Over the last three years, I have taught on God’s passion and his expectation for us to be a part of His Great Commission.
We have looked at: The motive of a love for Jesus, the motive of obedience to Jesus’ command, and today we are going to look at the motive of the reality that their is judgment of the unbeliever.
1. What does culture say about Hell?
- Hell is a place to be desired. “Thus of their own volition, souls proceed into Heaven, into Hell.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Hell is a place without rules.
- Hell is a place managed by Satan-the red, pointy-bearded dude with a pitchfork. “Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.” -Billy Sunday
- Hell is a party for the sinners.
- Hell is a lot more fun then Heaven.
- Hell is a place to express your fleshly desires.
- Hell is a holding place before nonexistence.
- Hell is a place for only the most evil of society (ones more evil than us or for ones who have hurt us).
- Hell is a temporary place that you stay until “love wins” and you finally bend your knee to the Lordship of Christ. And then you go to Heaven.
- Hell has different levels of torture.
- God does not exist in Hell.
- Hell is only here on earth. “I have been to hell and back. I have seen the edge. I have seen the dark side of life.” -Natalie Cole, “War is Hell.” -William T. Sherman
- Hell is non-existent and made up by religious people seeking to control the masses.
- Hell is a place in Michigan.
- And for those who go to Junior High concerts, “Hell is full of musical amateurs.” -George Bernard Shaw
For this teaching, I would like to look at probably the clearest passage on the two destinations that all of humanity faces. The passage of the Sheep and Goats, as it is called, is probably one of the strongest teachings on our final destination. It is also one of the most revealing of people’s hearts. I am going to give a lot of references for you to look up too. My hope is that you would have complete understanding of what God says about the eternal state of Hell, so that you may know for sure what it is and isn’t. So let’s dig in.
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
1) There is a point where Jesus, the Son of Man will come...in His GLORY.
His 1st coming was of a suffering servant.
His 2nd coming will be as a reigning king, judge, and servant.
2) We DON’T know when this is, but we know that there is certainly a WHEN. Not even Jesus knew when this was, but only the Father.
Some have said this has happened already, some that it is after the Great Tribulation,
others believe that it is after the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth. I don’t believe that this has happened, due to how big of an event this will be on Earth.
3) We know that this throne is a throne of judgment, at least here, in this amazing scene.
Imagine the scene...
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
After the King separates them, He will give both groups of humans a separate command. A word of judgment. There are 2 words given, one different word for each group.
Will these groups be composed of all humans over time or just those that are alive during the Great Tribulation or those still alive at the end of the Millennial Reign?
- Scholars are divided, typically along eschatological lines.
- But what we are agreed on is that there are two groups of people who will be judged, just as all people for all time have been the judge. The standard of judgment will be the same.
Group #1, the right side, the sheep
34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Word #1 Come (deute hoi)
35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
A couple of notes on this passage:
1) “my brothers” (mou adelphos)- although the Lord wants us to care for orphans and widows (James 1:27) and the Jewish people (Gen. 12:3), and to all people, a redeemed person cares especially for those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
2) The measuring rod/ line of judgment here is FAITH, expressing itself through love (as Js. 2:14-26, Eph. 2:8-10, Heb. 11:6 clearly teaches). Faith always expresses itself through a love to obey Jesus and care about the things Jesus cares about. Jesus saves. So do we have Jesus? Or even better, does Jesus have us?
3) The measuring rod of judgment here is NOT WORKS, because we cannot merit toward salvation or save ourselves. BUT we need to know that FAITH WORKS.
If someone says they have faith and don’t care for Jesus’ brothers and sisters by feeding the hungry ones, by caring for the thirsty ones, by showing hospitality, and by clothing and visiting them...that person is lying to themselves. Why? Because anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. He, at the moment of conversion begins a good work in us.
Then there is how the goats act, which are people that ignore Jesus...
Group #2, the left side, the goats
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Word #2- Depart from me (poreuesthe ap emou)
Depart to where?
- Eternal-It is a place that is eternal. Both destinations here are ETERNAL, neither are TEMPORARY.
- Fire-some believe this to be actual flames, some as a place of judgment because often fire is a symbol of judgment.
- Prepared for the devil and his angels. This place is not for humans, but for the Devil and his angels (aka demons). God desires all people to be saved. However, these cursed people will end up in such a place, without receiving the grace of God.
- These people are cursed- is that a judgment or a descriptor of their quality of life? They will receive the same curse that the Devil and his angels receive. Their quality of life reveals the quality of the person. And as a result of their wicked, unredeemed life, they will be condemned to the same fate as the Devil and his angels. What is the curse? The inability to ever be with Jesus again. It is a missed opportunity of having fellowship with God, ever.
- These people are also judged and found wanting. They will receive eternal fire and punishment. Punishment here is not DISCIPLINE but a penal judgment. The wages of sin is death and the wages of rejecting God is eternal punishment. So...
What else does God say about Hell?
- There are a few “otherworld” places mentioned in Scripture-
1) Hell, Lake of Fire, Gehenna are quite possibly one permanent destination.
2) Sheol, Hades, grave, Tartarus are where the dead are, at least until the time of Christ.
3) Paradise, Heaven, Abraham’s Bosom, and with Jesus is the place of the believer.
For our purposes this morning, we will focus on the ETERNAL STATE of those who reject God’s promptings in their lives. For me, I prefer place #3, with the Lord!! :-)
B. Definition: Both Scripture and Jesus describes Hell as a physical, horrifying place of eternal punishment for unredeemed sinners; full of darkness, suffering, fire, unending decay, and separation from the Lord’s favor.
Physical- Matt. 10:28-a place where a soul and body can go
Horrifying- Mark 9:43- unquenchable fire for physical body
Eternal- Matt. 25:41
Punishment- Matt. 25:46
For unredeemed sinners- John 3:16-18, Rom. 3:23, Lk. 8:12
Darkness- Job 10:21-22,17:13,15:23, Nahum 1:8, Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30, Jude 1:13
Suffering- Matt. 13:41-43, 8:12, 13:50, 22:13, 24:5, 25:30, Lk. 13:28, Rev. 20:10
Fire- Is. 66:24, Mt. 13:42,50, Mt. 5:22, Mt. 18:8,9, Mt. 25:41, Mk. 9:43,48, Rev. 14:10, 19:20, 20:14-15, 21:8
Unending Decay- 2 Ptr. 3:9, Mark 9:48
Separation from the Lord’s favor- 2 Thess. 1:9, Mt. 25:46, Lk. 16:19-31
What is the purpose of Hell?
1) It is for punishment on the devil and his angels.
2) We are not designed to go there. But it is also the destination for the lawbreaker to give a correct punishment for their crimes.
3) It is a place of judgment and separation for those who either don’t want anything to do with God or have ignored God’s continual promptings. It is a place of judgment for sinners, for Satan, and for all rebellious angels.
4) God cannot be a loving God without judgment for sin.
5) Our problem is not how severe Hell seems, but how shallow our view of sin. Hell helps us understand how offensive our sin, be it so small of a sin, is to a holy God.
6) It is a place to keep wicked beings away from the righteous.
What reason does Jesus give?
42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
They were sentenced to there, due to Adam’s sin. These goats were people who refused to allow God to influence the way they lived. They are selfish, unloving, uncaring, and a hoarding group. They are impervious to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the cries of the suffering good people, and the injustice of others. They are greedy with their resources and care nothing for those who are starving, dehydrated, homeless, naked, suffering with sickness and unjustly in prison. These people are the worst of humanity. Utterly selfish. At best, only helping those who will give them advantage. They were deaf to the mistreatment of others and to God’s savior. Hard-hearted and stiff necked. God sent prophets, His Spirit, Christians, the Bible, the church, missionaries, apostles, teachers, preachers, co-workers, family members, and these people rejected everything. God showed them the news, of all the suffering and injustice, but they didn’t care...and were even annoyed, and changed the channel. And most people are like this. Why? Because they have rejected the savior and have refused to bow to the Lordship of Jesus.
44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
What do we do with the reality of Hell?
A healthy response to this is...
- Realize how evil sin is. Disbelief and self-centeredness is so evil and vile that it warrants eternal separation and suffering, away from the presence of God.
- Rest in God’s desire for you to be forgiven and bought to walk a life of blessing to others. There is Escape- John 3:16-18, Hebrews 9:27
- Join the Spirit as one who points this reality out to others so they are informed. May you be one who gives folks at least ONE MORE opportunity to come to their senses and embrace God’s way of salvation.
- Understand that God desires ALL people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), and this passion should be the same passion that we use to talk with others. It is a desire FOR not anger AGAINST these precious souls, who are designed to have fellowship with God, and to do His works.
- EMPOWER people to make their decision, and inform them what the results of their decision will be. We can’t make them convert, but we can inform them of the good news, that they too can be saved.
- Reject false teaching and unbiblical theories about the eternal state.
- Respect what Hell is. May Hell only be mentioned with tearful eyes. War is not Hell, life is not Hell. Those are NOTHING in comparison to Hell. Let’s not cheapen the word.
- Allow the reality of Hell be a motivation for you sharing the Good News. If Jesus is right, then why would you want yourself or anyone to wind up there?