Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Is There Really a Hell?

I open this blog with the humorous story of a new believer who was on a plane with an intellectual nonbeliever. He sneered at her reading the Bible. Asked if she believed it? "Yes." "Jonah and the whale story?" "Yes." "How did it happen?" "Don't know, but I'll find out when I get to heaven." "What if Jonah isn't there?" "Then I guess you'll have to ask him for me." Of course, the supposition of this little story is that men either go to one of two places after death: heaven or hell. 

I was speaking with a young man the other day who really had a lot of questions about the afterlife. In particular, he seemed more concerned with the issue of hell. I have found that most people find heaven much easier to believe in than hell. Of course, the best place to search this subject out is the Scriptures themselves. Our Lord spoke on the subject more than any other, if you can imagine that. I can only conclude that he might have been a bit concerned that none of us go there. In Matthew 13:24-30, he said, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." He continued in verses 37-43, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 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; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
He also spoke on the subject in Mark 9:42-48 when he said, "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

Unfortunately, while our Lord spoke of it frequently, twice as much as heaven, it is not spoken of very much in the church today. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that most church members do not truly believe in it at all even though the New Testament refers to it some 162 times.

So, what are some of the prevailing thoughts on the subject today? Some will say that it is repugnant to reason. To be direct, the very thought of a literal hell tends to be a bit too simple for our finite minds to grasp. Others will go on to say that the very thought of hell is a nightmare of a disordered mind. Something akin to "Dante’s Inferno”. It must be simply the product of a crazy person. Finally, others say that hell is an antiquated, moth-eaten, disproven theory which belongs to the age of superstition. After all, we live in the age of enlightenment. No one believes in hell anymore, right? Gotta be just a flashback to a product of our superstitious past. Well, I say to that that no one believed in rain in Noah's day, but it still destroyed them all. The bottom line is that unbelief does not negate reality.

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