“Hell? Destruction? Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth?”
April 29, 2018 A.D.
by Pastor Ben Willis

April 29th, 2018 by mdevita

MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43 [NLTse]

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”


Did you hear the joke about the classroom discussion on whales? At one point in the lesson, the teacher remarked how, even though the whale is such a very large mammal, that its throat is very small.

“But a whale swallowed Jonah,” a little girl called out from the back.

Irritated, the teacher insisted that a whale could not have swallowed a human being. That it was physically impossible.

The little girl then said, “Well, when I get to Heaven, I’m going to ask Jonah.”

To which the teacher replied, “What if Jonah went to Hell?”

And the little girl answered, “Well, then you can ask him.”

“The Hard Sayings of Jesus”: That’s what I’ve been preaching about since Easter Sunday. We’ve talked about gouging out our eyes and cutting off our hands if those body parts are causing us to sin. The Lord’s told us that spiritual poverty is a blessing, as is our mourning and grief, and being persecuted is a blessing, and being mocked, and being lied about… All blessings. We’ve seen that doubt is not about having questions. (Because even Jesus had questions!) No. We’ve see that doubt is about denying Christ: Our lives making Him out to be less than He truly is. And He will not have it!

Today I feel led to the Lord’s reality pictured in our reading that, “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment…” (Vv. 22-23)

What’s the “hard saying” in this statement? Well, a lot of people don’t believe there’s such a thing as a

“place of torment”. Many people today, including a number of Christians, believe that everybody will go to “sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet” when they die. To be more plain: Jesus is saying there is a Heaven, but that not everybody will go there; and, He’s saying there is a Hell, and some people – and perhaps even the majority of people! – will go there.

Of course, this parable isn’t the Lord Jesus’ only mention of Heaven and Hell. In another place He said, u “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you Whom to fear. Fear God, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into Hell! Yes, He’s the One to fear.” (Luke 12:4-5)

Jesus said, u “The road that leads to Destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7.13-14)

He also said, u “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

And He said, u “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:50)

And Jesus said, u “‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:45-46)

<> Hell
<> Destruction
<> Perishing
<> Furnace of fire
<> Weeping and gnashing of teeth
<> Eternal punishment
<> Flames

These are the descriptions the Lord Jesus Christ uses to describe Hell. (I include the word “Hell” itself because that’s the Lord Jesus’ name for the Valley of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem where, in Old Testament times, idolatrous Israelites sacrificed their children in worship to the gods of the nations around them. As a part of “cleansing Jerusalem” and making the city once again “holy to the Lord”, the Valley was turned into the city garbage dump where fires burned and smoldered constantly [as is the case with many municipal dumps, even today] and where worms and maggots and other vermin could always be found eating and multiplying among the rotting waste.)

But the parable from our Scripture Reading is probably the most revealing and informative of the Lord Jesus’ teachings about Heaven and Hell. I don’t mean “informative” as far as details go, because we don’t get a very clear description about the

<> “Place of torment”; and,

<> “Anguish”; and,

<> “Flames”,

nor do we get to know much about “the heavenly banquet”. But the big-picture-reality is clear: Heaven is a place of comfort and celebration (and we know that because, in the parable, Abraham told the rich man that Lazarus was being comforted, and since a banquet, by definition, is a time of celebration); and, from the parable, we know that Hell is a place of torment and anguish (since the parable uses those words to describe the rich man’s situation).

And so, you see where we get our modern understanding of Hell as being a fiery place of never-ending pain and suffering: We get it from the Bible. The Bible tells us that Hell is the place where people go who aren’t going to Heaven.

The reality of Hell is the reason that the Lord Jesus can say, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36) That is, “What does it matter how rich or handsome or pretty or influential or comfortable or jacked or shapely or smart or well-dressed or popular you are

during your 10, 20, 50, 80, or 100 years in this life if, after this life, all you will ever know again is pain and suffering for eternity?

As the saying goes: “So, you’ve won the rat race. You’re still just a rat!”

So, if not everybody gets to go to Heaven, then who does? What is the key to keep us from the place of everlasting torment and anguish, the place of burning fire and gnashing of teeth for all eternity?

The God-Man, Jesus Christ.

The Bible records Jesus’ Own words about such things. Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) The truth is that not all religions are the same. And not one lifts up the holy and majestic person of Jesus – fully God come to be fully Man – the way that Christianity does. And Christianity is not a bunch of dos we have to do and don’ts we must not do so that we can all get to Heaven. No. A person can do all the good a person can do and avoid all the bad a person can avoid, but without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, there is no forgiveness of sins. And without the forgiveness of sins we are all stuck in our sinfulness, because all the goodness a person can do and all the bad a person can avoid is not good enough to make a human being perfect in God’s sight. And that’s what’s required for Heaven: It’s a perfect place and, so, can only be inhabited by perfect people. And the only way a person can be made perfect is by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice offered for our sins. Because it’s through Jesus’ sacrifice that Jesus takes our sin and puts it to death on the cross, and, at the same time, gives us His Own righteousness in exchange to make us perfect to God: A new heart set on loving God and those around us; and, a new mind and will set on pleasing Him in all we set ourselves to think and say and do.

Jesus is the key. He’s the stairway to Heaven. And without Him – without faith and trust in His sacrifice

and love for Him and His Way, no matter our accomplishments and successes here and now, we are cut off from the source and wellspring of life. And no matter our good intentions and no matter our sincere and well-meaning faith in other gods or philosophies, all that waits for us, all that life apart from Christ has in store, is Hell.

Comments are closed.