"The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment....." Luke 16:22-23a
This is one of the truly tragic statements recorded anywhere in the Scriptures. It's hard to imagine the horror of opening your eyes to discover yourself in hell - for eternity.
While the context for this statement is a story that Jesus told and may not be the most reliable source for building a theology of hell, still, it gives us one of the most comprehensive glimpses of this horrible destination.
For one thing, it affirms that hell is a real place. It DOES exist.
This morning I want to discuss the five most prominent theories regarding hell.
According to a recnt poll, 34% of Americans say hell doesn't exist but is just conjured up by religious people to scare non-churched people into believing. They scoff about it and make up jokes regarding it. But the Rich Man wasn't laughing. You shouldn't either.
2) Hell is now.
There are those who believe that hell consists of the awful things that happen to people on earth. Life IS cruel but it can't come close to comparing with the torment and torture of hell. Some unfortunate folks will have a miserable life on earth and end up in hell beside.
A third view is that evil people who die just cease to exist. Righteous people go to eternal reward and others just fade into oblivion. The Rich Man would have taken that deal! There is no biblical basis to believe this notion.
This totally unsubstaniated view holds that people who die unprepared for Heaven end up in some sort of intermediate place until something happens to qualify them for Heaven. I am not sure where that comes from other than wishful thinking.
Jesus, as the Truth, warns us that hell is a real place of unimaginable and unending torment. Anyone to steps into eternity unprepared for Heaven will find himself in hell.
Hell is real. And it is really horrible. You don't want to go there and you don't want anyone you care about to go there. In fact, you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy! You don't have to go there. Jesus died to deliver you from it. Accept His gift and go to be with Him forever!
Don't end up hot and bothered!