THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL DAMNATION

(Lesson 25 on Bible Doctrines) 

 

Text: MATTHEW 7:13, 14, 21-23




INTRODUCTION:

  1. According to the Barna Research Group, nearly three quarters of Americans believe in heaven and hell, but just one half of one percent think they're headed there. By contrast, almost two thirds are confident they're headed for heaven.
  2. This means that one-third do not know where they are going.
  3. Obviously, many people are in for quite a shock (cf. Matt. 7:22, 23).
  4. The poll revealed that 76 % of Americans believe in heaven and 71 % believe in hell.
  5. If these figures are accurate, this would mean that approximately 87 million Americans do not believe in hell (based on a population of 300,000,000) – which means they do not believe the Bible.
  6. The Barna study found that there are still many Americans who hold conventional views about hell. Thirty-nine percent, or almost four in 10, called hell “a state of eternal separation from God's presence” and another third, 32 %, described it as an actual place of torment and suffering where people's souls go after death.  (Of course, it is both.)
  7. One in eight (or 13 per cent) said hell is actually only a symbol of an “unknown bad outcome after death.”
  8. Barna's survey also turned up contradictions. One of 10 self-described born-again Christians, for example, expressed a belief in reincarnation, a view that contradicts the Bible.
  9. Furthermore, half of those calling themselves atheists or agnostics stated that everyone has a soul and agreed that an afterlife is a reality, along with heaven and hell.
  10. This is quite amazing.  There are atheists and agnostics who believe the Bible, and then there are some so-called born again Christians who do not!
  11. It is obvious that churches are no longer preaching about hell, and that is why the vast majority of sinners do not worry about going there.
  12. To think that less than 1% of Americans are concerned about going to hell is incredible.  In my opinion, probably about 90% of Americans are heading for hell.

 

I. THE O.T. DOCTRINE OF HELL

II. THE N.T. DOCTRINE OF HELL

III. OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO WARN SINNERS OF HELL

 

I. THE O.T. DOCTRINE OF HELL

  1. The OT term for the future abode of the wicked is Sheol.  This word corresponds with our NT word Hades.   The Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) translates Sheol as Hades.
  2. Sheol has two significations.  False teachers, especially religious cults, have confused people over these two significations, but they are not difficult to understand.
  3. Sheol can refer to either the place of future punishment or it can refer simply to the grave.  We need to look at the context.
  4. The Authorized Version (KJV) translates Sheol as “hell” when it refers to the place of eternal punishment. Sheol is translated as “the grave” when it simply means the place of burial.
  5. In other words, the context determines the meaning.  For example, Psalm 9:17 says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
  6. Here the KJ translators translated Sheol as “hell” because the context demanded it.  Hell is where the wicked go when they leave this world; the wicked shall be punished for their sins, etc.
  7. Deuteronomy 32:22 says, “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell.”  The context demonstrates that this is eternal retribution.
  8. In fact in this same chapter (Deut. 32) it says in verse 35, “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand.” This was Jonathan Edwards’ text for his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.”  We need more preaching like that, instead of this “seeker-friendly, purpose-driven” nonsense.
  9. Now let us look at Genesis 37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31.  Apparently this was an _expression used often by Jacob, and he obviously was not referring to hell, but the grave.
  10. So the next time a JW tries to tell you that there is no hell, and that Sheol refers to the grave, you can refute his error.  Yes, sometimes Sheol does mean the grave but oftentimes it means hell,” the place of punishment for impenitent sinners.
  11. By the way, this is one of the many reasons why you should stick with the KJV.  Many of these new versions have removed
    the word “hell.”  I am convinced the devil is behind these new Bible (mis)translations.

 

II. THE N.T. DOCTRINE OF HELL

  1. There is virtually no difference, except that the NT expands upon the doctrine of hell and gives us more information.
  2. In the OT, hell is always the Hebrew Sheol.  But in the NT, there are three different Greek words translated “hell.”
  3. I have already referred to Hades, which is similar to the OT Sheol.   Most references to Hades refer to eternal torment.  For example, in Luke 16:23, the Bible says this about the rich man, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.”
  4. The whole story of Lazarus and the rich man would make no sense if Hades simply meant the grave.
  5. The second word translated “hell” is Gehenna.  Historically Gehenna refers to the valley of Hinnom, just outside the city of Jerusalem where human sacrifices were offered (cf. II Chron. 33:6; Jer. 7:31).
  6. King Josiah converted the place into a garbage dump, where fires were kept burning to consume the refuse and keep down the stench. It was also the location where bodies of executed criminals, or individuals denied a proper burial, would be dumped.
  7. Hence Gehenna served as a symbol for an abominable place of stench and continual fire, and in His preaching, our Lord used it as a vivid picture of hell.  Scofield says our Lord spoke of Gehenna as the “most solemn warning of the consequences of sin.  He describes it as the place where ‘their’ worm never dies and of fire never to be quenched.”
  8. In the NT, Gehenna always refers to a literal, hot burning hell.
  • In Matt. 5:22, our Lord warned of the “danger of hell fire.”
  • In Matt. 5:29 and 30, our Lord warned of sinners being “cast into hell.”
  • In Matt. 10:28, our Lord warned of being destroyed in hell.
  • In Matthew 23:33, our Lord said to the Pharisees, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”  His listeners knew exactly what He meant by those words.
  1. The third word translated “hell” in the NT is Tartaros.  Strong’s Concordance refers to Tartaros as a place of “eternal torment” and “the deepest abyss of Hades” (cf. II Peter 2:4).

 

III. RESPONSIBILITY TO WARN SINNERS OF HELL

  1. A preacher may be a great orator.  He may be a great theologian.  He may be highly educated and articulate.  He may be able to quote hundreds of Bible verses.  He may have a photographic memory and can preach for an hour without notes.
  2. He can do all this and more but if he does not preach about hell he is derelict in his duties and will have to give an account to God.
  3. Preachers today avoid the doctrine of hell because they realize it is very unpopular.  But let me emphasize that the rejection (or even the avoidance) of the doctrine of hell cuts the ground from under the Gospel (Mark 16:15, 16).
  4. Salvation supposes a prior damnation. Are you saved?  Saved from what? Saved from hell! Saved from eternal damnation! Saved from the lake of fire!
  5. Some people like to think that they are saved and yet they deny what the Bible says about hell. I tell you they are deceived and deluded.
  6. He who denies that he deserves eternal punishment cannot be saved from it as long as he persists in his denial.
  7. He who denies the doctrine of eternal punishment is calling our blessed Saviour a liar.  Consider these words of our Lord.
  • “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
  • “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).
  • “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
  • “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46).
  • “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41, 42).
  • “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord” (Matt. 13:49-51).
  • “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).
  • “The rich man also died, and was buried;  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.   But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:22-28).
  • Other Scriptures could be quoted, but these are sufficient to prove that our Lord preached often about hell, and He described it as a place of eternal punishment.
  • In Matthew 3:12, John the Baptist described Jesus with these words: “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
  1. Our Lord spoke far more about hell than He did about heaven.  Our Lord spoke far more about hell than any other preacher in the Bible.  We need more preachers like Jesus.
  2. There is not a hint in the Bible about purgatory or any intermediate state between heaven and hell (cf. II Thess. 1:7-9).
  3. There is no hint in the Bible about reincarnation.  Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  It is either heaven or hell (John 3:36).
  4. The doctrine of annihilation is unscriptural.  Jude 7 says the ungodly suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire.”  In Matthew 25:41, our Lord said hell is everlasting fire; and in Matthew 25:46 He said hell is everlasting punishment.
  5. Annihilation is a false doctrine taught by religious cults.
  6. Hell is not remedial; hell is punitive.  Hell is not temporary; hell is eternal.
  7. The reason people reject the doctrine of eternal damnation is they have a false concept of God.  Their god is some sort of Santa Claus who winks at sin and does not demand repentance.
  8. Listen to these words from the great evangelist R. A. Torrey, written over 100 years ago: “Any view of the punishment of sin that leaves out the thought of its being an _expression of God’s holy hatred of sin, is not only unbiblical, but shallow and dishonoring to God.  God is holy, infinitely holy, and infinitely hates sin.  We get glimpses at times of what God’s hatred of sin must be, in our own burning indignation at some enormous iniquity, but God is infinitely holy and God’s wrath at the smallest sin is infinitely greater than ours at the greatest enormity.  God is love, it is true, but this love is not of the sentimental sort that sends costly bouquets and tender missives to moral monsters, as some of our Universalist theologians would have us think.”
  9. Back in Torrey’s day, fundamental preachers warned of the errors of Universalism.  They saw how the Universalists had destroyed many churches, and most of the great schools such as Harvard and Yale.  The Universalism denomination is very small today, but the Universalist doctrine is widespread.  It has taken over the RCC, most Protestant churches, and even many Baptist churches.
  10. As Bible-believing Christians, we have a solemn responsibility to warn lost sinners to repent.  We must warn them that (despite what they have been told) the Bible teaches hell is real (cf. Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10, 15; 21:8).

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. There was a wicked infidel named Robert Ingersoll who was friendly with a preacher named Phillips Brooks (the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”).
  2. There was a time when Dr. Brooks was very sick and would not see any visitors but he did allow Ingersoll to see him when he called.
  3. “I appreciate this very much,” said Mr. Ingersoll, “but why do you see me when you deny yourself to all your friends?”
  4. “It’s this way,” replied Phillips Brooks.   “I feel confident of seeing my other friends up in heaven, but this may be my last chance to see you.”
  5. Unsaved friend, think about what the Bible has to say about this important subject!

Pastor James Barker
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