Reverend Anthony R. Locke
April 10th, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
The sermon just before Good Friday in 2011 explains Hell — Last year’s sermon explained how Jesus descended into Hell
Luke 12:4-7 English Standard Version
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
According to a Gallup Polling in 1991, about 78 percent of the American public believed in heaven and about 60 percent of the general public believed in hell.
I think C.S. Lewis had it right when he said that he had never met someone who didn’t believe in Hell, and yet had a life changing belief in heaven.Most people don’t take the time to really think about Heaven, and Hell is even further from their thoughts.
Jesus said that it hasn’t even entered the imagination of the saint the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). Even more so the sinner hasn’t even begun to imagine the bad things that God has prepared for those who hate Him.
Some have said that Hell is the answering of a prayer that you wish you had never prayed. There is a Country song called “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. When the soul of an unbeliever tells God to go away, to stop bothering me, stop telling me about the glory and authority of Jesus, just leave me alone. Eventually, God does.
When God decides to remove His grace and favor from your life, when God leaves you alone, you have entered the worst part of the experience of Hell.
This was the experience of Jesus on the Cross. Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth for six hours. The first three were for man to see Jesus suffer at the hands of sinful man. The last three hours Jesus suffered at the hands of God the Father.
It was in this darkness that Jesus suffered Hell for us. Jesus didn’t get down off the cross and go to Hell to suffer. God brought our eternal torment to Jesus that Jesus might drink the full cup of the wrath of God stored up against sinners.
Jesus became a curse for us. His descent was from the ultimate extremes of unmatched glory in Heaven to untold suffering in Hell.
While on the cross Jesus suffered Hell for us. Jesus even suffered for the 40% of Americans who don’t believe in Hell.
And that suffering started when Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me!”
Jesus was rejected by God the Father. On the Cross Jesus was forsaken, unloved, unwanted, reckoned a curse for our sin, despised and rejected. God hid His face from Jesus.
God the Father stopped shining with favor upon God the Son.
Our worship concludes with God’s covenantal words of blessing called a benediction. This Sunday we are using Numbers 6:24-26. Think of the benediction in reverse.
Jesus wasn’t blessed. He was cursed. His needs were not graciously met by the Good Shepherd. He was cast out of the family and household of God.
God’s face of light was removed. Jesus was enveloped by darkness. Grace was removed. Judgment was poured out. God showed no mercy. None. God unleashed Hell on Jesus. Seriously.
The Great Judge of Heaven and Earth lifted His countenance of anger and fury upon sin while targeting Jesus of Nazareth. God removed all peace so that only vexation of soul might remain.
On the cross Jesus suffered for our sins. Jesus carried our offenses. Jesus became guilty with our transgressions that we might be forgiven. Jesus was God’s sacrifice on our behalf that the children of God might be redeemed.
If there is no afterlife, then why would Jesus offer Himself as the Lamb slain for sinners before the foundation of the world? What did Jesus save us from if there is no eternal punishment?
If there is no Hell, then the suffering of Jesus was a waste.
By faith we know that the suffering of Jesus on the cross was not a waste.
The redemptive work of Jesus is valuable beyond our understanding. The work of Jesus on the cross has the power to buy back every sinner from sin’s bondage. The blood of Jesus has the power to break sin’s death grip on our soul. Jesus conquers death itself.
No one ever has to die and go to Hell. No one. The death of Jesus is valuable enough for my sins, your sins, and the sins of the whole world. We must make a choice.
God is life. To have Jesus is to have life. To reject God is to reject life.
We will either live forever or we will die forever. These are the two choices everyone is given.
Jesus didn’t keep Hell a secret. He didn’t speak political correctness. He didn’t bury the negative information to keep a positive message and grow His ministry. Jesus loved us too much to lie about what was out there.
Like any Jew, Jesus knew about Hell from verses like Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
When the final day comes, God will awaken some to life. Those who did not love and obey God will be resurrected to eternal shame and contempt.
Jesus affirmed this warning in John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Jesus knew about Hell from verses like Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Jesus affirmed this warning in Matthew 10:14-15 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city! Jesus knows that the wicked are judged with everlasting fire.
Jesus knew about Hell from verses like Psalm 55:15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
Jesus affirmed Psalm 55:15 that God sends people to Hell alive. Luke 16:22-24 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
Jesus knew about Hell from verses like Isaiah 66:24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
Jesus affirmed this warning in Mark 9:47-48 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Jesus tells us why God created Hell in Matthew 25:41. God will say to those without faith, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Hell was not originally created for humans. God created Hell for the Devil and for those angels who followed the Devil.
When Satan gets sent to Hell, he will suffer maximum torment. The Devil will not be poking people with a pitchfork. Satan will be alone, consumed with a burning fire and eternally tormented.
Every demon and fallen angel who rebelled against God will be sent to Hell.
And if a human being, made in the image of God and therefore an eternal creature, rejects the God of life, then God will send that person to reside eternally in Hell. It is the only place prepared for God’s enemies. There isn’t a plan “B”.
There is no such thing as Purgatory – only Heaven and Hell.
And when sinners are judged before the presence of God, they will beg to go to Hell. Search the scriptures for people who were terrified. The greatest terror manifest by the human soul within the history of humanity happens when a sinner stands before a Holy God.
They will cower in fear in the presence of God’s holiness. They will pray for the rocks to fall on them and that they might be cast into the depths of the sea. Nothing terrifies the human soul more than standing before the holiness of God unprepared.
Hell will receive them alive and remove them from the glory of God’s white Hot purity and light. Without the righteous robes of Jesus, the naked soul is terrified when standing before the holiness of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:9 tells us, These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
But getting sent to Hell is not really any better. There is no rest for the wicked in Hell.
Revelation 14:10-11, speaking of the antichrist, He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night .”
That’s unimaginable. The extent of the suffering that awaits the sinner in Hell has not yet entered our imagination.
Are you prepared to stand before God? Is your name in His Book of Life?
Revelation 20:14-15 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.”
Let me summarize this sermon with one final thought. Every human fear that could be imagined is used as a metaphor of Hell.
I have a fear of falling. God casts sinners into Hell which is a bottomless pit.
I have a fear of drowning. Hell is a lake of fire in which the sinner forever sinks.
I have a fear of being eaten alive. Jesus says it will feel like worms are eating your body.
I have a fear of being lost in the dark. Matthew 8:12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I have a fear of getting burnt alive.
What do you think – is there real fire in Hell?
Jesus thought so. Jesus described Hell as unquenchable fire Matthew 3:12, a place of eternal fire Matthew 25:41 and as a place of torment, fire, and agony Luke 16:23-24.
Hell is so bad that Jesus said that we should avoid it at all cost.
Matthew 18:8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
Lots of preachers think we shouldn’t teach people to be afraid of God with this doctrine of Hell. Jesus thought differently, Jesus said, Luke 12:5 fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
But Jesus doesn’t talk about Hell to make us cower in fear. Let the words of our passage, verses 6 and 7, comfort your hearts as we conclude.
Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
God watches you as the apple of His eye. Fear not. You are forever safe because Jesus went through Hell for you on the cross. Jesus suffered our Hell to give us His Heaven.
God calls us to faith. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Do you believe in the God of life? Have you been embraced by His love? Have you bowed the knee to His Son? Then you have everlasting life.
May God continue to reveal to us the depth of His love in the suffering of Jesus. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.