“The Doctrine of Endless Punishment”

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The devil is very sly in how he aims to redirect men, women, and children away from the need of the hour. One of his most common deceptions is to convince the unbeliever (both religious and irreligious) that some things are just not exactly how the Bible depicts them. He hisses that the Bible is archaic, full of errors, and is nothing more than a bag full of legends and myths. 

Now, if he cannot convince you of the aforementioned, then assuredly, he will strive continuously to convince you that God is a very hard Master (Matthew 25:24), or even worse, an unreasonable party-pooper (1 Peter 1:16). He has used these tactics widely since the Garden of Eden, where he strove to make God out to be a liar (Genesis 3:1-5). But he’s a liar, even the father of lies (John 8:44)! In fact, he truly loves, especially, to use all of his wicked techniques to lure God’s people away from the things most needful (Luke 10:42): worshipping God alone (John 4:19-24); and loving Him with “… all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). However, his biggest act of deception is in trying to convince people that hell is a sadistic God’s idea of fun or that it is a place of partying and fun with many of their friends who are so cool. But what does the Bible say about hell? It describes it as ... a place of devouring fire and everlasting burning (Isaiah 33:14); ... a place where no one can repent (Matthew 12:32); ... a place of everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46); ... a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23); … a place where we do not want our loved ones to go (Luke 16:28); ... a bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1); ... a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15); and, ... a place of outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). The medieval Italian poet Dante (1265-1321), author of The Inferno, was at least semi-Scripturally-accurate when he described a frightful figurative sign, as he had imagined, which hung above the gates of hell, saying, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.” This portrayal of hell does indeed capture the gist of the Biblical account in its conveyance of hell as a place of utter hopelessness (See how the phrase “without hope” is used in: 1 Thessalonians 4:13). However, our culture is much more aware of this medieval interpretation than it is of the Bible’s. This belief of hell really arises from a pre-understanding of a half-Biblical, half-whatever-kind-of-hell, which dominated their minds at the time of answering the survey question, do you believe in hell? In fact, in this poll, out on our left (West) coast, only 61% believe in “some kind” of hell; ... in the Northeast, only 64% believe in “some kind” of hell; ... in the Midwest, only 66% believe in “some kind” of hell; and ... in the Bible-belt South, a much higher 83% believe in “some kind” of hell. Of course, these figures would have been much lower if these same people had been responding to this same question, but after they had been conditioned by a Biblically-literate-culture, over a reasonable amount of time, and after being regularly-instructed by a Biblically-orthodox-preacher on the Bible’s unmistakable clarity on its doctrine of hell. O may God soon give us many preachers who will rise up and preach this important, yet inaccurately-portrayed and extremely-neglected, Biblical doctrine! Then, and maybe only then, will the church of our day rise up and live as if it were a real doctrine to be unashamedly-preached! Indeed, we have a great need for true hell-fire-preaching like the puritan Thomas Brooks, who once proclaimed, “The greatest and the hottest fires that ever were on earth are but ice in comparison with the fire of hell” (See: Luke 16:24). In conclusion, let us draw near to God, first, by taking heed to our heart preparation today, for encountering the living God tomorrow, in our public Worship service, both through our praises and prayers to Him, with God’s people; and secondly, through our attending to the reading and preaching of His Holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word! Soli Deo Gloria! Happy Reformation Year 500!!

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