I have received several articles quoting the Pope and Billy Graham on the existence of a literal Hell. A recent Reuters article states: "Forget the flames and the devils with pitchforks. A week after telling Roman Catholics that Heaven was not a place up in the clouds, Pope John Paul II said Wednesday that hell was not a physical place either. 'More than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.'" He described hell instead as "the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God...Eternal damnation is not God's work, but...our own doing." The article goes on to state: "The pontiff's end-of-millennium guidelines on hell came a week after he told the pilgrims heaven was not 'a physical place in the clouds but a living and personal relationship of union with the Holy Trinity,' and that a foretaste could be had on earth." I will come back to this next week but let me quote Luke 16:27-28 the rich man in hell, "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him (Lazarus) to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
Billy Graham's theology on the subject of Hell has changed over the years and is very much like the Pope's, however, clearly not based on the Word of God.
The truth is, it does not matter what Billy Graham, the pope, Robert Schuller or even Lev Humphries believes. What does the Bible say? We should be concerned about our beliefs and their harmony with the Word of God. A 1996 survey showed 31% of Americans believe hell is a literal place. 37% believe hell is not a literal place, but represents a state of permanent separation from the presence of God. 19% believe it is merely symbolic and 10% were undecided on the issue of hell.
What do you believe about this place called "hell?" What is your belief based upon? Find out next week what the Bible says about the subject of HELL. YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BE WRONG ABOUT THIS SUBJECT!
Hell is a literal place of punishment. Hell is a literal prison where departed spirits of lost people are confined for eternity. Originally, Hell was created for satan and his angels (demons). (Matthew 25:41) In the Old testament Hell (Sheol) could mean the place where dead bodies were laid as in Psalms 6:5 or it could mean the place of departed spirits as in Psalms 9:17. Jesus spoke more about Hell than he did about Heaven. Hell is a place of punishment. Matthew 25:46 states, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." It is described as a place of fire, torment, darkness, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Of course, it involves consciousness, feeling, thirst, pain, hopelessness, helplessness, remorse and finality.
The Bible describes Hell in these ways:
- Mark 9:47.45: "Hell fire"
- Mark 9:43: "the fire that never shall be quenched"
- Mark 9:44,46,48: "where the worm dieth not"
- Luke 16:24: "tormented in this flame"
- 2 Thess 1:8: "flaming fire, taking vengeance"
- 2 Thess 1:9: "everlasting destruction"
- Matt. 25:46: "everlasting punishment"
- 2 Peter 3:7: "perdition"
- Rev. 20:10: "tormented day and night forever and ever"
- Rev. 20:15: "cast into the lake of fire"
- Rev. 14:10: "tormented with fire and brimstone"
- Matt. 13:42,50: "cast into the furnace of fire"
- Matt. 25:41: "depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."
- Matt. 22:13: "cast him into outer darkness"
Those words do not describe "a state" or "the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God." Jesus described both Heaven and Hell as literal places.
Jesus tells us in John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life: and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation," Lost friend, if you are not going to a literal Hell, why would your literal dead body be resurrected and reunited with your spirit and be cast into everlasting punishment? If it is just a state, why resurrect the body from the grave? You will be in your literal body in a literal place and suffer the eternal flames of everlasting fire. It does not have to be that way. Read 2 Peter 3:1-18.
Dr. Carl F. H. Henry had a heckler in one of his meetings shout repeatedly, "Where did Cain get his wife?" Finally, Dr. Henry shouted back, "When I get to heaven I will ask him!" The heckler responded, "Suppose he isn't there?" Dr. Henry responded, "Then you ask him!"
Fifteen years before Ghandi's death, he wrote: "I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find a solace in the Bhagavad and Upansheads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount." However, just before his death he wrote: "My days are numbered. I am not likely to livelong - perhaps a year or a little more. For the first time in fifty years I find myself in the slough of despond. All about me is darkness; I am praying for light."
Voltaire, the great athiest addressed his doctor on his deathbed: "I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth, if you will give me six months' life." The doctor replied, "Sir, you cannot live six weeks." Voltaire replied, "Then I shall go to hell, and you will go with me." Soon after he expired.
A newspaper article referred to a striking story in an anonymous book of memoirs published years ago. The writer met the woman who nursed the great agnostic, Professor J. H. Huxley, through his last illness. She said that as he lay dying the great skeptic suddenly looked up at some sight invisible to mortal eyes, and, staring a while, whispered at last, "So, it is true."
Sir Francis Newport, the head of an English infidel club, said to those gathered around his dying bed, "You need not tell me there is no God for I know there is one, and that I am in his angry presence! You need not tell me there is no hell, for I already feel my soul slipping into its fires! Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever."
Years ago, I heard Dr. Lee Roberson tell of a man who rejected Christ, ridiculed the Bible and its truth yet called for him to come just before he died. I remember Dr. Roberson told of the man saying he felt the fire on his feet, coming up his legs, his chest, and finally his head, at which time he died.
If I am wrong about hell, I have lost nothing. However, lost friend, if you are wrong about hell, you have lost everything!
John 3:36 states, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."