The Second Death Part 1: The Reality of Hell

Revelation 20:14,15
       And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): I believe that the time has come, when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us that God is too loving and merciful to punish souls forever; and that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly some of them may be—will sooner or later be saved. We are invited to leave the old paths of apostolic Christianity. We are told that the views of our fathers about Hell, and the devil, and punishment—are obsolete and old-fashioned. We are to embrace what is called a “kinder theology”—and treat Hell as a pagan fable or a bugbear to frighten children and fools. Against such false teaching I desire, for one, to protest. Painful, sorrowful, distressing as the controversy may be, we must not blink it or refuse to look the subject in the face. I, for one, am resolved to maintain the old position, and to assert the reality and eternity of Hell.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Hell is not a dream; damnation is not a chimera.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Our education may teach us that Hell does not exist, but death is a surer and sterner master.

J. C. RYLE: Believe me, the question is not one in which we are obliged to fall back on the theories and inventions of man. The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of Hell. I hold it to be impossible to deal honestly with the Bible—and to avoid the conclusions to which it will lead us on this point. If words mean anything, there is such a place as Hell.
      Settle it firmly in your mind, that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has spoken most plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus contains things which should make men tremble. But it does not stand alone. No lips have used so many words to express the awfulness of Hell, as the lips of Him who spoke as never man spoke, and who said, “The word which you hear is not Mine — but the Father’s who sent Me,” John 14:24. Hell, Hell fire, the damnation of Hell, eternal damnation, the resurrection of damnation, everlasting fire, the place of torment, destruction, outer darkness, the worm that never dies, the fire that is not quenched, the place of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, everlasting punishment—these, these are the words which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself employs. Away with the miserable nonsense which people talk in this day, who tell us that the ministers of the gospel should never speak of Hell! They only show their own ignorance, or their own dishonesty, when they talk in such a manner. No man can honestly read the four Gospels, and fail to see that he who would follow the example of Christ must speak of Hell.

CHARLES HODGE (1797-1878): A man who realizes in any measure the awful force of the words “eternal Hell” won’t shout about it, but will speak with all tenderness.

J. C. RYLE: God knows that I never speak of Hell without pain and sorrow.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our aim is not preach nicely arranged essays; we have to do with man’s conscience, with heaven—and hell, with God and salvation.

J. C. RYLE: Truly, I fear we are many of us guilty in this matter; there is a morbid tenderness among us which is not the tenderness of Christ. We have spoken of mercy—but not of judgment; we have preached many sermons about Heaven—but few about Hell; we have been carried away by the wretched fear of being thought “low, vulgar and fanatical.” We have forgotten that He who judges us is the Lord, and that the man who teaches the same doctrine that Christ taught, cannot be wrong.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is not unbecoming a minister of the gospel to preach of hell and damnation; nay, he must do it, for Christ Himself did it; and we are unfaithful to our trust, if we give not warning of the wrath to come.

J. C. RYLE: I know that it is easy to deny all plain teaching about Hell, and to make it odious by invidious names. I have often heard of “narrow-minded views,” and “old-fashioned notions,” and “fire-and-brimstone theology,” and the like. I have often been told that “broad” views are needed in the present day. I wish to be as broad as the Bible—neither less nor more. I say that he is the narrow-minded theologian who pares down such parts of the Bible as the natural heart dislikes, and rejects any portion of the counsel of God…If you would ever be a healthy Scriptural Christian, I entreat you to give Hell a place in your theology. Establish it in your mind as a fixed principle, that God is a God of justice— as well as of mercy; and that the same everlasting counsels which laid the foundation of the bliss of Heaven—have also laid the foundation of the misery of Hell.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth as a perversion of it. That is why half a lie is always more dangerous than a complete repudiation. Hence when the Father of lies enters the pulpit it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental truths of Christianity, rather does he tacitly acknowledge them, and then proceed to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application. For example…he declares that God is far too merciful to ever send any member of the human race to Hell, when God Himself has said, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire,” Revelation 20:15.

J. C. RYLE: If you would ever be a healthy and Scriptural Christian, I entreat you to beware of any ministry which does not plainly teach the reality and eternity of Hell. Such a ministry may be soothing and pleasant—but it is far more likely to lull you to sleep—than to lead you to Christ or build you up in the faith. It is impossible to leave out any portion of God’s truth, without spoiling the whole. That preaching is sadly defective, which dwells exclusively on the mercies of God and the joys of Heaven—and never sets forth the terrors of the Lord and the miseries of Hell. It may be popular—but it is not Scriptural; it may amuse and gratify—but it will not save. Give me the preaching which keeps back nothing that God has revealed. You may call it stern and harsh; you may tell us that to frighten people is not the way to do them good. But you are forgetting that the grand object of the gospel is to persuade men to “flee from the wrath to come,” and that it is vain to expect men to flee, unless they are afraid. Well would it be for many professing Christians, if they were more afraid about their souls than they now are!

JOHN MASON (1600-1672): The reason why so many fall into Hell is because so few think of it.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Did they but consider what God intends to do with those that live and die in a natural state, it would either sink them into despair, or make them fly for refuge to the hope that is set before them.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Preaching heaven and mercy to thee, is entreating thee to seek them, and not reject them; and preaching Hell is but to persuade thee to avoid it.

JAMES JANEWAY (1636-1674): They that die in sin must be buried in Hell.

J. C. RYLE: I know that all this sounds dreadful in many ears. I do not wonder. But the only question we have to settle is this: “Is Hell Scriptural?” Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is…
      The beginning of the way to heaven is to feel that we are on the way to Hell.


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