Thinking about hell after reading M.T. Sweat’s THE WRATH OF HELL re-blogged here on Obsecrations.
What is hell? Most obviously, hell is separation from God — a separation that lasts eternally. I’ve always believed that people who do not know the Lord are already in hell, a spiritual wasteland.
Is hell a physical punishment? Is heaven a physical reward? The answer to the second question ought to settle the answer to the first question.

Resting in His Grace

Have we done something to make our God angry? Do we find Him described in His Word as poised with sword in hand, ready to destroy us? Is He seen as one taking His vengeance on a traitorous community by casting them into a fiery pit of darkness? Is hell the place of His wrath and judgement?

Or, as some suggest today, is there no eternal place of torment awaiting the enemies of God? If not, what do we make of these points…?

1. The Bible arguably speaks of such a place at least two hundred and forty-four times.

2. Jesus teaches on this topic more than He teaches on heaven or even the love of God.

When Jesus teaches on this topic, He uses terms that seem to suggest there is no end to the punishment for the corrupt. An example can be found in Matthew’s account of the…

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Self-flattery ( by Jonathan Edwards )

“All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail.” (Jonathan Edwards, 1741)

Who Is Going To Hell? (by Carley Evans)

People seem determined to pronounce someone as condemned to the “lake of fire.” Some Christians believe they can see inside a person’s heart by looking at the outside — God says not to judge by appearances — but He also says you can know people by the fruits they produce. So, who is going to hell anyway?

Saul knew the scriptures better than anyone of his day. He persecuted the early church body diligently, fully believing Christians were evil and ‘going to hell.’ Any Christian of that day — looking at Saul from the outside — would have certainly condemned him to the “lake of fire.” But we know, looking backwards in time, that Saul converted to Christianity and now resides in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ, his brother and his God.

An encounter with Jesus along a road made all the difference. And yes, Saul’s appearance changed. His outside began, almost immediately, to reflect the inside transformation.

Nevertheless, God does not call us to condemn one another. Each servant of God stands because of God, because God is fully capable to make His servants stand. And those who deny Him; those who vocally state, “No, Jesus is not the Lord God” or say like a recent commenter “Jesus is a sun god”; these people are those we who call ourselves Christian should pray for. Praying for someone’s salvation is not condemning them to hell; it is inviting their soul to paradise.

Dragging Each Other To Hell

I’ve heard an urban legend that Martin Luther recanted on his deathbed and asked for last rites, so that he died a good Catholic. I’ve heard an urban legend that because he did not, in fact, recant he was seized by demons and dragged in agony to hell as a bad Protestant. What a contrast. Either he repented at that last possible moment and was ushered back into the true Christian Church under the earthly authority of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ or he was dragged off to hell — at least in the minds of Vatican I strict Roman Catholics.

How odd, to me, that persons who profess the same Lord and Savior have such evil thoughts regarding one another. One group claims if you refuse to attend to the Pope as the one and only representative of Christ on earth, then you are condemned. Another group claims that if you recognize an authority other than Christ’s, then you are condemned. After all, the papacy is the anti-Christ. Down to the wire, the Pope’s either the Vicar of Christ or he’s the Anti-Christ.

I grew up in the Protestant church, in several denominations. I’ve attended Roman Catholic masses, and committed the unthinkable (for many Catholics, that is and probably for some Protestants) — I’ve received the Eucharist. I’ve recognized the body of Christ in some churches; in other churches, I’ve accepted that the emblems only become the body of Christ within my own body, and in others I’ve agreed that these are just symbols of Christ’s sacrifice. Honestly, the Eucharist is the only time “communion” makes an emotional impact, even as I reject the words “accept this sacrifice at our hands” which makes no scriptural sense to me. The least effective “communion” is self-serve. Go up, take the little piece of bread, dip it in the grape juice, take it without a thought in your head and walk back to your seat. Too fast, too slick, rather pathetic for me, anyway. Like going to McDonald’s for a Jesus Happy Meal.

I probably seem a bit like the women Paul condemns — those tossed about on the winds of various doctrines. However, if you listen to Protestants speak of our Lord and then listen to Roman Catholics speak of our Lord and you do not know which person is of which belief system, you likely would not know which one — in your opinion — should be dragged off to hell on his deathbed.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the power, the glory and the kingdom forever. Amen.