Fire and brimstone refer to the torments of hell, judgment and eternal damnation and most people really don’t want to think about it but they should. As we will discuss later, hell is an eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels and sadly also for those who refuse to obey God’s word. As we have discussed this last couple of weeks, satan has a lot of power and wants to take you to hell with him and most people in the church also don’t really want to talk about it and definitely do not want to acknowledge his presence and control due to the church’s rebellion. They also don’t want to acknowledge that demons are everywhere, even though they were present when Jesus walked the earth as we see here. Mark 1:34 “Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons.” Luke 4:36 “All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” Mark 5:11 “A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs.” Demons are still here. This lack of acknowledgement is because of the misunderstanding that satan and demons all but disappeared at the cross because they read verses like Colossians 2:15 “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Ephesians describes those powers. Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Yes, satan was defeated but he is still present and working to destroy you, just as demons are still present wreaking havoc on the world. satan is present until the end when Revelation 20:10 “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Jesus would not have empowered His disciples if there was no need. This is why when Jesus sent out His disciples, Luke 9:1 “He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.” Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” After Pentecost Acts 5:16 “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” satan can only be defeated with power from on High which is why the church was supposed to carry on the work of Jesus. 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” The church was supposed to carry on that work. Not talking about hell, satan and demons has been detrimental to the church.
For the most part the church picks out verses they want to accept and talk about, and many times do not read all the verses. For example, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Many in the church are confused about God’s love and thus confused about hell, satan and demons. The verse by itself is definitely good news. Mark 1:14 “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Jesus also said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The only way to defeat satan is by the good news of the word of God and yes, the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power given at Pentecost and can disarm and destroy the works of the devil. As Jesus said to Peter Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” satan can only be defeated with power from on high, not human power and not with man’s words. The key to this power is actually obeying the good news. When you say as Peter did, Matthew 16:16 “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” that means you follow God’s word wholeheartedly. But because most have ignored the words of Jesus when he warned us, Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many,” satan has been allowed to decimate the church through deception and because of rebellion, God Himself brought delusion upon the disobedient. So not only is the church deceived but also under delusion (2 Thessalonians 2) John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Not only does the church not acknowledge the power and presence of satan, there is no power to defeat him.
Scripture makes it clear that God is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14 “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:23 “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” The church does not seem to grasp this as there is no fear of God. The church also does not grasp the wrath of God. 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.” The good news is that believing in Jesus according to scripture and not man, we can be saved from God’s wrath. Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” For this wrath not to happen, the church must submit and serve Jesus wholeheartedly.
The problem is that the church chose to follow their own ways instead of God’s way and rebelled against Him. Even though John 3:16 is a favorite, you have to keep reading the rest of the verse. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” This is why it is important to read all the verses. You can’t say you believe in Jesus and not do what He says. James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” John 5:39 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” You cannot follow other gospels and say that you are a disciple of Christ. Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” If you do not follow the true gospel, you will not be saved from God’s upcoming wrath. Romans 2:5 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
The church has no problem talking about God’s love and eternal life as they want to understand it. You may have heard about the saying “a person should not be so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The problem is that their focus is misplaced as is their understanding about God. The lack of power in the present should concern them as that means God has turned His face from His people just as we saw in the Old Testament. Most have been so deceived they do not know enough to repent from their wicked ways and return to God and when told, they refuse to listen. They think they are going to heaven but in reality will find themselves in hell. Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.” Most have been taught that by following the teaching (doctrines and theology) of the church they are guaranteed to see eternal life. Most Christians don’t even think that they won’t see eternal life as many have followed the church’s teaching faithfully and have done as the church has required.
But here is the problem with that thinking; following other gospels means you have worshipped in vain as the church is not the church Jesus is the head of, the powerful church started at Pentecost. Jesus said Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” John made it very clear that not believing God’s word means you stand condemned and will not see life. For example, the church you attend might teach you that the power you see in the Gospels and Acts no longer exists and you chose to believe that. The bible does not say that, so that teaching is a doctrine of demons. By believing this false teaching, you have rejected God’s word, therefore have rejected Jesus. This is why Jesus said Mark 13:5 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” False teachers and their teaching are everywhere in the church and millions of people have been deceived. This also means there will be millions who think they are bound for glory but instead will be joining satan.
Hell is the part that most refuse to think about and even believe possible. The church definitely does not take hell seriously enough. You would be foolish not to take God at His word yet many have foolishly decided not to take God at His word. The opposite of eternal life is hell, which is eternal punishment / damnation. I will be honest with you as I don’t even like to think about hell myself. The thought that someone you love or someone you don’t even know will be spending eternity in hell with no chance of release is overwhelming, even though some teach there can be. No matter how it makes you feel, God’s word stands as truth. You wouldn’t want your worst enemy to spend eternity there, yet millions are on their way. Yes, many think about hell for those who reject God as they refuse to bow before God, but not for themselves. But the thought of someone spending eternity in hell should change our outlook on reaching the lost and cause us to repent and return to God so that the world will know that God exists. Everyone is accountable to seek out God. Romans tells us Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” The problem is that many have made themselves gods by rejecting God. They ignorantly think that if they reject God, the end of life will be however they want it to be. Just because a person does not acknowledge God or hell doesn’t change the reality of their existence.
Yes, there are going to be people come to the realization that God is real and hell exists when it is too late. Jesus talked about the rich man in hell who pleaded for mercy. Luke 16:23 “In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” The Jews to this day are still not are still not convinced even though Jesus rose from the dead as are many Gentiles.
The worst scenario I believe is for those who call themselves Christians who have gone to church all their life. They were taught that they were safe and secure from all alarm and think that when they die that they will spend eternity with Jesus. The same goes for those who recently were converted and taught if they believed what the teacher told them they too would be secure, yet in both cases end up in hell. We were told to test the spirits not just for the present but for our eternal destination. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” If you follow those false teachers and prophets, you will end up in hell. Jesus warned us about teachers who want to make you as they are. Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Peter said when talking about false prophets, 2 Peter 2:17 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” Everyday Christians are dying who believe that because they were a good Catholic or Baptist or Methodist or Pentecostal….., and followed all that was taught that they would be safe and secure with no fear of judgment. The deception is that by following the traditions and the teaching of man, over God’s word, they would actually be safe and secure but in reality, false teaching has led millions astray which results in hell. In their deception and delusion, they are content with what they have been taught and never seek God or turn from their wicked ways. Some have even taught that no matter what they were eternally secure, even though Peter said 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” Basically, most people think that if you go to a church, follow what is taught, you are on your way to heaven, even though what is taught is different from church to church and looks nothing like scripture. There are even those who do not go to church who think they are going to heaven. There are also those who erroneously think that good people will be in heaven no matter what their belief. Many people during funerals have been preached into heaven which is not possible and even though the Catholics teach purgatory (a chance to be purified after death), there is no such thing. At the funeral, like-minded gather and all believe the person who died is going to heaven but is that actually the case? The fact is that many who think they will be heaven will only hear depart from me, I don’t know you is the absolutely terrifying part. Even those who celebrate that they are on a highway to hell and on their way to party central will be terrified and like the rich man will wish they could warn others.
The church is supposed to go to the ends of the earth with power from on high and make disciples of all nations. Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Matthew 28:18 “Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The church has gone to the ends of the earth but not with the power of the Holy Spirit but in human wisdom and strength. Millions have been converted but they have not been saved. It is imperative that you ask yourself what have you been saved into as your eternal destiny depends on the right answer. Make sure your answer lines up with scripture and not with the manmade doctrines. Even with the reality of hell, most will stubbornly stick to the beliefs of the particular church they are part of and refuse to turn from them. Jeremiah said, Jeremiah 18:11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ 12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’” Jeremiah 19:3 “Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew.” Even the thought of hell is not enough for most to change their wicked ways.
Even though the church has gone out, people will continue to not be saved. It is only when the church turns from its wicked ways and returns to God’s word that true salvation will come as it was supposed to. When Jesus told the Jews they needed to repent, they refused and ended up murdering their Messiah. Jesus told His disciples Mark 8:31 “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” To this day the Jews still refuse to believe Jesus is the Messiah. As Peter said Acts 4:10 “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 13:46 “Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Even today the Gentiles, like the Jews have rejected the Messiah by following other gospels. Jeremiah 35:14 “I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you have not paid attention or listened to me.” The world cannot be saved until the church turns from its wicked ways. There is no sense trying to get the world to repent when the church itself refuses to turn from its wicked ways.
Those in the church who refuse to repent from wicked ways, continue on the path to eternal punishment. But to alleviate the seriousness and reality of hell, hell is something not often talked about. Talking about the wrath of God, eternal damnation, repentance are not church filling topics, although they should be. You would think with the thought of eternal damnation, people would repent but like Israel even the thought of Assyria and Babylon coming did not cause them to turn back. Amos 7:8 “Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. 9 “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.” 10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom. 17 Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.”
Instead of listening to God’s word, the love of God is talked about in a way that scripture is set aside for something much more soothing to the appetite. Today many churches have agreed with the world that the love of God even covers abominations such as homosexuality even though scripture states otherwise. Paul said 1 Corinthians 6:9 “do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Because they refused to glorify God Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” This is not about hatred but saving people from the enemy and an eternity in hell. Jude 1:22 “Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” If the church would return to God and seek Him, His power would also return and the rest of this verse would take place in the church today. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Yes, in the past there have been fire and brimstone preachers who scared people to death but not to life. Instead of turning from wicked ways and returning to God, the church downplays both fearing God and hell. When you truly understand God, you understand the wrath of God, the reality of hell and our need for Jesus, the only way, truth and life. But many have no idea who God is and all they have been taught is that God is love and they cannot reconcile a loving God and people going to hell, even though God’s word is clear that unbelief leaves them condemned. This is where false teaching comes to play. Some have been told since you have come to our church and you made your confession and agreed to believe as taught, you are then safe and secure and nothing can pluck you from God’s hand. The problem is that many who teach other gospels are saying that and you will in fact be plucked from God’s hand by the enemy because you did not test the spirits. As we see throughout scripture, God will allow the enemy to invade the land. By their teaching the fear of God is diminished as is the fear of spending eternity in hell. Still others intellectualize hell and come up with all kinds of scenarios from hell is not real to a loving God would never send you there. People in the church use to follow Rob Bell, that is until he decided that hell was not real. One writer said, “Bell attracts an earnest crowd of young people, full of questions about the church they once loved unquestioningly. For many of them, Bell is a reassuring figure: proof that it’s possible to challenge certain articles of faith without leaving behind faith itself. In Philadelphia, one college-age fan greeted him by saying, “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t still be a Christian.” Sadly, for those like this young fan, they have been greatly deceived by a false teacher and no not a Christian. Jesus warned us about this deception. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Jesus also said Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Bell basically agreed with the cult Jehovah’s witness who say that people who die and just cease to exist. Their website says, “The Bible shows that people in “the Grave” are in a state of nonexistence.” The bible does not say that. Their view means there is no need for Jesus to save us.
This teaching may sell books and retain a following but where will the writer and the follower end up. The answer is simple as scripture makes it clear that their eternal destination will be hell. We talked about the power satan has over the church right now, the abomination that causes desolation and just in this one example we see it. Jesus warned us about the end when he said watch out that you are not deceived. We were told Revelation 12:12 “woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Paul said Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” satan is trying to take as many people with him to hell as he can and he has been very successful which is why Revelation also said Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray.” satan has been allowed to lead the church astray because the church has rebelled against God’s word. Obedience to God’s word would take away satan’s power over the church.
The deception is that if those who go to church were asked where their final destination will be, the answer most would give would be heaven / eternal life. Pew Research said that 73% of Americans believed in heaven and 62 % believed in hell. In the Christian column we see the oddities. Christian is also vaguely defined other than by denominational lines. 92% believe in heaven meaning there are 8 % very confused people who call themselves Christians. Only 79% believed in hell. The younger the age the less the belief. 18-29 was 63% heaven and 55% hell. Oddly 65+ (79% and 62%) was less than 50-64 (81% and 70%). Everyone needs to get this figured out, but you would think those closer to deaths doorstep would want to be very certain but even the threat of hell does not cause people to change and repent as most will stick to their belief system until they die and will only find the truth when it is too late. Jeremiah was told Jeremiah 36:2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. 3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” The words were read to all the people and to the king. Then the scroll was read to King Jehoiakim. Jeremiah 36:23 “Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. 24 The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them.” He burned the scroll and then wanted Jeremiah arrested.
The church has responded to God’s word the same way by rejecting what God clearly states. Most people have some idea of John 3:16 especially if you watch sports. Spectators seem to like holding signs with John 3:16 on them but as we said there is much more to the verse. John clearly states, 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” We are told Matthew 10:28 “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 takes us back to satan. Hell was prepared for satan not people and especially not God’s people but as we know satan wants to take you with him by getting you to turn away from God. We are told Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Jude 1:7 “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” The words eternal fire / punishment should send shivers down your spine and lead you to repentance.
The difficult part of this fire and brimstone topic is the thought that loved ones, friends or acquaintances will not be in heaven but hell which is really why most do not want to acknowledge the reality of hell. We are guilty of not taking this seriously enough. Jesus makes it clear that not everyone will make to heaven. Luke 13:22 “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Jesus also said Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Today many are travelling on the road that leads to destruction and are lined up at the wrong door and most are not even looking for the right one even with the threat of hell. Proverbs 2:16 “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” Proverbs 9:13 “Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. 14 She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, 15 calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, 16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” Proverbs 15:24 “The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.”
The church must start listening to the right voice and not continue like the Jews. John 10:24 “The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” As I said earlier many hold onto this verse, all the while following other gospels and satan has already snatched them because they do not listen to the right voice and do not adhere to the words of life. This verse is only true if you follow the right voice. John 6:63 “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.” Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. 2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, 4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” Proverbs 2:1 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
Instead of downplaying and denying that hell is real, a place of eternal punishment, this should cause the church to turn from wicked ways and return to God’s word. If not, what Jesus did for us on the cross will be rejected just as the Jews did not consider themselves worthy of eternal life, Gentiles too will miss eternal life. Paul says to the Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5 “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” Do you really want to bet your eternal life that God didn’t really mean eternal destruction and shut out from His presence?
Salvation just isn’t about going to church but being saved from God’s wrath (hell) and spending eternity in heaven. Ask yourself who do you think is behind the downplaying of hell or even the lack of fear of God in the church? The answer is satan and hell is as real as satan. God’s word states that hell is real, and the reality is that hell will be even worse than described because God will not be present just as heaven will be better than described because of God’s presence. Once the church begins to fear spending eternity in hell, the fear of God who holds your soul in His hand will return. Luke 3:7 “John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” John said Luke 3:16 “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” Peter said, Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Our only hope is Jesus. Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Hebrews tells us it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”