It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
“The pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. . . . O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in.” So warned the Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards in his classic sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.” If that sermon were preached in most churches today, it would send members out the door looking for a more seeker-sensitive congregation. Truthfully, it has never been that politically correct to talk about the reality of hell. People have always resisted the idea of an eternal place of torment for those who die without Christ. The philosopher Bertrand Russell rejected Jesus Christ mainly because of what He taught about hell. Russell said, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”
Non-Christians are not the only ones who find the idea of hell politically incorrect. Only 81 percent of people who attend evangelical churches believe that hell is a real place. Among Christians, there is a serious revision going on about what hell is actually like–or if it exists at all. Many people are trying to turn down the temperature of hell, if you will. For example, more and more theologians are emphasizing hell as a place where there is an absence from God more than as a place of eternal suffering. Whether we eradicate the idea of hell altogether or try to make it a little more comfortable, are we correct in doing so? This week we are going to look at the words of the only person who can tell us with absolute certainty what happens to those who die without Jesus Christ: Jesus Himself.
You know, one has to at least credit Bertrand Russell with understanding that if you reject the idea of hell, you have to reject Jesus Christ Himself. Of the 1,380 verses in the Bible that are attributed to Jesus, 13 percent deal with the subject of hell. In fact, Jesus spoke more often about hell than He did about heaven. To reject what Jesus says about hell is to reject Jesus Himself. If Jesus Christ was wrong in what He said about hell, then it means He was either mistaken or He was dishonest–and either possibility would disqualify Him as the Son of God. If you believe what Jesus Christ says about Himself, then you have to accept what He says about hell.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why God Sends Good People To Hell” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” (sermon), July 8, 1741, Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/edwards_jonathan/Sermons/Sinners.cfm. Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” 1927, The Bertrand Russell Society, https://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html; “The State Of Theology,” Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research, https://thestateoftheology.com/.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.