Rest Assured! God is Light!

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

Light represents the power and presence of God in creation.  God said, “Let there be light!”  There was light, God saw it, and proclaimed it good (see Genesis 1-2).  Light also communicates the idea of delight and endearment.  The husband loving says to his wife, “You are the light of my life!”

All living organisms depend upon light for life.  Our perception of color and context exists because of light.  Light is the epitome of discovery and development.  Intellectually, light represents knowledge, truth, and revelation.  It connotes wisdom and comprehension:  “The lightbulb finally went on!”  We speak of the light at the end of the tunnel as a euphemism for hope and help.

While all these things are true, John emphasizes something altogether different in this verse. John writes, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  That is, God is morally pure and holy; He is Light.  He is right, good, and truthful.  There are three claims made in the context of 1 John 1 which are important and focus our understanding of light to mean God’s moral purity.

  1. If we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1.6).
  2. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1.8).
  3. If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His word is not in us (1.10).

Some may say a fourth claim exists in v. 9:  If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  But this claim is a claim to a promise not a claim to self-delusion.  It is the remedy not the problem.

Notice John uses the pronoun we throughout the passage.  It is possible for the Apostle John, the other apostles, and all first century Christians to make the claims above.  John is capable of wrong thinking as well as right thinking.  He is able to make self-delusive claims as well as claim the promise of cleansing.  All Christians are potentially able to do the same.

I believe this verse is John’s declaration concerning the moral character of God.  If we are to rightly relate with God, we must know that He is light.  There is absolutely no darkness in Him.  But we cannot make such a claim about ourselves.  There is darkness in all of us.  So we certainly have a common problem.

This is the Message

John saw with his eyes and handled with his hands the Word of Life (1.1-4).  He testified and declared to the church that eternal life was with the Father and manifested to him and the other apostles.  In turn he declares to the Asia Minor churches (perhaps beginning at Ephesus) and broadens the sphere of fellowship.

What is the message that Jesus revealed to John?  It is that which he heard from Jesus and declares to us.  This is foundational apostolic doctrine from Jesus Himself.  John and the other apostles are our link to Jesus and the truth He left for us.

When John writes, “We have heard from Jesus and declare to you” (v. 5), he use a perfect tense verb.  He is showing us that what was heard was heard at a point in time in the past while he was with Jesus, but it is not heard in the same way today.  But the truth once presented still stands to this day.  As a matter of fact, this good news is declared to you this day as you read!

God is Light

God is light in the sense that He is absolutely pure and holy.  There is absolutely no hint of darkness in God.  He is absolutely pure.  John writes later…

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2–3:3)

When John speaks of walking in the light or walking in darkness, he means that we either walk in purity or walk in immorality.  This is why John communicates the need for believers to confess and seek cleansing at the hands of a faithful, just, and righteous God.  As believers, walking in darkness does not negate spiritual life, but God’s moral nature is not being expressed through our lives when we walk in that darkness.

1 John 1.5 is about purity and sin.  God is light; therefore, we must be characterized by light.  That means we should be sincere, truthful, righteous, and loving.  We fail to reflect the glory of God’s light when we express ourselves with deception, rebellion, and hatred of one another.  It is imperative that we understand the potential for this hatred in each of us.

Do you understand that our lack of holiness makes it impossible for us to grasp the moral purity of God?  This drives us to Christ seeking mercy.  We are dependent upon God to make us pure enough to relate to Him and He with us.

We pray many things, but God hears nothing when we regard iniquity in our hearts.  God demands holiness from each of us because He is holy.

God Sees Me 

“And there is no creature hidden from [God’s] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)  God knows me and by Him my actions are weighed and found wanting (1 Samuel 2.3).  He sees the adulterer covertly managing his life to hide sin from his spouse and children.  God sees the thief rifling through his father’s wallet left on the dresser.  God is aware of the cheat who charges people for services not rendered.  But more than that, God sees the heart.  “Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; so how much more the hearts of the sons of men.” (Proverbs 15:11)

The Scriptures point out that God hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5.5).  He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1.13a).  God abhors the darkness.  There is absolutely no darkness in Him.  We must walk in the light as He is in the light.  That light comes through truth and manifests itself in our hearts purifying us.

Fellowship and Acceptance

God provides fellowship and acceptance as we conform to His holiness.  Many look at the glory and pursuit of holiness as something to be avoided …something that removes joy from life.  Yet holiness is the gateway to fellowship with our Maker.  Our dependence, diligence, and obedience please God because we are in Christ and behaving like Christ.  God makes Himself known to us in a way that He does not make Himself known to the world.  His love is shed abroad in our hearts.  We are privileged to call God our Dearest Father.

Holiness also provides acceptance before God.  We are no longer like the unsaved sinner.  Our sins are gone!  The blood of Christ continuously cleanses us from all sin (1.7).  His blood cleanses us 24-7 so that we may serve God acceptably.  That blood is able to keep you from falling away from God.  It will present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).  When we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship and acceptance.

Faith and Works

Some strive for holiness through their works and disregard the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Others believe that faith will save them but then that faith never produces holiness.  Both of these are deceptive tools of the devil.  We cannot be holy unless we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead.  But faith without the work of holiness is dead.  The devils believe and shriek back in unholy fear at the name of Christ.  Faith will always produce holiness in the believer.  Holiness is evidence that our faith is genuine. Thereby, we walk in the light as He is in the light.

Duty and Delight

We carry out our duties as believers not with drudgery but delight.  We shouldn’t expect the world to think that the pursuit of the glory and holiness of God would bring delight.  They find delight in the darkness of sin.  Delight in life is found for us in our fellowship with God.  And yet fellowship cannot be without conformity to His holiness.  That’s why delight does not rest in a full bank account or a clean bill of health for us.  We delight even in the face of death.  We do so knowing that our pursuit of holiness will finally be perfected when we draw celestial air into our glorified lungs!

God has qualified us as believers to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Colossians 1.12).  We long for the glory of our inheritance in Heaven, but that’s not true for unbelievers.  Unregenerate people would not be happy in Heaven.  They love the darkness and there is only light in Heaven.  They hate God and God’s people; we love God and God’s people.  They would clamor to tear God away from His glorious throne if at all possible.  But we stand amazed in worship before that throne and will forever.

Unbelievers don’t want God to exist and feel great relief when they mistakenly prove to themselves that He doesn’t.  But we revel in the God who is.  This is the message!  There is no other.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”           (1 Peter 2:9–10)

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8)

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:11–14)

Rest Assured! Life, Fellowship, and Joy

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1–4)

Jesus Is Our Eternal Life

The opening four verses of John’s first letter to the churches in Asia Minor (perhaps initially Ephesus) provide two of the five stated reasons John wrote the letter:  1) So that readers might have fellowship with God and one another and 2) So that the readers’ joy might be full (1.3-4).  The kernel thought in the passage may be reduced to the following sentence:  We declare to you that which we have seen and heard.  Of course, John speaks not of a concept but a person. 

Knowing Christ is eternal life.  Eternal life is more than a place or duration.  Eternal life is tied to a Person and His work on our behalf.  That Person is Jesus.  As a matter of fact, we cannot have fellowship with one another apart from Jesus. 

Jesus Is the Word of Life

Revelation 19.13 reveals that when Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, His name will be called The Word of God.  He told Martha in John 11.25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Thus Jesus is the Word of Life.  But He is also the true God and eternal life (1 John 5.20). 

The existence of Jesus as the God-Man was being denied by the false teachers of John’s day.  John clearly confronts it in these opening verses of the Letter.  John walked with Jesus before His crucifixion.  He saw Jesus after He arose from the dead and walked the earth for 40 days.  When terrified at Jesus’ sudden appearance, John heard the Savior say, “Why are you troubled?  And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.  Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24.34).  The Word of Life is Jesus. 

Jesus Is Our Fellowship

Our text reads, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  There is no fellowship without the Person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said through John in his Gospel:  “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”  That is the intimacy and fellowship John speaks of here.  How do we access this fellowship and rest assured together?  We do so through faith. 

The fellowship we enjoy as believers is a privilege we have received because we first received the testimony of God respecting His Son.  We believed that in Jesus is life.  We believed; we live.  This cannot be altered.  But the privilege of fellowship may be forfeited by sin and rebellion.

Jesus Is Our Joy

Verse four says, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  The result of our trust in Jesus is full joy.  It really is inexpressible the joy Jesus brings into our lives.  Fellowship and access with God, fellowship with all the saints, and redemption and reconciliation – that is joy!  And we simply believed.  We ceased from our striving and believed.  Gary Derickson sums up the opening of John’s first letter in the following way:

We will see in this epistle that it matters what we believe about Jesus. Here we have been introduced to Him as life incarnate. A part of mature faith in Christ is recognition of Him as our life, not just life giver. At the same time, we remember we are not eyewitnesses, but among those more blessed than Thomas who believe without seeing (John 20:29). We are dependent on the eyewitness accounts to know in whom our faith is placed and to know the right things to believe. Thereby our faith is in the real Jesus, who saves, and not the invention of our minds or of the minds of others who would create a Jesus in their own image.  [Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris, III and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012). 1 Jn 1:4.]

Is Jesus everything?  Truly?

“Hell? No, I won’t go!”

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

This past year we marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic.  About 1500 people died when the ship that not even God could sink sank.  But perhaps the greater tragedy was that the Titanic had lifeboat space for almost 1200 people.

20 lifeboats were lowered and only a few were filled to capacity.  Only a little over 700 passengers and crew were rescued, and 40% of the total lifeboat spaces remained unfilled.  Hundreds of people floated in the open icy waters wearing life jackets.  Only one lifeboat went back to search for survivors.  The rest remained a safe distance from the horrific tragedy.  They comforted one another and even praised God for being spared.  All the while people were dying.

As a church, does our outreach ‘make room’ for the lost and dying in this world?  Or do we lack the compassion needed to weep for the lost.  Perhaps we are safe in our redemptive lifeboat comforting one another and praising God for being spared as we read our text this morning.

The truth is that the wicked are being turned into hell and the nations are forgetting God.  The need of the hour is for compassion for the lost.  But to get there, we must understand a subject we often avoid.  Pray for a clear understanding of this text as I preach.  Pray for compassion to reach a lost and dying world.

The first question we must ask concerning this verse is simple…

Who are the wicked?

I would venture to guess that most of us would not define ourselves as wicked this morning.  We generally reserve this adjective for really evil people …people like Charles Manson or Adolf Hitler.  We usually use ourselves as the standard and measure wickedness accordingly.  We always end up outside the sphere of wickedness as we think of it.  Other people are wicked but not me.  Yet God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.  His ways are not our ways.

The parallelism in this verse makes it clear that the wicked are those who forget God.  While some are more culpable than others, the wicked have three characteristics which define them…

First, wicked people don’t care about God’s commands as written in their hearts and communicated in His Word.  Wicked people choose instead to think only of themselves.

Is there anyone who has ever lived on this earth who hasn’t thought only of what would please himself at some point in his life?  There is One.  His name is Jesus.  Thus, everyone else is wicked.  We have rebelled against God and have set up thrones over our own perceived dominions.

Second, wicked people actually work at forgetting God.  It takes work to forget the mercies and lovingkindnesses of our God …to drain your life of compassion and gratitude.  The redemption of God offered in the Person and Work of His only Begotten Son is the greatest gift we will ever receive.  But what if we choose to forget it?  What if we treat it as something despised?  If so, we are deemed wicked by God.

Third, wicked people treat God as if He was not here.  God has given us a way to not only be mindful of His presence, but to actually walk with Him.  But we act as if He is not here.  It simply doesn’t bother us to think this way hour after hour and day after day.

We speak as if He will not hold us accountable for every word.  We act as if only what is seen and felt matters.  We have no desire to be with those assembled in churches praying and worshipping.

We live without God in the world, and we are wicked.  It is not just the adulterer or murderer who is wicked.  All who are without Christ have no hope because they are without God in the present world (Eph 2.12).  When we act as though God is not here, we have much in common with those without Christ and without hope.

Now, we ask yet a second question…

Where will the wicked end up?

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

Where will they wicked end up?  It’s stated pretty simply:  They shall be turned into hell.

The word hell in this verse is the English translation of a Hebrew word which basically means the grave (sheol).  While it it true that in other OT contexts, sheol simply means grave, it means something more here.  Why?  Well, because righteous and wicked people end up in the grave.  So, this verse must include a more comprehensive understanding of the final destination of the wicked.  Thankfully we have a complete revelation of God.  The progress of revelation provides for us an more informed understanding of Hell.

The NT references to Hell are found mostly in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Two words in the NT are translated Hell:  Gehenna and Hades.

1) Gehenna (12 times) is a word derived from a place known as the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.  This valley was a notorious site of idolatry and child sacrifice in the OT.  God’s own people participated in this wicked practice.  The NT imagery adds to the horror of this place.  It was a place of constantly burning refuse in Jesus’ day.  Occasionally, a murder victim would be dumped in Gehenna with the refuse.  Here is what we find this out from the dark history of Israel regarding this valley…

  • King Ahaz was a wicked king of the northern confederacy of a divided Israel.  He sacrificed his own son in the flames of this valley to show his allegiance to a false god (2 Kings 16.3).  This was done by placing an infant in the stone arms of a statue of the false god Molech.  Flames had heated the statue and were stoked to consume the child in an act of human sacrifice – beyond anything tolerable for us to imagine.  It is akin to the heinousness of partial birth abortion.
  • King Ahab did the same with his son (2 Kings 21.6).
  • Mercifully, King Josiah ended this abomination.  He defiled “the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, so that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech” (2 Kings 23.10).

Jesus used the images of Gehenna and the constant burning of the dead in many startling ways.

  • He said that whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of Gehenna (Mt 5.22).
  • He said it would be better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand in order to stay out of Gehenna (5.29-30).
  • He warned, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt 10.28).
  • He confronted the Pharisees by pronouncing woe upon them for their hypocrisy.  He accused them saying, “You travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourselves” (Mt 23.15).  Jesus rhetorically asks of these hypocrites later in the same passage, “How can you escape the condemnation of Gehenna?” (Mt 23.33)
  • Mark 9.43-48 state that Gehenna’s fire is never quenched.
  • But there is a second Greek word for Hell as well.

The second word translated Hell in the Scripture is…

2) Hades (11 times) is the common Greek term for the world of the dead.  The Hebrew word, Sheol or grave, is translated in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Hebrew OT, the one Jesus used) as Hades.  We do well to note the specifics regarding this word in the NT…

  • Jesus condemned the people of Capernaum to Hades because the mighty works He did in their presence were met with rejection.  As a matter of fact, the degree of Capernaum’s punishment in Hades would be greater than that of those in the city of Sodom.  The reason for this is that Capernaum’s culpability was greater.  They knew more and were thus more responsible for what they knew.

And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you. (Matthew 11:23–24)

  • Jesus also said that the gates of Hades would not prevail against the onslaught of His church (Matt 16.18).  This certainly indicates that Hell is a place.
  • The rich man was in torments in Hades after he died (Lk 16.23).
  • The term is used in connection with the resurrection of Jesus.  Using the words of David, Luke quotes, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades” and explains later that God would raise up the Christ to sit on David’s throne.  The soul of Jesus was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.  See Acts 2.27, 31.
  • Hades will be robbed of a victory because Christians will rise.  See 1 Cor 15.55.
  • Revelation pairs Hades with death each time it is mentioned:

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:18)

So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)

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.” (Revelation 20:13–14)

We are able to summarize these words fairly easily.  Hades is associated with a place of punishment.  Both Hades and Gehenna speak of torment.  Hades does not end.  But both death and Hades are cast into the final abode of all the wicked, namely the Lake of Fire.  The Lake of Fire is everlasting.

Fire is a common thread when Hell and final judgement are mentioned in the NT.  The writer of Hebrews calls Hell fiery indignation (10.27).  Peter states that the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire until the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men (2 Pet 3.7).  Jude deems Hell the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7).  It is a place of darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.

I think we do well to pause now and really think of the horror of Hell.  It’s beyond our imaginations, but there is something that I found that does the best job I’ve read so far in describing the terror of eternal Hell.  The book Crashmaker: A Federal Affaire paints a graphic picture of Hell. The villain, Alan Stillwell, has a nightmare in which he meets the atheistic French philosopher Voltaire in Hell:

Voltaire’s countenance appeared white, not because it was dead, bloodless flesh, but because it was a mask of the most intense, living fire. So, too, flames enveloped his whole body—if, indeed, what Stillwell saw beneath the fire could properly be called a body at all. Twisted and deformed, it mocked the shape of a man. As black as charcoal, shimmering in reds and oranges with the incandescence of combustion, the thing seethed with ulcers of molten flesh that suppurated (festered) to a white heat, spit out jets of fiery matter, then collapsed upon themselves, only to burst forth in some other spot.

At the margins of these migrant craters emerged orange ribbons—no, Stillwell saw to his horror, worms. Standing on end, the creatures writhed in the flames, then melted into a translucent yellow liquid that poured back over the body and ignited, the bluish tongues of fire from this foul fuel spawning more of the awful parasites that then bored their way back into the body. As Stillwell watched, his mouth agape, chunks of Voltaire’s black flesh crumbled in showers of sparks, revealing bones almost transparent in their white heat. The fire all around consumed the flesh before it fell far. But when Stillwell looked again, the body was once more intact—always destroying itself, yet always whole. A fool’s cap of the most intense flames crowned the [philosopher’s] head, but not because his hair itself was alight. Rather, in the manner of a wick drawing on an inexhaustible reservoir, the follicles sucked from fissures in Voltaire’s skull liquefied brain that burned with a fury born of the unhappy combination of the intellectual brilliance of his mind and the perverse purposes to which he had put it.

Somehow, Stillwell could bear to look on all that. What he saw in Voltaire’s eyes, though, shook [him] to his core: all the depravity of man the philosopher had unleashed during and after his lifetime. And, underlying that monstrous crime against humanity, its true cause: Voltaire’s overweening pride.

[Voltaire confesses,] “My own reason enchained me, too, in disbelief. I ridiculed the Absolute. I imagined myself capable of giving new laws to the world, even of dethroning God. But what help were my pithy skepticism, my witty unbelief, all the blasphemies of my facile pen when at length I found my name inscribed in the Book of Eternal Death? Oh, then to erase, to amend! Alas, too late. I pulled down the Prophet, Priest, and King from the Cross without knowing that, in so doing, I would nail myself there in His stead, to become defenseless before the supreme tribunal, with no Savior to forgive my transgressions, no Church to reconcile me with my Creator.”

Stillwell shuttered, as if a dagger had been driven into the soul he knew he did not have. “Why do you want to save me?” he probed. “Save you?!” the spirit shrieked, shaking with fury. “I long for your damnation! To work for the salvation of souls my own sins have corrupted is part of my punishment. How it tortures me to fear that you might be saved, whilst I must remain forever [here].”

Victor Sperandeo and Alvaro Almeida, Crashmaker: A Federal Affaire; submitted by Jerry Cline, Upland, Indiana

The wicked will end up in Hell filled with great everlasting horror and unspeakable torment.  “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)  Just as Stillwell looked at the body of Voltaire once more intact—always destroying itself, yet always whole.

Hell is eternal conscious punishment.  The torment is spiritual, emotional, and physical.  The Bible defines the fire of Hell, the punishment of the wicked, and their destruction as everlasting.  People in Hell will not simply be annihilated, but rather they will suffer eternal destruction.

The judgement is eternal not temporary.  Hell is real and horrific.  But the greatest horror of Hell is the final, everlasting separation from God.  The inhabitants of Hell will get their desire:  God will not be a part of their existence anymore.   Hell is the absence of God.  And that absence is felt without a respite and without an end.  We tremble at the thought of it.

Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….” (2 Corinthians 5:11a)

But some men will remain unpersuaded.  The devil works hard at taking as many with him to Hell as he possibly can…

It is said that Satan once called to him the emissaries of Hell and said he wanted to send one of them to earth to aid women and men in the ruination of their souls.

He asked which one would want to go. One creature came forward and said, “I will go.” Satan said, “If I send you, what will you tell the children of men?” He said, “I will tell the children of men that there is no heaven.” Satan said, “They will not believe you, for there is a bit of heaven in every human heart. In the end everyone knows that right and good must have the victory. You may not go.”

Then another came forward, darker and fouler than the first. Satan said, “If I send you, what will you tell the children of men?” He said, “I will tell them there is no hell.” Satan looked at him and said, “Oh, no; they will not believe you, for in every human heart there’s a thing called conscience, an inner voice which testifies to the truth that not only will good be triumphant, but that evil will be defeated. You may not go.”

Then one last creature came forward, this one from the darkest place of all. Satan said to him, “And if I send you, what will you say to women and men to aid them in the destruction of their souls?” He said, “I will tell them there is no hurry.” Satan said, “Go!”

Bruce Thielemann, “Tide Riding,” Preaching Today No. 30; submitted by Kevin A. Miller, Wheaton, Illinois

Some are blithe and ignorant about the truth of eternal perdition.

Paul “Red” Adair was the oil field firefighter first made famous by a 1968 John Wayne movie The Hellfighters. After the first Gulf War, he led the effort to cap the Kuwaiti oil wells set ablaze by Iraq. Adair was a brash, fearless fighter. He joked in 1991 that it would be no different after he died. “I’ve done made a deal with the devil,” he said. “He said he’s going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won’t put all the fires out.”

Adair died at age 89 on August 7, 2004. The devil, he may have discovered by now, is a liar.

Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: Obituaries, Chicago Tribune (8-10-04)

Others believe the lie that their works will keep them from eternal perdition.

In a Reader’s Digest interview, Muhammad Ali stated: “One day we’re all going to die, and God is going to judge us for [our] good deeds and bad deeds. If the bad outweighs the good, you go to hell. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven.”  How different that view is from the gospel!

“Ali,” Reader’s Digest (December 2001), p. 93; submitted by Robert Wenz

The Gospel means not forgetting God.  It means not misunderstanding what He has revealed and not scoffing at it either.  One day, men will yearn for the rocks to fall upon them and the mountains cover them rather than face the wrath of Almighty God.  But they will be turned into Hell just as sure as the righteous will be secure in Heaven above.

The apathy so deeply rooted in our world today has lulled Christians into complacency and unbelievers into indifference.  God is not a man that He should lie.  He demands that we flee from the wrath which is to come!

A friend encouraged author Neil Cole to tour the Rodin museum while in France. Reflecting on Rodin’s most famous work, Cole writes,

Rodin was a French impressionist sculptor. Though many do not realize his name, most are familiar with his work. He created the Thinker. What you may not realize is that the Thinker was really a study he had done to sit on the top of his greatest masterpiece—The Gates of Hell. For years we have been wondering what it is that the Thinker is thinking about… What the Thinker is contemplating is an eternity of judgment separated from God.

Cole’s friend began to describe The Gates of Hell, which depicts innumerable beings writhing in agony on their way to judgment. As the vision of the work gripped Cole’s friend, she said, “Oh, I could just stare at The Gates of Hell forever.”

It was quiet for a moment as the significance of her words became clear. Cole writes, “All I could think of to say at that moment was, ‘Oh, I hope not.'”

Neil Cole, Cultivating a Life for God, (ChurchSmart Resources, 1999) p. 120; submitted by Dietrich Schindler, Otterbach, Germany

God has witnessed many generations preceding our own striving to forget Him.  “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)  God has been banished from our court rooms and school houses …from our homes, books, and media choices.  He is not in our conversations or thoughts.

Yet we are not yet turned into hell.  He patiently and mercifully seeks to receive those who have forgotten Him.  He continues to pursue them in love.  One day the wicked will be turned into a place where one drop of water will remain unavailable for the parched tongue.  But today is the acceptable day of salvation!  May God grant that you have found it.  May God grant that we are able to persuade others knowing the terror of the Lord!

Prayer of Saving Repentance:

  • Lord, I know that Hell is real and that I am wicked by Your definition.  I have forgotten you and lived selfishly.  I am deserving of the judgment spoken of today.
  • But I know that salvation, righteousness, and Heaven are real as well.  That they are gifts not earned but free to us, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
  • I understand that you will judge sin and the wicked one day, but that you are merciful and loving today.
  • I believe that Jesus is God the Son.  That He never sinned or knew sin, but became sin for me so that I might have the righteousness of God in Him.  I believe that Jesus died, was buried, and is risen.  Right now I place my trust in Him alone for eternal life.
  • Please help me know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly.