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Hell Is For RealFebruary 5, 2024
One day, when Vice-President Calvin Coolidge was presiding over the Senate, one senator angrily told another to go “straight to hell.” The offended Senator complained to Coolidge, as presiding officer, and Coolidge looked up from the book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate and wittily replied. “I’ve looked through the rule book,” he said, “You don’t have to go.”
As a preacher, I’m often confronted by death. One thing I’ve observed is that when someone dies, that person’s loved ones want to believe their relative went to “a better place.” We’ll say things like, “She wasn’t a religious person, but deep down, she had a good heart,” or, “He wasn’t a saint, but he did some good things.” When it comes to death and eternity, it’s human nature to hope for the best and avoid contemplating the worst.
Research shows that, while almost three out of four people believe in heaven, less than half believe in hell. Think about the ramifications if hell didn’t exist. Would unbelievers easily reject Christ with no fear of God whatsoever? Would believers be unmotivated to share their faith in Christ with nonbelievers?
Though Revelation 20 speaks clearly of a Book of Life, and just as clearly that we want to have our name in it. One thing is absolutely true, getting your name into the Book of Life is based on what you believe, not what you have done. It doesn’t matter how good you think you have been, or how good anyone else thinks you have been. You get in by believing in Jesus Christ.
You probably know this, but I always want to make sure we are on the same page, if you will pardon the pun (Book of Life – same page!!!). While I may not have to convince this audience of the existence of hell, I wish to talk about hell so as to motivate us to whatever we would have to do in order to keep someone from ending up there.
There are many different beliefs about what hell is. Some say it is the grave. Some say it is only for the devil. Some think it is here on Earth. Some think it is a place of parties where our unbridled passions can be experienced to their fullest. The band Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler said “Happy Birthday Willie Nelson. Here’s hoping that we will have twice as much fun in hell as we did here on earth trying to get there.”
What do you think hell is? The Bible describes hell in metaphors, and all of them are nightmarish. In Revelation 20:15 it is described as a lake of fire, where people burn but never burn up and the pain will last forever. A few other descriptions include an abyss, a place of weeping, a place of gnashing of teeth, a place of everlasting punishment, a place where there will be tormenting, burning, suffering and the smell of pain. These are a few of the metaphors for hell, and make the point that it is the most awful, horrible palace anywhere.
Maurice Rawlings, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, was also a devout atheist. But that changed in 1977 when he was trying to resuscitate a man who kept screaming in terror. He gave this report to Omni Magazine.
“Each time he regained a heartbeat the patient screamed, ‘I am in hell.’ He was terrified and pleading with me to help him. I was scared to death. Then I noticed a real alarmed look on his face, worse than the expression seen in death. This patient had a grotesque grimace expression of sheer horror. His pupils were dilated, and he was perspiring and trembling. He looked as if his hair was on end! Then still another strange thing happened. He said ‘Don’t you understand? I am in hell. Don’t let me go back to hell.’ The man was serious, and it finally occurred to me that he was indeed in trouble. He was in panic like I had never seen before.” Dr. Rawlings concluded, “If we truly understood what hell was like, we’d be much more motivated to help people avoid going there. Hell is a place of unspeakable suffering.”
Have you ever had an encounter with death that convinces you that hell is real? Do you ever pray for someone’s eternal salvation? Do you look for opportunities to share your faith to help someone avoid going to hell? Have you confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? In today’s skeptical world people won’t always listen. That is when we must keep praying for those we care about, that they will find faith. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).