Hell has a few things that every church and every Christian around the world needs to have. Sounds heretical, right? I was shocked when a sermon preached by Jim Raley at Minnesota District Family Camp earlier this month, started out this way! As Pastor Raley shared that night, God opened many people's hearts to the reality of eternity either in heaven or hell. The truth is that Jesus preached on hell more than anyone in the Scriptures. More of us need to be preaching on the reality of eternity, heaven and hell. We (Pastor Raley, me, others) are not bringing our own message, we are simply the messengers of what Jesus proclaimed. As we follow the Master, we must be faithful to discharge the full message of the Gospel to every generation. The best possible way to do this is like D. L. Moody, who shared about eternity and hell with great compassion, almost never sharing without tears in his eyes.
Pastor Raley preached off the passage in Luke 16 in which Jesus shares about the Rich Man and Lazarus:
1. Hell has an unquenchable thirst: v. 23-24, the Rich Man's "soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment ... shouted ... 'have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames." Hell has an unquenchable thirst, both in the physical and spiritual sense. People in hell long, not only for just a drop of water, but for just one more moment of the Presence of God for which they had taken advantage of on the earth, but it is too late. There will come a day for each of us when it is too late as well, and only what's done while on earth will make any difference for eternity. Each choice we make carries eternal consequences.
2. Hell has a spirit of intercession: v. 24, 27-28, the Rich Man cried out in prayer and intercession for a drop of water to cool his tongue, and also cried out for his lost family still alive on earth, for their salvation. People in hell pray. They pray with passion and fervency, but no one listens or hears. It is too late. We on earth need to catch this passion for prayer and intercession before it is too late to pray.
3. Hell has a burden for the lost: v. 27-28, the Rich Man, experiencing the terrors of hell cried out for his lost family still alive on earth. He said, "Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father's home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won't have to come here when they die.' But Abrham said, 'Moses and the prophets have warned them, Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to.' The rich man replied, 'No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.' But Abraham said, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead.'" The Rich Man is burdened, broken for his lost family members. He is crying out for someone to tell them about the reality of hell and eternity, but it is too late. We must have a compelling burden for the lost while we are alive, before it is too late!
4. Hell has a vision of heaven: v. 23, the Rich Man, "There, in torment ... saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham." He could see heaven, as he wasted away in agony. Those in hell have a vision for heaven, we also, while we are still alive, must have a vision for heaven and the glories of God within. Heaven will be beyond any human's wildest fantasies or dreams. Everything that gives humanity any kind of joy or pleasures will be beyond explanation further and far above in heaven.
Let us catch a vision to plunder hell and populate heaven in Jesus' Name. While there is still time. All humanity is on the brink of eternity!