The Hyderabad Times, quoted actress Kajal Agrawal saying this the other day: “What the hell is happening?” (That was the article’s headline in bold letters as well). This was her first reaction to certain reports which quoted her saying that “I have not seen myself as a South Indian actress. I am a Punjabi girl!” (Hyderabad Times, 24 June 2011). The words, “What the hell….”, “Who the hell…”, “How the hell…” have become so common in our present-day English language use – as common as ‘and’ and ‘well’! When people use the word ‘hell’ this frequently and so casually they don’t even remotely understand the horrific place hell is.
Jesus, the greatest hell preacher!
Max Lucado writes, “Of the twelve times that the word ‘gehenna’ – the strongest Biblical word for hell – appears in Scripture, there is only one time in which Jesus was not the speaker. No one spoke of hell more than Christ did” (When Christ Comes, Page 118). But Jesus did not speak of hell in casual terms like today’s youth or actors. If anyone knew how hell looked like (or would look like) it was Jesus – the all-knowing, ever-existing God in flesh and bone.
Hideousness of hell
Jesus painted the hideousness of hell by pointing out that we must do whatever it takes to escape going there. For example, he said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Math 5:29). He repeated this almost verbatim in Mathew 18:9. If Jesus had not repeated this, his saying on hell, Mathew would not have recorded it twice in his Gospel, would he? By saying what he did, Jesus was not advocating plucking of one’s eye to beat the temptation to lust. He was simply telling us, that hell is so terrible and horrible, that if one can escape it by plucking his eyes out, it would be a cheap price to pay.
A place to make you wish that you were never born!
Jesus also depicted the gruesome nature of Gehenna (Hell) by the way he talked about Judas Iscariot – the one person we know for sure would go to hell. He categorically said this about Judas whom he referred to as “the son of destruction”: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Math 26:24; John 17:12). In other words, this was Jesus’ message here: If you are not born-again or if you turn away from the born-again experience, like Judas did, you will go to a place which will make you wish that you were not born at all! Hell is so painful! Hell is so agonizing!
Children of hell – that is what we are
Jesus gave us humans a new name: children of hell. That is what he called the religious big shots of his time (Mathew 23:15). They were hypocrites. We are all hypocrites. And we too deserve such a title – the title of “children of hell”. What God originally prepared as a destination for the Devil and his angels – the terrible place called “hell” – becomes our destination as well (II Pet 2:4). It is only right that the devil’s ultimate destination becomes ours as well because we choose to follow the devil and his sinful urgings in our day-to-day lives. I refer to his urgings like “Use abusive language to get even with those who abuse you!”, “Watch pornography – it will not harm you!” etc, etc! Calling someone a “fool” may be quite cool with this google generation. But doing that can take you to hell, Jesus taught (Math 5:22). Undressing the person of the opposite gender who is not your married partner, in one’s mind, may be the favorite pastime of the Youtube Youth of today. But when such sins are persisted upon, hell is where we land up in, Jesus warned (Math 5:28, 29). The human race, by and large, is on the broad road that leads to destruction (hell), Jesus pointed out (Math 7:13). The way to hell is sleazy and “easy” (Math 7:13).
A name for God which worship leaders hardly use
Jesus also gave a new name for God, a name you will not hear worship leaders use often: him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Math 10:28). It was only re-coining an Old Testament title for God: Consuming Fire (Duet 4:24). Yes, it is true. God is not only a Compassionate Father. He is also a Consuming Fire. He is love. But he is not only love. He is just and righteous as well. That is why all sin must be punished. God cannot wink at sin and pretend that it did not exist. If he did, he no longer can be called just and holy. That is why, Jesus taught about the existence of hell which serves as the ultimate punishment for “rebels” against God – a place of unquenchable fire in which both the worms feasting on the human body, and humans themselves “will not die” forever (Isa 66:24; Mark 9:43-48). The human race is in a hopeless situation. Jesus asks us the same question he asked the Religion Biggies of his time: You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Math 23:33). We have no answers to Jesus’ question. And guess what – Jesus decided to answer that question himself. He said in-effect: “I will open a way – in fact it will be the only way – for you to escape being sentenced to hell! I will experience hell instead of you. You need to trust in me – the One who experienced hell for you – to be saved from going to hell!” Stumped? Read the next paragraph for more details….
The hedge on the broad road to hell
Jesus not only preached about hell, he did what it takes to prevent you from going to hell. This is what he did: he voluntarily endured hell instead of you. While he hung on the cross he cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Math 27:46). Hell is the one place which is truly God-forsaken. Jesus experienced hell even as he hung from the cross. That is why he cried out that way. Because your sins and my sins were laid upon Jesus on that day – two thousand years ago – the holy God whose eyes are too pure to even look upon sin, had to turn his face from his Only Son, Jesus, and forsake Him, for our sake (Hab 1:13). This happened at the “ninth hour” – the Gospel-writers tell us (Math 27:46; Mk 15:34). Every year, exactly at that very hour, Jewish families would chop the neck of a lamb that would take away their sin – symbolic of what Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God would do on the cross, years later. The God who stopped Abraham between the neck and the knife as he was about to chop his son Isaac, did not stop the knife of the cross falling on the neck of his son. The reason? Jesus died for our sins.
How Jesus endured hell for you
Jesus also cried out, “I thirst” from the cross, remember? (John 19:28). He was echoing the words of the rich man who went to hell, he once talked about. That rich man too cried out in thirst saying, ‘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’ – do you recall? (Luke 16:24). What that rich man underwent in hell, Jesus underwent even as he hung on the cross, Bible Scholars tell us. That is why he uses almost the very same words as that of that rich man. Why did Jesus have to endure all of this? To prevent you and me from living a life of hell and going to actual hell. He was taking the”punishment”, which is ultimately hell punishment, instead of us, the Bible declares (Isa 53:5, Rev 21:7, 8). Jesus died so that we may not have to experience “second death” – another Bible word for hell (Rev 21:7, 8). And we will only go to hell, if we reject Jesus, who claimed to be the only way of salvation from our destruction in hell. If we jump over the cross of Jesus in pride, the cross which acts as a hedge to prevent people from going to hell, this is where we will land in: Hell!
You could remember this essay – from hell
Jesus warned – six stunning times – that hell is a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Math 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). He repeated this depiction of hell, because it was mighty important. Who weeps? Those who are sad. Who gnashes teeth? Those who are angry and frustrated. You have guessed it right – Jesus wants us to understand that hell will be a place where our memories would be intact by using this phrase to talk about hell. Should we go to hell, we will remember and recall, every opportunity we ever had on planet Earth to escape coming to hell, and we will feel sad and shattered, angry and frustrated, that we did not make the most of it! My prayer is that you will not land up in hell, but if you do, you will remember reading this article, that explained to you, in black and white, the only way to escape hell!
A line from I Know What You Did Last Summer….
Don’t get me wrong – Jesus did not come to this planet to condemn you to hell. Far from it. The Bible says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). But hell is where we will go, if we ignore Jesus’ repeated warnings about hell.
“There was a murderer in the balcony. I saw him from the stage in the beauty contest. And you will fry in hell, if you ignore my words!” – those are the words in-effect that Sarah Michelle Gellar screamed at a Police Officer who doubted the veracity of her claims in the 1997 Hollywood horror movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer. The skeptical police officer, who made fun of Sarah for making such a claim was promptly and shockingly “hooked” by a sickle to a gruesome death, by the very murderer whose existence he doubted, shortly after he heard Sarah’s warning. If you and I doubt Jesus’ claims on hell, I am afraid, on the day of Judgment, or on the day of your death (which can be any day), you and I will be in for a similar shock, like that police officer was in for, in the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Why do want to experience hell in this life and go on to experience hell in the next life to come, forever and forever, when Jesus can give you “abundant life” – a life which nothing or no one can give you?
How to escape hell – here’s how
May be you are asking the question after reading this essay, “What must I do to escape hell and experience the heaven Jesus can alone offer me?” What you must do was put in plain words by Jesus. You must first leave. I mean, leave your life of sin. I mean repent. I say this because, Jesus preached, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). When he used the word “perish” there, he meant “perish in eternal hell”. So repentance from sin is the first step to escape this horrible hell.
Second, you must believe. We read in the Bible that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Yes, that is right. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from going to hell with all your heart. You must believe, that He is alive right now, having risen from the dead on the third day, to be able to walk with you daily in the narrow road that leads to heaven.
If you have decided to repent from sin and believe on Jesus, why don’t you join me in saying this prayer, which will help you begin a relationship with Jesus – the only one who can save you from eternal Hell: Dear Jesus, I am sorry for my sins that took you to the cruel cross, where you experienced hell for me. Please forgive me. Please wash my manifold sins with your precious, pure blood that was shed for me on the Cross. I pledge to join you on that narrow road that leads to heaven from now on! Thank you for saving me! I am grateful! I am glad! So be it!”
If you have any questions about this article please call Duke at +91-9441352433 or e-mail him using email@example.com . If you have made a decision to follow Jesus for the first time, after having read this article, join a local church where Bible is taught faithfully, for if you are in an active fellowship with fellow believers in a local church, “the gates of hell will not prevail” against you (Math 16:18).
The text in brackets refers to Bible Verse References. And they are taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible available online at http://www.esv.org .