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FIRE AND BRIMSTONE IN HELL – PART I

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Thursday Evening, September 3, 2009

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:6).


This message is adapted from a sermon by the Puritan Thomas Vincent (1634-1678).

Ileana and I were in Rome a few years ago. We took a side trip to Pompeii. It lies near the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius is a volcano. It literally exploded in 79 A.D. In only three or four minutes the entire town was covered with volcanic cinders. Molten ash fell on the city from the erupting mountain. Thirty-four bodies were discovered in cellars and underground apartments. They tried to escape the fiery ashes. The bodies were encased, sealed in molten ash. Plaster casts of the bodies show them in various positions of flight from the flames. But none of them escaped. Every person in the city was instantly encased in fiery lava. The city was given over to lewdness and idolatry. You can see it in the pornographic paintings on the walls. There were a small number of Jews and Christians in Pompeii. One of the Christians painted these words on his wall, “Sodoma, Gomora” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1946, volume 18, p. 200).

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup”
      (Psalm 11:6).

The horrors of Hell are beyond human description. We cannot rationally explain the torments of the damned. Nothing on earth can show us the future burnings of Hell as well as the great burnings that happen on earth – such as the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, the burning of Pompeii, or the burning of London by Hitler in 1940 – the whole city ablaze, people running from the debris in burning clothes.

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup”
      (Psalm 11:6).

The pre-Christian pagans believed in Hell. They called it Tartarus. The heathen poets of Rome said that all the souls of the dead would be judged by three gods and consigned to their fate. They spoke of the three furies who lashed and beat guilty souls to force them to confess their sins. They spoke of Cerberus, the dog of Hell with three heads, which would let no one out of the flames once they were in. They spoke of several sorts of punishment – iron chains, painful beatings, the gnawing of birds of prey, torture wheels and other horrors. The poet Virgil described this as a place where wickedness is punished, a place where streams of fire, the noise of chains, cruel scourgings, the groans of those being lashed, and the screaming of the damned was heard night and day.

It is true that those pagan poets composed these stories from their own minds. Yet what they wrote strangely reflects the reality of Hell. Through nature they knew

“the invisible things of him from the creation of the world”
      (Romans 1:20).

But the Bible is the full revelation of God. And in the Bible we are told not only that Hell is real, but that the punishments there are far greater than the heathen poets ever imagined. The Bible says,

“The wicked shall be turned into hell” (Psalm 9:17).

“Sheol” means more than the grave. It means also the place where the lost are tormented for their sins. The prophet Isaiah said,

“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14).

In the New Testament Hell is made even more clear. Christ said,

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

Again, Christ said twice that the lost will go “into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:43, 45). By the unquenchable fire we are to understand the fire that shall burn the lost for ever. Again, Christ spoke of Hell when He said,

“Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

Hell is the place of outer darkness, where the damned will scream and gnash their teeth in pain when they are

“cast…into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).

And in Revelation 14:11 we are told

“The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:11).

Again, in the Book of Revelation, we are told that the lost

“shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).

And, again, the Book of Revelation says,

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Is your name “written in the book of life”?

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Is your name “written in the book of life”? An old Gospel song says,

Is my name written there,
   On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
   Is my name written there?
(“Is My Name Written There?” by Mary A. Kidder, 1820-1905).

Sing it thoughtfully.

Is my name written there,
   On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
   Is my name written there?

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup”
      (Psalm 11:6).

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Parents, is it not of the greatest importance to fast and pray and exhort your children to be all-concerned about escaping from the lake of fire?

“Church kids,” who are as yet unconverted, is it not of the greatest urgency that you fast and pray for yourselves to escape from the “fire that never shall be quenched”?

You that are new to our church, should you not “strive to enter in” to Christ, to escape from the “fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest”?

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

The Bible says, “The time is short” (I Corinthians 7:29). These special meetings will be over in only four days! “The time is short.” Will you be as lost four days from now as you are tonight? “The time is short.”

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

(END OF SERMON)
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