The Terrors of Hell – Part 1

dark road to nowhere

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I’ve dabbled in the Puritans for a while since being saved, and as I read Puritan writers, I find myself wanting more.  I don’t believe they are perfect in everything they taught, but yet I don’t find very many areas of disagreement, certainly not on the major doctrines of Christianity.

Although I’m pretty glad the fashion industry has moved beyond those big stifling collars…

I was excited to dig into A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones when I received it several months ago.  Admittedly I’ve moved slowly through it, sometimes because I’ve been lazy, but mostly because I just want to really soak it up and meditate on this teaching.

The subject of hell is a major weakness in the teaching of most churches I would assert.  I know from my own past church experiences before salvation this to be true.  Just like God’s wrath it’s not a popular subject.  It doesn’t keep people in seats; it’s a real buzz kill for most people.   Because of this weakness conversion is surface level which is really not biblical conversion at all, just raise your hand, walk an aisle, pray a prayer type conversion.

Most preaching then becomes man centered and fulfillment based.  You know feel good stuff, “boy that was a great sermon pastor…  I really needed that pick me up today, that was a really funny story you told and I sure did enjoy the drama team today”.  Have you been to this church?

Yet the Puritans taught on hell frequently and with urgency.   How can we believe in heaven without believing in hell, we can’t believe Christ needed to save us, if there was nothing to be saved from?  This is an essential and necessary doctrine of the church and it must be preached with all urgency because everyday people are headed to an eternity of torment.

Today I’m beginning a series on what the Puritans taught about hell.  I’m hopeful it will lead to a better understand and therefore, a greater sense of urgency to preach to others the fear of the Lord, maybe even hear it for ourselves for the first time.

The Terrors of HellA Puritan Theology[1] (all quoted material is from A Puritan Theology as cited from the original works of Arthur Dent & Christopher Love)

Arthur Dent – “we should always live as if we should die, or that our bed should be our grave; we must live consistently as if Christ should come to judgment presently.”

This typical Puritan approach was meant to instill terror and expose sin, but always with a view to opening the way for the mercies of Christ. 

In Dent’s dialogue this causes the ignorant man, to “quake and tremble” with his talk of hell-fire and judgment: “I feel great terror in my conscience – I am afraid I shall be damned.” [2]

A preacher that will not preach on the terrors of hell is a worthless preacher, is he not? 

How can someone be saved if they don’t know what they are going to be saved from?  This is the reason we need Jesus, He is the hope…

Jesus Christ died to save His people and His people must understand they need salvation.

Dent continues “all who groan in their misery and grieve for their sin, to believe that “Christ is for you,” and that they must “apply Christ, and all the promises of the gospel” to themselves. “for we have not other remedy or refuge but only His merits and righteousness – He is our city of refuge, whither we must fly, and where we must take sanctuary – He is the balm of Gilead, whereby our souls are cured.”

When is the last time you really thought about the fact your soul needs curing?  We really don’t want to think about this, how often do you have your conscience pricked with the knowledge of your sin and the cure for your sin?  There is no salvation with no fear of death and the terror of the Lord an understanding that it is “Your” sin that had to be paid for.

Christopher Love – “the tormented condition of the damned in Hell.” for those for whom he has not “gained their affections” with preaching on the glory to come, Love seeks to “startle their Consciences.” by preaching seven sermons on the doctrine of hell.

“Love maintains that the word translated “hell” in the Scripture can refer to the grave (“thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” [Ps. 16:10], the “belly of the Whale” (“Out of the belly of hell, I cried unto the Lord” [Jonah 2:2]), the devil himself (“The tongue of man is set on fire by hell” [James 3:6]), and the place of eternal torment (Matt, 5:29; Luke 12:5; 16:23).  In seeking to motivate us to fear God more than men and to awaken “drowsy consciences,” Love focuses on the power of God to subject men to eternal torment, which ought to “work an awful fear of God” in our hearts.  Hearing of such torments should “startle” our consciences out of a false sense of security; strip away ungrounded hopes of glory, and drive us away from wallowing in sin.”

Even as in the times of Christopher Love, preaching on hell was extremely unpopular, and as they do today, people screamed “legalism”, yet Jesus was a gospel “good news” preacher.

“He spoke directly on hell more than anyone else in Scripture.  Also, the devil, does all that he can to give preaching on hell a bad name as he seeks to “nuzzle men in security in their sins.” 

“Love boldly claims that sermons on terror have done more good upon unconverted souls, than Sermons of comfort have ever done.’  In short, we cannot claim to preach the whole counsel of God if we ‘run only upon strains of free grace.’”[3]

Today there will be someone reading this that is headed for hell… 

They may not realize that is their eternal destiny.

Perhaps they are ignorant to God’s wrath or God’s plan for salvation through repentance and faith in Christ.  They might be deceived in their salvation.

They may have hidden or un-confessed sin.  Perhaps they’ve repressed this sin for so long they don’t even consider it anymore…

…Or they are counting on God’s grace and mercy.  Whatever miserable state you might be in there is hope in Jesus Christ, even though you don’t view your condition as miserable and plight as blinding.

Do not be deceived!

Hell is real, and its miseries are eternal.  The wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).  Consider these chilling words from the Apostle Paul as he writes urgently to us today just as he did 2000 years ago.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Please join me on this journey for the next number of weeks and let us examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, do not allow yourself to be deceived by your sin.  It is a worthy endeavor.


[1] Beeke & Jones, A Puritan Theology (2012) 830-831

[2] Dent, The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven; Wherein Every Man May Clearly See Whether He Shall Be Saved or Damned (1599; repr., Morgan, Pa: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 1, 277, 285, 287, 295-97, 300, 305

[3] Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 211-25

A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 8 – Conclusion

I cannot properly express the privilege it has been to present the work of Joseph Alleine on this blog.  This is not a book that you would most likely put on your must read list.  I want to encourage all to present this book to the leadership of your church and challenge them to preach this from the pulpit or at least talk about it.  Encourage everyone you know to read it including your leadership.  I believe God will use this to reveal many deceptions among those that think they are right with God, but are not.

In an age where most churches feel the need to be relevant and courageous, biblical teaching on conversion and repentance is no longer en vogue, the greatest mission field today is sitting within the walls of “churches”.  The greatest challenge in evangelism today comes from those that profess Christ.  The preaching is watered down, so not to offend, and the gospel is compromised to keep the unregenerate in the seats.  This should not be the case.  I urge you friends to challenge them; it just might have them understand their desperate situation.


Do you remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when they make it into the room where the chalice of Christ is located?  They must choose which cup and drink from the water to give them eternal life?  What an interesting representation of our lives.  We must choose wisely and live or choose foolishly and perish.  The cross stands before us today to look to it and be saved or stay in our sin and die.


In the conclusion of A Sure Guide to Heaven, Joseph Alleine makes his final appeal to turn to Christ and live.

And now, beloved, let me know your mind.  What do you intend to do?  Will you go on and die, or will you turn and lay hold on eternal life?  How long will you linger in Sodom?  How long will you halt between two opinions?  Have you not yet resolved whether Christ or Barabbas, whether bliss or torment, whether this vain and wretched world, or the paradise of God, be the better choice?

How long will you rest in idle wishes and fruitless purposes?  When will you come to a fixed, firm, and full resolve?  Do you not see how Satan cheats you by tempting you to delay?  How long has he drawn you on in the way of perdition!

Well, do not put me off with a dilatory answer; tell me not later.  I must have your immediate consent.  If you are not now resolved, while the Lord is treating with you and inviting you, much less likely are you to be later, when these impressions are worn off, and you are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  Page 141

Remember, you are now upon your good behaviour [sic] for everlasting; if you do not make a wise choice now, you are undone for ever [sic].  What your present choice is, such must be your eternal condition. Page 142

Hear, O ye drunkards, how long will you be drunk?  Put away your wine.  Though you have rolled in filthiness of your sin, give yourselves unto Christ, to live soberly, righteously, and godly; embrace His righteousness; accept His government; and though you have been vile, He will wash you (Rev i 5). Page 146

And now bear witness that mercy has been offered you. ‘I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that you may live’ (Deut xxx 19).  I can only entreat you and warn you.  I cannot otherwise compel you to be happy; if I could, I would.  What answer will you send me with to my Master?

If you are not the despisers of grace, and would not shut the doors of mercy against yourselves, repent and be converted. Page 147

Alleine leaves us with the answer.  Repent and be converted.

How simple… how easy…

But why is this impossible for the hardened human heart? The call is clear.  Man is responsible for his failure to receive Christ.  If you don’t turn and live you will die in your sins and trespasses.  Today I appeal to your conscience, turn and live.

If you are a Believer, preach the word!


A new birth

Last December our beautiful daughter Lydia was brought into the world.  It was a wonderful experience; almost too wonderful.  Jen labored at home for as long as possible and we cut it a little too close.  I wish someone had recorded us trying to get from our vehicle into the emergency room.  I think Jen stopped at least twice to get down on all fours in the parking lot to fight off contractions and I looked like a circus clown running back and forth trying to help her, carry in luggage, grab a wheel chair and whatever else I thought was helpful, thank the Lord, Brenda arrived just in time to help as she hollered across the parking lot “I’ve got it Kevin, get her inside”.

Jen was literally holding Lydia in as she sat in the emergency room entrance with the two young nurses who were in a panic hoping they wouldn’t have to try and deliver a baby.  It seemed like time was standing still as we waited for the nurse.

Once upstairs to the delivery room the doctor was scrambling to get ready as Jen literally jumped into the gown and onto the delivery table; simultaneously if memory serves me correctly.  Okay that’s an exaggeration but it was quick.  The doctor took one look and said “PUSH”.  30 seconds later out popped my third beautiful daughter.  What a rush…  All parents can relate to that amazing feeling and sense of relief and joy when a new life enters the world.  It’s so incredible to see God’s creation and the miracle of a brand new life.

Last Sunday I was able to experience a new birth that had the birth of all three of my girls pale in comparison.  We were able to see the amazing gift of the second birth and this happened to be my first daughter Grace.  Grace was received into membership at Grace Fellowship Church, made a public profession of the saving grace of God and was baptized as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.  So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Over the past couple months Jen and I have seen some remarkable changes in our oldest daughter.  Grace has always been a very compliant child.  Not outwardly rebellious, in most cases, very much a rule follower.  But things were different.  She was different.  The day we really saw her experience God’s grace was a couple Sunday’s earlier as our pastor preached on the crucifixion.  In her testimony Grace explained how the weight of her sin became real to her as God poured out His Spirit.  She knew her sin caused the Lord to suffer.  Her sin was real, even though she’s just a young girl.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Why did it please Yahweh to bruise Him?  The NIV says to crush Him.  Verse 11 tells us.

He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.

He loved us and calls us children.  This is the hope we can have that Christ suffered the wrath of the Father to reconcile His children.  What an amazing gift, what an amazing God.

1 John 3:1-2 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God: and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

So now Grace must live as a child of the King.  Her life from here until her death will either prove her conversion is real or false.  She will not live a perfect life.  She will sin but affirmation will come in how she handles sin.  Will she have a Psalm 51 experience over her sin, or will it be no big deal.  She must desire to live a life of obedience to God’s word.  She must be in the world but not of the world.

Grace’s life will produce fruit to the glory of God.  I’ve already experienced how she desires to live differently.  She has a desire to pour truth into her sister’s life and to be the kind of a friend and a daughter the Lord wants her to be.

I don’t understand how God’s Sovereign election works.  But I believe it because the scripture tell us plainly that its Gods plan.  I also believe that as I’ve poured biblical truth into the lives of my children God has been merciful and has blessed my effort and that of the pastor and elders.

I must be faithful to my call as a father.  I must diligently teach as Deuteronomy 6 says and in that I can trust in the Lord’s wisdom and grace.

Exodus 20:5-6 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them, For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.