What you need to know is the Bible does not describe hell that way. But if something far worse than hell on earth, you also need to know that your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, absolutely believed in hell.
And he spoke on it a lot. Many people think that everyone will end up in a good place one day. They simply don't want to believe that hell exists.
What does God say about the very real place called hell? Right now, we want to tell you about a resource that equips you with a vast amount of Bible knowledge from Skip so you can deepen your faith even more. Skip often has the privilege of hosting guest speakers. Guests like Franklin Graham and Lee Strobel, who've become great friends to Pastor Skip Heitzig in this Bible teaching ministry.
Here's another, our friend Levi Lusko. What's life with Jesus like? It's life, not without storms, but going through storms with an anchor, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil. An anchor for the soul.
What a wonderful thing. Skip and Friends is a CD or digital package of messages from five friends, plus five special teachings by Skip. It is yours as our thank you gift for your gift of $50 or more to help connect others to the hope and truth found only in God's word.
With your gift of $50 or more, we'll send you the Skip and Friends collection of 10 messages on CD or give you digital access. For example, here's our friend Eric Metaxas. The evidence for God is astonishing. The evidence from science has piled up so dramatically that I'm here to tell you it's absolutely no contest. Science points to the existence of God utterly dramatically in a way that it is as open and shut as any open and shut question ever could be.
And we're talking about science. Get your copy of Skip and Friends when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Now, we're in Matthew Chapter 25 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's message. A survey that I came across, a Pew Forum survey indicates 87% of Americans believe in God. Pretty high.
It goes down a little bit after that. Those 74% of Americans say they believe in heaven and only 59% say they believe in hell. Why that really interests me is because all of those topics have the same source material. When it comes to God or heaven or hell, it's all come from this book. So you got a lot of people believing in God, few less believing in heaven, but a whole lot less believing in hell. Rob Bell, who is a name some of you may be familiar with, he was sort of a rock star in evangelical circles years ago, a young upstart pastor in Michigan, wrote books that got a lot of airplay. Velvet Elvis is one of them, I think his first book.
Another book, Love Wins. He has since his start taken a very liberal approach to truth, so as to deny even biblical truth, but he was asked in an interview a very simple and forthright question. Is there a hell?
Here's his answer. I actually think there is a hell because we see hell every day. He described hell as greed, injustice, rape, abuse. We see hell on earth all around us all the time. We actually see lots of people choosing hell.
We see oppression, we see tyranny, we see dictators using their power to eliminate opposition literally. In other words, Rob Bell is saying, yeah, there's a hell, but not an eternal hell, there's just hell on earth. It's when bad people do bad things to hurt a whole lot of people, that's hell. What you need to know is the Bible does not describe hell that way, but of something far worse than hell on earth.
You also need to know that your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, absolutely believed in hell, and he spoke on it a lot. One of the places that he spoke on it is Matthew 25. I'm going to begin reading in verse 31. When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another. As the shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right hand, come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
If you would go down to verse 41, then he will also say to those on the left hand, depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me no food. I was thirsty, you gave me no drink. I was a stranger, you did not take me in. Naked, you did not clothe me.
Sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you? Then he will answer them, saying, assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Now, let me just kind of tell you some preliminary stuff. Some people see what I just read as an event called the judgment of the nations. Eschatologically, they see this as an event taking place in the future where God judges nations after the tribulation period based on how they treated the nation of Israel during the tribulation period to determine their admission into the kingdom age or not. That's one way to interpret it. Other people see this as a general description of judgment for all saved and all unsaved. I am not here to unravel that.
I just really want to focus on this topic, so I just wanted to get that out there. I really want to focus on verse 41 where it says, he will say to those on the left, depart from me, you cursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Now, the illustration that our Lord uses is an illustration they would have understood of a shepherd separating sheep and goats.
In the Middle East, even to this very day, you can see this happening. You will see shepherds on hillsides. They have a flock that is mixed, some sheep and some goats, but they're walking together. But then the shepherd will separate the sheep from the goats at two very important times during the day, grazing time and sleeping time. And that is because sheep and goats have very different temperaments. Sheep are docile, sometimes clueless. They just sort of kind of meander around, wander around. Goats are sort of impervious to things. They're aggressive. They're rambunctious.
They'll charge things. The sheep would not do that. So when it comes to feeding, it's not good to keep them together when they eat. It's not good to keep them together when they rest. They don't rest well together. So the shepherd will separate the sheep from the goats.
That's the background of this. What I'd like to do is kind of zeroing in on these verses, but mostly verse 41, I want to share five facts about hell. And the first is that hell is an actual place.
It's an actual place. You see, Jesus in this section is speaking of an actual event that will take place in the future. Verse 31, when the Son of Man comes in his glory. Now, here's a simple question. Is Jesus going to come? Literally?
Yes, he is. He said that on a number of occasions. So did all the apostles.
So we're dealing with a literal event in the future. And then in that same context, he speaks about eternal punishment and eternal kingdom. Now, if you were to do a quick search of the word hell in an English Bible, like the New King James Version that I speak from, you'd find that the word hell in English shows up 32 times in the Bible.
32 times. But all of the references about hell throughout the Bible total 162 times. And sometimes they're just sort of plain in your face, upfront, like Psalm 9 17. The wicked shall be turned to hell and the nations, all the nations that forget God.
Pretty straight up. Or Daniel chapter 12, where Daniel predicts a time that is coming, the worst time ever in history, called the tribulation period. And afterwards, he writes, multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. But by far, the majority of all the biblical teaching we have on hell comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. More than anybody else, Jesus spoke on hell. In fact, Jesus spoke on hell more than Jesus spoke on heaven. It is estimated, if you look at Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all the times he refers to it, 70 times. 70 times Jesus spoke about or referred to hell.
And in the kind of language that nobody can like yawn at, you can go, yeah, whatever. It's the kind of language that strikes terror, or it should, into every heart. He spoke about hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. He spoke of hell as a place where the fire is not quenched.
This is the Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke of hell as a place where the worm never dies. He spoke of it as outer darkness, a place where one is tormented by flames and past memories.
And he spoke of it as a place where there's a great gulf that is fixed between hell and paradise. Jesus, in Matthew 10, verse 28, said, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. This is Jesus, man of love.
Now, here's my question. If we cease to exist after we die, that's it. We just live and we die and we cease to exist, then why did he spend so much time warning people about hell? And if you think, well, that's not very loving, I contend it's the most loving thing you can do. If you know there's a hell and you don't warn people of it, that's not loving. If there is a hell and you warn people of it, that's loving. And he warned people a lot of it.
C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain, these words, There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and especially of our Lord's own words.
It has always been held by Christendom and it has the support of reason. See, if there is no hell, then the Bible's a book of myths. If there is no hell, then Jesus was just a misguided soul. If there is no hell, then the crucifixion was pointless, there's no significance in dying to save us from what? If there's no hell, then you should sin as much as you possibly can. Because it's not sin, it's just fun, right?
It's just all about you getting pleasure in this life, sucking it like an orange, dry at every drop of enjoyment you can. But if there are consequences for deeds and beliefs, then we should receive the warning. Hell is an actual place. And there are several words the New Testament uses to describe it. One is the word Hades. Hades, the Greek word Hades, is the equivalent of an Old Testament Hebrew word sheol, which simply means the grave. It is spoken about a couple of different ways. Sometimes it refers to just the grave in the ground where bodies are buried. Sometimes it refers to life after the grave.
The soul's existence after death. That's one word, Hades. Another word is the word Gehenna. It is used 12 times, mostly by the Lord Jesus. Did you know that Gehenna originally referred to a valley outside of Jerusalem? The southwest corner of Jerusalem has a valley to this day, a ravine called Gehenom, the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. And in ancient days, it was a garbage dump.
You threw your garbage. There was always a fire going on. Bodies of criminals were placed there and burned up there. Bodies of animals taken from the city that died so the city wouldn't be defiled, thrown into hell, Gehenna.
In the 8th century BC, it was the place where under King Ahaz and King Manasseh, people offered their children as sacrifices to pagan gods. And because of that detestable, horrible, smelly, burning place, it became a metaphor for an eternal place of punishment, hell. A third word that is used is the word Tartarus. It's only used once in the New Testament, 2 Peter 2, as a place for bound, fallen angels awaiting final judgment. The fourth term is the Lake of Fire.
It's Revelation 19 and 20. The Lake of Fire is the name of a place of eternal torment. You might call it the final hell.
The Bible calls it the second death. So hell is an actual place. There's a second fact I want you to notice, and that is hell is an intentional place. What I mean by that is God created hell for a very specific reason. Verse 41. He will say to those on the left hand, depart from me, you curse, into the everlasting fire, here it is, prepared for the devil and his angels. God did not create hell as a place to punish people originally.
It became that eventually, but it was not created that way originally. And notice the word prepared for the devil and his angels. Compare that with verse 34. The king will say to those on the right, come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you. That's what God prepared for people. Heaven.
Jesus said to his disciples, I am going to prepare a place for you. So heaven is prepared for people, hell is prepared for the devil and his angels. However, there's something about God you need to know. God is pro-choice when it comes to salvation. When it comes to salvation, God lets people choose where they want to go. And if they don't want anything to do with God, I want nothing to do with God, God's not going to force you to be in heaven, where he is all the time.
He'll let you and respect your choice. G.K. Chesterton wrote, hell is God's great complement to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice. A person went up to God and said, God, would you send me to hell and lock me in forever? And God said, no, I will not send you there, but if you choose to go there, I could never lock you out.
So it is an intentional place originally created for the devil and his angels. But here, even in our text, there are some people that Jesus, that judgment says, you're going there. So I want you to turn with me to Revelation chapter 20. It's a book we've been looking at the last few weeks, and there's an unmistakable future event that you need to see.
A couple of them. Revelation chapter 20, verse 10. Here's a really good part. I love this verse. The devil, verse 10, the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Can I get a hallelujah on that verse?
It's like, yeah, finally, he gets what's coming to him. So that's what Jesus meant when he said it's prepared for the devil and his angels. That's where they go. No matter what Hollywood says, Satan does not rule hell. That's the idea that they always portray. Here's the devil, and he's like the chief tormentor of hell.
No, he is not. He is the chief victim of hell. He gets thrown in there, and he is tormented day and night.
But it doesn't end there, unfortunately. Verse 11 continues and says, Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by the things which were written in the books. Verse 14, 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. This is called the great white throne judgment.
It is the judgment by God of all unbelievers, all unbelievers. It is a courtroom scene, but it's very different than an earthly court, because here in Revelation 20, there's no debate about guilt. There is a prosecution, but no defense. There will be a judge, but no jury. There will be a sentence, but no appeal. And there is a punishment, but no parole. And something you need to know, it will be fair.
It will be fair. I know it will be fair because verse 12 says books were opened. So the idea behind that is a full inventory of a person's life is kept.
Books were opened. Now, I don't know exactly what's in the books, perhaps a record of every thought, every word, every deed. Jesus did say, if you remember, that every idle word men speak, they will give an account for in the day of judgment.
Another book may be a record of all the times that person had an opportunity to give their life to Christ. Every time they heard the gospel but refused. Remember the time your mom told you this? Remember the time you heard that in church?
Remember that opportunity? And that all is recorded, perhaps. One thing for sure, there's only one person behind the bench. This is not a committee.
He isn't voted in or out. There's only one person who is the judge, one person presiding over this judgment, and it's the only one qualified to preside over this judgment. He is qualified because he alone has certain attributes that nobody else has, attributes we have covered in this series on doctrine. One of the attributes is the attribute of omniscience. God knows everything. That means he knows every thought, every action, every motive of every single person. Also, he has the attribute of omnipresence.
He's everywhere present in the totality of his being, which means God alone is the best eyewitness of every single event in history. So he will be the judge. Buddha will not be the judge. Krishna will not be the judge. Muhammad will not be the judge.
God alone is the judge. So hell is an actual place. It is an intentional place. There's a third fact, and it gets worse before it gets better.
Hell is a painful place. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from the series 2020. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at ConnectWithSkip.com. Now we want to share about an exciting opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's Word even deeper. If you're ready to study God's Word beyond going to church and personal Bible study, you're ready for Calvary College. Take your learning and your life's purpose to the next level with an education in biblical studies.
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800-922-1888. Thank you for changing lives for eternity. Come back tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares surprising facts you may not know about the Christian's enemy, the devil. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His Word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
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