What if you and I really believed the gospel? What if I truly believed that sin is so severe that from the moment I first sinned the earth should have opened up and I should have fallen alive into eternal torment (Num. ch. 16). (it would be just if God did this, but He puts His mercy on display by continuing to uphold our frail lives). What if you and I saw the depths of our depravity? Well, if that was all we saw surely the despair we would experience would be far beyond anything we can possibly comprehend.
However, what if we saw with clarity the depth of our depravity but at the same time saw our God hanging on a cross enduring our "hell" for us. What if we saw the depths of our disparity but we also saw the heights of God's love for our undeserving souls? What If we saw the heights of His glory and the depths that He endured in our stead ...... How would we feel towards our Jesus?
The problem is that we don't think sin is worthy of eternal punishment because we have no idea the heights of glorious splendor that our God dwells in, and we have no idea that we were created for one reason: to intimately interact with that glorious God. But since sin isn't that severe to us, the cross has lost its severity to us. Instead of being crushed by the scandal of God crucified we tend to extract a formula of justification by faith!?!? But if we were with John or Mary at the foot of the cross we would be forever traumatized by the horror as they were, (and if we were with the disciples in the upper room to witness the resurrected LORD we would be forever filled with faith and boldness as they were).
So what would a revelation of Hell in light of the cross produce in a person? Would it produce condemnation and shame? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A revelation of hell in light of the cross would produce nothing but love, humility, the depths of thankfulness, and a joy unspeakable and full of glory! For the one who has been forgiven much loves much!!!! For the more I perceive how undeserving I am of receiving forgiveness (in light of the justice of God) then the more I will overflow with joy in the simplicity of being saved. God is increasingly glorified when we see how low He came for such miserable creatures which will cause us to love Him more. (Miserable creatures that are unfathomably loved by God) Surely this mystery will leave us reeling for eternity.... for we will forever grow in understanding of how wretched we were and how vast His mercy was towards us (Eph. 2:7).
We need to speak about hell again in the pulpits of America. Oh that people would see the eternal flame that they deserve. Oh that I would comprehend what Jesus took for me!!!! How much have we been forgiven in the cross? Maybe you like 99% of humanity don't see yourself fit for Hell..... You know there is humanistic cultural trend that once we get "saved" we suddenly won't identify ourselves with our depravity anymore. We go from a momentary pricking of the heart, a few tears, to asking Jesus to save us, then to totally forget where we came from and what we deserve!?!?!? I think we should be like Paul who at the end of his life said he was chief among sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) . If Paul was chief of sinners at the end of His most sanctified life.... what does that make us?
I say this not to our shame, but Oh how I long to tremble!!!! I want our nation and the church to tremble before the HOLY! Where is the true repentance? Where is the conviction of sin? Where are the ones who hate sin and love righteousness? Where are the ones who's portion are in God alone, who don't love this world? Where are those who's only pleasure is obedience and doing the will of the Father? .... Well the answer is there is not one.... no one who seeks God... there is no fear of God before our eyes (Rom. 3) We say one thing and do another, we have religious rhetoric but we don't feel the blazing eyes of Jesus beholding all the inner workings of the heart every moment of every day. The One who's ears hear and will reckon with every idle word. How I wonder sometimes how intense we have tempted Him to flood the earth again.... thank you Jesus that your promise to Noah was firm. Oh how patient his lovingkindness is towards His depraved image bearers day after day longing for them to repent and turn and be saved.
Even in the church we are so plagued with sin... We call it a plethora of other things like addiction, or compromise , or struggling with ..... But sin is sin and it is simply love for this present evil age. Oh how many times we just pat each other on the back and say "God loves you man...." end of story.... I love being tender with those caught in the snares of sin ..... but what about the whole gospel?
Yes God loves you .... but here is God's love.... THE CROSS..... where wrath and love kiss. The reality is that we have counseling galore, inner healing, self help, 12 steps you name it....(which all have a legitimate place) all trying to help people, but the very reason why people keep doing what they are doing is because in the deep recesses of the heart they still love their sin and like the comfort it brings ( I speak of myself now too). Oh, we need the precious gift of true repentance.
Beloved, the answer for the alcoholic, the drug user, the porn gazer, the glutton, the self- addict, etc is not a program or to be further encouraged to love themselves in their sin. The answer to all things is the unveiling of the glory, beauty and love of Jesus crucified. This scene of the Godman taking the wrath we deserve by revelation will cut asunder and lay bear the sinner bringing lasting and true repentance (to the humble of heart I refer to.... one can be a sinner and have no contrite heart and will find no place for such a revelation). The heart that loves darkness must see the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ and be transformed..... it is the only solution to true transformation. The human heart is made to be consumed by love, either we will love sin or we shall love God. But we must see that the pleasure of loving Jesus far surpasses the inferior pleasure of sin. Every other attempt to fix man is just a prop, a crutch, a self help mechanism that will further bolster men in their pride. Oh the horror of a man allowed to "overcome" addiction (sin) in his own strength without real repentance.
Oh how I long to repent for becoming frequently discouraged, Oh how I long for myself and all to see the blazing glory of the Godman and to hate the unbelief we so easily cling to. (Oh beloved when we think sin, we usually think the scandalous ones... those are just out-workings of growing unbelief and doubt which are grievous sin before the throne. (Heb. 4) Lord help us.)
Oh, how unbalanced our gospel presentation has become... how anemic.... how dull.... how itching ears love to hear of love without wrath. Wrath alone is not the gospel and love alone is not the gospel. The hardest part about the mystery of the gospel is that you must preach wrath and grace, love and truth..... in the right spirit, something I am on a desperate hunt to do. Jesus spoke of Hell more than any other person in the bible. This should warrant us to preach about it... But we can't just preach on hell it must always be married to the cross.
Here just look at the words of our Lord.... Here He warns people to flee from the coming wrath that will surely consume the wicked. And don't try to get yourself off the hook as if Jesus was talking only to the Pharisee and not to you. Jesus was talking to the self-righteous which is exactly what the american' culture is infested with. I have heard that we have been rated the most narcissistic culture to ever exist, and I don't think you or I are immune from the same self-righteousness that the pharisee walked in just because we carry a Christian badge around. May these words cause us to fear the one who can kill the body... for the fear of the Lord is clean enduring forever.
My point is not to undermine the glory of being justified by faith alone in Christ alone... But I want to encourage you to know what you have been justified freely from!!!! Meditate upon the Cross and you must also meditate upon hell... for it was what our Lord endured in our place. But don't ever meditate upon your depravity apart from the cross.... that road leads only to despair and no repentance. But see the flames of Hell reaching towards you and our LORD stepping into those flames and taking your place of torment. See a God who burns with wrath but yet burns hotter still with Love and Mercy and you shall be constantly urged to repent and run to that cross. Beloved if Hell isn't real to you then the cross cannot be real to you either.
Read His terrible but glorious words and tremble again.
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell! - Matt. 5:29-30
Don't fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. - Matt. 10:28
But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw [people] into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear! - Lk. 12:5
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you and observe [it]. But don't do what they do, because they don't practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people's shoulders, but they themselves aren't willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi' by people. 8 "But as for you, do not be called 'Rabbi,' because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don't go in, and you don't allow those entering to go in. [14 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows' houses and make long prayers just for show. This is why you will receive a harsher punishment.] 15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are! 16 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever takes an oath by the sanctuary, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by his oath.' 17 Blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold? 18 Also, 'Whoever takes an oath by the altar, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gift that is on it is bound by his oath.' 19 Blind people!For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore the one who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and by everything on it. 21 The one who takes an oath by the sanctuary takes an oath by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And the one who takes an oath by heaven takes an oath by God's throne and by Him who sits on it. 23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel! 25"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have taken part with them in shedding the prophets' blood.' 31 You therefore testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' sins! 33 "Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell? 34 This is why I am sending you prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and hound from town to town. 35 So all the righteous blood shed on the earth will be charged to you, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 I assure you: All these things will come on this generation! - Matt. 23:1-36
42 "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me-it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.43 And if your hand causes your downfall, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell-the unquenchable fire, [ 44 where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. ] 45 And if your foot causes your downfall, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell- [the unquenchable fire, 46 where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. ] 47 And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you make it salty? Have salt among yourselves and be at peace with one another."
4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child-this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6 "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me-it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! 7 Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes. 8 If your hand or your foot causes your downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and be thrown into hellfire!
- Matt. 18:4-9
Every tree that doesn't produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. - Matt. 7:19
36 Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, "Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us." 37 He replied: "The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed-these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and 39 the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind [of fish], 48 and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good [fish] into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt. 13:47-50
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' 40 "And the King will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.' 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn't take Me in; I was naked and you didn't clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn't take care of Me.' 44 "Then they too will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, 'I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.' 46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. - John 15:6
5 When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!" 7 "I will come and heal him," He told him. 8"Lord," the centurion replied, "I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. 9 For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes; and to another, 'Come!' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." 10 Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, "I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! 11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus told the centurion, "Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you." And his servant was cured that very moment. Matt. 8:5-13
1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn't want to come. 4 Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, 'Tell those who are invited: Look, I've prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet. ' 5 "But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. 7 The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city. 8 "Then he told his slaves, 'The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore, go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.' 10 So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. 13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen." - Matt. 22:1-14
22 He went through one town and village after another, teaching and making His way to Jerusalem. 23 "Lord," someone asked Him, "are there few being saved?" He said to them, 24"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won't be able 25 once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up for us!' He will answer you, 'I don't know you or where you're from.' 26 Then you will say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets!' 27 But He will say, 'I tell you, I don't know you or where you're from. Get away from Me, all you workers of unrighteousness!' 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but yourselves thrown out. 29 They will come from east and west, from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 Note this: some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." Luke 13:22-30
19 "There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man's table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 'Father Abraham!' he called out, 'Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!' 25 " 'Son,' Abraham said, 'remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.' 27 " 'Father,' he said, 'then I beg you to send him to my father's house- 28 because I have five brothers-to warn them, so they won't also come to this place of torment.' 29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' 30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said. 'But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31 "But he told him, 'If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.' "- Luke 16:19-31