There’s nothing worse in life than being put into a position not of your own choosing (or so you may feel) whereby you find there is something you really, really want (or even need) and cannot have it. Think of those who are in the persecuted Church who can’t have the freedom the rest of us take for granted to worship the Lord, but they have been given the grace to cope with that incredibly. Or anyone who finds themselves in prison whether rightly or wrongly – to have your freedom removed and all your routines and usual luxuries (whatever that may mean to you!) removed – I would imagine, unless you are a very strong person, you would be sitting in solitude many times thinking of nothing else but something that is somewhere unavailable to you for many reasons.
The old maxim about the more you can’t have something the more you want it holds so true in this life, but it’s a lesson I believe that God grants us the opportunity to learn here which should provoke us to think more of possible losses the other side of the grave.
Many of my posts recently have featured death, heaven and what comes next and I believe that much of that has to do with the fact that while the world continues to live as they did in the times of Noah, Christians are acutely aware that unlike any other time in history, we are indeed now more out of time than ever to proclaim the Gospel and provoke people to reconsider their life viewpoint.
Most think that hell, if they believe it exists in any shape or form, is somehow just going to be an alternative form of living after death and won’t be anywhere near as bad as the bible or Christians make it out to be. Most only hear about the “hellfire and brimstone” aspect and while some do take note of the “eternal torture” concept, they try not to think about it too much. But to me, hell encompasses something far worse than either of those – scripture teaches that the most intolerable element of being in hell will be that aspect of not being able to have what you will then truly desire – to be in God’s presence and accepted by Him for eternity.
Jesus tells the story of one such individual in hell that is the most graphic description of the reality of it for everyone to take notice of – Luke 16: 20-28 outlines how the rich man who ended up in hell was not only aware of where he was, but also able to see those in heaven, know who they were and speak to them.
Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, (Image copyright of Darlene Slavujac Thau) Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Moreover he had to have been acutely aware that he could never have what he now sought most, which for him, was to protect his family from joining him, but you can get the overall sense of his utter despair that his choices have once and for all been removed.
Hell is not just torment and damnation – hell is specifically the endless loss of choice to accept God for who He is and to worship Him rather than ourselves. Hell is as eternal as heaven and that’s the crux of the matter. If you don’t make your choice for Him here, there will be no further opportunity after you die – your life here determines your life there.
If you choose to cut God out of your life or not accept His authority over your life, then you have chosen your eternal end to be the same. There are only 2 choices -(eternal) life or death! Choose wisely.
Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.