The Horrors of Hell Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: The Horrors of Hell
Text: (Luke 16:23)
Scripture Reading: (Luke 16:19-31)
Our text for today is Luke 16:19-31. I want to read for you, the results of a poll taken by Time Magazine and CNN News. It was a telephone poll of 1,018 American adults who were asked these questions:
1. Do you believe in hell, where people are punished forever after they die?
• Yes: 63%
• No: 30%
2. Do people get into heaven based mostly on the good things they do or on their faith in God, or both (asked of 809 who believe in heaven):
• Good things they do: 6%
• Faith in God: 34%
• Both: 57%
3. Immediately after death, which of the following do you think will happen to you? (asked of 809 who believe in heaven):
• Go directly to heaven: 61%
• Go to purgatory: 15%
• Go to hell: 1%
• Be reincarnated: 5%
• End of existence: 4%
Billy Graham has been quoted as saying, “As hell was becoming for many no more than a swear word, sin was also an accepted way of life....If people can ignore what the Bible calls sin, then they can quite logically discount what it says about the reality of hell.” One of the most solemn doctrines in the Bible is eternal punishment. During recent years, little has been written or preached on the subject of hell despite its prominence in the Bible, but we dare not neglect this matter.
The well-known Pastor of a Methodist church in Washington D.C. said, “My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell.” However, Jesus spoke more of hell than of heaven, and our text is one of His plainest statements on the subject. It’s also the only passage in Scripture that describes the feelings of the unsaved after death.
Read Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then 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.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,
28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
Friends, hell is a real place, and a horrible place. I don’t believe anyone would want to go there.
But in 2004, too many people are acting like this rich man. They never think about it. They’re not worried about it, because life is good, and they are happy, at least by the world’s standard. And just like this rich man, the only thing between them and hell is life itself.
I believe that I am talking to Christians, but just in case there is someone here who is not a believer, I am going to ask you to consider nine facts that can be found in these verses.
Consider The Place itself.
The Bible identifies hell as a specific place. One noted preacher told his congregation, “The Lord Jesus tells us plainly that after death the rich man was in hell, tormented with flame.” Another preacher defined hell as “that dark, obscure, and miserable place, far from heaven, where the wicked shall be punished forever.”
The Apostle John was given a revelation of heaven and hell, and he wrote this about what he saw, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
(Revelation 20:13-15) These verses describe the final judgment of the lost at the Great White Throne of Christ.
There is no indication that any individual ever escapes judgment. Sinners who rejected Christ will face Him there and hear Him say, “Depart from Me!” The cause of their final doom is that their names were not found written in the Lamb’s book of life. The absolute worst thing about hell is that those who must go there are eternally separated from God. That will be harder to take than the pain, the thirst, the darkness, the flames, the torment, the loneliness, and the hopelessness.
Consider The Portrait of the rich man (Luke 16:19 –31).
I do not believe this is a fictional story. I believe Jesus drew this story from real life, just like He did His other parables. Jesus used illustrations that were familiar to His hearers. They knew exactly what He was talking about. He used the name of one of the individuals involved, and He wouldn’t have given the name of someone who did not exist. This is the story of a rich man who lived and died without God. He was left to his own imagination, and out of his wildest dreams, he planned his day. Before death, he enjoyed the fine things of life. Every day was a banquet. He wore the finest clothes and feasted constantly. One preacher said, “This was a mark of great wealth, and in the view of the world, evidence of great happiness.”
Consider the rich man’s Dying Moment (v.22b).
The Bible simply says, “....the rich man also died and was buried.” But the funeral must have been a grand affair. The rich man was most likely laid in the best casket, and there was a procession of mourners to accompany him to his grave, and a pompous monument was set up over the grave. Probably, the preacher pushed him all the way to the top spot in heaven. The only trouble is the preacher got his directions mixed up; the rich man went the other way. Wealth does not make anyone secure from death. The rich, as well as the poor, go down to the grave. Death is the common end of which all classes of people must come. Although death is a fact that all acknowledge, few live their lives facing this reality. Most people eat, drink, talk, and plan as if they were going to live on earth forever.
Consider how the rich man Described His Misery (vv.23 –25).
Hell is a place of punishment. The rich man was tormented in the flame, and cried out, “…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.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”’ Hell is also a place of pain.
I read this about the suffering of hell, “The suffering of the wicked in hell will be indescribably great....Remember that this parable of Lazarus and the rich man is only a representation of the pains of those who are confined there and that the suffering will continue day and night, from year to year, and age to age, without end....” The eternalness of hell adds greatly to the torment. There is no possibility of ever getting out. Once in hell, we are in hell forever.
Years ago a great preacher wrote, “There will never be any escape from those gloomy regions. There is a gulf fixed —fixed, not movable. Nor can any of the damned beat a pathway across this gulf to the world of holiness.” The gist of the statement is that death decides forever; it is either Heaven or Hell. The partition that separates man from God is one of the most devastating things about hell.
There are some clues here in this parable to what being in hell is like. For instance, we are told that he saw Abraham afar off. We may think it would be a pleasing sight, but to him, it was a tormenting sight. Abraham was far off, but he was surrounded by devils and tortured companions. Every sight in hell is aggravating. He could see Lazarus being carried in the arms of Abraham; therefore, he envied the man he once despised.
He cried aloud to Abraham for relief from the pain and misery. This once great man, who used to command others in a loud voice, now begs aloud, louder than Lazarus ever did at his gate. But those assigned to hell will not receive even a drop of mercy.