Summary: There is a very real hell, a fiery place of eternal torment for those who die without having received salvation from Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. Jesus made that truth very clear. For example, He said to the Jews who were stubbornly rejecting him, “You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23:33) In another place, speaking of the eternal destiny of an evil man, Jesus said, “in hell…being in torments…[the man cried out] ‘I am tormented in this flame’” (Luke 16:23f, KJV). The solution is very simple, but has enormous consequences for all eternity — “[You] must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). You’ll instantly become a heaven-bound child of God, not a hell-bound rejecter of the One and Only Savior.
Matthew 25:41, NASB
The will of God the Father that Jesus spoke of includes repentance toward God for our sins and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). At the Judgment, all who have refused to turn to Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be the accursed ones and evildoers who in horror will hear His eternally damning words: Away from me, you evildoers! Depart from Me into eternal fire.
What we do with Jesus in this life affects our destiny in eternity. The Bible prophesies Jesus’ Second Coming to this earth. He first came to earth 2,000 years ago and was crucified for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). By His death and resurrection, Jesus secured eternal salvation for all who turn to Him in repentance and faith as their Lord and Savior.
Just as surely as He came to earth the first time 20 centuries ago, Jesus “will appear again a second time…to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28; see also Acts 1:9-11). That will be a joyful time for the saved and a catastrophically horrifying time for the lost, as the apostle Paul wrote: “…the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, KJV). Thankfully, God the Father, through His Son Jesus, offers you a choice concerning your eternal destination.
The choices presented to us are clearcut: (1) receive and believe in Jesus, God’s Son, and receive eternal life; or (2) reject Jesus, the Son of God, and incur God’s eternal wrath.
Notice carefully that the choice God wants you to make proceeds from His great love for you — “God so loved” us sinful mortals that He sent Jesus His Son from heaven to earth. While on the earth Jesus lived, ministered, healed and blessed the multitudes. Then He died on the cross for our sins, was raised from the dead, and ascended back to heaven. There He remains until His second coming, when He will gather the living and the dead believers unto Him for all eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). God loves you so much that He sent His very best — Jesus His Son — to take on Himself at the cross the punishment due to our sins.
Those who reject God’s offer of salvation in His Son will face Jesus at the Judgment and will hear His condemning words: Away from me, you evildoers! Depart from Me into eternal fire. God’s desire is not to condemn, but to spare us from the eternal fires of damnation. The apostle Peter (below) explains why now, even 20 centuries later, Jesus’ Second Coming and fiery judgment on the Christ-rejecters has not yet occurred.
Even back in the first century, various ones were ignoring (some even mocking) Jesus’ prophesied second coming. But they failed to understand that the heart of God and His Son Jesus is that no one should perish, but that “everyone come to repentance.” Sad to say, we know from the rest of the New Testament that many will choose to reject God’s love, patience, and gracious offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. And by that rejection of God’s love and grace, they will have chosen their destiny in the very real fires of hell that Jesus spoke of. This is not God’s will and heart for mankind. It is rather the choice made by unrepentant Christ-rejecters, who will have no one to blame but themselves.
I think this is as good a summary as you will find in Scripture of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead. That is the hope of all mankind. Jesus and Jesus alone is the way of salvation. He said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The choice is very simple: choose life! As the apostle John tells us: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12).
How do we receive that eternal life? We repent of our sins and have sincere faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Embrace Him personally as your Savior AND Lord. You will immediately enter the family of God as a son or daughter of God Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:18). You will cease to have any fears of the fires of hell. Instead, you will look forward to an indescribably joyous eternity in the Lord’s magnificent presence.
If you’ve been living in fear of hell and its torments, or even if you’ve just been troubled by uncertainty about those things, you can be freed of those fears and concerns forever. Choose life! Choose to receive, to love, and to serve Jesus the Lord and Savior! I did so as a young adult in the United States Air Force 51 years ago and have not regretted a moment since. Neither have I feared hell since then, because of God’s saving grace to me. If you would like some help in praying a prayer of salvation and being welcomed into the family of God (or perhaps needing assurance of your salvation), I encourage you to let the late, respected evangelist Billy Graham lead you in a saving prayer here. God will bless you mightily!
A closing appeal: If you know of a family member or friend whose heart might be touched by this message, I encourage you to text or email them the link. Jesus said that His words are "spirit and life" (John 6:63). His words have great power to stir hearts. Perhaps your thoughtfulness and love for them in sending them this message of encouragement might be the final touch that brings them to faith in our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you, and thank you.
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©2020, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.