With the recent publication of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, a lot of people are writing about the doctrine of Hell at the moment – see John Piper, Al Mohler, Liam Goligher, to name three.
By coincidence (ahem), we had reached Luke 16:19-31 at SPC a couple of Sundays ago – Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Yes, the one where the nameless rich man cries out to have his thirst slaked in the midst of the flames.
For what it is worth, I made five points and I will give them in a moment. But it is worth noting, as many have before, that the person that spoke most about hell in the Bible was Jesus. Yup, Jesus.
Here are the points (have Luke passage open):
- At death, there will be a separation. Some go to hell, others to the bosom of Abraham (who I take to be representative of God).
- It is easy to slip into hell. Jesus was addressing a group of Pharisees who were lovers of money (Luke 16:14). Religious on the outside, hearts sold out to mammon on the inside. Cold-hearted to need. Slipped into hell.
- In hell, you want out. It will not be nice. Excruciating, desperate. I have met people who have said to me they would prefer hell to heaven because the people are nicer. I don’t think the rich man was thinking about fun with his friends in hell.
- There is no way out. A great chasm has been fixed. A nightmare to be able to see across at what you want but can’t have it. All opportunity is gone.
- Those who hear the gospel have no excuse. There is enough in the Scripture to direct you to salvation. The rich man ignored it. So were his living brothers. But there is no need for special miracles. If they are not convinced by the Word, they will not be convinced by even a resurrection.
Wow. That should change how we think about people we meet every day. C S Lewis once said, “there are no ordinary people”. Everyone is eternal. The only question is where you are going to spend it.
(Listen to the sermon here.)