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   Taking The Fire Out Of Hell


Rev. 20:11-15


Sunday Morning Sermon

August 22, 1999

Fair Avenue Baptist Church

1999 Sermons II / fireout



Text: Rev. 20:15




Over the past few years it has become common place for theologians to question the Biblical doctrine of Hell.  It has become even more common for some of the most well known “religious” spokesmen to question this matter of Hell.


The truth is that published doubts about the reality of Hell began in the 1800’s and have continued throughout the 20th century.


Even the late great Charles Haddon Spurgeon, pastor of the once great Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, spoke about this problem.


In 1865 he said, “There is a deep-seated unbelief among Christians just now, about the eternity of future punishment.  It is not outspoken in many cases, but it is whispered; and it frequently assumes the shape of a spirit of benevolent desire that the doctrine may be disproved.  I fear that at the bottom of all this there is a rebellion against the dread sovereignty of God.  There is a suspicion that sin is not, after all, so bad a thing as we have dreamed.  There is an apology, or a lurking wish to apologize to sinners, who are looked upon rather as objects of pity than as objects of indignation, and really deserving the condign punishment which they have willfully brought upon themselves.  I am afraid it is the old nature in us putting on the specious garb of charity, which thus leads us to discredit a fact which is as certain as the happiness of believers.”  (Sermons, 10, 670-671, city by Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978 edition, page 13)



Today we find the skepticism pertaining to Hell in three general areas:


·        the nature of Hell’s fire

·        the reality of Hell as a place

·        the length of Hell’s punishment



Some have even chose to ignore Hell.


In 1986, Martin Marty, senior editor of Christianity Today magazine, spoke of the “passing of hell from modern consciousness.”  That same year the Christianity Today editor, Kenneth Kantzer, said that he had not heard a sermon on Hell in 30 years!


It is no wonder that America is no longer a God-fearing nation.



Time Magazine, November 15, 1993, Billy Graham said, “I think that hell essentially is separation from God forever.  And that is the worst hell that I can think of.  But I think people have a hard time believing God is going to allow people to burn in literal fire forever.”


He also said, “When it comes to a literal fire, I don’t preach it because I’m not sure about it.” (Billy Graham, A Biblical Stand for Evangelists, July, 1983, pages 45-47)


When the foremost Southern Baptist evangelist of the 20th century makes statements like that, we are in trouble.


There it is, taking the fire out of Hell.



And more recently, less than a month ago, we find the denial of Hell coming from Pope John Paul II, who said, “Hell is not a physical place but the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God.”  He denied that Hell is a place of fiery torment.  He went on to say that Hell is not a punishment imposed by God and that eternal damnation “is not God’s work but is actually our own doing.” (Reuters, July 29, 1999)


There it is, taking the fire out of Hell.



And there are many, many others who do not believe in Hell.


Fuller Theological Seminary’s new doctrinal statement departs from its original position on eternal punishment for believers, simply saying that the wicked shall be separated from God’s presence. (FEA, News & Views, May/June 1971)


Michael Van Horn, Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, while Assistant Professor of Bible, Religion and Ministries, denied that there was a literal heaven or a literal hell.  He especially denied that there was any “literal fire” in hell.


There it is, taking the fire out of Hell.



Bill Phipps, Moderator, United Church of Canada, “I have no idea if there is a hell.  I don’t think Jesus was that concerned about hell.  He was concerned about life here on earth.  Is heaven a place?  I have no idea.”  (Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 23, 1997)


The American Baptist Convention in their magazine reports that only 59.8% agreed that hell is just punishment for sinners.  17.1% disagreed and 23.1% were not sure.


David Jenkins, Anglican Bishop of Durham, “I am clear that there can be no hell for eternity - our God could not be so cruel.”  (The Advertiser, Australia, Dec. 15, 1993)


Michael Luther King, Jr., or as he is mistakenly called, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I do not believe in hell as a place of literal burning fire.” (Ebony magazine, January 1961)


There it is, taking the fire out of Hell.



John Bennett, President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, “The tendency to consign non-Christians to eternal punishment is one of the worst abominations in Christian history.”  (The Worldly Evangelicals, Richard Quebedeaux, 1978, pg. 134)


Gerald Kennedy, Methodist Church USA, “Speaking of eternal punishment of an everlasting state of agony for the wicked, I can say that I am sure that God is at least as good and merciful as men. I certainly would not banish any man to a place of punishment forever because of his faults or his state of mind when he left this life.  I am sure God is not less fair or merciful than I.”  (NAE magazine, Aug. 15, 1951)


Ruth Carter Stapleton, sister of former President Jimmy Carter, “The Bible does not teach that we experience hell after we die, we experience it before we die.”  (Christianity Today, November 4, 1977)


There it is, taking the fire out of Hell.



And the list goes on and on.


Yet, what does the Bible say?


According to the Bible, Hell is a place of fiery torment.


Fifteen times in the New Testament, Hell is described in terms of fire.



1.                 Matthew 5:22, “...shall be in danger of HELL FIRE.”


2.                 Matt. 18:9, “...rather than having two eyes to be cast into HELL FIRE.”



3.                 Matt. 13:42, “And shall cast them into a FURNACE OF FIRE...”


4.                 13:50 “And shall cast them into the FURNACE OF FIRE: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”



5.                 Matt. 18:8, “...rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into EVERLASTING FIRE.”


6.                 Matt. 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE...”



7.                 Mark 9:44, “...and the FIRE is not quenched”


8.                 9:46 “...and the FIRE is not quenched.”


9.                 9:48 “...and the FIRE is not quenched.”



10.            Luke 3:17, “...burn with FIRE unquenchable.”


11.            Luke 16:24, “...for I am tormented in this FLAME.”



12.            Jude 7, “...the vengeance of ETERNAL FIRE.”



13.            Rev. 14:10, “...and he shall be tormented with FIRE AND BRIMSTONE...”


14.            Rev. 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of FIRE and BRIMSTONE, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”


15.            Rev. 21:8, “...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with FIRE and BRIMSTONE: which is the second death.”



Are you student enough of the Bible to know that Jesus spoke more about Hell than He did about heaven?


Are you student enough of the Bible to know that Jesus always described Hell in terms of FIRE and physical TORMENT?



This is not a matter up for debate, no matter who wants to discuss it - THERE IS FIRE, TORMENT, AND PHYSICAL ANGUISH IN HELL!


And, as for the idea that Hell is not a punishment imposed externally by God, that is ABSOLUTE NONSENSE!


While it is man who rejects the light and salvation that God offers, IT IS GOD WHO IMPOSES PUNISHMENT UPON THOSE WHO REJECT SALVATION.


Matthew 25:41 and Rev. 20:15, and many other passages teach that Hell is precisely a punishment imposed by God upon the Christ-rejecting, unbelieving sinner.


Any man who denies or questions these plain Biblical facts about Hell is a dangerous false teacher.


Ladies and gentlemen, there is a Hell.


And if you die without knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, you will go to that Hell -- a place of fire and brimstone.


It’s just that simple.


You can believe Jesus and the Bible and go to heaven.


Or you can believe some of these that I’ve just mentioned and go to Hell.


It’s your choice.


You may be a Christian but you are struggling with this matter of Hell.


The same is true with you.


You can believe Jesus and the Word of God, or you can believe whoever you want.


But I choose to believe Jesus and the Word of God.

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