Heaven or Hell?
Matthew 7:13-14, 21-27
by Cooper Abrams
INTRODUCTION: It is not popular today to preach on hell, yet Jesus preached almost twice as much about hell and the coming judgment of men as He did heaven. Why? because of the love God has for us. He loves us enough to tell us the truth and desires that all men be saved from hell. This life is short. It it like the flower in the field, it springs to life in the Spring, flowers in the Summer, begins to fade in the Fall and dies in the Winter. I went to the Abrams' Family Cemetery in Crisp, Edgecombe County, North Carolina a few years ago. As I looked at the tomb stones that mark the graves of my great great grandfather it came to mind that he lived much as I do. He had a family and work to do and went about his daily activities, yet we know so little about him. We only know him by pictures we have and a few records of his life. We do not even know who his father was or where he came from. It is a mystery. He came to eastern North Carolina from somewhere, married a local farmer's daughter and began a family. He like the flower was born, bloomed, but then died and faded away.
1. Hell is the English translation of actual three words in Scripture. Sheol, Hades, Gehenna
I. Where is Hell?
a. Sheol: Hebrew - 65 times in the OT.
2. "Hades" is Greek word used in New Testament 11 times. It is translated in KJV into English, "Hell." "Hades" is the side of Sheol, where the lost are. Hell, is a final place, Hades, is but a temporary abode.
It is translated into English:
b. Saved and Lost men are said to go to "sheol":
"Hell" - 30 times
"Grave" - 31 times
"Pit" - 3 times
The Hebrew word is not found outside the Old Testament except one time and means means, a grave or the place of the dead.
Jacob - Gen 37:35
c. Luke 16:19-31
Korah, Dothan, etc (Bad) Go there too. Numbers 16:30
1 Peter 3:19 Noah preaches in Spirit of Christ
Eph. 4:9-10 Christ's decent from heaven and return there.
(1) Lazarus died and went to Abraham's bosom.
Note, Jewish in tone: Abraham father of Jews.
(2) Rich man died and went to Hell or Hades
He could see Abraham a way off(v23), yet V26
says there was a great gulf, between them.
(3) Thus Hebrew "Sheol", meant the place of all
departed spirits of men, both lost and saved and it was divided into two parts or sections.
(4) Paradise, was the side for saved, & the other side was for the lost.
(5) The side for for the Lost was place of torment. V24
3. "Gehenna," Greek word, used 12 times in the NEW TESTAMENT and is always correctly translated, "hell".
Gehenna: Ahaz, King of Israel, Northern Kingdom, sacrificed his children to the idol Molech at this place outside Jerusalem. (See 2 Chronicles 28:1-4) The place was called the "Valley of Hinnon".
Josiah (boy king of Israel, good king) stopped the infant sacrifices there, and the place became a garbage dump for Jerusalem. It was a place of filth, sorrow, smoke, fire and death.
"Gehenna" or the "Lake of Fire" is God's final dumping place for all those that reject Him. Jesus said in Matthew 25:41, that hell was ". . . prepared for the devil and his angels." Hell was not prepared for man, but for Satan, fallen angels (demons), but those that die in their sins without Christ chose to go there.
A. Hades, is always referred to as being down. Maybe in the center of the earth, but we do not know. Numbers 16:32-33 refers to it as being down.
II. What is Hades?
B. Gehenna - Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30, is place of outer darkness where the unsaved are cast to spend eternity after the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. 2 Peter 2:17 describes it as a "mist of darkness."
It is not the abode of Satan. He is not there has never been there, or every will be there. It is the temporary abode or place of the unsaved dead since the beginning of time,(Both Old and Testaments) who are awaiting their final judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment.
III. What is Hell?
A. It is called the "Lake of Fire" in Revelation 20:19. The Greek word is "Gehenna." This is the final place torment where the unsaved will spend eternity.
IV. Who will be placed in Gehenna (the Lake of Fire) ?
B. What will it be like? The Bible literally describes Gehenna as:
1. Place of unquenchable Fire: Matt. 3:12, 13:41, Mark 9:43
2. Place of memory and remorse: Luke 16:19-31
3. Place of Thirst: Luke 16:24 (Hades) It is
hot, a place of fire.
4. Place of misery & pain: Rev. 14:10-11
5. Place of frustration - anger: Matt. 13:42
6. Separation: No company. Rev. 2:11, 20:6, 14
7. Place of Divine wrath: Rev. 14:10
8. Place prepared for Satan and his demons: Matt. 25:41
9. It is an eternal place: 71 times in NEW TESTAMENT,
64, referred to as eternal. Matt. 25:46 is an example.
10. Everlasting Fire: Matt. 18:8 Jude 7
It is called a place of Punishment: Matt. 25:46
Chains: II Thess. 1:8
Darkness: Matt. 8:12
Destruction: II Thess. 1:9
Satan. Rev. 20:10
V. Heaven or Hell? Which will you choose?
Anti-christ Rev. 19:20, II Thess. 2:8
False Prophet. Rev. 19:20
Fallen Angels II Peter 2:4
Judas. Acts 1:5 Own place: indicate separation nd punishment.
All the unsaved men & women who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior. (Se Rev. 21:8)
A. The Bible is clear in teaching that a man will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Every person is headed to one of these destinies.
B. You must make the choice.
1. A Choice between two masters, The Lord or Satan.
C. It is a choice that covers three realms:
The Bible says to every man, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)
2. It is a choice between two roads of life. The broad way that most choose leads to eternal death, or the narrow way that believes in Jesus Christ and receives Him as one's personal Savior. The board way is the one those that reject God take. It is a road of sin and rebellion against God and of living in sin. This road will take one to hell and everlasting condemnation.
God says, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:16-19).
The narrow way is called the way of life and those on this road are believers having accepted God's word and received Jesus Christ as their Savior. This road is marked by obedient people who love God and Him word. This road takes a person to heaven.
3. It is choice between one of two deaths. One the death of the declared righteous who when they die wake up in the presence of God in heaven, or it is the death of those who will not believe and who reject God free offer of salvation who wake up in the flames of hell.
4. Choice between two destinies: Life which means Heaven or Death which means Hell.
1. Of life: Life is a dressing room for eternity.
D. Your choice will determine your eternal destiny. One is not judged after death to determine if he will go to heaven or hell. That is determined at the moment one dies. If one is a believer he will go to heaven. If he has rejected God then he spend eternity separated in hell. Hebrews 9:27, says, ". . .it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." This judgment is to determine rewards for the believers and degree of punishment for the lost.
2. Of Death: We all have a sure appointment with physical death.
3. Of Eternity: Heaven or Hell?
Where a person will spend eternity is:
1. Not determined by riches. The rich man in Luke 16, went to
hell because he rejected Christ, not because he was rich. Lazarus was a poor man but it was not his poverty that saved him, but was his faith in God.
2. Not by education, or social standing. Revelation 20:12 says at the final judgment of the lost there will be both the small and great.
3. Not by works! It is not how good you are or what church you belong to or what works you have done! It is solely a matter of the grace of God given to all who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Eph. 2:8-9
Matt. 7:21-22 says there will be in hell some very religious people who knew of Jesus, who did a lot of wonderful works, and even miracles, yet Jesus said He did not know them and what they did was a work of iniquity! These people are church members who had a head knowledge of Jesus, but did not repent of their sins and put their trust in Him and Him alone. Probably many of these people believed that their good works, baptism, church membership, sacraments, etc would get them to heaven. These are those that have added works to God's grace, instead of trusting in Christ's shed blood alone for salvation they tried to merit or earn their passage to heaven. The Bible is clear on this matter. It is by grace alone a part from any work or righteous act of man.
4. John 3:18 "He that hath believed on Him is not condemned:, but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.
1. Suppose you went to the doctor for a routine check up. The doctor found that you that you had a defective valve in your heart. It was like a time bomb ticking, and at any moment it could fail and you would have a heart attack and
die. But there was a cure, a simple operation that would correct the defect.
Suppose then the doctor would not tell you. Suppose he would say to you, "You are OK, take it easy, do the best you can and you will be all right."
2. Matt. 7:24, Jesus says, "Whosoever hears what I say, and does them, I will liken to a wise man that built his house on a rock."
What kind of doctor would not tell you the truth that would help you? Wouldn't you rather he tell you the truth, and tell you of the problem and about the cure?
Suppose he told you of the problem and also the cure, then told you the decisions would be yours. That is the way it should be isn't it?
You could choose not to believe him and to ignore it and say, "I feel fine, nothing wrong with me" or you could thank him for telling you to the truth, submit to the operation, so you could be cured!
What would be the best for you to do!?
But the sad fact is many are like the foolish man they build their house on sand. They ignore the loving warnings of God, they ignore the reality of the fact they need to be saved.
ILLUS: While attending Calvary Baptist Church in King, NC one Thursday night I went with my pastor visiting to a housing development called "The Farm." That evening we visited a number of people. One was the son of one of our church members. The pastor tried to talk to him about the Lord, but he laughed and put the pastor off. He said he had thought about it some, and planned to take care of it someday. He said he might come to church the following Sunday. The pastor said he could receive Christ right then that night in his home, but the young man refused. Sunday morning the pastor asked prayer for the family. The son, on Saturday night went out drinking and was speeding out of town. He lost control of the car and in a terrible crash was killed. He thought he had time. When we visited him that night he probably was thinking about the up coming Saturday night and all the fun he panned to have...it was a fatal decision and he died and is, by his own testimony, in hell.
They built their lives on the sand of false hopes, hoping their good works, church membership, baptism or something will keep them from hell...yet when the time of judgment comes the end it sure...they fall and great is their fall.
Many ignore God's offer of salvation, some put it off for some future day, thinking they have the time. To not to chose now to believe and ask God's forgiveness is a dangerous thing.
Dear Friend when a pastor or friends urges you to believe and repent or your sins today, it is because they love you. More than their love for you, the Lord Jesus Christ loves you and died on the Cross for you sins, that you might be saved. Why not quit putting it off, why not stop fight with God and surrender to Him and ask Him to save you right now. He promises you He will. Do you realize that forgiveness for sins and eternal life is one a moment away if you will believe.
It is always encouraging to receive email from those who find the messages helpful, or who have comments.
*All rights reserved. This work is reserved in its use only to preserve the author's ownership of his work. Any part of this work may be used without the author's permission. All that he asks is that proper credit be given. (All quotations are from the Authorized Version - The King James Bible. )