Matthew 27:45-54 When Hell Came to Earth – Heaven and Hell #17

This is where, if people don’t want to hear this, this is where I kind of feel bad for those people who say, “Well, I, I don’t want to hear about the judicial actions of God or the punishment of God. It makes me scared, because I haven’t lived a good life and I don’t want to be the recipient.” See, everything I just said right there in the last ten seconds is out of the mouth of someone who would not be understanding what exactly Christ did on the cross, and therefore there is no frustrating God’s grace. He says, “You are all ruined.” When I say “all” I include myself, “You’re all ruined, you’re all a mess, you’re all sin-stained, dirty.” Don’t think anyone here in the sound of my voice, including me; the holiest person, let’s take the holiest person that you might think of. Oh boy. Say, the pope; it doesn’t matter, God says, “It’s all dirty to Me.” ♪ ♪ ♪ When I say these words, when hell came to earth, a lot of us might say, “Well that hasn’t happened yet”” but it actually did in a sliver, in a window of time which is described for us in the Gospels. In━I’m going to use Matthew again, I’m trying to keep everything in Matthew and then I’ll go to another Gospel for other messages, but from Matthew’s Gospel we have a clear record of Christ’s arrest, His trial, and equally His death and of course, His Resurrection. And there are several things, of course, chronicled. In fact, in all of the messages I’ve delivered you’ll find elements today all being tied into this one, we’ll call it focus. So what’s important here? The concept of substitution which runs through the Old and New Testament; see, there are theological concepts that we can discuss them separately, but they need to be brought in to the whole to, for the people to say, yes, there is a whole flow of events and we’ll call them circumstances that God made come to pass a certain way. If we just talk about one element in isolation, that’s where people tend to say, “Well, there’s no proof, and you can’t back up what you’re saying,” or it’s in isolation, but the reason why I’m trying to talk about this particular message this way is to show you that there’s not too much that can be looked at in isolation when you’re looking at the things leading up to Christ’s death and His Resurrection. In Matthew’s Gospel, for example, there are, there are things that describe, for example at the time that Christ was on the cross, it says that darkness was upon the land. And what’s important about this is, again we can take it as a description of the writer describing the events of the day, but we can also take it with that double meaning that essentially after the cry that Christ cries out from the cross, and I’ve touched on this before in several messages. I personally have great reason to question the phrase that’s contained in the Bible where Jesus cries out, “Father, Father,” or “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Why, because I’ve gone back to the oldest and most extant manuscripts and it’s, it is not consistent; most scholars believe it’s dubious at best. But there is no doubt that while Christ was hanging on the cross there are certain things that happened that are chronicled for us that are not dubious. And of course, they are the harder to believe things, for example, when it says that darkness, in the middle of the day darkness was upon the face of the earth. Now why is that such an important and pivotal thing to look at when we’re talking about this event, this happening in time? Because, let me go and try and take this from the other end. When we talk about hell, and we’re not talking about the place of the “unseen realm,” but that place of punishment, we often are going to talk about hell and attach it to darkness or where there is no light. So when I say double things, in Matthew’s Gospel in the opening of the 27th chapter, or I should say 27, at verse 45 it says, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” And what is important there is certain things that in the natural; oh, I guess that there could have been like some have tried to describe, maybe there was a solar eclipse that day or there could have been a lot of things. People like to try and say, “Oh, maybe this.” But the reality is that the picture being painted here if you take it with many of the parables that describe being cast out, being pushed into utter darkness, punishment that goes along with it, the wrath of God, it’s important to understand that the description of this darkness is not just what happened upon the land, but it is also a help for us to understand the concept of hell happening at this juncture when all of sin was laid upon Christ and essentially the wrath of God was in type being poured out onto Christ and He began to, in our place, suffer, die for me, that becomes the act of substitution. As you travel through the Bible, substitution is from cover to cover, all you’ve got to do is look at how God laid out the laws of substitutionary offering out of Leviticus 1-7, which describe essentially offerings for, they are prescribed offerings in place of, to essentially remedy or rectify the ills of humankind. So essentially you’re putting something, an animal usually, in your place, which is substitution. The whole Bible is replete with that. There are plenty of places where we can, as I’ve just referenced Leviticus 1-7, or the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16, there are plenty of places that describe substitutionary offerings. And then by the time you get to the writings of Paul, it says that He died for our sins, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly,” again substitutionary in that particular work. So why this is important is to get an idea, when we talk about hell there are a lot of people who say, “Well, plenty of people have near-death experiences and claim that they have seen the other side,” very seldom those people who have had near-death experiences describe anything that looks or sounds remotely like hell. It’s always a white light, it’s a bright inviting, “Come this way,” but do you really think that hell would be beckoning like that to you? I don’t think so either, “Yes come, it’s very nice here, you’ll enjoy it,” with great enthusiasm; you see what I’m saying. So what I’m saying to you is that it’s important to grab hold of building, if you want to call it, the vignette, or the concept that is depicted here, because in it gives us great insight into, for example what Paul talks about, “The wages of sin is death.” So right here is the culmination of everything to make come to pass what God promised, which is in Christ. For our faith in Christ we have life eternal, our sins are forgiven. In this very act of looking at was happening here, if you read down it says in verse 51, “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom; the earth did quake, the rocks rent; graves were opened; many bodies of the saints which slept arose, came out of the graves after his resurrection, went into the holy city, appeared unto many. Now the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, saw those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” So we have essentially some realization, if you’re reading this. And if we keep gleaning from all of the other New Testament writings there are several elements that I’ve just put out here real quickly in passing, which if you weren’t listening could be a little bit confusing. I just talked about substitution and the substitutionary death where Christ must die for me. When it says, “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son,” I’ve always said take out the word “world,” and put in your name, and then you can get the idea of substitutionary put down to a tee, which is not just generic, but me or you; you put your name in there. So you’ve got His substitutionary death and that things that happened around His death, the darkness in the land, Him crying out. If the statement, if we were to try and take it for what it is when He cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I do believe as many places in the Scripture, both Old and New talk about this vicarious or substitutionary death. I do believe it’s very important; even if you go to Isaiah 53, “And it was laid upon him the iniquity of us all,” all, all sin of humankind was laid upon Him. And then you read in Paul’s writing, in Ephesians 4, where it talks about the fact that He descended into hell and preached to the departed saints. So I’ve just done what I typically do in my fine fashion, for the last ten minutes I’ve just dumped a whole bunch of stuff on you. Now let me sort it out, because that’s what I do best is just dumping on you. So what I want us to look at in this chapter has more to do with, if we can call it that, a clear demonstration of God’s power, a clear demonstration of God’s intent, and a clear demonstration of what we could say hell will be like if we take the fact that all the parables we’ve been looking at talk about separation, they talk about fear, they talk about terror, they talk about utter darkness. We’ve got a sense, if we’re trying to build an understanding just as I’ve been doing with the concept of heaven, if we’re trying to build a concept, the first word I want you to put down somewhere is “darkness.” Where God is there is light, and even of men it says, “Men love” deeds; “love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil.” So where, wherever God is there is light, and wherever God has essentially removed Himself there is no light. This is why the depiction in Ezekiel’s writing of watching God and the glory of God move further and further away, you can imagine how the city must have had a glowing glory to it and then the presence of God is moving further and further away, the city gets less and less light. And in fact, I could carry that all the way into a modern way of looking at things, which is quite often if you travel into most, most heavily populated, downtown, big cities you find this. It doesn’t matter where you go, most big cities will have the bright lights of the building, but you’ll always find the bright lights are at the top. Everything that’s at the bottom is very dark and usually if you go deep enough into the city, you find the deep depths or the abyss of the city, which is all the darkness that happens, usually. And it’s usually in those epicenters that you can kind of see the analogy. It’s the same principle as what I’m saying here. Now when I talk about all of these concepts, I’m trying to look at them in light of this one moment in time, Jesus’ death. So this forces me to stop right here. And I can’t even clarify the subject I’m talking on, because there will be people out there that say, “Okay, you’ve been talking for the last fifteen weeks about heaven and you’ve talked about certain words, and that’s all great. And now you’re talking about substitution and ultimately death and Resurrection, but I have a problem, Pastor Scott. I can’t get to any of this because where I’m at right now is I don’t even know if Jesus, if Jesus really existed,” because some people are just stuck right there. They could get, they could cross over the hurdle of everything I’m talking about, but the same question arises, “Well, how do you; you want me to believe all this,” and actually I don’t. I don’t want you to believe any of it. It’s God that wants you to take Him at His word, and that’s your choice, that’s your opportunity, that’s your right. But if we’re going to have this discussion, the important thing is for those people out there, and there are a lot of people out there listening to me who, “Yeah, I want to hear about the Resurrection,” but the problem comes back to “Well, what about this Jesus?” Because that start down this pathway always have the same argument: “There is no proof for the historic Jesus,” and hence now we’re, we’re just kind of slowly heading into, say, a month from Easter, and I’m sure within this timeframe you’ll see or hear all kinds of interesting stories, because that’s what happens at this time of year: “Jesus was an alien,” “He had multiple children with Mary and maybe He had multiple wives.” I don’t know, they always come out with some interesting stories. I don’t know, it used to be it would interesting stories that people would go like “Wow!” Right now it’s like “Ugh.” But the real, the real issue is that as we head into that time of year, I want to be able to talk to you a little bit in a different way about the Resurrection with enough of the foundation of what I’m talking about in the realm of heaven and hell laid out to be able to make this firm foundation for those people who say, “Okay, I’d like to believe all this, but my area that I’m still hung up on is,” as I just referenced, people who have this thing about, “Well, did; if Jesus didn’t exist and how can you prove that He exists? And then if you prove that He actually lived and existed, how can you prove that He actually lived, existed, died, and was raised up from the dead, because nobody comes back from the dead?” So before I can even touch on this passage, let me talk to you a little bit, especially for those newer folks listening to me, because there is abundant information out there if people will look. And I’ve had people do this to me, so do me a favor, if you’re not willing to take the information that I give you and go check it out and go do some research; and I’m not talking about going to some goofy websites. This is the stuff that people do that just drives me crazy. They hear a little bit of something, they go online and, “Let’s do word search,” right. And people start looking for things and you’ll have hundreds of pages of hundreds of articles that come up. They’re either all contradicting themselves, some of them have nothing to do with the subject you’re looking for, and some of them are just downright, absolutely, unequivocally wrong. And the question then becomes “What do you believe? And how do you”━I mean, I’m not going to try and do your, your sorting out of your research, but that’s why I said to you take the foundation of what I put out and then take that information and go do the research yourself. So when I say there is abundant proof outside of the Bible, and I’ve said this before and I’ve gone through this, and I don’t want to take up too much time, but let me do a quick run-through, because those people that are constantly saying, “Well, okay, I want to believe you and I want to listen to your message on this, but if I can’t even get to the hurdle of where do I go look for the information on Jesus outside the Bible?” Well, the first thing I’m going to tell you is if you’re going to take a scholarly approach, then quit being an idiot. See, a lot of people say, “Well, but there’s no proof for this and there’s no proof for that.” And here’s what I’m going to tell you. This is my frustration. A lot of people would like to talk about certain histories. For example many people base a lot of their, believe it or not, a lot of their research even into the Bible and antiquity by Homer’s writings. Have you ever heard people doing research and they pull out something out of Homer, and they say, “This is aligned with” and they even use it as a reference. How many have heard or seen Homer used as a reference? Okay, well, the information we have on Homer is from four or five hundred years after his death and multiple generations of, we’ll call it broken telephone perhaps of his writing, although it’s pretty well intact. But no one ever questions the writing of Homer, even though we’re talking four or five hundred years. I can do the same thing with the history of Alexander the Great and say that no one alive during Alexander the Great’s lifetime chronicled his history; it was people who were already dead. And remarkably people will take that history on Alexander the Great as a secular figure and say, “Well, of course,” and they read it with great clarity and no one’s doubting the authenticity of the history that’s recorded, even though the writers lived hundreds of years after the time of the individual’s lifetime and of their death. So when we get to the Bible, this is the thing that drives me crazy. If you’re going to use that type of logic, you must look at two things. First of all, the bulk of the writing that we have based on the New Testament happens within fifty years, if we’re going to talk about Christ’s death being in the ballpark, around the year 30. It, He was not crucified in 33 A.D., but we’re going to say somewhere around the year 30, somewhere around there. And we know the last writings of John, Revelation, happened before the year 100; I put it at probably somewhere around 98, that’s less than, in the time span. Let’s put Jesus’ death at 30 and let’s put John’s writing no less at 70; I’m sorry, at 100. There’s seventy years difference there, which is much shorter in terms of the timeframe that has elapsed in chronicling the last book, seventy years to the last book that we know that was canonized, but most of the writing we could say conclusively happens somewhere in a thirty, possibly a thirty-year span after Christ’s death. And it seemed like this writing that is closer to the time of Christ’s life and death is more picked apart and more doubted and more scrutinized than those that would take the historical element of Homer or the history of Alexander the Great with hundreds of years apart and take that history as secular and solid, but not take the chronicle and the history and the documentation that we have of the Bible and give it more credibility and more credence because it’s, it has closer writings, closer to the time of the event of the individual being chronicled of the life of Jesus Christ. Now if you start there, and this is why I said I have no patience for people who’d like to say, “Well, when you’re studying the Bible you’ve got to put on a stupid hat and look at stupid things a stupid way” versus everything else out there in secular world that we’re allowed to pick apart and people, “Oh, okay, that sounds really plausible. I’m going to read the”━I just mentioned Alexander the Great. I have probably at least a dozen books, maybe more on my bookshelf, chronicling his life by different writers; none of them were alive when he was alive! Now why is it that we take somebody’s historical chronicling and we say, “Well, this is history,” but we won’t take what’s in this book with more than, when I’ve told you how many fragments that we have and how many pieces that date back to early, early. Some of the earliest fragments, the Oxyrynchus Papyri, we’re talking about pieces of John, the papyrus, the p46 and p42 and p52; all of those papyrus that give us great clarity to a certain timeframe. But then go to the historical writers. And this is why when people say, “Well, we don’t have any proof outside the Bible,” no. The proof is there. It’s your problem that you won’t go look at it. And then you’ll scrutinize it in a way that you would never scrutinize anything else. And this is why I have a problem with what people do when they start studying the Bible. So please don’t be a silly person and try to do all the reverse of what you would do anywhere else. Use the same critical thinking and use the same research tools. So one of the things that we know, and I’ve mentioned this many times, Joseph; Josephus, rather, who was a historian living about the time, putting him maybe a few years after Christ’s death as his birth; maybe about 36 or 37, living to about the time of John’s death, about 100, who was a Jewish historian who chronicled the history of the Jews and the Antiquities of the Jews in, in great volumes, which are available for anyone to read. And within his writings, now, he does not say, “Christ is the Messiah”; he was a Jew who fully rejected the Messiah-ship of Christ, but did not reject or deny that Christ lived. In fact, he chronicles in both of his writings and makes comments about this one called Jesus the Christ. Now I’m asking you a question, because it seems that this is some type of a weird thing we do with our brain. Even when you read the Scriptures they immediately said Jesus was a winebibber, they said He was the son of the devil, they said He was a magician, but no one, even the Jews and the religious leaders of Christ’s day, didn’t say to His face, “No! You don’t exist.” Do you see how crazy that is? We read with certain, a certain frame of reference and with, what I’d call a very myopic problem, which is it’s a limited way of looking at things and not using all of the tools. So you pass from Josephus’s writing, and I’ve got lots of quotes in front of me, but I don’t think I want to take the time to read all the quotes to you. There are abundant quotes. You go to the writing of Tacitus, again Tacitus living from about the time, born 55 to living about 110, so in that same timeframe. And again, these are secular writers, and not that they are saying Christ was the Messiah or Christ did this or that, but the fact that these all are secular writers talking about the existence of Christ. And as I’ve said, you can keep going through all of these different writers, Suetonius, and you can keep going. You can even keep going to the sixth, probably in midway, 630, 640s when Mohammed is writing the Qur’an. And even there, although it doesn’t say Christ didn’t exist, it just simply, blatantly, says Christ, in the eyes of Mohammed is simply a prophet. So no one is, no one is denying. This denial comes at a later time, and it really is borne out of the conspiracy of those who came to the Roman authorities, trying to basically say, “Hey, we heard those people,” His followers, “say potentially that He might raise up. We want to make sure that this story never comes to pass or sees the light, so make sure the grave is secured.” And when they find out that the body is gone, they come back and they say, “Well, hey, we think that they might have stolen it.” So then these theories that are within the Scriptures become circulated, accepted, widely attested, and taken as absolute. So why am I going down this pathway? Because without you doing the critical work and looking into the secular, people will say, “Well then, you only have the Bible.” Now I can use the Bible and talk about the Bible in a more historical way. People who don’t have the same tools or the same frame of reference will say, “Well, it’s impossible to prove Christ, because how do we know the people in this book were writing”━and then now begins the other argument, which is kind of what I’d call the circular stupid argument. “Are━you must be a idiot if you’re going to take all this book and leave it and take it at face value, because we don’t know the writers and we don’t know anything about their motivation. And maybe it was all just a cover story.” But then, friends, you’ve got a big problem, because this, sixty-six books that was canonized much later, spans hundreds of years, separated by land and by people’s culture, if you will, their nationality, their history. So this isn’t one book written by one individual that neatly ties up every end. And that’s why when we talk about looking at outside of the Bible, there are plenty of references, historical writers chronicling, as I said. If you want to know a specific timeframe, start at about the year 50 A.D. and go forward and keep looking and you’ll find there are at least a dozen solid, not ambiguous, references from historical writers, secular, non-Christians. In fact, many of these either Jews, anti-Christian, or complete, wholehearted Christ rejecters, don’t believe in anything. And that, my friends, is a pretty good way of, if you’re going to start using some stepping stones, I’ll use somebody who is dead set on saying, “It didn’t happen, but this individual lived.” Why, because they’re giving credibility to the fact that they will not accept the miracles and they will not accept the Bible, but they’ll accept the fact that history has recorded such and individual as living. Now with that all being said, you see, you can’t get to heaven and hell, you can’t even begin the concept of discussing it and what Christ did and why He did it without understanding everything that I’ve just said, because Paul talks about this in Romans 5, and he says, “By one man’s disobedience.” Adam essentially took the whole blueprint of humanity and altered it. By the sin of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and not listening to God and listening to the voice of the serpent and obeying, essentially obeying the serpent, plunging the blueprint of humanity into, into the sinning imprint that is on us. And by one man’s obedience, if Adam became the figurehead of all of humanity and all are in Adam, then God provided a way through His Son. All are coming to the faith in Christ, and therefore reconciled back to God, that bridge that was broken from Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation. So it is important to kind of put that in, in this perspective. When we read about Christ having to die and that event the day that this happened, the day that we have a chronicle, we have a microcosm. It’s, it’s a very quick moment in time to see God’s demonstrating power of what we are using, the imagery of darkness to show separation from. Now this is not the first time that the Bible records this. You go back into the Old Testament, and there in the Pentateuch, when Moses is essentially making the plea to Pharaoh, and as the plagues begin to hit, one of the plagues is darkness upon the land. God used many different ways through the book, but there are many things that are repeated. And you’ll see the pattern over and over again. For example, the concept of water and blood, and that’s through the Bible; water and blood, water and blood. Darkness is another one. So it is not in isolation. I don’t want anybody reading the death of Christ, the burial of Christ, and saying, “It is all in isolation,” because it helps us to understand that God was saying the same thing over and over again. And what He says through Paul’s inspired writing in Romans, when he talks about the wrath of God is poured out upon all ungodliness; to those who essentially hold the truth, they’ve, they’ve essentially heard, they have received, it has been revealed to them, but they essentially have either twisted, manipulated, rejected, chosen otherwise. This wrath of God is poured out and will be poured out upon them. So the event of Christ’s death demonstrates in a microcosm the wrath of God essentially in that one moment being poured out upon Christ. That is all the, the suffering, all the sin laid upon Him in that one moment as a microcosm of what will be. Although what He did was the substitutionary act that paid it all that offered the satisfaction for your sins and mine. But what is important to understand is that without this event, this event in time, eternity could not become a reality for humanity. We’d still be lodged in and we’d still stay in the Adamic frame, never given the opportunity of faith for the last Adam’s salvation, which is Christ. So I can’t; if you can see what I’m doing, I can’t go beyond where I am without making sure that I’ve put enough information out there regarding this concept of separation, of darkness, of terror, of fear; these all come in a simultaneous happening, if you will, on the cross. And as I said, if we go back and we look at the parables that we have covered in the past weeks, each one of them has an element of punishment to it. And this is where, if people don’t want to hear this, this is where I kind of feel bad for those people who say, “Well, I, I don’t want to hear about the judicial actions of God or the punishment of God. It makes me scared, because I haven’t lived a good life and I don’t want to be the recipient.” See, everything I just said right there in the last ten seconds is out of the mouth of someone who would not be understanding what exactly Christ did on the cross, and therefore there is no frustrating God’s grace. He says, “You are all ruined.” When I say “all” I include myself, “You’re all ruined, you’re all a mess, you’re all sin-stained, dirty.” Don’t think anyone here in the sound of my voice, including me; the holiest person, let’s take the holiest person that you might think of. Oh boy. Say, the pope; it doesn’t matter, God says, “It’s all dirty to Me.” I don’t care what white, white clothes you wear or what dark clothes you were; it’s all dirty. He sees it all the same way. This is why I do what I do, because there’s enough people out there that would like you to believe that you’re the only person that is covered in dirt, and you’re the only person that has issues, when in fact, this is what I’ve quoted to you for fifteen years. It is exactly the same for the best or the worst: all have sinned. There isn’t any exception, except that Christ has taken the curse. It fell upon Him, and I get to pass out from underneath that as an act of faith. I am spared that curse, which in the old dispensation, if you think about it, many people chose to just completely ignore which is why there are still, by the way, rituals that go on today. I kind of was thinking about this in terms of a lot of my friends who are practicing Jews and they go through the rituals, certain things that they do. But my question is why are they doing them, because God didn’t say anymore, “Keep doing this thing”? In fact, there is no instructions, so what, do you just keep doing something like, “Okay, I’ll just keep doing it and I’ll just keep doing it and I’ll just keep doing it and I’ll just keep doing it.” And at some point you have to realize that nobody cares because you just keep doing it. Nobody’s paying attention. It’s like Big Daddy’s left the building and he ain’t coming back, “I just keep doing this, I keep just going through the motions.” And that’s how God sees most of religion today, just keep doing it, just keep repeating it; no connection to Him. So this is why it’s important that we wrap our minds around this, fully understand that Christ’s death had to happen. And then we move into the reality and the proof of His Resurrection, which obviously I’m not going to get into today, but here’s where I kind of want to put the brakes on a little bit to talk about. As I’ve just laid out a whole bunch of stuff, which will tell you a little bit of the direction I’m going to take next week, but if we do not look at what happened there on the cross and we’re not really rightly understanding it, again, we end up with kind of what I’d call a skewed perspective. There are others who will ask the question, and this is one that I kind of scratch my head about, which is, and it’s, it’s gaining traction of late, and that is the limited duration of hell. I’m going to say that again, because I think some of you didn’t hear what I said. This is gaining traction in a lot of circles, the limited duration of hell. That means according to some, it’s just for a little while. Now I don’t know about you, but when I read God’s judgment is final. He doesn’t say, “Hey, look, I’m going to make you sweat here for a while, and then, you know, after you sweat out for a bit, I’ll, I’ll come back and see you.” The sweating time, by the way, is now, like right now. Do you understand what I just said? The sweating time is now. The sweating time is not later. For those of us who are really listening, the sweating time is now. And that’s the unfortunate part is that there’s a whole host of people out there that think hell is limited, and the limited duration of it, therefore God has a plan to punish for a time, teaching a lesson and essentially then you can move on from there. Did I not start this series, just so you know; I actually do remember where we started at out of Luke, Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. And what does that passage say? Between where he was and where the rich man was a what? “A great gulf fixed.” That means once you’re there you’re there. And once you’re there you’re there. And there is no bridge to go back and forth. Once you’re there you’re there. Let’s get that straight, because as I said, there’s a lot of interesting doctrines that are circulating, and I don’t know why people feel the need to alter what God’s word clearly says. So important things to talk about, the duration of hell is like the duration of heaven, it’s eternity. That’s number one. Number two is the nature of hell. So when people talk about the nature of heaven there’s a lot of caricatures that happen. The nature of heaven typically people, as I’ve said, have the imagery of the cherubic-type, little whatever-they-are, floating around, playing musical instruments and maybe entertaining, and there’s a lot of clouds and whatnot. But I’ve already started to tell you what heaven is and what heaven is not. We’ve already looked at when we’re using the word Hades, or “hell” in the unseen realm versus the later place of punishment, the place of burning. So there is a place, the unseen world. This is exactly the place when it says about where Jesus went to preach out of Ephesians 4, when it says He descended to preach to the departed spirits. And this is really important because a lot of people get this wrong. Jesus had to go, if you read Hebrews 11, where we call that the chapter of the heroes of faith. Jesus had to go and preach to the righteous dead, those who listened to God, those who were faithful and obedient to God, those who died without having obtained the promise as the book of Hebrews says. He had to go preach to them. Think of the likes of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Jacob; you go down the line of all the people we’ve encountered. These are to those that Christ ascended to preach, what? The good news that they didn’t die in vain, that the thing that God said He would make good on, this is essentially the messenger that goes to deliver the message, the good news that they did not live to see, but He went to preach to them. So when we talk about the nature of hell, it’s important to, just gleaning from what the book of Ephesians talks about, that Christ could pass in that unseen realm. Why, because it also says He possesses the keys to it. He could pass into the unseen realm and come back from the unseen realm. My guess is we, again, have a limited perspective on understanding the unseen realm even today. Why, the Bible says Christ is seated today at the right hand of the Father. Where is that? Don’t say “heaven.” It’s also an unseen realm. Once you start kind of taking away the stupid stuff that people say, and you start making sense of what is the unseen realm, where it says Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father is also the unseen realm. The unseen realm does not belong to the dark or the unrighteous dead. Why, when Christ went to preach, He preached to the righteous and the unrighteous, those who all died before. But when we talk about the nature of hell, I want to stress this emphatically that if Christ could pass from this world into that realm and back, it means that He can continuously and still may, and has the power to pass into the unseen realm, that realm that’s described in Ephesians 4 and the realm that’s described elsewhere. So we do have the capacity to glean out a little bit of the nature. And we talk about darkness; darkness is usually described as the destiny of the wicked, the fate of those that go down to the grave. There’s also references to the “day of the Lord” that will be filled with darkness. That is another reference and I’ll have to talk about that in a separate setting, because the “day of the Lord” had to do with something else, which is in the culmination of time, if you will. The next element of hell that I want to talk about is fear. You, I don’t think you’ll ever meet any person, if they’re being at all honest, that if they really talk about hell honestly wouldn’t talk about it with some sense of fearfulness. Please tell me that you could have a conversation with somebody with the slim information that we have just from the New Testament alone, if you’re really reading what’s being said: outer darkness, gnashing of teeth, a separation that lasts forever, the sense of abandonment, the sense of being orphaned and abandoned forever, and you want to tell me that you could talk about that in a pleasant way? I don’t think so. It strikes fear. And I even think it strikes fear in the heart of a believer who’s so sensitive to God that always has the sense of, in their sensitivity, “I may have crossed a line with God,” even though they’ve done nothing but please God. But the sensitivity to their ways versus God’s ways constantly leaves them in that state. I get that. But there is a necessity to understand that. Many times over, as I’ve just referenced again, I think for the third or fourth time, that fear, gnashing of teeth; so when we, when we talk about hell, we’re not talking about a place of peace. You know, when it talks about, for example, heaven, it says, “My God will wipe away every tear. There’ll be no sadness, there’ll be no dying,” referencing a future time, but for those, we’ll call them the righteous, those in Christ. But for those not in Christ, we’re talking about a terrible sense of being excluded. Now once more, let me show you how all things in the Bible are attached. When God basically uncovers and sees the sin of Adam and Eve, they are expulsed out of the Garden. The Garden was in its essence, in its type if you will, as a type of heaven, a place of perfection and cohabitating with God. And as soon as that breach was created, God had to get them out of there. Well, the purpose, of course, was so that they would not eat of the other tree and be in their eternal, locked into an eternal fallen state. But on the flipside, God had to expulse them because whatsoever is disobedience or sin in God’s eyes as God is holy, must be essentially moved away from God. So we get the sense even from the Garden of the punishment, the exclusion, the separation from God that started there. So when we think about hell, don’t think about hell and think about the nether regions and the lower levels. Think about the genesis of hell, the voice of the serpent speaking to the heart of man and the rebellion that occurred to bring about the separation that from that moment clear through until the last few chapters of the Bible, humanity is separated, save for those who come to a saving faith in Christ, humanity is separated from God. And in that sense, hell has come to earth, if you understand what I’m saying. Do you understand what I’m saying? Good. So exclusion and there’s something very important in C. S. Lewis’s writing. He puts the, the essence of this: hell: punishment, destruction, and exclusion. Now punishment, I agree with. Destruction, I don’t, and the reason why I don’t is because that belongs to a whole series of people who believe in what is called “annihilationism,” which is that essentially when man is punished he’s immediately destroyed. But that is not the case. That is not the meaning of hell. Hell is essentially the awareness, you will be separated; you will live for eternity in the awareness that you have been separated from, excluded out of, and away from the presence of God, your Creator, your Maker. I know even the people that reject. But it will be made known to you then. And hell will be living forever outside of the light and away from the light, outside of peace, outside of what is love. And I know people, a lot of people will probably cringe when I say this, because taking that passage out of John where it says, “God is love,” not the hippie version, but that God is the source of all love. So when we kind of start looking at the subject, you get clarity that this “for sin comes death,” taking you back to the Garden shows you that from that time, the exclusion portion that separation portion is already begun. And when you talk to people who are here on earth, who essentially have absolutely no desire for God, I look at those people as already having had a foretaste of being excluded or separated, except in their case, currently they’re not aware of the pain of separation that they will be in a future time. Because you will be aware in that sense that you are separated or excluded from. That’s the punishment. Now somebody asked me, “Could somebody be that bad of sinner? What would merit that punishment from such a loving and merciful God? Or God can’t be that loving and merciful if He would punish people like that.” Let me tell you something. The God that I serve, all you’ve got to do is read the book. He, He’s the God of second, third, fourth, fifth, twentieth, one-hundredth, one-millionth chances. He gives chances galore. He gives, we’ll call it every opportunity for us to take hold of right, I believe, right up until your last breath. I think God is constantly and perpetually giving us those opportunities like people who come across my program and they, they see it, and they choose to, “Nah, I’m not interested.” Well, that’s personal preference, but if you’re actually trying to figure out the meaning of life, why you’re here, what it means, what will be when you die, what happens over there, does hell or heaven really exist, and you’ve got to be listening to somebody like me who’s going to tell you from each of the Scriptures that I’m using what it actually means and how we can hang on to things in a factual way, not in some, “Aw, gee, I hope it’s like that. And I’m really hoping.” Because that’s not; if that’s the type of Christianity that you want to have, you keep it for you. No, thank you for me, I’m not, this is not horseshoes; close doesn’t count. So if you’re interested in that I’m saying, and I think most of us are, let me just paint a picture for you, because it’s probably the best one that I can paint. And then I can maybe next week move on from here. I think when we talk about the subject of separation from God, if I were to take the cry of Christ and using that cry of Christ from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and if I’m going to use that cry, it still reverberates for many, in fact most of us today. Because I highly doubt that you will live your entire Christian life without being at least once in your Christian faith shipwrecked to the point of asking, “Where are You, God? And why haven’t You come to my rescue? And why haven’t You heard my prayer?” Is that anybody in the sound of my voice? Because we’ve all been there at least once, and if you haven’t, hold on, you’ll get there. My point is that even if the experience of being temporarily ignored by God gets you to wake up a little bit, the sense is that God hasn’t left you alone. I’ve given this analogy many times because it’s the truest one and it’s the one that I think it’s the most relatable. I’ve said this before. You know, the parent that has to punish the child, and you put your kid in, you know, they call it “time-out” now. When I was a kid they just said “punishment” or whatever they called it. Nowadays, “time-out,” okay. But if you got put in your room, you might as a kid start crying as your mom or your dad leaves the room and closes the door. And now you’re in your room and you’re all by yourself, and your cries are going out and lots of tears and lots of noise, and you think no one can hear you. And the thing is that Mom or Dad is just in the next room, and is just as annoyed, heartbroken, disturbed, distraught at hearing you cry, but needs you to cry and cry it out and get through it. And then when all the noise is over and the child’s calmed down, the child emerges out of their room, and low and behold, the parent is in the next room and hadn’t even left the house. We are like that with God. We have a tendency to think that we’re all alone, we’ve got to go through this world and somehow our cries, we’re like the child in the room that’s crying out, but the cries are not loud enough, the tears are not enough, and God doesn’t hear. Meanwhile, God is in the next room saying, “Shut up, already. I heard you. And if you will learn the lesson I’m trying to teach you, you’ll be better for it.” Just that’s the way it is. And I think when we think about hell, this is what I want to try and bridge the gap to. I want you to think about hell as the sense of that child being in that room, crying with lots of tears and lots of agony, but there is no one in the next room and there is no one to answer you and there’s no one to comfort you and there’s no one to even to talk to you and tell you it’s going to be okay. That is the concept I want us to really get about hell. It’s not some caricatured, you know, everybody’s wearing red and the devil’s got his, his pitchfork and his pointy ears on. It’s, hell is clearly understood as outer darkness separation, exclusion, fear, and the reality of choices, because this is the one thing that we will have. We will have the reality of the knowledge of the choices that we made that brought us to the place we will be at. And that probably is the worst form of punishment, being able to recognize that things could have been different, but they’re not. Now this series is not designed to scare people. It’s not designed to do anything else, except to show that if we’re willing to look at the complete substitutionary work of Christ, and if we’re willing to look at all of what I’m calling the spiritual vignettes that give us the insight into understanding, then we will stop treating the subject like it’s some cartoon strip that we just can chuckle at and treat very lightly. And it becomes a serious matter, one that has to be hinged, though, on the Scriptures declaring the verity of what happened. Christ said He came to lay down His life and that He would take it again. And the fact that He rose up from the grave. Now this is the hardest thing for people to actually grab hold of, so don’t think that I’m going to blow through this, because I started off kind of putting out a bunch of different pieces of information and trying to get them connected for you in an hour. I would like to spend the time now to not just go through what I would say is the typical, the years that we’ve studied the Resurrection here. And they’ve been, when I say “typical,” it’s been the proofs of the Resurrection put out in either one, two, or three messages before, during, or after Easter, and then we just kind of move on. I want to tie this to this subject to show that when you start looking at the whole tapestry, you find there are less and less possibilities to this is either an absolute, authentic, real, absolute place that Jesus talked about “In my Father’s house there are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you. Where I am, you too shall be.” We shall see Him eventually and stand in His presence. We shall be like Him. All of the Scriptures that lead up to that will either become more concrete and more real to you, or you’ll gain a greater understanding that your faith in the eternal things is not yet there and we need to still keep working on this direction. Why, because I said this in one of the messages early on. Why is it people spend time planning? You plan your education. When you’re a kid, you map out “I’m going to study this, I’m going to do that, I’m going to get this degree” and you spend all the time planning for a destination, for a point of arrival. You spend all of this time in life planning. When you meet your significant other, “We’re going to have six children in ten years, and we’re going to live in an apartment until we’re fifty, and then we’re going to buy,” you do all this planning. “We’re going to take a vacation. We’re going to go to this destination; we’re planning to see these museums, these particular places.” You make all these plans for everything, but who talks about and plans about their future destiny? That’s what I’m talking about. If you haven’t spent five minutes planning in your mind and mapping out the reality of where you’re going, you haven’t spent enough time. Anything else in life that you’ve spent abundant time on, I think we should spend a little bit more, so not only are we clear, but we have a solid foundation and we’re not walking around like most people. The Bible says this, like most who have no hope. This is why I keep repeating this over and over again. I know I will have made a dent in your brain and in mine when we hear about a person who has departed and been promoted and they’re with the Lord, and although in the flesh we are sad because we’ve lost someone that we can’t talk to right now and we can’t see right now and we can’t touch, we have the absolute knowledge that we will see them again. And we have the absolute knowledge that they just didn’t disappear or get put into a box or into a grave, and that’s that, end of story. But if we’re really sure about where we’re going and the faith that it takes to get there, then friends, we need to make sure we have a clear picture of the destination. It will be glorious. It will be confusing for those people who don’t and who haven’t taken the time, but for those who will take the time, well worth it to know your destination is not a dead end. It’s not a closed window at some teller that says, “Sorry, business is done for the day,” click. But rather, it is indeed what Christ said, “Enter in, well done, good and faithful servant.” I’m waiting for somebody to say, “I got it! I get what you’re saying.” It’s not a lost, dark, abysmal thing. It’s a glorious thing that God has laid out. It’s only for me to latch hold, keep faithing, and even when I can’t see, understand more has been laid out to explain this glorious destination for me if I’ll grab hold of it, which I’m praying you will do as well. That’s my message. You have been watching me, Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. If you would like to attend the service with us, Sunday morning at 11am, simply call 1-800-338-3030 to receive your pass. If you’d like more teaching and you would like to go straight to our website, the address is

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