Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in Los Angeles, CA, on January 4, 2002.
 

"EVERLASTING FIRE"

Matthew 25.41

INTRODUCTION:

1. Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 18.13. Thatís page 685 in your Scofield Reference Bible. We pass by here on the way to this eveningís text. Please stand as I read: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."

2. This verse has application to both the here and now and the by and by. It speaks of jumping to conclusions about things, both things relatively unimportant and things that are very important. And it shows that those who jump to conclusions will be shown to be foolish and will be shamed.

3. I explain: A person who buys a house without consulting his pastor, or without getting it thoroughly inspected to make sure there are no rusty pipes or termites, or without comparing its sale price to other houses of equal size and value, will be shown to be a fool and will be shamed by his reluctance to give his home purchase the attention and time it properly deserved. The same is also true when purchasing an automobile, or when considering who to marry. Important matters deserve your attention.

4. The same is true with spiritual issues. And this verse speaks of the kind of person who approaches a subject but backs away without having listened carefully, who withdraws without having studied the matter fully. There are some of you here who have answered the matter before you heard it.

5. That is, you have backed away from a careful consideration of your sins, from a careful consideration of Jesus Christ, from a careful consideration of this whole matter of salvation, before youíve really heard it through, before youíve really considered it as carefully as you ought to have. And the result will be folly and shame to you, such as you cannot begin to imagine.

6. Turn now to our text for this evening, Matthew 25.41. Thatís page 1036 in your Scofield Reference Bible. Please stand once more as I read: "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."

7. Consider this verse. Ponder its meaning for a moment. What does this verse mean concerning you? What does this verse say about you? According to this verse, what is your end? If you and I were to sit down and read this verse together, and then I were to ask you what your destiny was, what would happen to you when you die, you would say something like "I would go to Hell."

8. Look at that verse again. You are right when you say you will go to Hell when you die. But if you think thatís the end of it you would be wrong. If you think your eternal destiny is Hell you would be mistaken. If you think you will forever be where the rich man went when he died, you are in error.

9. I have not found any new doctrine in the Bible, but I have discovered that unsaved people answer a matter before they fully hear it. And I think there are some of you who have foolishly rejected Jesus Christ because youíve heard a few things about Hell and have figured that it isnít so bad.

10. To straighten you out a bit, to provoke you to once again consider the matter more fully, to convince you that you donít know quite so much about whatís going to happen to you as you think you do, and in the hopes that you will be motivated to flee to Jesus for safe refuge from Godís wrath, let me review for you what will happen to you because of your sins . . . eventually.

1A. First, YOU WILL DIE . . . EVENTUALLY

1B. Itís been appointed unto man once to die. That is, it has been decided by God that you will eventually die. And this is certain, for no man youíve ever known has avoided death.

2B. God could easily have decided upon some other course of consequence for your sin, but He chose death for you when He drove Adam from the Garden of Eden and placed the angels with fiery swords at the entrance to prevent access to the tree of life.

3B. Yes, God might have chosen to allow access to the tree of life, enabling Adam and Eve, and therefore enabling you, to eat of the tree and to live forever as a sinner and as a rebel against God. But instead He chose death for you as a consequence for sin.

4B. So, at some point in time in your future, either sooner or later, that ravenous beast called "death" will come and eat you. He may fall upon you suddenly, and without warning devour you. Or he may gradually gnaw away at your body through some disease, sucking the life out of you a bit at a time, chewing up your vitals until you finally, weak and exhausted, succumb to him.

5B. This beast we call "death" may get you when you are young, in a single gulp. Or he may strike you down with a vicious and violent assault, causing you to clutch your chest, in middle age. Or he may suck the vitality from you in old age. But be sure of this: the beast we call "death" will devour you . . . eventually.

2A. Then, AFTER YOU DIE, YOU WILL GO TO HELL

1B. There is no time to deal with the various Greek and Hebrew words for Hell that are found in the Bible, which can be confusing if youíre not careful. So let me state that I am referring to that place unsaved people go directly to immediately after they die. This is where you will go when the monster called "death" overtakes you.

2B. You will not go to purgatory when you die, for there is no such place as purgatory. Purgatory is never mentioned in the Bible and the concept or the idea of going someplace after you die, where your sins will be purged by fire and suffering before you can go to heaven, is entirely foreign to the Bible. There is no purgatory!

3B. Only the blood of Jesus cleanses away sins, and His blood only cleanses away sins while you are alive. Once you are dead itís too late for you, just as it was too late for the rich man in Luke chapter 16. one minute he was alive, the next minute he was dead and in Hell.

4B. But you already know this, donít you? You know youíre headed for Hell if you donít get saved. And you know from Luke 16.23-25, that Hell is a place of consciousness, a place of torment, a place of thirst, a place of horrible suffering, a place of guilt and shame.

5B. But you may be mistaken on one point concerning Hell. O, perhaps youíve got the truth stored away in the back of your mind. But you donít think about it. It doesnít enter into your considerations. Itís not a part of your deliberations.

6B. What am I talking about? Iím talking about the fact that if you do end up in Hell you wonít be there forever. You see, as bad as Hell is, as horrible as itís torments are, as brutal as Hellís sufferings are, they are only temporary. Thatís right! No one goes to Hell forever.

3A. Third, BECAUSE HELL IS ONLY THE PLACE YOU WILL GO UNTIL THE JUDGMENT

1B. Most people who know theyíre not going to heaven are resigned to the fact that they are going to Hell, but donít consider that Hellís not the worst of it. O, no. Remember, itís appointed unto men once to die (and they then go to Hell for some period), but after this comes the judgment. Youíve not thought of the judgment, have you?

2B. Turn to Revelation 20.11-13. Page 1350 in your Scofield Bible.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

3B. This is a partial description of the judgment that awaits you after you go to Hell. There you will stand before God, naked and ashamed, your folly visible to the multitudes, every wicked deed you have done, every foul word you have spoken, every profane and rebellious thought that has crossed your mind, revealed from the books.

4B. Hell will give you up, you see, for Hell is only a temporary place for the damned souls of Christ- rejecting men and women. Temporary, until all who will trust Christ have trusted Christ, until all who will be forgiven are forgiven, until all who will come to Jesus have come to Jesus. Hell being the place where everyone else goes, where you will go, until the end and the time of final disposition and judgment.

5B. And this judgment will itself be terrifying. O, how you will struggle to flee. O, how hard you will fight to get away, but to no avail. Why fight so hard to avoid the inevitable? Him. Itís the idea of facing Him. You wonít want to stand before God, the God of wrath, the God of holy rage. And there, being confronted by all your sins, the sins of a lifetime. Terrible.

4A. Finally, YOU WILL BE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE . . . FOREVER

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

1B. You will have thought Hell was bad, but Hell had no Devil. You will have thought Hell was bad, but Hell had no demons, no foul spirits, no fallen angels. You will have thought Hell was bad, but Hell wasnít forever. Neither was Hellís suffering so intense.

2B. The lake of fire is Godís wrath, my friend, while Hell is the place of the damned until the judgment occurs. In Hell the rich man saw Abraham and Lazarus, but the lake of fire is outer darkness, the great abyss, the place of perpetual falling, the place of gnashing teeth, the place where the worm dies not.

3B. The lake of fire, where you will be consigned for all eternity, is the place of dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. O, what violence you and your kind will unleash on each other. In addition to the torment of Godís righteous vengeance, you will inflict such suffering on each other.

4B. O, the darkness. O, the loneliness. O, the agony. O, the heartache. O, the filth. O, the worms, the worms, the worms!

CONCLUSION:

1. You have heard the Gospel before. You know yourself to be a sinner in Godís sight. And you know that Jesus invites you to come to Him for salvation from your sins.

2. Until now you might have thought that your rebellion and rejection of Jesus would result only in Hellfire. But thatís not the worst of it, by far, my friend.

3. "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." This verse I read at the beginning speaks of you. You have answered the matter before youíve fully heard it.

4. Somehow, with the depraved logic that characterizes all unsaved peopleís thoughts, youíve concluded that Hell is something you can endure, that Hell is not something to shun, that Hell will somehow be a tolerable alternative to heaven.

5. But you are wrong, my foolish friend. You are tragically and shamefully mistaken. Step back. Take a fresh look at this whole issue. The alternative to an eternity in heaven with Jesus is not Hell.

6. It is, rather, an eternity of unimaginably excruciating pain. It is the lake of fire, created by God for those vile creatures who rebelled against Him in heaven and were cast out, and all too soon a place that will be forever occupied by you . . . unless you come to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

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