Luke 16: 22 -26
Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.”And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’ And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the sixth session in the sermon series “Hell”. I stopped this series on Hell for a while to speak to you about keeping the Sabbath holy and giving the whole tithes and offerings.
The Sabbath and the tithe are basics of a Christian life. They are a must for salvation, and therefore, it can never be over-emphasized.
Even though I cannot speak to you about them every year, I hope those messages will not become faint in your heart.
I urge you to keep them in your heart and keep them completely.
Then, you can become true Christians who have nothing to do with Hell.
I also ask the new believers to pray to gain the faith to keep these two commandments completely.
Let’s get back to the messages on Hell again. We will begin with the Lower Grave today. In the reading passage Luke 16:24, the rich man asks the following of Abraham:
“Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”
Right now, the rich man is suffering from the flame of the Lower Grave.
The Lower Grave is the waiting place for those who are not saved, before they enter into the Hell of fire or sulfur.
I will tell you who is receiving what kind of punishment in this Lower Grave.
I hope this message will become life in you, and I pray in the name of the Lord that all of you will dwell in the bright light.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, before we begin today’s message, let us briefly review the previous messages.
Some do not believe in the existence of Heaven and Hell. Others say they will find out when they die. But Heaven and Hell do exist. The Bible testifies to the existence of Hell.
Also, the signs and wonders that can be manifested only by God’s power prove that all the words in the Bible are true.
But when we talk about Heaven and Hell, some people wonder why the God of love made such a terrifying place as Hell.
When a farmer harvests, he doesn’t gather just good grains. Despite all his toil and sweat, he will get some chaff.
It’s the same when God plants men on earth and cultivates them.
Some people will become wheat-like and resemble God, however, others will be chaff-like. The chaff-like people cannot enter Heaven, so God was compelled to make Hell.
God is love itself. He doesn’t want a single person to fall into Hell.
That is why He sent His one and only Son for us sinners and solved the problem of sin.
God also sent us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us who are weak to cast away sins and live by the word of God.
God the Father will not let go of anybody if that person has even the slightest possibility of receiving salvation.
For example, the good and righteous God has opened the way of salvation for those who have never heard of the Savior, Jesus.
Also, God has prepared a way of salvation for little children who die at a very young age and are not able to believe in the Lord. It is called the Judgment of Conscience.
Also, when they repented, God saved even such people as Cain, who killed his own brother Abel, and Adam and Eve who caused all mankind to fall into death.
Nevertheless, many people do not try to understand this love of God, but easily misunderstand Him.
How pitiful this is!
At this moment, I hope you can feel the love of the Triune God trying harder than we are to save us.
Brothers and sisters, to understand Heaven and Hell, we first have to understand the concept of the space called ‘the Grave’ or ‘Hades’.
The Grave is divided into the Upper Grave belonging to Heaven and Lower Grave belonging to Hell. The Upper Grave is the waiting place for those who are saved.
In the Old Testament times, more specifically, before the Lord took the cross, those who were saved waited in this Upper Grave.
But since the resurrection of the Lord, those who are saved are waiting in the waiting place of Paradise until the second advent of the Lord in the air.
Those who are saved only stay in the Upper Grave for 3 days now. This 3 days’ time is the time for them to get accustomed to the spiritual realm.
Also, when fetuses that are more than 5 months old die, their souls will go to Upper Grave and dwell there forever.
Since they have never been born on earth and have not gone through human cultivation, they stay in a separate place.
The Lower Grave is the waiting place for those who are not saved.
Since human history began, when people died without receiving salvation they didn’t go immediately to Hell.
They will enter the lake of fire or lake of sulfur after human cultivation is over and their Judgment of the Great White Throne is done.
In Revelation 20, John wrote that the sea and death and Hades gave up the dead and they were judged, and thrown in the lake of fire.
Let us look at the structure of Hell once again.
The uppermost part of Hell is the Lower Grave.
As you go down, we have deeper Hell, namely the lake of fire and lake of sulfur, where people will go after the Great White Throne Judgment.
In the lowermost part is the bottomless pit, or the Abyss, where evil spirits are confined.
Of course, Hell doesn’t look like this in reality.
It’s just an illustration to help you understand its structure.
Through this illustration, you can just understand that in Hell there are different spaces that have different depth and dimension.
Those who died without salvation are now confined in the Lower Grave receiving their punishments.
Some of them died thousands of years ago, and others just a couple of days ago. Some people have been receiving cruel punishments for thousands of years, according to their sins.
Brothers and sisters, we can judge the status of salvation to some extent when we see people on their deathbeds.
In many cases those who are about to die come to see a spiritual realm during their last moments. Those who are saved will see two angels.
These two angels come to them to guide them to the kingdom of heaven.
Those who see these angels waiting for them in bright light will close their eyes peacefully with smiles on their faces. Their corpses will not be hardened for quite some time.
Their shape is well preserved, and they look alive for a couple of days.
On the other hand, two messengers of hell will come to those who are not saved to take them to the Lower Grave.
Those who see the messengers of hell before death will breathe their last in terror.
They die in fear and pain.
That is why their faces are so dark and their bodies are also stiffened. Some die with their eyes open.
In case of those who have weak faith and whose salvation is not certain, both angels and messengers of hell come and struggle against each other.
If the angels try to take the person, the messengers of hell will object saying that person doesn’t have enough faith to receive salvation. In this kind of a case, those with good faith should conduct worship services and sing hymnal songs.
They have to constantly plant faith in that person so he can be saved.
How desperate a person must be at the fork in the road between Heaven and Hell!
I urge you to evangelize your family and neighbors knowing this fact.
Anyway, if that person receives salvation and goes to heaven this way, it is a fortunate case.
But those who are not saved will be taken to the Lower Grave by the two messengers of Hell. Then, they will be thrown into something like a big pit.
I said the spirit of those who are saved will come out of the body and have a time of adaptation for 3 days in the Upper Grave.
Likewise, those who are NOT saved will also stay in the waiting place of the Lower Grave for 3 days.
The big pit is such a waiting place. For those who are not saved also, everything will be new and unfamiliar right after the spirit comes out of the body.
That is why they also need a time to get accustomed to the spiritual realm.
When the souls who are saved stay in the Upper Grave or Paradise, they are filled with only joy and peace.
Their earthly lives that were filled with tears and sorrow have all passed away.
They are filled with happiness and with the hope of the glorious lives they will enjoy. But the Lower Grave is not this kind of a waiting place.
It’s the place to begin the brutal pain that cannot be compared with sorrow and pain of this earth. They cannot have any hope; only pain that will increase.
They will face this reality from the moment they are taken by the messengers of Hell and thrown into this big pit.
From here, many kinds of birds with large sharp beaks will begin to peck the people in the pit.
These birds are different from birds on Earth. They are spiritual beings that have ugly and dreadful looking appearances.
Some may think that the spirit cannot feel any pain.
But because these birds are also spiritual beings, they can harm the spirit. People will feel great pain when they are pecked by these birds.
Whenever they are pecked by the sharp beaks, their flesh and skin are torn and taken away.
There is no place to hide. They just scream and thrash about or just curl up in the pit.
Just imagine countless souls struggling completely out of their senses in the big pit. Those who didn’t believe Hell will tremble with fear thinking, “Hell surely exists, now what do I have to do?”
There is no turning back. There is nobody to help them get away from it.
After spending the 3 days in the big pit, they will go to the places to receive their respective punishments according to the kinds and magnitude of their sins.
The beautiful kingdom of heaven is big, but Hell is also big and deep.
Just the Lower Grave, which is only a part of Hell, has so many places including the waiting place.
Countless souls who are not saved are put everywhere.
The Lower Grave is dark and humid, yet it is burning with the constant flames.
The gloominess and discomfort is enough to give you goose bumps. The people there will never stop screaming because of the torture, the beatings, the piercings and tearing of their flesh.
Even though they have eyes, it cannot be said that they have eyes. Even though they have mouths, we cannot say they have mouths. How can we express all the pains of having the hands and feet but feeling like they don’t have them?
On this earth, once your limbs are cut off, that’s about it. Even though you suffer a great pain, it is over when you die.
Or if you pass out for a moment, you can forget the pain.
But for the spirit, even though their body parts are cut off, they will regenerate again. Even though they bleed so much, it doesn’t have an end.
When the skin is peeled off, bones crushed, and intestines flow out, they recover in but a moment.
Then, the torture will begin all over again. The punishments will be repeated again and again.
Spirit can never be extinguished and they can never die either. Not even a moment’s rest is allowed.
They will continue to hear people screaming in excruciating pain, the screaming that feels like it will tear your eardrum.
Brothers and sisters, just imagine the miserable scene of a war. Some of you senior citizens have experienced war yourselves.
Many others must have seen TV dramas or movies.
In fierce battle, many soldiers are wounded and begin to scream and groan.
Some cry out for limbs that have been torn apart; others no longer have eyes in their sockets; some people’s brains have gushed out; some wander aimlessly having lost their senses due to the loud sound of bomb blasts; the air that is full of smoke of the bombs and smell of blood and death. The screaming and groaning is continuous. This can be called a ‘living hell’.
And Hell cannot even begin to compare with this battle field in cruelty and misery.
They have agony suffering from the punishments and thinking of how to get out of there, but they cannot find the slightest bit of hope.
The only thing they find is the wretched reality of the Lower Grave from which they can never escape.
On top of that, they can see the hell of burning fire and sulfur. They know that they will fall into lake of fire or lake of sulfur.
With this fear of their future, they will have mental pain on top of the physical pain of the torture.
Seeing that Hell, they will regret again and again thinking, “If it’s this painful here, what is it going to be like in that fire? How much more painful can it be! How will I ever be able to bear with it? Why did I come into this place?”
They will have endless sighs and lamentations.
From the next session, I will explain to you about the punishments of the Lower Grave, which are given according to the age and the magnitude of each one’s sins.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, recently, something very sad happened in a European country.
Some atheists, namely those who claim there is no God, put an advertisement on a bus saying, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
This was done in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin, the creator of Darwinian evolution. Now, can we really enjoy life without God?
Have you thought of life without God, the only Almighty God?
You probably cannot even imagine such a life. What kind of joy is there without God?
Of course, we go the narrow way controlling ourselves in many things because we believe in God. But it’s not that we are forced to do it.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us…” We take this path with faith and hope for the glory we will receive later.
Above all, we march on with happiness feeling and experiencing the love of the Father God.
If God weren’t there, Heaven and Hell probably wouldn’t be there either. Then, would we be able to enjoy ourselves? We would not.
A society without law is disorderly and confusing. In the same way, a world without the justice of God and absolute truth cannot ever be comfortable.
Who would seek goodness in this kind of world? Who would sacrifice himself for his neighbors? Most people will try to enjoy themselves to the utmost, seeking their own benefit and their desires only.
This kind of world will be the ‘living hell’ itself. I hope you will only follow goodness according to the word of God so that you won’t have anything to do with Hell.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will realize and experience everyday how great a blessing it is to believe in God!