Is Hell Real?

Recently, in two completely unrelated incidents, I have heard the Bible doctrine of hell challenged. There are religions today that challenge what the Bible plainly says in regard to one of the two eternal destinations for the soul of man, hell. There are those who believe that all are going to be saved and these strenuously challenge the Bible doctrine regarding hell. There are others who believe that the lost will merely be extinguished and these challenge the Bible doctrine of hell. There are some who believe that God simply would not be the kind of God that he claims to be and allow anyone to go to hell. But the Bible has a clear teaching in regard to the eternal abode of the wicked and as Christians, we have a responsibility to teach and warn regarding this dreaded place. Let’s take a few moments and look at what the Bible says regarding hell.

When you mention the word “hell” immediately visions of suffering, pain, anguish, fire, darkness, and torment come to mind. But not every single time the word “hell” is used in the King James Version represents such a place. The word “hell” in the King James version is mentioned some fifty-four (54) times. In the American Standard Version of 1901, it is mentioned only thirteen (13) times. Why the disparity between the two versions? First, the King James translators often translated the word “Sheol” in the Hebrews by the word “hell.” The ASV translators chose to transliterate this word because it sometimes means “grave” and they did not want to confuse the two concepts. The word “Sheol” does refer sometimes in a figurative way to the abode of the dead (Proverbs 9:17). Most of the time it is used to refer to the destination of sinful men (Isaiah 14:11), but it is also used in prophecy to refer to the soul of Christ (Psalm 16:10). It was the Hebrew equivalent for what we would think of as “Hades” within the New Testament. The New Testament use of the word hell in the King James Version is also inconsistent with the two Greek words that the word is used to translate. One of those Greek words is “Hades” as we have already mentioned. The other, “Gehenna” is the one which the ASV translators chose to translate as “hell.” It is the concept of hell as translated from the word “Gehenna” with which we are peculiarly concerned when studying the eternal place of the wicked.

The Bible definitely teaches an eternal place of destruction for the wicked. In Matthew 25:41 we read Jesus words to those on his left hand: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” Verse 46 of the same passage states, “And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.” There is a place specially prepared for the Devil and his angels. According to this passage, this is the same place that the “goats” will also inhabit for eternity. In another passage in 2 Peter 2:4 we read that God did not spare the angels that sinned, but cast them down into pits of darkness reserved for judgment. Jude verse 6 also states similar things regarding these fallen angels. What then ultimately awaits them after they are judged? According to Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” This is also the same fate of those who were not found written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15). Who are those who were not found written in the book of life? Revelation 21:8 answers that question: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Now according to verse 10, those who end up here shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever.” This does not sound like a place where one’s soul is merely going to be “extinguished.” It is a place where there is torment and those who are there are aware of their torment. So what do we see from these passages?

1. The Devil and his “angels” have a special place prepared for them for their eternal habitation (Matthew 25:41). 2. This will also be the same place where the “goats” are sent (Matthew 25:41). 3. It is described as “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). 4. The fallen “angels” are currently waiting judgment in a similar place (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). 5. After the judgment, the Devil and his servants will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). 6. Those not written in the book of life will also be in this situation (Revelation 20:15). 7. The fearful, unbelieving, abominable, murderer, whoremonger, sorcerer, idolater, and liar will also be in this situation (Revelation 21:8).

Now, if there is no hell at all, then there will be no place for the “goats” of Matthew 25:41 to be “eternally punished.” Neither will there be a place for those of Revelation 21:8. Neither will there be a place for those whose names are not written in the book of life. Neither will there be a place for the “angels” of Satan to be judged. Neither will there be a place for Satan himself to be tormented day and night forever and ever. So you see the ultimate implication of the doctrine that there is no such place as hell. Satan, the source of all evil and wickedness in the world, gets away with everything that he has ever done without any punishment whatsoever. Now what kind of a god would allow someone as evil and wicked as Satan to get away with all of his wicked deeds? Not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible allows those who make wicked choices to live with the consequences of those wicked choices. Extinguishment from such consequences would be a blessing, not a punishment.

Oh, but many cry today “God would not do such terrible things to the souls of men! Surely the love of God would prevent someone from being tormented in such a horrible place!” The assumption of such reasoning, however, is that it is God that is responsible for such punishment. Such an assumption is false. Those who sin are responsible for their own punishment. God will not punish any more than his own justice demands an individual be punished for their own sins (Luke 12:47, 48), but for them to have absolutely no punishment whatsoever would be inconsistent with the scriptural principle of Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We reap what we sow and hereby shall we all be rewarded. It is true that God does not wish that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and that God does not take delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). However, it is equally true that it is man that separates himself from God through his own sin (Isaiah 59:2) and therein merits his own eternal death (Romans 6:23).

It is only out of such a terribly potential place of habitation for the soul that salvation has any meaning at all. From what is one to be saved if there is no hell? From what is one to be saved if the soul is merely extinguished? From what is one to be saved if one is not allowed to live with the consequences of one’s own sinful choices? This is why salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). This is why being saved is through God’s mercy and of His grace (Titus 3:5, 7). This is why it is so very important that we receive not the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1), but that we render obedience to the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 5:9). For those who do not obey the gospel will be eternally lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8), but those who believe will have everlasting life (1 John 5:13).

As it is stated in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Have you accepted God’s gift into your life today? If you have not done so, then you need to do it before it is everlastingly too late. To accept God’s gift of grace you must first hear the message of the gospel, that Jesus came to the earth from heaven as incarnate God, lived a sinless life, died on the cross wherein he shed his blood for the remission of sin, was buried, resurrected, and ascended into heaven to be King of kings and Lord of lords (Romans 10:17). Second, you must believe that message and put your complete trust in it that God will save you through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 11:6). Third you must repent of those things that separated you from God-your sins (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9). Fourth, you must also confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God before witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12). And at this point, fifth, you must submit to baptism into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by the authority of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38). And then, based upon your faith in Jesus blood and your obedience to him in baptism, God will cleanse you from your sin through the blood of Christ and you will be forgiven of your sins (Colossians 2:11-13). Hell is real, but through the mercy of God, it doesn’t have to be the place where you will eternally dwell. Be saved through Jesus today!

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is Hell Real?

The Simple Truth of Mark 16:16

When it comes to the question of whether baptism is prerequisite for salvation, Mark 16:15, 16 stands out as a clear beacon in contrast to the fog of the doctrines and teachings of men today. The words of Jesus as recorded by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in this passage ring clear and true among the cacophony of sounds heard within the religious world today. Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”NKJV

From an honest inspection of this passage, one will come to the conclusion that Jesus expected his disciples to preach that those lost in sin could not be saved until after they were baptized. Two prerequisites are mentioned in this text: believing, and baptism. They are joined together by the conjunction “and” indicating that both are required to lead to the predicate of the sentence, “will be saved.” The language is simple and clear. When used with any other statement of English, the meaning is plain. If I were to advertise in the paper, “He who memorizes and sings the Star Spangled Banner will receive $1,000,000.00,” there would be people waiting by my front door the next morning expecting to be paid. If you were to cash a check at the bank, the clerk would tell you to “write out the check and sign it and you will receive your cash.” No one misunderstands that. In each sentence, two things are required to receive the desired results. In the first, it is 1) memorization, and 2) singing. In the second, it is 1) writing the check, and 2) signing it. So also is it with Jesus statement. He who would be saved must 1) believe, and 2) be baptized. There is just no other way around it.

This simply phrasing of words so clearly exposes many who teach otherwise today. Notice how the order of these words changes under a different teaching of salvation. Those who believe that one is saved before baptism but after faith (i.e. faith only) would have Jesus say, “He who believes will be saved, and then may be baptized.” But this is clearly not what Jesus says. Those who believe that infants are saved through baptism would have Jesus say, “He who is baptized will be saved, and then may believe.” Again, this is not what Jesus plainly said. And then those who hold that all will be saved regardless of either would have Jesus say, “He who is saved, may believe and be baptized.” In each of these cases, the order of Jesus original statement has been modified to support a particular view of salvation. There is only one view that fits the passage. That is that the person who believes, and then based upon that faith, is baptized, will after the point of baptism, be saved. There is just no getting around the truth of this passage.

Perhaps the most common objection to such clear and simple language is the next statement that Jesus makes: “but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Many say, “But Jesus didn’t say that if you were not baptized you would be condemned.” And yes, strictly speaking, Jesus did not say those particular words. But let’s look at the validity of this argument. Using the same examples above, let’s suppose a person comes to my house with a piece of paper with the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner written out and sings the song from those lyrics. Would he receive the $1,000,000.00? Of course he wouldn’t. He did not memorize the song and that was one of the requirements. Must one fail in both requirements to fail in the whole? No. One needs only to fail in one requirement to miss out on the whole. Supposing I go to the bank and make out the check, but fail to sign it, will the cashier give me my cash? She will say, “Please sign the check.” But in protest I say, “But the check is made out. The amount is there.” Such would be to no avail, because it must both be made out and signed to get the cash. Why would Jesus need to deny both? He only needs to deny one to show that someone will be condemned. Why, do you suppose, did Jesus say that the person who does not believe would be condemned? For this simple reason, if a person doesn’t believe, they certainly are not going to be baptized. In fact, the Bible teaches exactly this, that one who refuses to be baptized is really one who refuses to believe. Luke 7:29, 30 says the following about those who refused John’s baptism. “And when all the people heard him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Refusing John’s baptism is equated to refusing the counsel of God. Why should we not understand that refusing Jesus baptism would be considered by Jesus to be of similar consequence?

There are also those who try to suggest that Mark 16:9-20 was not part of the Bible. Many newer versions have placed a footnote or marginal reading that says that these verses are not found in the some oldest manuscripts of the New Testament. And such is true. Two of the oldest manuscripts do not have these verses. However, in one of these manuscripts is a blank space large enough to fit these verses. Also within that same one, the book of Revelation is missing. Would we deny that the book of Revelation is of God? The same reasoning would have us do so. There are, however, many ancient manuscripts that do include this text and many ancient translations as well. However, the bottom line is that when all is said and done, those verses are still selected by the translators to be part of the text of their version. Yes, they make a footnote, but when it comes to placing the words in the text, they are there. Why is that? It is because the translators recognize the authority of those verses. There may be a question as to whether they were written by the penman Mark, but as to their authority and inspiration, there is no doubt; the verses are in the Bible and so they appear in your Bible as well.

Sadly, there will be many people on the day of judgment who stand before Christ having confessed him as Lord (Matthew 7:21-23), but having failed to do the will of the Father in understanding and respecting this very simple verse, Mark 16:16. Will you be one of those people? If your heart is tender toward the will of God within the gospel of Christ, you will come to the plain and simple understanding of this verse. Jesus could not have made it any plainer than this. Won’t you be believe and be baptized to receive salvation today?

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Simple Truth of Mark 16:16

The Truth About Men

Perhaps some of you have heard the recent country song by Tracy Byrd titled, “The Truth About Men.” The song claims to speak for all men and touts several aspects of the male gender such as eating potato chips, watching football, looking at the tools at Home Depot, hunting, golfing, playing guitars, watching action movies, working on cars, etc. However, the song also depicts men as being beer guzzling fools, lying, cheating, cussing, and sex-crazed. As a man myself, I personally am offended by this song. I do not guzzle beer; I do not lie; I do not cheat; I do not cuss; I am not sex-crazed. However, the thing about this song that offends me the most is the statement, “We ain’t wrong; we ain’t sorry, and it’s probably gonna happen again.” This statement lies at the heart of what it means to be a sinner–impenitence.

“We ain’t wrong.”

Today, many readily admit that they are in sin and commit sin on a daily basis. The song testifies in its own behalf in this regard. However, the real problem lies in the fact that many do not recognize the wrongness of sin, as stated in this song’s lyrics, “We ain’t wrong.” This is the bigger issue–that is, convincing me that I am wrong in my sin. The fact of the matter is, that if we love sin, then we are wrong (period). We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”ESV Those who take pleasure in unrighteousness (i.e. those who fail to admit its wrongness) will be condemned for not believing the truth. We need to recognize the sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13)! Real men recognize the sinfulness of sin and will admit its wrongness.

“We ain’t sorry.”

The song also touts an additional element of impenitence in society today–sorrow. One may get a person to admit the wrongness of their sin, but then he or she may not be sorry for it. That is, they may think that being wrong is no big deal and hence, why should I be sorry for something even though I am wrong? The Bible teaches that we ought to be sorry for our sins. Psalm 38:18 says, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.”KJV Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). That is truly something for which to be sorry. Sin is also what put Jesus on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3). That is also something for which to be sorry. When we fail to be sorry for our sins, we fail to recognize our tremendous failure in our relationship with God. When we fail to be sorry for our sins, we fail to recognize the price that God had to pay to bring us back into a right relationship with him. Real men are sorry for sin!

“And it’s probably gonna’ happen again.”

We see yet a third opponent to repentance–the unwillingness on the part of the sinner to change. One may admit that sin is wrong; one may even be sorry for it, but then when it comes down to it, one may simply continue to practice the sin that one is in. As the song states, “And it’s probably gonna’ happen again.” The Bible, however, teaches that once one has repented of sin, one should not continue within it. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”KJV Those who have repented of sin should stop committing sin. The apostle Paul’s words regarding this aspect of repentance are recorded for us in Acts 26:20. He says that he preached to all “that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.”ASV So many simply wish to acknowledge wrong, say they are sorry, then engage in the same sin in which they were formerly involved. This is not the way of the gospel. Those who repent must do works worthy of repentance. Real men stop committing sin and do works worthy of repentance.

Repentance is not some trivial matter that makes for amusing song lyrics. It is something upon which our very salvation depends. It is critical that we recognize what repentance is and that we implement it in our life. When we recognize the sinfulness of sin, are sorry for it, and make the commitment not to let it live in our life any more, then we have experienced what the Bible describes as repentance. Notice 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10 “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”KJV Godly sorrow, the recognition of sin and proper remorse for it, brings repentance that leads to salvation to our lives. For many today, true repentance stands between them and heaven. God does not want any to perish, but one must repent to avoid eternal condemnation (2 Peter 3:9). The truth about men may be the truth about sinful men, but it is not the truth about those who want to be eternally saved in heaven with God. If you would be a REAL MAN, a NEW MAN (Colossians 3:10), let repentance live in your life, and that’s the truth about men.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , | Comments Off on The Truth About Men