By George H. Alquist Jr.
"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."-II Thess. 1:7--9.
The reality of Hell is not a popular or pleasant subject, yet it needs to be preached.
The Devil is doing his best to desensitize people to the idea of Hell. Regular cartoons in some newspapers show the Devil standing on the mountain with his pitchfork, flames all around him, and his subjects in Hell sitting around lamenting some things and telling jokes. The Devil has people to caricature this place called Hell.
The Devil has movies out that make fun of Hell. All kinds of things are flooding the market to take the sting, the fear, the horribleness out of Hell.
Today we hear about near-death experiences. People are supposedly dying and going off down a tunnel. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. These people have a warm and fuzzy feeling. Then they come back to life and tell everyone, "Death isn't so bad. I died and went down this tunnel, saw the light and felt real good; now I'm not afraid to die!"
The Devil is doing everything he can to take the fear out of Hell, to take the edge off the Bible teaching about Hell!
The New Age religions are designed to make people not afraid of Hell. Satanism, witchcraft and the occult are causing people to feel warm and fuzzy about things that would lead them to Hell. But Hell is a real place.
The Bible says about Hell:
"Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled."-Isa. 5:14,15.
My friends, Hell is a real place. Isaiah said that it has enlarged itself, has opened its mouth wide. Hell-even at this moment-is receiving the souls of men and women; yet it doesn't ever get full. It just enlarges itself with more of its prey! Proverbs 27:20 says, "Hell and destruction are never full"!
Hell is big enough to accommodate every human being who has ever been or ever will be born upon this planet, and it opens its mouth to swallow up men and women.
Christ preached almost twice as much about Hell as about Heaven. Why?
1. Jesus preached on Hell because God doesn't want people to go there.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."-II Pet. 3:9.
Though God doesn't want any to go to Hell, people still go there because of sin, because they have chosen to rebel against God. With sin natures, they sin by choice, and the only place for them is a place called Hell. God wants people to repent, to change their minds, to believe Him and trust Christ.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."-John 3:16.
Sinner, God doesn't want you to go to Hell; He has done everything He can to keep you out. He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, to be the sacrifice for your sin, to rise from the dead so you wouldn't have to go to this awful place, this horrible place.
Having not an inkling of how horrible, terrible and destructive Hell really is, mankind makes jokes about Hell, draws cartoons about Hell, makes movies about Hell. Mankind doesn't understand Hell; God does, and He does not want people to go there. He sent His own Son to die on the cross to take our place and our punishment.
2. Jesus preached on Hell because even a slight understanding of that place should motivate people to get saved.
If He can just make us understand what Hell is really like, none will want to go there. He wants people motivated to get saved.
You say, "Preacher, I don't agree with scare tactics to get people saved!" Why not? What's wrong with scare tactics? If you get people scared enough of something, they won't want to get involved in it. We need to show them something so they will change their minds about Hell and accept God's plan of salvation.
Society doesn't just tell us why we shouldn't break the law; it tells us that if we do, we will get fined or be put in jail. Schools don't just tell students that they shouldn't smoke; they show them films of those whose lungs look like pieces of coal and people hacking their insides out because they have lung cancer.
The same thing applies to Hell. A good preacher can give you all the reasons to go to Heaven; but sometimes it takes preaching on Hell to scare people so they will not want to go there, so they will get saved.
If you are saved, then praise God and shout hallelujah that you're not going to Hell. If you are not saved, I hope I scare you enough so you won't leave this place without getting saved; or if you do go home unsaved, I hope when you lay your head on your pillow tonight you will see the horrible scenes depicted in this sermon and get so scared you will get saved.
I. WHAT IS HELL?
Hell Is the Vengeance of God
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."-II Thess. 1:8.
We hear much teaching today about the love of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God. I too preach on all these things. But the Bible says it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.
Hell is when an angry God takes vengeance on those who have never believed Him, never trusted His Son, and never obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Don't get some idea that Hell is just a slap on the wrist. Hell is the vengeance of a righteous, holy and almighty God.
Hell Is the Punishment of God
"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."-II Thess. 1:9.
Hell is not a picnic, not a playtime when your friends and pals get together and have fun. It is a punishment of God on those who will not obey the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel of Christ is simply this: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The Gospel of Christ is that He died, was buried and rose again the third day!
God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to become a man and to shed His blood on Calvary's cross. He sent His Son to be tortured, shamed, humiliated, to die, be put in a tomb, and to rise again for one reason-so you can get saved.
God was willing to sacrifice all that, do all that; now how do you think He feels when you won't get saved?
You say, "Well, I'll work my way to Heaven" or "I'll be good enough to get to Heaven" or "I'll get baptized to get to Heaven"; or you will do this or that to get to Heaven. But God says you can do nothing. Jesus did it all.
Hell is the punishment and the vengeance of God to those who neglect and reject His Son!
God wants you to quit trusting yourself, your church, your works, your money, some preacher, some candles and some prayers, and just trust Christ! If you won't do it, then you are under the vengeance of God and will be punished with everlasting vengeance in Hell.
II. WHAT IS HELL LIKE?
I don't believe a human being has the capacity nor ability to comprehend fully what Hell is like. If we actually knew deep within our being the totality of the horribleness of Hell, we would go insane. We wouldn't be able to speak, think or live!
God describes it for us in Scripture. We need to read about it so we can pull back the curtain and get a glimpse of what Hell is really like.
Hell Is a Place of Darkness
Second Peter 2:4 calls it "darkness." Jude 13 calls it "blackness of darkness."
Understand that when people go to Hell, they see nothing! Hell is darkness, the blackness of darkness. You will be unable to see your friends. You won't be able to see the Devil. You will have eyes, but you won't see. You will see nothing except total darkness, total blackness of darkness.
One year when my wife and I were on vacation, some forty of us went down into some giant onyx caves in West Virginia-almost a mile down into the bowels of the earth. The guide said, "I'm going to show you what it is like to be in total darkness." He turned off all the lights. I have never been in a place so dark. I brought my hand up until it touched my nose, and I couldn't see my hand. There was absolutely no light to reflect on anything. All we saw was darkness and blackness.
After some twenty seconds, people started to get nervous. Having been in the light, you cannot go into total darkness without getting scared in a very, very short period of time.
Those who go to Hell will be in total darkness and blackness, seeing nothing! They won't be able to see, because there is nothing to see.
Hell Is a Place of Fire
It is not popular today to preach about Hell being a place of fire. Billy Graham no longer believes Hell has fire. A lot of other famous preachers are also starting to say, "Well, we don't know if Hell has fire."
The same Bible that they once believed still says that Hell has fire! Matthew 18:8 calls it "everlasting fire." Luke 16 tells the story about the rich man in Hell. He lifted up his eyes and said to Abraham, "I am tormented in this flame."
Jude 7 calls it "eternal fire." The fire in Hell is not quenched; it never dies down; it never goes out; it never subsides. It is eternal fire.
Revelation 20:10 calls it "the lake of fire and brimstone." Have you ever been thrown into a lake or the deep end of the pool when you didn't know how to swim? It is a most terrifying experience. You feel helpless as you flounder in the water.
Being in this "lake of fire" is going to make people feel far more helpless and overwhelmed than being in a lake of water. They will flounder and flail their arms and try to keep themselves upright. But they don't know which way is up and which way is down, because they can't see anything as a point of reference. They will splash around in the "lake of fire" with nothing to put their feet upon, nothing to grab hold of, no life preservers, no one to cry out to for help.
Matthew 13:42 calls it "a furnace of fire." I'm sure most of you have been burned to some degree at one time or another. And it is certain you do not like to think about being thrown into "a furnace of fire."
You wonder, If it's fire, why are we not consumed? The same way the burning bush was not consumed. Moses looked and saw that "the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."
The person who goes to Hell will be in this "lake of fire" and will burn and burn and never be consumed. It will never stop! It will never be over! There is no hope that it will someday end!
When I was a teenager, four of my friends were in an accident. Three burned to death, and the fourth survived with third-degree burns over a large percentage of his body. He was not expected to live.
When I walked into the hospital room to see him, the room stunk like burning flesh. His skin had been burned off. He was so transparent, he looked like he was made of cellophane. I could see his muscles and veins.
Drugs did not ease the pain. He was a strong boy (on the football and wrestling teams), but he would wail and cry when they bathed his arm in a special solution.
When we helped him walk around the room, we wrapped our hands and arms in towels. His skin was so thin that just the pressure of our hands under his arms made him bleed.
O my friend, all that experience, all that suffering, all that pain, is nothing compared to what Hell will be like.
I had an opportunity to visit my friend after I got saved. He was then married and had children.
I said, "Dave, I know why you survived that terrible accident."
He asked, "Why?"
I said, "Because God wanted you to get saved."
I gave him the Gospel of Christ. When I explained Hell to him, he understood what it would be like, for he himself had realized some of the pain and burning and suffering of Hell.
He got saved. Then he said, "You know, I always wondered why I survived. Now I know. God let me live so I could get saved." Then his wife got saved.
Hell is a place of fire; it is a place of flames; it is a place where the burning never stops.
Hell Is a Bottomless Pit
Revelation 20:3 describes Hell as a "bottomless pit." The people who go to Hell are cast into a place where there is no bottom. They tumble and fall, tumble and fall, tumble and fall in the blackness of the darkness, in the flames of the fire. They never have a place to rest, never have anything to grab hold of, never have a place to stand on, never have a place to sit down. They never have anything they can touch to find any reality!
God described it as horrible so we would believe it is horrible.
What is Hell? It is the vengeance of God; it is the punishment of sinners.
What is Hell like? It is darkness; it is fire; it is a bottomless pit.
Hell Is a Place of Torment
What will it be like in Hell? Matthew 8:12 says, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:42 says, "There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." They will not only weep and wail, but they will hear the countless multitudes of millions upon millions of others weeping and wailing and screaming and crying and begging for mercy.
Imagine what it will be like for all eternity: your ears hearing the screaming, the screeching, the wailing and weeping of others, while you yourself add to that horrible chorus in that terrible place!
There will also be the gnashing (grinding) of teeth as sinners try to find comfort. They will be in such torment that they grind their teeth, but the teeth never grind down. And it is constant!
The Bible says there are torments in Hell. Luke 16:19--31 describes the story of the rich man who died. "And in hell he lift up his eyes....And he cried and said, 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" (vss. 23,24).
Revelation 14:11 speaks of this torment: "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." The smoke never stops! The fire never stops! The darkness never stops! The torment never stops! The weeping and wailing never stop! The gnashing of teeth never stops! The falling never stops!
First John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment."
Friend, there is no love in Hell! Those in Hell are not only experiencing all these horrible things; they also have fear-unbelievable fear, heavy fear, powerful fear, all-consuming fear-because there is no love to cast out the fear.
People in Hell are tormented in the flames and tormented by fear-ghoulish, horrible, terrifying nightmares that bring on a fear that can be felt. They are afraid night and day for all eternity, with a horrible, gripping, incapacitating fear.
I don't know what phobia you may have, but whatever it is, it will be with you for all eternity in Hell; and it will be magnified a hundred thousandfold.
Do you fear bugs? Then get ready, because you will be scared to death of them in Hell. You will want to get away, but there will be nowhere to go. You will want the phobia to stop, but it won't stop. Fear will be all-consuming.
You will take your phobias and nightmares to Hell where they will be magnified. You will live with them for all eternity! You will cry out as this man did in Luke 16, "Have mercy on me," but there is no mercy in Hell.
Hell Is a Place of Bondage
Matthew 22:13 reads: "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Second Peter 2:4 speaks about the fallen angels being held in "chains of darkness."
People in Hell will be as if they are bound hand and foot-they have chains about them. They cannot go where they want to go. They cannot do what they want to do. They can do nothing but exist while wishing not to exist. They will be completely bound.
I've heard that when individuals are put into sensory deprivation chambers, they hallucinate like crazy. My friends, hallucinations will be a reality in Hell. Feet and hands will be bound; you won't be able to move. Your feet will neither walk nor run, and you won't be able to wave your arms.
Revelation 14:11 says there is "no rest"-never a moment to unwind. Daniel 12:2 describes Hell as a place of "shame and everlasting contempt." In Hell there is nothing but deep, dark, crippling depression. Sinners take all their shame with them to Hell, and they relive their shame moment after moment after moment. There is nothing but the depths of depression in Hell.
To hold in comtempt means "to abhor, to despise, to detest." My friend, you think there is a self-esteem problem here? Well, Hell has the worst self-esteem problem. You will abhor yourself, detest yourself, despise yourself, hate yourself. Though you will want to kill yourself, you won't be able to. Though you will want to die, you won't be able to die. You will want to be saved, but you won't be able to be saved. You will want to be changed, but you won't be able to change. You'll hate yourself, have contempt for yourself and live with your shame and depression for all eternity.
Hell Is a Place of Memory
The rich man in Luke 16 remembered his life. He remembered he had brothers who might come to this horrible place.
For all eternity, individuals who go to Hell will remember they didn't have to be there. They could have gotten saved and gone to Heaven; they didn't have to be in this terrible place. For all eternity they will remember the opportunities they rejected.
If you go from here today unsaved, you will remember my face for all eternity! Now that's punishment enough! But along with remembering my face, you will remember my begging you to trust Christ, begging you to get born again, and asking you to escape the eternal fires of Hell. And you will remember that you said, "No!"
You will spend eternity remembering every preacher's invitation you heard, every gospel tract placed in your hand, every invitation given for you to get saved, everyone who asked you to get saved. You will remember every opportunity you had to get saved, and you will regret that you didn't take one of those opportunities. You will remember, but then it will be too late!
Hell Is a Place of Desires
The first desire of the rich man in Hell was that Abraham take one drop of water and place it upon his tongue. One little drop-what would that do? The man is in eternal fire, in a furnace of fire, in a lake of fire; he is burning in fire and brimstone for all eternity, and he wants just one little drop!
My friend, how long would that one little drop last? Have you ever dropped just one drop of water onto a hot plate? It lasts but for a few seconds. This rich man is begging, crying out for just a drop, just a respite. But he can't have it.
He is saying, "If I could have just a drop of rest from the fire," but he can't have it. His desire will go on for all eternity. He had a desire for mercy, but he didn't get that either.
In Hell for all eternity you will desire to see; for all eternity you will desire to hold a baby; for all eternity you will desire to talk to a friend; for all eternity you will desire whatever you desired on earth. But for all eternity you will never be granted even one of your desires. For all eternity you will be like a drug addict going through withdrawal.
The rich man had a desire to save his brothers; he didn't want them to come into this terrible place. Not one person in Hell wants anyone to go there. If they could, all the voices of those weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth in Hell would cry out to everyone, "Don't come here! Don't come here!"
Hell Is a Place of Physical Bodies
The rich man had eyes, a mouth, a tongue. Those in Hell have bodies in which they must spend eternity, and those bodies will never cease to exist.
Hell Is a Place of Destruction
Second Thessalonians 1:9 says, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." Destruction does not mean annihilation, but ruination, separation from God. So this verse is saying, 'Who shall be punished with everlasting ruination, separation from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power!'
Listen! Those in Hell will be totally separated from any interaction with God.
The Bible says in I John 1:5 that "God is light." Hell is blackness and darkness because God is not there. Hell is total separation from God; therefore, there is no light-just darkness.
First John 4:8 says that "God is love." Hell is total separation from God; therefore, there is no love in Hell-only hatred, bitterness, jealousy and anger.
Matthew 19:17 says, "There is none good but one, that is, God." There is no goodness in Hell, not one little bit of resemblance of good. There is none who do good; there is no good going on. Hell is totally evil.
In Romans 15:33 God is called "the God of peace." Hell is a separation from God; therefore, there is no peace in Hell.
In John 14:16 the Holy Spirit is called the "Comforter." There is no comfort in Hell.
In John 17:17 the Bible says, "Thy word is truth." There is no truth in Hell. You won't have the Word of God in Hell because there will be no truth there. Everything will be suspect, for the father of lies will be there.
Psalm 62:12 says, "Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy." There will be no mercy in Hell.
Psalm 16:11 says this about God: "In thy presence is fulness of joy." There will be no joy in Hell, no laughter, not a single chuckle. No one there will smile because there is no joy there.
III. WHO WILL BE IN HELL?
Second Thessalonians 1:8 says, "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." All who were ever born on this earth and died without trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour will be in Hell.
Revelation 20:15 says, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." So if your name is not written in the book of life, you will be "cast into the lake of fire." The Bible says this book is the Lamb's Book of Life; and the only way one can get his name in it is having Christ as his Saviour, the One who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Without Christ, you are spiritually dead-dead in trespasses and sins. And the only way to be made alive is to be quickened, made alive in Christ. He is the Light and the Life. If you have never trusted Him, then you have never been made alive. Your name is not in the book of life, so you must spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8 tells who will be in Hell: "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." That is the crowd who will go to Hell. If you are unsaved, you will spend eternity with this crowd. You won't be able to see them or touch them or interact with them, but you will hear them and be scared to death of them.
Murderers are there; you will be scared of them. Drug addicts are there; you will be scared of them. Tormentors and torturers and ax murderers and chain-saw murderers are there; you will be frightened of them. Even though they can't cut you or kill you, the fear of them will torment you.
Hitler will be there. Attila the Hun will be there. All the accountable, yet unconverted, crazies and demented of ages gone by will be there. Everyone there will be screaming, weeping, wailing and gnashing his teeth-and threatening. You will be able to hear them, but you won't be able to see them.
According to Matthew 25:41, Hell is a place "prepared for the devil and his angels"-the Devil and all the fallen angels.
Revelation 20:10 tells us that "the beast and the false prophet" from the Tribulation Period will also be there.
In Hell there will be the Devil, the demons, fallen angels, the false prophet and the beast. There will be all the wicked, terrible, horrible sinners who never trusted Christ. You too will be with them if you turned Him down when you had the opportunity to trust Him as your Saviour.
You say, "I can't believe there is such a place." You had better believe it! The Bible says Hell is a real place.
You say, "I don't believe God would send me there." He won't; He is trying His best to save you. One goes to Hell voluntarily.
Hebrews 2:3 asks, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Acts 4:12 assures us: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
You can't get saved by the Virgin Mary or by the saints. You can't get saved by rosary beads or by a pope. You can't get saved by lighting candles. You can't get saved by good deeds or in the waters of baptism. You can't get saved by doing anything except by trusting Jesus Christ and Him alone as your personal Saviour!
Acts 16:31 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The Bible says there is only one Mediator between God and men, and that is the Man Christ Jesus (I Tim. 2:5).
Hell is a place of punishment, but Jesus Christ took your punishment upon the cross at Calvary. He died there in your place. He was smitten; He was rejected; He bore our sins; He was made sin for us. He took all the punishment that you and I deserve. He took our Hell on Calvary's cross.
The Bible says Hell is the vengeance of God. God poured out His vengeance upon His own Son on Calvary's cross so you wouldn't have to be punished by experiencing His vengeance upon you. You can be saved. The only way to escape Hell is by trusting Christ.
John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." The only way to get saved is to trust Christ as your Saviour. Believe on Him, trust Him to forgive your sins, and take Him as your substitute. Take Him as your payment. If you don't, you will go to this place called Hell, where there will be no escape.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."-Rev. 20:6.
My friend, if you have trusted Christ as your Saviour, you are delivered from Hell. You will never smell the stench of burning flesh in Hell. You will never smell the smoke of Hell. You will spend eternity with God the Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son. You will spend eternity in Glory and in His very presence, where there is "fulness of joy."
Friend, where will you spend eternity? Are you going to have a blessed eternity or a cursed eternity? Are you going to spend eternity in Heaven or Hell? It's your choice. YOU must choose. YOU must decide what you will do with Jesus, which is called the Christ.
It is not enough just to know about Him; it is not enough just to acknowledge that He is. You must receive Him and trust Him and Him alone to be your Saviour.