[Based on a prayer written on 2011.06.29 W 23:05.] An eternity of suffering in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev 21:8), an unquenchable fire (Mk 9:43), endless (Mt 18:8) torment and burning (Mt 5:22, 18:9) anguish, suffering the inexhaustible wrath of God that causes unrepentant sinners to weep and gnash their teeth (Lk 13:28) and die forever and ever — this is but a picture of hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mk 9:48), the eternal holding place for sinners. Eternity! — a time and measure of pain and suffering unimaginable, unfathomable.
Yet, hell is absolute reality. Every soul in it and headed there earns it.
The offense against an infinitely holy God is beyond measure. The response of men toward You should be that of the Old Testament saints: flat on their face in reverence, fear, and trembling, terrified of the holiness, glory, and perfection of the only living God. You are the Light that exposes our sinful cores (Jn 3:20), which should alone be enough to cause every man and woman to repent and obey You. O Lord, how I yearn for all to worship You!
Look, behold! The repugnant heart of man, with his sin, calls You a liar, a cheater, untrustworthy, unjust, evil, unnecessary, an imagined security blanket, a myth, powerless, penultimate, an evil tyrant! How can we not deserve instant death and condemnation?
And 'tis not just verbal offense to Your character, not just an intellectual shunning, but a full-out rebellion, stealing the gracious gifts and blessings of every breath, every heartbeat, every thought, every moment of fleeting, good, earthly thing without even a grain of thankfulness (Ro 1:21). What ill-deserved moments and memories of any good thing You have granted man! How long-suffering are You and steadfast Your lovingkindness (Ps 118)! Who is patient and merciful like You in all the heavens and earth?
And while now many deny that You are King, Lord Christ, to You all will bow and to You every mouth will confess that You are the Lord (Php 2:10-11) of heaven and of earth and all that they contains. You have the authority to kill the body and then to destroy both the soul and body forever in hell (Mt 10:28; Lk 12:4-5). You have the winnowing fork to clear the threshing floor, and will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire (Mt 3:11-12). In the end, You will gather and burn the tares, the stumbling blocks and the lawless, and throw them into the furnace of fire (Mt 13:40-42). All judgement is given to You (Jn 5:22), and when the end of the age comes there will be no more mercy. When You sit on Your great white throne, all the peoples will be judged according to their deeds (Rev 20:11-12, 15) and the stubborn and unrepentant will receive the righteous wrath and judgement (Ro 2:5).
It is terrifying to know that this is real, paralyzingly so. Indeed if I did not know and trust Your Word I would rationalize it out of existence, erase it from my depraved mind, for the mental agony is excruciating. My great grandma is there! My uncle is there! My friend is there! My ancestors are there! Much of my extended family is headed there! The vast majority of people I see on the campus, in the city, in the movies, on the television, on my google chat list, are running as fast as they can towards there. But before I even dare accuse You of injustice (Ro 9:14), You speak: 'Who are you, O man, to answer back to God (Ro 9:20)?' I must remember: I deserve hell too.
The intent of man's heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21), every man (Ro 3:10-18) has rebelled and chosen sin and its wages of death (Ro 6:23) so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge (Ps 51:4). Can You be blamed for man's sin? Never!
My Lord and God! How scandalous hell would be if You were not majestic and holy! I look at Your supremacy and goodness, and then at the wretchedness and spitefulness of man's rebellion, and finally I see the necessity of hell. Violation of infinite supremacy, measureless goodness, awesome holiness, endless majesty merits perfect justice.
But I know You are not only the Just. You have wonderfully chosen to be the Justifier (Ro 3:26).
The more clearly I see You and Your glory, the more clearly I see hell and its terror. The more terrible I see hell, the more clearly I see You and the suffering You bore on the cross.
The Father caused You who knew no sin to become sin, so that we would become the righteousness of God in You (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus, Lord, You suffered the punishment and wrath of thousands of eternal 'hells' on the cross, paying the high price for sin. You gave Your life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28). It is an anguish intangible, invisible, unimaginable, and incomprehensible.
And I love You for it.
By death and suffering You transferred me from the domain of darkness and into Your kingdom (Col 1:13). Before the foundation of the world, You chose me (Eph 1:4) as Your own, even though I was dead in my trespasses and sins, walking after Satan in disobedience, in the lusts of my flesh and mind, deserving of wrath (Eph 2:1-3).
But, You rescued me from damnation and gave me eternal life (Ro 9:16). You loved me and gave Yourself up for me (Gal 2:20), so that I can receive Your love, and love You in return (Mk 12:30), unashamedly and unabashedly like a young child adores his father (Lk 18:17). Before the foundation of the world, You wrote my name in Your book of life (Rev 21:27) so that I may enter into heaven to be with You.
May I never fail to be enthralled by the One who demonstrates His love (Ro 5:8) to every man and woman who believes (1 Jn 5:13) in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!
O Lord, may I never do anything without keeping Your salvation as the dominating obsession of my heart. This gospel, this glorious God, You, must be proclaimed to the slaves of sin, a proclamation of liberty to the captive and freedom to the prisoner (Isa 61:1), a message of good news, or rather the greatest news.
It is more of a mind-bend that one sinful man person enter into the presence of a perfect holy God than if every man go to burn in hell forever. Christ purchased salvation from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev 5:9), and whoever believes in Him will be rescued from hell and saved to be with Him (Jn 5:24).
Hell is undeniably real. But more undeniable is the Savior who conquered death and sin and the grave, and who rescues from the wrath to come (1 Th 1:10). He says, "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15). Believe in Him!