Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Purpose and Place of Hell

We have already looked at the reality of hell and dealt with what if it doesn't exist. Next, I want to look at five things: its purpose, place, punishment, why the average Christian doesn't believe in it, and the provision that God has made for us all against going there.

First, let's take a look at the purpose of hell. Really? Why must there be one anyway? Our Lord answers this in Matthew 25:41 when he said, “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” So, it was initially prepared for the devil and his angels. 

We see this historical account in Isaiah 14:12-17 where it recounts, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" In other words, it was not prepared for man at all.

However, for man, just like the devil and his angels, hell is the natural and inevitable consequence of sin. Sin must be punished in God's economy. Sin damns just as water drowns and fire burns. Hell is God’s penitentiary for the wicked. The Psalmist said, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:1). Just as we have prisons for those who refuse to keep the laws of earth, so God has a way of dealing with those who refuse to keep His. It is the legitimate end of a sinful, Christ-rejecting, God-dishonoring life.

Second, we are going to look at the place of hell. The Bible describes it as a real place and not simply a state of mind like some have wishfully suggested. As such, the Bible says several things to confirm this. The first of which is that it is a place of separation from God's presence and blessing as we have previously mentioned in Matthew 25:41-42. It is a separation from everything that is good. 

The Bible also says that it is a place of fire. Fire all throughout the Bible is symbolic of Divine judgment, but make no mistake, this judgment is not symbolic. Our Lord said in Matthew 5:22, “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.” No symbolic language to be found there. 

The Bible also says that hell is a place of fire. Our Lord said in Mark 9:43 “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.” When the rich died, he declared that he was in literal flames in Luke 16:24 when he cried, "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.” Just assuredly as the gold of heaven is real, so are the flames of hell.

Finally, another proof text that hell is a real place with a real fire that will never cease to burn is found in Matthew 25:41 when our Lord said that one day he "will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Make no mistake, hell has a purpose and is a real place. 

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