Tuesday evening I was outside cleaning up the leaves at the McKnight Family Homestead. The last two weeks of October and the first few weeks of November it seems like all I DO is clean up the leaves. Leaves… leaves… leaves — but this year I learned a rather powerful lesson while cleaning up those leaves — one that I will never forget.
As I began to rake a rather enormous pile of leaves onto a tarp to haul them away… I actually muttered out loud, “If I ever ended up in Hell, I would probably have to clean up leaves every day.” And instantly, I heard the rebuke of the Holy Spirit in my heart. “Steve, Hell is a horror beyond description and nothing to joke about, rather; you ought to incessantly express gratitude that you are rescued from that terrible fate.”
Hell is for real. Hell is the place reserved for Satan and his demons, but it will also hold captive every life who has refused God’s salvation in Christ. John writes, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15 NIV Hell is the absence of all good, because Hell is absent of God’s Presence.
In Matthew 8 Jesus said that Hell is an outer darkness full of weeping and gnashing teeth. In Matthew 13 he said that Hell is a fiery furnace. In Matthew 25 that Hell is an eternal fire with eternal punishment. And in Luke 16 Jesus said Hell is a place of burning fire and torment where people suffer in agony. To compare the terrors of Hell to raking leaves lacks compassion, and cheapens the cross of Christ; and the check in my spirit led me to confess my sinful frivolity immediately, and with deep regret. Hell is for real… and it is no joking matter.
We all know people who are destined for Hell. Hell will someday sever some of our closest relationships. Hell is reserved for the cursed. Hell is awful, and it is forever. Jesus talked more about Hell than anyone else in Scripture, and that makes sense because he came to seek and to save the lost.
Standing waist deep in leaves I was confronted with a difficult truth; I all too often in my life fail to consider that Hell is for real. Oh my theology knows it… but my heart doesn’t break over it. Hell is for real… and Hell is forever. The reality of Hell ought to drive Christians to their knees everyday, and ought to cause us to share the message of Jesus with everyone we know. Yet we do life as if Hell isn’t for real, and we worry what others will think of us if share the message of Christ.
You see, here is the simplicity of the Gospel — by the grace of God, Hell can be avoided through faith in Jesus Christ. If anyone would repent of their sins… and believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and that he died as a sacrifice for their sins… the gates of Hell slam shut for them! Jesus himself said, “I hold the keys to death and Hell.” Revelation 1:18
When is the last time you pondered that Hell is for real? Who in your life could be destined for Hell if the status quo remains in their life? What are you going to do about?