Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Cold Day; A Hot Hell

It's no secret that the past several days have produced some cold weather. Thank you Polar Vortex. As soon as you walked outside, the cold temperatures had an immediate affect on your body. It pierced the skin. It became hard to breathe. And you realized you have hairs inside of your nose. It has been cold.

But there have been some benefits. The kids have loved it because they received a few extra days off of school. It's probably not true of all parents, but we enjoyed the extra couple days with them. The extra few days of cold weather allowed us to learn science. After all, who didn't try throwing boiling water into the air? #Snowmakers!

But there is one thing this Polar Vortex reminded me. As I thought about the cold temperatures outside, I was reminded of the hot temperatures in hell. That's right, a cold day reminded me of a hot future for those that don't know Jesus Christ. Listen to some of these descriptions of hell.

  • Cast into the fire (Matt. 7:19)
  • And shall cast them into a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42)
  • Cast into hell fire (Matt. 18:8-9)
  • Everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41)
  • The fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44)
  • I am tormented in this flame (Luke 16:24)
  • In flaming fire (2 Thess. 1:8)
  • Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 6-7)
  • He shall be tormented with fire (Rev. 14:10)
  • In the lake which burns with fire (Rev. 21:8)

I could keep going. What we used to keep us warm the last few days is what the Lord will use to punish those that reject Him. How do we make sense of that? Some people wander, "Isn't the fire just a literary agent God uses as a metaphor of something else." Certainly it isn't a literal fire. In response to this, I love these words of John Piper:
Consider some of the word pictures of God's wrath in the New Testament. And as you consider them remember the folly of saying, 'But aren't those just symbols? Isn't fire and brimstone just a symbol?' I say beware of that, because it does not serve your purpose. Suppose fire is a symbol. Do people use symbols of horror because the reality is less horrible or more horrible than the symbols? I don't know of anyone who uses symbolic language for horrible realities when literal language would make it sound more horrible. 
People grasp for symbols of horror (or beauty) because the reality they are trying to describe is worse (or better) than they can put into words. If I say, 'My wife is the diamond of my life,' I dont' want you to say, 'Oh, he used a symbol of something valuable; it's only a symbol. So his wife must not be as valuable as a diamond.' No. I used the symbol of the most valuable jewel I could think of because my wife is far more precious than jewels. Honest symbols are not used because they go beyond reality, but because reality goes beyond words.  
So when the Bible speaks of hell-fire, woe to us if we say, 'it's only a symbol.' If it is a symbol at all, it means the reality is worse than fire, not better. The word 'fire' is used not to make the easy sound terrible, but to make the exceedingly terrible sound something like what it really is."
Hell is so much hotter than the earth was cold the past few days. We need this perspective!

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