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Five Agonies of Hell
In order to understand salvation crystal-clear you must understand eternal judgment because we are all sinners and an unsaved sinner is on his road to destruction. Today there's not much preaching on Hell but I would like to share some thoughts with you about the final and eternal resting-place of every unforgiven sinner.
Look at Luke chapter 16. There Jesus graphically portrays what Hell is like. I see in this passage what I call the Seven Agonies of Hell but I'd only like to address five of them right now. I would like to give you an idea of where the unforgiven sinner spends eternity.
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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.' But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." (Luke 16:19-26KJV)
Agony of exploding fear
Contemplate the agonies of Hell. First of all, I would like to draw your attention to the agony of what I call "exploding fear." The Bible says he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.
Consider dying: Moments after you die you lift up your eyes and you're in the pit of Hell. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18 that ‘fear hath torment. " Can you imagine the torment, the fear that came upon this man as he opened up his eyes in Hell and saw where he was and the fear exploded in his heart? The writer to the Hebrews said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). Do you believe that? It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Sinners on the verge of death often testify of what is coming for them on the other side. Look at the testimony of men who have had one foot in this life and one foot in eternity:
M. F. Rich, the famous atheist, as he was dying said, "I would rather lay on a stove and broil for a million years than go into eternity with the eternal horrors that hang over my soul. I have given my own immortality for gold and its weight sinks me into an endless hopeless: helpless Hell."
Sir Francis Newport, the head of an English Infidels Club said to those gathered around his deathbed, "You need not tell me there is no God, for I know there is one and that I am in His angry presence. You need not tell me there is no Hell, for I know there is, for I already feel my soul slipping into the fire."
Oh, the agony of those who go to Hell! The exploding fear that must come upon the heart of every man, woman and child that opens up their eyes after death and finds themselves in Hell!
Agony of unquenchable fire
The Bible says 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.'
Jesus often spoke of Hell in the Bible. He often spoke of the fire that was in Hell. Twenty-one times in the New Testament Jesus talked about the fires of Hell. In Luke 3 He called it the "unquenchable fire" (Luke3:17). In Matthew 5 He called it "Hellfire" (Matthew 5:22). In Matthew 18 He called it "everlasting fire" (Matthew 18:8). And in Matthew 13 Jesus described it very graphically as "a furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:42). Consider that Hell is a place of fire.
The teaching of hellfire has faced a lot of opposition in recent years. More and more people that I meet try to convince me that there is no fire in Hell. Some question how a man's body could remain in Hell and burn forever and ever but let me ask you this: how do you think Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went into the fiery furnace and their flesh was not touched? Don't you think God has the wisdom to send men to Hell and allow their bodies to be burned and tormented forever and ever without them being burned up?
Some have argued that only the body goes to Hell and the soul is annihilated and is no more. But Jesus refutes that when He says, "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell" (Matthew 10:28). It's the agony of unquenchable fire.
Agony of a condemning conscience
Abraham said, 'Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime....' This verse tells us that when the rich man went to Hell he took something with him: his memory.
That man is still in Hell today and he has his memory. He has a conscience. Perhaps he remembers his mother's prayers for his salvation. Perhaps he remembers his lost opportunities to be saved. Perhaps he remembers the many times he passed by Lazarus and he looked down on Lazarus with contempt and he didn't help him. Perhaps he remembers the ingratitude he had towards God even after having been heaped upon with His riches. Perhaps he remembers the adulterous relationship he enjoyed. Or perhaps he remembers his excess of carousing and drinking parties.
Let me ask you: what is in your memory? What is in your memory from all of your life? What is stored in there? Are you willing to take it with you to Hell?
Men sit in jail cells and penitentiaries all across this country. They sit there and they have time to think. Many take sheets and they tear the sheets in strips. They tie those sheets together and they tie one end of the sheet onto something up on the ceiling and they get up on a bed and they put the other end of the sheet around their neck They jump down and they hang themselves. Many a time a guard comes in the morning and sees a prisoner hanged in his cell.
Do you know why, many times, they do that? It's because they can't live with the memory of the sin they committed.
There was a man by the name of Judas Iscariot who one day betrayed the Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Because his conscience was so bothered, he took those thirty pieces of silver and he went back to the chief priests and the elders. He threw those thirty pieces of silver down before their feet. They said, ‘We don't want this. It's the price of blood. ‘(Matthew 27:6)
Judas Iscariot's memory and his conscience destroyed him. The Bible says that he left the temple and he went out and he ran and he ran and he ran to try to get rid of his memory, his convicting conscience from betraying the Son of God. We read in the Bible that he found a tree and he took a rope and he tied one end on the tree and he got up in the tree. He put the other end of the rope around his neck and he hanged himself because he couldn't live with a conscience that was condemning him.
Your conscience and some of your memory might be condemning you. What's in your memory? Did you defraud your brother? Did you hit your wife? Did you commit incest with your daughters? Did you cheat on your taxes? Are you sleeping with another man's wife and he doesn't know it? Is your conscience silent or is it crying out against you?
Turn to Mark 9. There Jesus again speaks of Hell and He says something very interesting that I'd like you to see:
"And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into Hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:43:48 KJV)
I would like you to notice something unusual in that verse. The Bible does not say the worm dieth not. It actually tells us their worm dieth not. What is Jesus trying to say? What is this worm of theirs that is in Hell and never dies? If you read this passage in the Greek NT it says, "the worm that is their own never dies. " I believe that what Jesus is saying to us is that this worm is our memory and this worm is our conscience.
When a lost man, like this rich man, dies and goes to Hell, he takes his memory and his conscience with him to Hell. Hell is a place where they remember and they remember and they remember and that worm of memory never dies.
In a little town in Georgia a number of years ago there was a man who was driving a bus. He was driving a busload of children home from school. On the way home he came to a railroad track and he looked to his left and there was no one coming. He looked to his right and he noticed there was a train coming down the tracks but he didn't accurately gauge how quickly it was coming. He misjudged. A little boy on the bus that day would later testify that the bus driver said underneath his breath, "I think I can make it." He went out on the tracks and unfortunately for all that were in the bus, the bus stalled in the middle of the tracks. As this man frantically tried to get the bus started the locomotive came barreling down upon them. The locomotive hit the bus with all the force of its hundreds of tons and the bus was just demolished. Bodies went everywhere. It was one of the worst tragedies the little town ever faced. Many of the children on the bus that day died. Many of them were mangled for life. But one of the other tragedies that happened that day was the fact that the bus driver lived, because he walks the streets of that little city like a zombie. A zombie because he can't live with the memory of that awful day when he took a busload of children out in the middle of the railroad tracks and sent many of those onboard into eternity. I wonder — can you live with your memory forever and ever and ever?
If there's one reason that I would beg you to repent of your sin and to cry out to the Lord Jesus, if there's one reason I would ask you to do it, I would ask you to do it because the Bible says son, remember that thou in thy lifetime... You'll have your memory in Hell.
Agony of no escape
Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.'
Do you see what Jesus is telling us about Hell? As the rich man opened up his eyes he looked and he saw a huge Heaven. And he saw a huge gulf separating himself from Heaven. He realized in his heart that there was no escaping. Abraham said to him, 'Son, listen, no one can come from there to us, neither can we send anyone from us to you.' I see in that verse the agony of no escape.
According to the Scriptures, Hell is a place where every door is locked, every gate is sealed, and every window is shut. There are no exit signs in Hell my friends, there are none. There is no possibility of escape.
About three miles west of San Francisco in the San Francisco Bay there is a rock that comes up out of the water. It's called Alcatraz. There back in 1931 the United States Government decided to build a Federal Penitentiary. They nicknamed the prison the "inescapable prison."
Alcatraz: the walls were impregnable. Barbed wire 20 or 30 feet up surrounded the prison. There were guards posted everywhere in towers with guns. If you managed to get by all that you had to jump from a cliff into the Pacific Ocean where there were swirling waters all around the island. And if you managed to survive the jump you only had a three-mile trip in 51-degree water to get to San Francisco. There have been tales and legends and movies but as far as true history records, there is no one living who ever escaped and lived to tell about it.
Consider what man can do. Consider a prison that man can make. Then consider the infinite wisdom of God. Consider how God can make a penitentiary for the dead that is inescapable. According to the Bible, here this rich man looked out and there was no possibility of escape.
Listen to me, my friend. Won't you please look before you leap into a place from which no man has ever returned? It's a place from where those that go there never come out — forever. You think about that.
Agony of an endless eternity in torment
Jesus spoke often of the eternality of Hell. In Matthew 25:46 Jesus said, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment. " In Matthew 18:8 Jesus called it, "everlasting fire. " I say this to you: if you believe in an everlasting eternal Heaven, then you must believe in an everlasting eternal Hell.
Consider what it would be like to be hungry for all eternity. Are you prepared for eternity? Our minds don't often like to think of eternity but you must.
A while back there was a jet that took off from Long Island, New York. It was a TWA jet. It took off and it began to climb to around 12,000 feet. Around 8 or 10 minutes after it took off, all of a sudden, without any warning, the jet exploded in midair and over 200 people died in the explosion. They fell to the ocean.
As I think about that, I consider the reality that on that plane that night there were probably mothers who were changing a diaper on a baby or maybe they were cuddling with their little one. There were fathers who were reading the newspaper, maybe reading about their favorite sports team. There were young men and there were young women on that plane and maybe they were talking to each other about a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Then without any warning at all, in the next two seconds, they were standing in eternity.
Have you ever considered that God's death arrows fly invisibly and who knows whether or not one may someday just all of a sudden take you? Consider eternity.
The infidel Marabou lay dying on his bed and he said to the doctor, "Doctor, give me more opium that I may not think of eternity."
Ponder eternity: forever and ever and ever. That rich man has been there for over 2,000 years and he hasn't even begun to suffer in eternity.
Jonathan Edwards described eternity in Hell with these words: "It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of almighty God one moment but you must suffer it for all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward you shall see long forever — a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts and amaze your soul and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages — millions and millions of ages. In wrestling and conflicting with this Almighty merciless vengeance and then when you have so done, when many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains, so that your punishment will indeed be infinite." All that we can possibly say about Hell is but a feeble representation of it. It is inexpressible and inconceivable for "who knoweth the power of [His] anger?" (Psalms 90:11)
Consider eternity. I know we as mortal human beings don't like to think about it but if you're lost and you've never been born again, consider eternal damnation: forever and ever and ever.
Every one of us is a sinner. We are not perfect. We have gone astray. You and I are on the road to eternal damnation and destruction unless we are forgiven.
If you die in your sins tonight, the story I just related to you about the rich man will be your home forever and ever. Consider that. You look at those pages and you say, "I don't want to go there." But the Bible says that if you die unforgiven you will be there forever and ever and ever.
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