God, You want me to write about what? part II

This is my second submission to our local paper.

Last week I introduced the topic of Hell. I shared that even though I may not enjoy writing about Hell and you may not enjoy reading about Hell it is necessary to do so.

While we often do not want to talk or think about Hell Jesus had no such problem talking about Hell. In fact, He did it a lot. As I write this my goal is not to share my opinions on Hell. My goal is not to convince you to believe what I do about Hell. However, my goal is to clearly communicate what Jesus thinks of and has taught about Hell. I will do this as faithfully and honestly as I am able. My prayer is that your beliefs and feelings regarding Hell would be derived from God’s Word as found in the Bible and specifically what Jesus has taught us about Hell.

So what has Jesus taught us about Hell?

Jesus said in Matthew 25:46, ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’ Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, ‘Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’ Jesus said in Matthew 5:30, ‘It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.’

First, Jesus clearly teaches that Hell is a real place. The belief of 1st century Judaism was that Hell was a real place of punishment some people went to after death and Jesus affirms this teaching.

Second, Jesus clearly teaches that Hell is eternal. This means there is no end. Jesus describes Hell as ‘eternal punishment’ in Matthew 25:46 not temporary punishment.

Third, Jesus clearly teaches that a person’s eternal condition is set upon death. There is no evidence anyone will have a second chance to avoid Hell after death.

Fourth, Jesus clearly teaches that Hell is a place of pain and suffering. In Matthew 8:12 Jesus describes Hell as a place of complete darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. In Matthew 13:40-42 Jesus uses imagery of fire to describe Hell. It is clear that Hell will not be the party AC/DC describes in the song Highway to Hell; no matter how great the guitar riff in that song may be.

Fifth, Jesus clearly teaches that some people will go to Hell. It may not be a popular message but it is the message of Jesus Christ regarding Hell.

If you have read up to this point please do me a favor. Please read next week’s column. What I shared this week is not the whole story. There is more to come. See, Jesus not only taught us about the realities of Hell. He did something about it. We will expound on that next week. May Jesus Christ give you grace and peace today and at all times.

God, You want me to write about what?

I get the opportunity to write a pastoral article for the local paper each week for a month. October was my month this year. I thought I would share these articles here as well. This was my first submission.

For the last 6 months or so I’ve known what God has wanted me to write about in these 4 weeks I have the opportunity to share with you. And I’m not happy with God about it. I’ve been hopeful another pastor would write on the topic so that it would seem redundant for me to write about it. No such luck! Yes, I will be sharing on the topic of Hell for these coming weeks. I do not enjoy sharing about Hell. I do not expect you will enjoy reading about Hell. So why in the world am I writing about Hell?

I believe everyone has a profound sense that there is something more than just the here and now. There is more to our existence than what we can see, hear and touch. Although, we may never ask them out loud, we have questions like, ‘what happened to my father when he died?’ ‘What will happen when I die?’ ‘How can I be sure?’ I believe we ask these questions because God has set eternity in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Whether I or we like it or not Hell is a necessary part of this discussion.

It is a necessary part of the discussion because of Jesus. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe the Bible is the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and conduct. I take what the Bible says seriously. I take what Jesus says seriously. And Jesus talked a lot… a LOT about Hell. Here are a few examples:

Matthew 25:45-46: ‘He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’

Matthew 13:49-50: ‘So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 10:28: ‘Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’

We will look at these words of Jesus next week and begin to draw some conclusions. To conclude, one of my primary concerns as I write on Hell is that my desire to see everyone rescued from Hell might not come through on paper. Our attitude should be that of Jesus who does not want anyone to go to Hell but all to repent (2 Peter 3:9). It is shameful when followers of Jesus Christ have an attitude toward people of, ‘I can’t wait till all those evil people go to Hell and get what they deserve.’ The truth is all of us deserve Hell (Romans 3:23, 6:23). The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you this week.

God is faithful!

That God is faithful means that God will keep His promises. It’s not only death and taxes that we can count on in this life; we can count on God’s faithfulness. The Bible is full of God’s promises. Some are unconditional, such as the promise that Jesus is going to return. Some are conditional, such as the promise that each person will receive eternal life IF they place their trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Which of God’s promises do you need to remind yourself of at this time?

God has been reminding me of the promise recorded in John 15:5 that says, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ If I desire to be used by God to accomplish His purposes I must first and foremost be growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ. At times, I feel like the character Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon who once said, ‘God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I’ll never die.’ Fortunately, I can have confidence God will keep His promise that He will bear much fruit through me if I remain in Jesus Christ. God makes the same promise to you.

Pastor Gregg

God is enough!

The fact of the matter is that difficulty and pain will come our way. Jesus went as far as to say, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33. If you are a follower of Jesus, He says to you that you will have trouble. Thankfully God does not leave us alone in our trouble. God is with us. ‘It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.’ John 16:7. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to you; to live in you! The Comforter is living with you to give you the comfort you need. Pain will come. Trials are inevitable. You are not immune to suffering. You will have trouble. …and God is enough!

Pastor Gregg