesus himself warned in Luke 13:3, “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” There are no second chances after this life. Hebrews 9:27 says, “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” When Jesus returns, he will judge all who have rejected him as he takes his own to be with him forever. And at that time, it will be too late to repent. Now is the time to decide.
Dear Friend, I take absolutely NO pleasure in saying these hard truths. But you need to hear these words of warning. So, please turn from your sins and, in faith, turn to Jesus Christ, believing that he alone paid the price for sins and rose again. Be saved from hell by fleeing to Jesus today. No more playing games! No more delays! No more excuses! Come to him today! Now is the time to repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus. Jesus himself said, “The time has come…the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” [Mark 1:15]. He will accept you—no matter how much you may have sinned. He will give you a new heart if only you would cry out to him. He will send the Holy Spirit to come and live inside of you and help you live the Christian life. So, please don’t delay! Come!
Let me close with these words of warning from Charles Spurgeon, a faithful British preacher from the past, concerning the horrors of hell:
There is a real fire in hell, as truly as you have a real body—a fire exactly like that which we have on this earth, except this; it will not consume you though it will torture you. You have seen asbestos lying amid red hot coals but not consumed. So your body will be prepared by God in such a way that it will burn forever without being consumed. With your nerves laid raw by searing flame, yet never desensitized for all its raging fury, and the acrid smoke of the sulfurous fumes searing your lungs and choking your breath, you will cry out for the mercy of death, but it shall never, never, no never come.