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Some of you who are reading this blog have experienced being burned badly, or you know someone who has. I have not suffered any severe burns in my life, nor do I know anyone personally who experienced this, but I have seen persons carrying the scars of such a dreadful occurrence. Fire can be deadly, its effects on things and on people devastating, and those who have been burned badly attest that being burned is the worst kind of pain to feel. I mention all this because we know as Christians that hell is a place filled with unrelenting fire, and those interred therein feel every moment of the burning.

One experience I did have which made me think of eternal damnation was the way that fries and other frozen items are cooked in fast food restaurants. In particular I recall in my last job before having to apply for disability, the way that frozen meats were prepared. The pieces of frozen meat are placed in a cagelike metal holder and submerged in hot grease for as long as six or seven minutes depending on the item. When I saw those things going down into the grease, hearing the crackling sounds as the intense heat met these pieces, I thought of those being submerged in the lake of fire…Only it won’t be for six or seven minutes, but forever, and it won’t be at several hundred degrees but at the temperature of flames!



People have made all kinds of speculations about the composition and the temperature of hellfire. I’ve done it myself. It’s human nature to do that, I suppose. In my opinion, the fires of hell and the temperature of the lake of fire will not be millions or trillions of degrees. They might be as hot as lightning—up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit—or maybe even the temperature of regular fire or lava. They do not have to be unusually hot because fire itself is excruciatingly painful to be burned with even for a moment. Those who have had reliable near-death experiences have related that all their senses were heightened while in an out-of-body state. That is, they could feel everything more keenly than when in their bodies. Therefore regular fire heat, applied for eternity, is superabundantly adequate in its capacity to agonize those unfortunate enough to have chosen to reject the free gift of salvation.



Mark 9:43-48:  “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ ”



The words Jesus uses here in exhorting people to avoid hell are very dramatic. He was not literally telling anyone to go to such extremes to avoid sin and damnation, but the strong language He employed alerted the listeners that hell is a very bad place that people should shun and avoid at all costs. As if the description here isn’t chilling enough, read here this warning also of what else the lost would have to endure which the Lord repeated a number of times during His ministry on earth:



Matthew 8:12:  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”



Outer darkness—no light. Most of us as children were afraid of the dark. We were able to get through that phase of our lives with night lights. For the condemned, apparently there is darkness and it is eternal as well as the blazing heat and the lake of fire. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), it is plain that the rich man could not get out of hell, nor could he expect even a moment’s respite from the flames and his maddening thirst. No one could help him escape, either. The conditions are suggestive of some sort of dimensional barrier. If a barrier did not exist, then the souls of the damned could regularly leave the heart of the earth. As for the lake of fire, that will be the final destination for all the lost as well as all the spirit beings of the kingdom of darkness (Revelation 20:11-15). Where will the lake of fire be? We believe God will place it outside of the created order in some inaccessible interdimensional void. What will the lake of fire be made of? Molten lava, probably. Now having shared all this dreadful information, does God enjoy condemning the lost? Absolutely not!



Ezekiel 18:23:  “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?”



A lot of people have asked why God would create hell if He is so compassionate. To start with, hell was not originally intended for us:

Matthew 25:41:  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels;…’ ”



No atonement ever existed for fallen angels. All angels, both the good and the evil, have the ability to take on various forms, including fleshly human bodies, but their original nature is as spirit beings, not flesh. As such they do not have blood in their natural state, and since the shedding of blood is required for the remission of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22), no atonement exists for them. Likewise demons, the spirits of angel-human hybrids (giants) are condemned for they were a race never meant to exist, and Jesus came in the likeness of sinful human beings (flesh) to atone for humans’ sins (Romans 8:3).



Also, God is love (1 John 4:8-10). With man, the crowning piece of His creation, fallen in sin, deceived by the devil in serpent form in the Garden of Eden, God could not just stand by and do nothing. By His nature God had to act on our behalf to redeem us to Himself. Perhaps you disagree with this, asserting that God would have been justified to condemning us all, and you would be correct but your assertion would be incomplete. In His holiness God would indeed have been justified in condemning all humanity to damnation. In His love, God had to act on our behalf, starting with Adam and Eve when He made coats of skins for them. An animal had to be killed for this to happen; blood had to shed. We know that the sacrificial system, more exactly delineated in the Mosaic Law, pointed the way to the ultimate sacrifice for sins—Jesus Christ—and oh, what a sacrifice that was! Jesus, God made flesh, fully God yet fully man, came to pay for our sins so that we would not have to:



John 1:1, 14, 3:16-17, 15:13:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”… “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”



Philippians 2:5-8:  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.



Jesus could have stopped this from happening to Him at any time, but He came here to save us from our sins (Matthew 26:48-54).And who can forget the Lord’s words of love which echo across eternity, even while being crucified and reviled?:


Luke 23:34:  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”



By now it should be very clear that God has no pleasure in seeing anyone go to hell, especially since He paid such a high price for our sins. To hear some believers, though, one would think that God was a sadistic tyrant who says things like, “You messed up, now you’re toast—literally!”, or, “I’m gonna fry a whole bunch of sinners today!” This is most definitely not the God of the Bible! Is He a God of wrath and of judgment? Absolutely. His holiness is just as much a part of His nature as His unconditional love. And why does damnation have to be eternal? Because, apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no propitiation for our sins and therefore nothing that can ever erase it. The lost will burn forever because the stain of their sins will be there forever. Another thing that people get wrong about God is that He sends the lost to hell. No, they send themselves to hell through their choices. He gives abundant witness of His existence and mercy. Even creation declares Him, and the elements and blessings thereof impact sinner and saint alike (Romans 1:20; Matthew 5:45). Both Christians and nonbelievers make these mistaken assumptions about God.



As merciful as the Lord is, we all, again, are deserving of hell. If it were not for His grace we would be there now, forever without hope, relief, or release. Just as God had compassion on us when we were hellbound sinners, so we should likewise have compassion on the lost. Admittedly, there are times that this can be challenging. When we hear of a particularly notorious criminal or a notably cruel dictator, for example, it is easy to want such a person to burn in hell. This also goes for those who have wronged us or a loved one in a very bad way, as when a woman is raped or when someone’s child is hit and killed by a drunk driver. Naturally individuals such as these should face justice, but as Christians we must still forgive them and pray for their salvation. Hell and the lake of fire await all who die lost, and as we have seen, these are horrifically dreadful places, made even worse by the fact that punishment for the lost is eternal. For all eternity burning, crying out to a God who will never again hear them, wishing they could have one more chance and having forever to know that this chance won’t come, never again enjoying the caress of a husband or a wife, the beauty of a sunrise, the comfort of a warm bed or a hot shower, the sumptuousness of a good meal, or any other of those things we enjoy now. Saving the lost is part of what Christianity is all about. Where would we be if no one ever shared the Gospel with us?



Will we always have chances to witness? No. Do we have to witness nonstop? Of course not. But there is very likely room for improvement in many of ours’ lives as far as sharing the Good News is concerned. Witnessing isn’t always soft and gentle, either, but whether tender or tough, it should always be filled with the love of God. Let’s tell people the truth: Hell is real, and anyone who does not receive Jesus Christ as Savior (He is the only Savior!) will be condemned forever. Have the compassion to tell them the truth and the readiness to lead them to Jesus Christ.



John 14:6:  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”



Jude 1:22-23:  And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.



Matthew 28:18-20:  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.





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