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Don’t Choose to go to Hell

DON’T CHOOSE TO GO TO HELL

July 2006 Wanda Burch Goines

 How many people today believe there is an actual place called "Hell”? When we bandy the word around casually in meaningless exclamations, habitually insert it into conversation to appear more emphatic, or order someone there in a burst of anger -- can we honestly believe it's real at all? Have we, even for a moment, stopped to consider what Hell is?

When the physician and theologian Dr. Faustus (in Christopher Marlow's play of 1593) craved earthly knowledge, power, and fame above everything else, he willingly made a pact in blood with the devil, by means of sorcery, to gain these ends. Nothing he desired was denied him for the brief space of 24 years. During that time, did he even for a moment, stop to consider what Hell is? When the years expired, Dr. Faustus was panic stricken by his terrible bargain. He'd bartered away his never-dying, unique and precious self, his soul, to the avowed enemy of his soul, for what now seemed dust and ashes. Now he must anticipate a perpetual eternity of hopelessness and despair. When the play ends, a great gash in the stage floor opens up, smoke belches out and the doomed doctor descends screaming into the hideous red abyss. It’s a dreadful scene. I was appalled to hear many in the audience laugh. Had they, even for a moment, stopped to consider what Hell is?

It's plain that few people think that Hell is real. Some flirt with or embrace the powers of darkness and death, but if not irrevocably trapped in Satan's snare, in quiet moments they long for life and light instead. In order to think correctly about Hell, we need to answer these questions: Why is there such a place? What do we know about it? If it's a choice, how can we avoid it?

The only One with authoritative answers to these questions is He Who made Hell and Who told all He wanted us to know about it. True, some who've been revived from clinical death (heart-attacks, drowning) have seen visions of horror and desolation which they may, and usually do suppress, but it often affects their lives. Some, in passing from this world to the next, catch glimpse of what awaits them for rejecting Jesus as their Savior, and their shock and fear is communicated to those left behind.

WHY IS THERE SUCH A PLACE AS HELL? Contrary to what many think. Hell was not intended for people at all: it was "prepared for the devil and his angels," (Matthew 25:41). It's the ultimate destination of those spirits who, having served their holy Creator in the glorious and sublime realms of Heaven, willfully rebelled against God's authority. They were cast onto the earth, but not for ever. At present, God allows them to use their wiles and deceit to give each human being a choice, the choice of using our free will to obey God or obey Satan. The Lord wants only those in Heaven who've acknowledged they are inherent sinners, and who believe that God's Son, Jesus Christ, legally changed places with them in the death that results from rebellion and disobedience. By believing this, our sin (sin is disobeying God) is cancelled out, and we are fit for a sinless Heaven. Heaven, you see, is not the inevitable destination of all humanity: unforgiven sinners who deny Jesus may NOT come in. Tragically, those who choose the devil's lies over God's truths will share Satan's punishment in Hell, for there are only two eternal destinations. It's not God's choice for people to go to Hell, but ours, for God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HELL? Jesus told us more about Hell than He did about Heaven. Hell is a place of outer darkness, of torment, of everlasting fire, of smoke and brimstone "where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," (Matthew 13:42, 22:13, 25:30, Mark 9:43-48, Jude 13, Revelation 14:10, 11, 19:20, 20:14, 21:8.) If this weren't reason enough to shun it, we can compare what we know of God and what we know of Satan, and consider who we want to live with (or without) forever. This is not an exhaustive list, but shows how opposite are God and Satan and their kingdoms:

God

Satan

Advocate

(1 John 2:1)

Accuser

(Revelation 12:10)

Deliverer

(Romans 11:26)

Tempter

(Matthew 4:3)

Holy One

(Acts 3:14)

Unclean spirit

(Matthew 12:43)

Just One

(Acts 7:52)

Wicked One

(Matthew 13:19)

Life

(John 14:6)

Murderer

(John 8:44)

Light

(John 8:12; Rev. 21:23)

Ruler of darkness

(Eph. 6:12)

Lion; Lamb of God

(Rev. 5:5,6)

Serpent; dragon

(Rev. 12:9)

Love

(1 John 4:8)

King of terrors

(Job 18:14)

Truth

(John 1:14; 14:6, 17)

Father of lies

(John 8:44)

Furthermore, all qualities of God and gifts of the Holy Spirit --love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) -- will flourish in Heaven and be painfully lacking in Hell. And who wants to face either the present or eternal life without the comfort of these?

HOW CAN HELL BE AVOIDED? Hell is a place of no hope. The Apostle Paul speaks in Ephesians 2:12 of those who have no hope because they don't yet know Jesus Christ. Our loving Lord pleads, "Behold, NOW is the accepted time behold, NOW is the day of salvation!" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Nothing we've ever done, said, or thought up to the moment of death will turn Him away if we repent and believe; as long as we have breath, we may choose Him. But once we cease to breathe, our Eternity is sealed, and if we've failed to choose Life in Jesus Christ, we've chosen death and Hell and the agony of unending hopelessness BY DEFAULT. (In the early 1300s, Dante wrote in his "Inferno" that this was inscribed on the gates of Hell: "All hope abandon, ye who enter here! ")

Moses told Israel, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life!" (Deuteronomy 30:19) Now God says, "Choose LIFE, not death!" For Heaven and Hell are real, and Heaven is glorious beyond our comprehension (1 Corinthians 2:9), but Hell is too horrible to contemplate. God gives us a choice; DON'T CHOOSE TO GO TO HELL! And warn as many others as you can!

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