Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
 
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
 
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
 
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest. 
 
Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

–Requiscat by Oscar Wilde

The death of a lost loved one is naturally one of the most painful experiences of life. You look at the person you loved lying there so still and you know you won’t ever see them move again. They’ll never again speak with you and laugh with you. You remember them when they were younger and the way the were full of life. Grief takes a hold of you and the pain and loss and hopelessness multiply into a despair and longing that you cannot abate and the tears roll and the heart breaks. There is love lost and grief for a lost moment in time you can never get back. If only you could go back. If only you could see them again and know they were safe. But you know they aren’t safe, because they are in hell.

John 3:18-21 ESV
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Sometimes no matter how much you have pleaded, and cried, and prayed for a lost loved one that person simply will not trust in Christ and be saved. They continue in wickedness with no sense of urgency, rejecting Christ. They raise their children lost without any grounding in the Lord. They revel in vulgarity and drunkenness and all the gluttony of the flesh. They love the things of the world, despise the things of God, and treat you Christian, who are concerned for them, like a fool who believes in fairy tales. Then one day they slip out of the world lost, without hope, into the pit of hell for eternity where they will reap justice for what they have sown.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 ESV
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

The loss of any loved one is a terrible pain but the loss of a lost loved one is compounded and the devil will try to use it to wound your faith and render you useless for Christ. That cannot be allowed to happen. We know that in the world we will suffer and we will see, hear, and experience things that hurt us. However we should never let it stop us in our pursuit to advance the kingdom of God because we have a Lord and savior who has overcome the world.

John 16:33 ESV
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

If you lose one battle that doesn’t mean you have lost the war. There are other souls still living who have a chance at salvation and you have a testimony about Christ that you can share with them. There is salvation in Jesus Christ!

John 11:25 ESV
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

There is no reason to fear for those who die in Christ. If we lose a loved one in Christ it is just a short time until we see them again. We get all of those moments back. We get to see them and speak with them and know that they are safe as we are safe in the family of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:1-3,27 ESV
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

It is far better to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. All the trials are over and all of the pain of loss is ended.

Take courage. A Christian’s best day is always before him.

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 ESV
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Even though we walk through this valley and we bear so much pain and loss we know that all will be restored to us. We need not be afraid. We should press forward and hit the mark and finish the race set before us. There will never be a better time than today to tell others about Jesus. The Lord is our shepherd there is nothing else we need. We are prepared for the task at hand. Go out and get it done.

Psalm 23 ESV
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Blessed be the name of the Lord in all things forever. Amen 

–David

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DR. R.C. Sproul on Hell

April 13, 2011

We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.

Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.

Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.” (John H. Gerstner, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1573580880 [Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 1991], 75.)

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.

Summary

The suffering of hell is beyond any experience of misery found in this world.
Hell is clearly included in the teaching of Jesus.
If the biblical descriptions of hell are symbols, then the reality will be worse than the symbols.
Hell is the presence of God in His wrath and judgment.
There is no cruelty in hell. Hell will be a place of perfect justice.
Hell is eternal. There is no escape through either repentance or annihilation.

Biblical passages for reflection:

Matthew 8:11-12 ESV
11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Mark 9:42-48 ESV
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

Luke 16:19-31 ESV
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Jude 1:3-13 ESV
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Revelation 20:11-15 ESV
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 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.

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Dr. R.C. Sproul, is a renowned theologian, pastor, teacher, and is chariman of Ligonier ministries.

how is it just for a just God to deny a ‘good’ heathen, or jew, or buddhist, or moslem, a place in heaven? Admit it – one’s faith is accident of birth and temperament, and entirely arbitrary, and no justifiable criterion on which to dish out either eternal bliss or eternal torment.

The answer is quite simple really. (Isaiah 53)

The truth is there are no “good people” at all. Everyone deserves to go to hell because all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). So for God to be a just God everyone would go to hell because at heart everyone is born wicked (Psalm 51:5) (Genesis 8:21) (Jeremiah 17:9). If the inner most thoughts of man were made public knowledge he would hide himself from the shame and fear of being known for what he is. God isn’t obligated to save anyone at all.

 God can’t just pardon wickedness without punishment, that would be injust and God is perfect. He is perfectly just and good. So he does things perfectly.

Here’s how he justifies sinners:

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, came to earth took on flesh and fullfilled God’s will by his personal obedience. He is righteous and good and never sinned. He willingly gave his life in God’s plan for those who God selected to pardon. When he died on the cross he took on their punishment by being crushed by the righteous wrath of God against sin and was seperated from him and counted as sin itself (2 Corinthians 5:21). “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:6 Psalm 22:1) He bore our burden freely and for the sake of Him God raised him from the dead and gave him a people out of the world to glorify him as Lord and king. (Isaiah 53:12) God imputes the righteousness of Christ to worthless sinners by faith in Jesus Christ and saves them from sin and death. Those who have faith in him are those who are his. When God sees one who is clothed in the righteousness of Christ he no longer sees a sinner who deserves the outpouring of his wrath he sees his beloved child, so we call God “Our Father”.

There is salvation in no one else:

Acts 4:11-12 ESV
11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Thus God being a just and merciful God gives mercy to some because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ that paid the debt owed by willingly taking the punishment due his sheep upon himself in their place, and he gives Justice to the rest. (Romans 9:22-23)

Mercy and Justice are both attributes of God who himself has defined good as there are none greater. (Isaiah 45:22)

Everyone gets what they want in a way. There is no cruelty only justice and mercy. All those in heaven love God and want to worship him forever and all those in hell hate him and want to curse him forever. In heaven is eternal life in the family of God in hell is eternal torment in hatred and rebellion under the just outpouring of the wrath of God upon all wickedness.

To be saved one must realize they need a savior. One must see their sin for what it is and the seperation that it puts between them and a Holy God. When they see that sin and repent and put to death the things of the flesh and trust in Christ alone for their salvation they are saved by his grace and walk in the Spirit of God loving God and others and hating sin.

I urge anyone who wants to be saved from sin and death to repent and trust in Jesus and be saved.

(Romans 10:9-13) (John 3:5-7, 16-21) (1 John 3:4-10)

–David