Yesterday I posted an article about the fact that hell exists, why it exists, and why people go there (and how to avoid it). Here-> Betty White talks about her own death with Larry King. I was asked about how to handle knowing a loved one is very likely in hell enduring eternal torment. It’s a troubling question, an important concept to dig though – if tough on the heart and mind.
I grew up in a family of means, where the breathless rush of the ‘new’ was king. We bought the first and newest of everything. Color TV? Got one. Remote control? First on the block to have it. 27″ TV? Over there in the living room. Pong just came out? We played it. Central vacuum? Installed. And so on.
When I met my husband in 1990, I decided to switch gears, and we went the frugal route. Downsize. No debt. Use things till they break, and then if possible, fix them instead of buying new. I sold my new house with its mortgage, and he sold his. He owned a camp by a lake that had been in the family since the 1950s. Thus, it had no mortgage. “Camps” were the name for a summer seasonal dwelling by the lake to which the family would decamp from the city. The places were usually small and closed up after Labor Day. In the 1950s, moms would take the kids to camp and stay for the summer while dads worked in the city and arrived at ‘camp’ on weekends.
I was amazed that most of the furniture in the camp to which I and my husband moved still contained its original furniture. Floor to ceiling pole lamps, coiled, braided rugs, rattan rocking chair, heavy black dial phone, lol, and so on.
The vacuum cleaner was an Electrolux and it weighed a billion pounds. When I asked if we were going to get a new vacuum, he said why? it still works. And it did.
This was a new concept to me, no waste, keep using old things that still worked. My life had been one of disposable consumerism, so this was refreshing attitude because it took a lot of the weight off in needing to keep up with the latest and greatest.
When he and I later downsized again and moved onto the sailboat and cruised down the Atlantic Seaboard from Maine to the Bahamas, we passed a lot of garbage scows and barges. NYC harbor was full of garbage barges with piled-up trash, heading to some landfill or other. It was the first time I’d been visually confronted with the enormity of waste. It made me sad.
I love the beach. I spent a lot of time there growing up and in my early adulthood. I am fascinated with edges of things. The equator. The Southern US border. The tide line where the water meets the sand. At the tide line in the north there is usually a line of dead seaweed, kelp, broken shells, and other ocean detritus. It’s sort of an ocean version of the trash line except it’s natural and organic. It’s a great visual to show where the tide had been.
You know what else makes me sad? Hell.
I think of all the piled up trash and the seaweed languishing there above the tide line and I envision those as flesh. All that wasted flesh that did not honor God. All that wasted flesh that Jesus disposes of in hell. I can’t imagine the piles of people in the gaping maw of hell. The Flood, all peoples on earth except Noah and his family cast into hell, the billions of people since all waste.
The worst waste is the people who did not honor God. Gentiles, AKA Pagans, do not honor God. They cannot. They are corrupt through and through with sin and God hates sin.
It seemed like the Electrolux was going to last forever, but it eventually died. Boy did my husband ever get his money’s worth out of that thing! Almost 50 years of life. But eventually it gasped its last and it went to the landfill where all the other waste went. No matter how permanent the vacuum cleaner seemed, no matter how well made it was, it eventually ran out of days for its life span.
Hell is real. It is a place where people who have denied Christ, sinned, loved the world will be cast to endure active, conscious punishment forever. Cast, thrown, like when you throw a used tissue into the trash. You don’t place it there, you throw it. You’re hurled without a second thought. That is how the people who did not repent will be thrown into the lake of fire which burns for all eternity.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
This is weighty! This is huge! This requires some thought!
Hell is not a pleasant topic, but it is real and there are already billions of people dwelling there. My father died at the scene of a car crash in 2014. I am 99.999% sure he was outside of Christ. He was a rabid atheist for all his life, so… The concept of hell became personal to me on that date. Looking out over a beach and seeing the piles of dead seaweed reminds me of all the wasted flesh in hell, groaning and gnashing teeth, fists up against God and tormented forever. Jonathan Edwards said in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,
'Tis everlasting Wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this Fierceness and Wrath of Almighty God one Moment; but you must suffer it to all Eternity: there will be no End to this exquisite horrible Misery: When you look forward, you shall see a long Forever, a boundless Duration before you, which will swallow up your Thoughts, and amaze your Soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any Deliverance, any End, any Mitigation, any Rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long Ages, Millions of Millions of Ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless Vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many Ages have actually been spent by you in this Manner, you will know that all is but a Point to what remains. So that our Punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh who can express what the State of a Soul in such Circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble faint Representation of it; 'tis inexpressible and inconceivable: for who knows the Power of God’s Anger?
Sheol, the barren womb, land never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, ‘Enough!’ (Proverbs 30:16)
No matter how long we live and however permanent things seem, they’re not. Whether you dispose of items as soon as the next pretty, shiny things come along or whether you keep it as long as possible, eventually things get thrown out. There is waste no matter how much we recycle. Of bodies, of human flesh that dies, that is the one thing that lasts FOREVER. The question is, where will you spend it?
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Hell is not a pleasant Bible concept to ponder. So most of the time, Christians don’t. But it’s the end-all of the journey for millions and billions of people. Forever. So we must.
Included in this edition of Prata Potpourri are some things that either aren’t talked about enough (Lake of Fire) or are talked about so much that the wackadoodles have gotten a-hold of the issue and twisted it beyond all recognition (angels, spiritual warfare). Here are some credible links to these and other topics.
Jim Osman and Justin Peters’ video series on Spiritual Warfare is excellent. Here is the 8-part series-
Show 1 of 8: Justin Peters & Jim Osman on the: Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture as it relates to Biblical Spiritual Warfare. Justin Peters interviews Pastor & Author Jim Osman on the subject of Spiritual Warfare and Jim’s book: “Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare”. Some examples of False Teaching on Spiritual Warfare are briefly discussed as well as some False Teachers are named. These issues will be discussed in greater detail in coming episodes. Jim Osman starts this series off by giving viewers a brief Testimony of how the LORD changed his thinking on this very important subject, then both Justin & Jim introduce viewers to the topic of the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture which is briefly defined and defended from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Are you surprised when you come across so-called Christians who claim to be followers of Jesus, but never ‘follow’ Him into a church? They say that attending church isn’t necessary to be a fully devoted Christian? I am. I am actually shocked when I deal with this among professing Christians. And it’s spreading.
From Ligonier: The Final State of the Unbeliever. This will happen. Pray evangelistically and frequently! Romans 10:1 says, Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
…is when they are standing at the Great White Throne. It will be the ultimate flashbulb moment.
Psychologists have a thing called ‘Flashbulb memory”. It’s that moment when a piece of extremely emotional or traumatic news was heard. Cognition Magazine explains,
“Almost everyone can remember, with an almost perceptual clarity, where he was when he heard, what he was doing at the time, who told him, what was the immediate aftermath, how he felt about it, and also one or more totally idiosyncratic and often trivial concomitants.”
The prototypical event in past cognition studies was the moment President Kennedy was shot. More recent studies use the moment the news broke about the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.
When I was a teenager, my father gave me a 1940s Argus camera, similar to the one above. It had the kind of flash you mounted on top of the camera. It was extremely bright, and you had to pop the bulb out after, which was extremely hot. The photo subject always involuntarily blinked in the microsecond after the flash went off, due to the brightness. You know when they closed their eyes, the reverse negative of the image is emblazoned on the inside of their eyelids. That’s a real flashbulb moment.
When the unsaved are exhumed and gathered to the Great White Throne, they will see Jesus in His glory. They will account for their lives, and try to explain their sin. However, they will be found without excuse. When the judgment is done, they will be sent to outer darkness.
They will see the Ancient of Days, hair white as wool, glorious in light and power. They will see. Their eyes having been blind on earth to Him, will now see Him AND His glory. It will be bright.
Then they will be cast into outer darkness, fire, and torment forever. The darkness will be complete, palpable, utter. It will contain no hope, no glimmer, no crack at all. Even when waving one’s hand in front of one’s face, the sinner will find no relief from the ink. The only light they will ever see will be the glory light of God emblazoned on the inside of their eyelids forever. The actual glory will be unreachable, its chasm unbridgeable. It is the ultimate flashbulb moment.
Sister, we have been forgiven of our sins, the sins that would have sent us to that throne to plead our case, only to be finally rejected and sent to the Hopeless Dark. Our flashbulb moment will last for eternity. We will see Him and not be consumed by wrath. We will enjoy the brightness of His glory through glorified eyes. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for His grace today, and to remember the destiny of others. Be a witness to His name.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15).
Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30).
The reality of a faith-filled life is a beautiful thing. Jesus’ sweet intercessions, His providential care, the magnanimity of His salvation, the ongoing gratitude we feel during increased sanctification, are all wonderful buttresses to the daily grind we experience. It’s wonderful to have Him to focus upon as the object of our adoration and awe.
Just as pondering His love and kindness is an encouragement, His wrath and judgment are weighty topics that should be mulled over as well. The fact is, many human beings will populate the Lake of Fire for all eternity, a devastating thought if you really chew on it for a while.
I’ll be posting a three-part series on the verse from Romans 9:22 about the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. I’d found a wonderful sermon from Robert Murray M’Cheyne, his last sermon in fact. He raised three important points about God’s electing people to be His ‘vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,’ and I intend to post them piecemeal over the next 3 days.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the reality of hell for the lost. One of the verses I studied today was this from 2 Peter 3:8.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8).
In context, Peter is assuring his readers that the Lord’s final plan regarding His return and the judgment WILL come to pass. God is not slack concerning His promise, Peter goes onto state. The point of the verse was to remind the audience that God is outside of time and in control of everything. We read a parallel to the time thing in Psalm 90:4,
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explained the thousand year/day v. day/thousand year part of the 2 Peter verse.
No delay which occurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, a thousand guineas are as a single penny. God’s œonologe (eternal-ages measurer) differs wholly from man’s horologe (hour-glass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) shows all the hours at once in the greatest activity and in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away, neither more slowly, nor more quickly, than befits His economy. There is nothing to make Him need either to hasten or delay the end. The words, “with the Lord” (Ps 90:4, “In Thy sight”), silence all man’s objections on the ground of his incapability of understanding this
When reading the J-F-B about the gnomon, œonologe, and horologe, I got pretty excited! More stuff to study. But for today’s thought, back to the beginning of thinking over the fate of the lost in the Lake of Fire for all eternity, it might be helpful to see the thousand year part of the verse this way. Though there is not a literal ‘day’ in heaven or in hell:
–Those who are with the Lord in heaven experience such post-life joy that a thousand years passes as one day.
–Those who are with the Lord in hell (He is not there but His wrath is), experience such post-life torment that one day is as a thousand years.