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

God’s Wrath

The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer and the command to repent goes unheeded.   A. W. Tozer


For some this article may appear harsh and unloving.  I want you to know that I write these words with all the love and humility that resides within my feeble mind and body.  It’s vitally important to have an understanding of this subject.  It is important to test and examine your life by the truth of God’s Word.

It is unpopular to talk about God’s wrath.  Most “churches” and church people would rather discuss God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness and any attribute of God that does not involve condemnation or justice.  The problem is you can’t have any of these other attributes without first understanding God’s wrath.

That is a bold statement how can I say that?  What is God’s wrath?

Wrath – God intensely hates all sin.  This is the definition of God’s wrath according to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology [1994].  The biggest question for you today is do you believe this?  Do you believe that God intensely hates sin?

God so intensely hates sin and so intensely loves His elect that He poured out His wrath on His Son to reconcile them to Him.   This is hard to comprehend.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

How many people sitting in “churches” today are being deceived by empty words?  Empty words that WILL NOT preach the full counsel of God, because this wrath thing is just not popular, it’s too controversial and it upsets people.  It’s foolishness to most.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Colossians 3:6, Romans 2:8, Ephesians 2:3, Romans 9:22, Revelation 6:16, 11:18 and this only a brief survey of what scripture tell us.  Before you think that God’s mercy will save you from His wrath ask yourself can God still be righteous if He overlooks and pardons sin?  Can one of His attributes override any of His other attributes?  He is the sum total of all His attributes and He must, to be righteous, be wrathful.

Do you think your sin is no big deal to God?  Will He be merciful?  Will He offer grace?  Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you will NOT live in consistent sin.  You will be sanctified and increase in holiness and Christ-likeness.  If you are a non-believer you have only the wrath of God to come upon you.  Your throat is an open tomb, your tongue practices deceit, you have the poison of asps under your lips, you are full of bitterness and cursing, you only know destruction and misery, you DO NOT fear God (Romans 3:13-18).

I plead with you today, if you do not know Christ and His beauty, to fall on your face and place your trust in Him.  This is your only hope.

I will leave you with this analogy from Paul Washer and his sermon from the G3 Conference in Atlanta.

Imagine a dam one thousand feet high, with water a thousand miles long and a thousand miles wide and you live in a village just below the dam.  You look out your window one day and you see the dam give way.  There is nothing you can do to survive.  There is no possible way to avoid death, there is no swim stroke that can save you, and there is no hope…  Then all of a sudden the earth opens up just before the water consumes you and the massive wall of water disappears right in front of you and not a drop of water so much as even touches you.  This is God’s wrath coming upon the sons of disobedience.  And this is Christ’s redemption for those that know Him and have fully placed their trust in Him.  But you must show that your life is different.  That you are a new creation, the old is gone the new has come.

Are you radically different?  Not just outwardly moral, but so completely different you can’t stand who you once were?  If you’ve only cleaned yourself up a little bit and attempted to do better, you are not changed.  If you think yourself “good enough” I assure you, you are not.  If you read this today and have no clue what I’m talking about or you dismiss this, please examine your life by the truth of God’s Word, and beg Him for mercy.

For those that are saved and know Jesus Christ as their Lord be in awe of Him today.  God poured out His wrath on His Son to pay your penalty, if you don’t know Christ; the wrath will be poured out upon you unless you turn to Him, repent of your sins and come under His divine authority.  Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Here is the Paul Washer sermon that I would encourage everyone to watch:

Paul Washer G3 Conference