The heat of Hell...

Error message

It's been extremely hot this past week. When we first exited O'Hare a week ago, the heat was a welcome relief from the cool weather we'd had in Africa and England. But within a few minutes it became oppressive and it hasn't let up since.

The other day when I got in the car the heat brought to mind our Lord's account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in the afterlife, and how the Rich Man in Hell cried out for water, but could have none. For a few minutes I meditated on what an awful place hell is--a place where the heat is unbearable and the thirst can never be quenched.

Reputable evangelicals such as John Stott deny the eternity of hell torments and that is understandable. It's one of the most difficult doctrines to submit to in all of Scripture. But as Harry Blamires wrote in his classic, The Christian Mind, if we're going to start tearing difficult passages out of Scripture, shouldn't we start with the one that's always been more offensive than any other:

(Jesus) was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:23-25).

For men tempted to take Stott's shortcut and play with universalism and annihilationism, I highly recommend Jonathan Edward's sermon, "The Eternity of Hell Torments." Commenting on the Biblical account of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19ff., Edwards exclaims over men like Stott:

It is strange how men will go directly against so plain and full revelations of Scripture, as to suppose notwithstanding all these things, that the eternal punishment threatened against the wicked signifies no more than annihilation.

Incidentally, for several reasons (including that, contrary to His habit in telling parables, our Lord actually names the central character in this account, 'Lazarus') John Calvin believed that this account was not a parable, but real history that Jesus knew from Heaven.

Today, my daughter Hannah and I were driving out in the country and we stopped at a farm stand. The stand's attendant was in her sixties and we waited while she finished her conversation with a customer of a similar age. Of course, the topic was the weather--specifically,the unbearable heat. The customer commented, "Preachers oughta tell their congregations tomorrow that this heat gives you an idea what hell's like."

Prayer: O Father, Creator of both Heaven and Hell, give us a living faith in the blood and righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we might escape the fires of hell and be brought safely, along with all who love you with an undying love, into your presence where there is fulness of joy forevermore. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.