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Where the Worm Does Not Die

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 3, 2021 12:01 am

Where the Worm Does Not Die

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 3, 2021 12:01 am

In our day, the doctrine of hell has almost disappeared from Christian preaching. By contrast, no one in Scripture spoke more about the eternal wrath of God than Jesus. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Mark, urging us to flee from the coming judgment into the safe embrace of Christ.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind will if there's a heaven and not about Ellie again. I don't know how to get people to heaven and the bad people go to hell but I'm sure it's much more complicated.

I think that people truly like deep down if their intentions are good by nature than defining good and bad is to is stuff that I don't know where the line to be drawn those of the decisions that we have God to make for us.

I guess some of the responses I received the millions people on the street about life after death about heaven and hell. You can certainly hear the confusion there. With regard to hell something I its existence. Others would rather not think about what Scripture is clear, it is real is described as a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Dr. RC Sproul preaching from the Gospel of Mark will be reading from chapter 9 beginning now he says if your hand causes you to send cut off for it's better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands to go to hell.

Now what Jesus does here is makes a comparison the first place.

He's understanding the Jewish tradition that repudiated any acts of self disfigurement in the Old Testament it was a serious sin for people to disfigure their own bodies.

The Jews were not like the Greeks who despise all things physical. The hands the eyes the feet were seen as gifts of God to be enjoyed in this life and so a person's hands. A person's legs.

A person's eyes were seen by the Jew as a most precious possession and yet Jesus says here as precious as your hands are due you. It would be better off to cut off your hand and be named like that, rather than to have two hands that you take with you to hell in like manner. He says if you're foot offend you would be better to cut it off and be crippled, than to have two good legs take you to hell if your I offend you to be better to pull it out then to have perfect vision that takes you to hell. So the obvious comparison that our Lord is making here is that whatever is precious to you, no matter how precious it is. It is not worth having as much as it is worth having the kingdom of God. The worst calamity that can befall any human being is to go to hell. We know that in former generations preachers would preach fire and brimstone sermons warning their flocks about the imminent danger of going into hell. But in the 21st century, the doctrine of hell has all but disappeared from Christian preaching and people don't even want to think about it, or if they do, think about it. They water it down to such a degree that people are no longer living in fear of going to hell.

How many people walk through their lives. In this day. Give much thought or concern about going to hell. How much time if you spent in your life worrying about your final destiny worrying about whether you might at the end of your life be consigned by God to everlasting punishment, Jonathan Edwards. It was an expert on this subject says the most wicked impenitent center in this world constantly assures himself that he will escape the judgment of God and God's patience, by which the judgment does not fall on us already. Instead of leading us to repentance leads us to a false sense of security to being at ease in Zion say what God hasn't punished me yet. Obviously all this talk about everlasting punishment is just a scare theology that has no correspondence to reality below. But here's what I want to see this morning. Nobody in the Bible talk more about hell than Jesus. Secondly, we need to face the reality that Jesus talked more about hell than he talked about heaven. I wonder why it is that so much of what the Bible teaches about hell comes to us from the lips of Jesus.

I can only guess at the answer. My guess is this that we would scarcely believe it from anybody else. We hardly believe it from Jesus and if Jesus didn't say anything about it. Instead it came from Isaiah or Jeremiah or Peter or Paul.

We could then dismiss it is saying that is not the teaching of Jesus, but the reality is we hardly believe it when it comes from Jesus little Jesus, meek and mild, the Jesus of love and of mercy and of grace is the author of so much of the biblical information about the doctrine of hell before we go on with this. I want to say this, the people ask me all the time in teaching theology.

They say or sleep do you believe that hell is a literal lake of fire in my normal response to that question go something like this. Well I doubt whether hell is literally a lake of fire. It may be, but I doubt it.

And when I say I doubt it. You can feel the relief of the people they silenced. So glad to know that I say wait a minute before you feel relieved about it. You need to ask some more questions. Why is it that when geniuses talked about this problem of hell. He used the most ghastly graphic images of punishment that he could think of and then think about this, but in most cases when we use language symbolically or figuratively. We understand that the reality that we are describing by the symbol or by the figure is more intense. In reality that I can possibly be in the symbol. He said again. The reality is more intense than the symbol, and if that's the case then my guess would be that the sinner in hell their friends would do everything they could to be in a lake of fire, rather than where they are. Then I hear people say what hell really is is the absence of God and again the breath of relief is given with the gas all is that all is that all the absence of God. Let me say two things about this. We are glib in describing calamitous earthly situations with our language of hell, and is the expression.

War is hell. We hear people all the time describing the misery that they've experienced with their afflictions or whatever has disturbed them. They'll say I've been going through hell. My life has been hell on earth you for those comments you heard those expressions. Maybe you use them yourself. When I hear people say war is hell were. I went through hell are my life is been a living hell. First thing that they are saying to me is that they don't have a clue about the reality of how because we would find right now. The person in this world who still alive and is in the worst state of suffering of anybody on this planet. That person still enjoys a certain measure of grace at the hand of God, but to be removed totally from the mercy of God to have him take all of his grace away from you is an experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone so the first thing about this business about being separated from God is that again people don't realize what dreadful thing. It would be to be totally separated from God. That's one part of the equation. The other part is paradoxical. On the other hand, there is nothing the center and hell would wish for more than to be separated from God said again, there is nothing that the center and hell would wish for more than to be separated from God because God is there and he's there with his wrath with his punitive judgment on people and it is a fearful thing. A dreadful thing, as the Bible says to fall into the hands of the living God to be exposed. Day in and day out to his wrath will how long does it last you know there's been this movement in the last 20 years in the evangelical world to discount hell in terms of the doctrine of annihilation.

The idea is that what happens to the sinner who was not redeemed the impenitent person is at the end of his life when he draws his last breath. That's what it is his last breath he has nothing to fear. After death, except eternal unconsciousness because he will be blotted out of existence and the eater. Now the of his punishment will be simply that which he misses out on he will miss the great joy for which the believer has been made to look forward to.

With the everlasting life in the presence of God and with Christ. And so the persons hell according annihilation is is that he misses all of that and he misses it forever but there's no ongoing punishment after death soon as a person dies they go into oblivion and that's it in a very real sense.

They've gotten away with their cosmic rebellion against God in their earthly life over against that view, which is been deemed heretical for 2000 years is the biblical idea that hell has no ending point in time that the punishment goes forever. I struggle with the I can imagine any Christian not strutting that I as I said I wouldn't wish for my worst enemy to be in hell for five minutes, let alone to be there forever. I just can hardly contemplate such a dreadful thing and I hear it when people say to me. How could God be a good God, and allow people to suffer his punishment forever.

The course the answer to that. Glibly, if you will, because he is a good God.

And because he is a good God and he's a holy God. He will not look through his fingers at human sin is appointed a day of judgment for those who refuse to leave their sins and cling to the Redeemer know if I can make this on a personal note I have to say this as much as I've struggled in my lifetime with the very idea of hell when I think of people I know who in all probability died in their sins.

To think for a moment that there there is more than I can bear. However, as God is my witness. If God spoke audibly right now and set RC your destiny is hell and you are consigned to the outer darkness forever. If I heard those most dreadful words from the mouth of God.

Ha ha. Obviously I I would be devastated, but I have to say this. I know that if I heard those words from God.

I would have no right to complain as much as I hate the thought of anybody's going to hell. I know it would be perfectly just of God if he sent me there.

That's why cling to the cross because that's my only hope in life and in death to escape the wrath that is to come. The Jesus went there for me is the only reason I don't have to go but if I did have to go, I would have no grounds to complain. Melissa looked quickly at the images Jesus uses here when he says it's better to go in the life maimed, rather than having two hands to go to hell into the far, but shall never be quenched where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Then again with the foot in the fire that shall never be quenched, and again their worm shall not die and the fire is not quenched, then 1/3 time be better to have one. I plucked out than they have two eyes to be cast in the hell far where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Hear the refrain that Jesus uses three times the worm doesn't die far is not quenched.

What's the point of those graphic images will understand that the principal image for hell that is used in the New Testament and the word that is used. Beginning in the Old Testament that is the word Gahanna and the word Gahanna is related to an area just outside of the city of Jerusalem and the Valley of skin on which became known as Guyana and the Valley of him on is this deep ravine that is on the south western corner of the city of Jerusalem and if you look back into the Old Testament book of the kings.

You will recall that during the reign of Asa and of Manasseh, the people of Israel got involved in one of the worst of all pagan practices that ever infected the people of Israel, and it was the sacrifice of human beings in children to the pagan deity Moloch, and this was one of the darkest periods in the history of the Old Testament were not only were the people worshiping pagan gods but they were offering human sacrifices to this repugnant deity.

Moloch, and of course this came later on under the judgment of the prophet Jeremiah.

And finally, in the reign of King Josiah. Josiah put a stop once and for all to these human sacrifices to Moloch and what Josiah did was it he wanted to D consecrate the place where they were making these human sacrifices in the place where they were making the human sacrifices were just outside the city of Jerusalem in the southwestern region, which in order to add insult to injury to that form of paganism. King Josiah turned the traditional place of human sacrifice into a garbage dump and became the garbage dump for Jerusalem so the refuse from the city. The offal from the animals was carted out on a regular basis and dumped into this massive garbage dump outside of the city that was always burning with fire. That's all the Jews got rid of the garbage in this huge burning garbage dump, and because garbage was added newly and freshly to it all the time. They didn't have to ignite the fire one week and then again the next week and then again the next month. The fire never went out and the worms that were eating the carcasses of the animals never ran out, of a food supply.

Think about worm in this case was a parasite and the worm would eat the host and when the host would die what would happen to the worm, the warm would die unless he was supplied with a new host to continue his parasitical existence and its those dreadful images that Jesus uses to paint the picture of how hell is a place where the worm doesn't die because the host is never consumed.

You believe in the resurrection of the body. The Bible teaches not only the resurrection of the body of the saints, but also the resurrection of the bodies of the damned, that they may be fit to receive their everlasting punishment in hell were the worm never dies when nobody ever pours water on the flames and the fires never go out if Jesus ever use ghastly images to speak of the duration of eternal punishment. It was these images of the worm and of the flame.

Take a look and point to the object lesson of the garbage dump precisely that those fires never stop those worms never die, and you would be better off to have your hand cut off your leg cut off your I plucked out then with the whole body and all of your possessions go to that place is a Jesus said there is nothing more valuable than the kingdom of God.

Nothing worse than the abode of the day.

He put that before his people is what he said it's worth an arm and a leg it's worth your it's worth your hearing.

You're saying it's worth anything to get that pearl of great price and to flee from hell you've never thought about it before. Think about it now and ask yourself, not where my going to be next week is you don't know where my going to be next month because you don't know that you might guess, you might be correcting against but ask yourself this question today where am I going to be 100 years from now you will be somewhere and you'll be conscious to be awake will either be among the damned, or in the state where the joy never ends and felicity is never dampened. Where before your eyes will be every second the beautiful vision of the loveliness of Christ. You will gaze upon forever.

Thanks and I normally make sure you're there not a plea doesn't get much more compelling than that anything we have here on earth is utterly worthless compared to the glories of heaven. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on the Sunday timely web Dr. RC Sproul is taking his verse by verse through the gospel of Mark here in the Lord's day edition of our program and this week we wrapped up chapter 9.

This is been a rich study and that we'd like to help you work through the book on your own with Dr. Sproles commentary on this gospel. It's a 400 page volume filled with Dr. Sproles signature easy-to-read explanation of each verse. You can go online and request it with your gift of any amount to look at your ministries or web address is Renewing Your Mind.war. But we know that that when we study topics like this we know that that you may have questions that RC didn't cover today. That's why we offer a live chat service that we call ask Ligon near the biblical and theological questions can be answered in real time by our trained team members were available 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, but if you like to ask a question today. They will get back to you.

This is a wonderful resource and encourage you to check it out. Just go to ask.Ligon next week. Dr. Sproles will address another difficult topic.

What did Jesus say about marriage and divorce find out his return to Mark chapter 10. Hope you make plans to join us next Thursday.

Here on Renewing Your Mind

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