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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, January 7, 2007

“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47-48).

I am preaching a sermon to you this morning adapted from John Wesley's message, “Of Hell.” George Whitefield and John Wesley were the two greatest preachers of the eighteenth century. These two men were used by God to set the world on fire by their preaching. So great was the revival that broke out during their ministry that we now call it the “First Great Awakening.” I cannot go into detail concerning the events that came to pass during this remarkable time in history. It is enough to say that Whitefield and Wesley turned the world upside down. Whitefield was a Calvinist. Wesley was an Arminian. Yet both men preached the need for conversion, and thousands were saved under their ministries. When Whitefield died it was discovered that he wished for Mr. Wesley to preach his funeral sermon, which he did, giving strong praise for the evangelist. Mr. Wesley was the founder of the old-time Methodist Church.

Here is Wesley’s sermon, “Of [Concerning] Hell.” I am giving you his basic outline, and filling in the points in modern English, to make it more understandable to you this morning. Many of the words and sentences remain unchanged, or with only slight alterations.

Wesley gives us the old way of preaching in our Protestant and Baptist churches. How many pastors today could give such a sermon? Few of them would dare to do so in this “dark age” of decisionism. They would be afraid of the middle-aged women who control the content and delivery of the preaching in most churches in the English-speaking world. No wonder there is no true revival! No wonder 88% of evangelical young people leave the church, never to return, in their early twenties, according to George Barna! No wonder most men hate going to church! Middle-aged women should not control the content and delivery of sermons. That is the assessment of two best-selling authors. Their books are The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, by Leon J. Podles, Spence Publishing Company, 1999; and Why Men Hate Going to Church, by David Murrow, Nelson Books, 2004. Click the titles, which are hyperlinked to the advertisements at I believe that we need more sermons like this one by Wesley.

Here is “Of Hell” by the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, M.A., Oxford University, “Of Hell,” Sermon LXXIII, Wesley’s Works, Sermons, volume II, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979, pp. 381-391).

Jesus described Hell as a place of awful torment. He said that Hell is the place where unconverted men spend an endless eternity, without hope. Hell is the place

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

You should not think that these facts about Hell were only meant to be preached to great sinners. Christ was speaking to those who were undoubtedly the holiest men on earth at that time. Earlier in Mark, chapter nine, verse thirty-five, we read,

“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them…” (Mark 9:35).

The words that Jesus spoke in our text were directed to the Disciples. To them He said that Hell is the place

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

Since Christ gave these words to the Apostles, it is right to speak of Hell to Christ’s friends today. The subject of Hell is not just for those who are great sinners. Hell is a terrible place, and all of us should think about it very seriously.

The Bible tells us that Hell was prepared “for the devil and his angels.” Those who go to Hell will discover two things: (1) what they have lost, and (2) what they will feel. I will speak of these two things and then bring out a few additional thoughts and inferences.

I. First, think of what you will lose in Hell.

The things you will lose when you go to Hell begin the very moment that you die. In that instant, you will lose all the pleasures and enjoyments you had while you were living. The smell, the taste, the touch, bring no more pleasure. Your body will be dead, and the things that pleased your body will be gone. In the flames of Hell all earthly pleasures are forgotten, or remembered in pain, since they will be gone from you. All pleasures of the mind and body will be gone forever. There is no beauty in that dark place. There will be no light but that of the burning flames. There will be nothing new, only one scene after the other of horror upon horror! There will be no music, only the sounds of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth; only the sounds of damned souls cursing and blaspheming against God, and screaming at each other, endlessly. And there will be nothing there to make you feel better. Those who go to Hell will be the heirs of shame and everlasting contempt.

Thus, those who enter Hell will be separated from everything they loved while they lived on earth. In that same moment another loss will begin – those who enter Hell will lose forever all the people whom they loved on earth. They will be torn away from their most loved relatives. Their wives, husbands, parents, children, and closest friends will be taken away from them forever – for there is no friendship in Hell. You will not have any friends or relatives near you to comfort you. You will have lost them for all eternity.

There is another loss in Hell. It is the loss of Heaven. You will forever lose all hope of going to Heaven. You will never see Jesus, those who are saved, or the angels. You will be cut off from Heaven for all time and for all eternity. The Bible tells of those “who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” Banishment forever from the presence of the Lord is the very essence of destruction. And that banishment lasts forever. It is “everlasting destruction.”

Such will be the loss experienced by those to whom the awful sentence will be pronounced, “Depart from me, ye cursed!” What a horrible curse, if there were no other! But that is not all. Because added to the things you lose will be the things you feel in Hell. This is expressed to us by Christ’s words, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

II. Second, think of what you will feel in Hell.

The first thing you will feel is the worm that never dies. [Dr. Hymers’ note: I believe this to be an actual worm, although such a worm has never been seen on earth. It is a description of something so horrible that Christ said, “their worm dieth not”].

It also seems to refer to a guilty conscience, including self-condemnation, sorrow, shame, remorse, and an intense awareness of the wrath of God. Who can stand the deep depression of a conscience pierced with a sense of guilt? Many have chosen suicide rather than life when they experienced such depression on earth. And yet the anguish of this present world is small in comparison to the mental pain those in Hell must suffer, when they are fully awakened to feel the wrath of an offended God! Add to these all unholy passions – fear, horror, rage, evil desires; lusts that can never be satisfied. Add all unholy moods of emotion – envy, jealousy, malice, and revenge. All of these will endlessly gnaw at your soul, as the vulture was said to gnaw at the liver of Tityus. To these, if we add hatred toward God, united together may give us a small, imperfect idea of the pain caused by the worm that never dies.

Now notice something else in the text,

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

Christ says, “their worm dieth not” – and then He says, “the fire is not quenched.” This cannot be by chance. What then is the reason for this variation of expression?

It seems to be this: the fire will be the same to everyone in Hell, only more intense to some than others, according to their degree of guilt. But their worm will be different in each case. Each will have a special worm assigned to gnaw on him. Each worm will be varied, according to the various kinds and various degrees of wickedness. This variety will rise partly from the just judgment of God, “rewarding every man according to his works.” We do not doubt that this rule will take place immediately in Hell, and not only at the Last Judgment. Every person in Hell will receive his own bad reward, according to his own works on earth. And this will be his own reward. The wickedness a person has committed on earth will be judged by an infinite variety of ways, according to the various kinds of sin. It was therefore correct for Christ to say, the fire is general; but their worm is particular.

Some people question whether there is real fire in Hell – that is, material fire. I say that it is unquestionably real, material fire. For what is “immaterial fire”? There is no such thing – just as there is no such thing as “immaterial water.” Both are absolute nonsense, a contradiction in terms. We must either say that it is real fire, or deny its existence. What if it is not real fire? What have you gained? Those who say it is not real fire agree that it is something at least as bad, if not worse. So, what have you gained if you say it is not material fire? And consider this – doesn’t Christ speak as if it were real fire? No one can doubt this. Is it possible that the God of truth would make it seem like real fire if it were not so? Does God wish to frighten us with scarecrows? Does God wish to scare us with things that do not exist? O, let no one think so! Do not accuse God of untruthfulness! Do not impute such folly to the Most High!

But others say, “It is not possible that the fire should burn always, for all eternity. By the laws of nature, a fire consumes whatever is thrown into it. And by these same laws, as soon as a fire has burned its fuel, it goes out.”

It is true that in this world, under the present laws of nature, fire consumes whatever is thrown into it – and then goes out. But here is the mistake: the present laws of nature are not immutable, they are not changeless. They are changeless in this present world, but Hell is another world. The present scene is totally changed there, and the present laws are not in effect in that place. In Hell nothing is dissolved, nothing is consumed any more. It is true that fire consumes all things now, but Hell does not exist in this present world, under its present laws. In that other world, these laws no longer operate.

Even here on earth fire does not consume all things. It seems that God has given us some earthly proof of what will be hereafter, in Hell. Is not the linum asbestum [asbestos], the incombustible flax, known in Europe? If you had a towel made of this (there is one now in the British Museum) you may throw it into the hottest fire and it will not burn at all. Therefore, here is a substance [asbestos] which even now, in this present world, can remain in a fire without being burned up.

Many classical writers have spoken of other bodily torments in Hell, added to being cast into the lake of fire. Thomas Kempis speaks of misers who have melted gold poured down their throats. He gives many other particular torments, suited to men’s particular sins. Our great poet, Shakespeare himself, speaks of the inhabitants of Hell undergoing a variety of tortures; not always to continue in the lake of fire, but to be

By harpy-footed, furies haled

into regions of ice; and then back again through

extremes, by change more fierce.

But I do not find even a hint of this anywhere in the Bible! And surely this is too awful a subject for us to play with by use of the imagination. Let us stick to the Bible alone. It is enough torment to dwell with everlasting burnings.

One of the Eastern writers has told the story of a Turkish king who was guilty of great wickedness, but he had once helped a man. Coming across a poor man down in a pit, where he would have died, the king kicked him up, out of this pit, and thus saved this man’s life. The story says that this king was then sent to Hell himself, but the foot with which he saved the man’s life was permitted to lie outside of the flames. But even if this were true, what comfort would it give? What if both feet, or even both hands and both feet, were permitted to lie outside of the flames? How would that help you? Even if your whole body were taken out, and placed where no flame could touch it, and only one hand or one foot were kept in the fire, would you be at ease? Would you feel better? It was once very common for Christian parents to say to their children, “Put your finger into the fire of the candle. Can you stand to hold it there for one minute? How will you be able to stand the fire of Hell?” Surely it would be torment enough to have the flesh burned off from only one finger. What then will it be to have the entire body plunged into a lake of fire burning with brimstone?

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

III. Third, think of several other things connected with
the never-dying worm and the unquenchable fire.

First, think of the people you will be surrounded by in Hell. It is common to hear those in our prisons say, “O I wish I could be hanged somewhere else. I hate being with the wretched people in this prison!” But the worst criminals in our worst prisons are fairly harmless when compared to the inhabitants of Hell! How would you like to be thrown into a large prison cell with murderers, serial killers, sex fiends, cannibals, and sadists? How would you like spending the night in such a cell – with such inhabitants? How would you like to spend a month there? A year? Eternity?

Even the tortures in the Catholic Inquisition were held back by those who were in charge of them, when they saw that the person they were torturing could not stand any more pain. Then they ordered the torturers to stop, because it was against their rules that a person should die while they were being tortured. Also, the person being tortured often fainted, and so for a time felt no more pain. But those who torment you in Hell are more wicked than any Catholic Inquisitor or his torturers. In Hell, the tormentors have no spark of goodness remaining in them. No one holds them back from using their total wickedness to torment those around them. You will be delivered “to the tormentors” according to the Bible. Your demonic tormentors will have plenty of time to vary their methods of torture a thousand different ways. There is no doubt that an evil spirit could frighten to death the strongest man on earth, if God permitted it. Think what the demons will do to you in Hell, where God will give you no protection at all from these evil spirits!

Second, think of all these torments of body, mind, and spirit going on endlessly, without any intermission or interruption. There will be no rest from pain, but “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up day and night,” according to the Bible. Day and night! In every twenty-four hours there is torture in Hell. Whatever ancient or modern poets, either Homer or Milton, dream, there is no sleep in Hell. And no matter how great your suffering, and no matter how intense your pain, there is no possibility of you fainting, no, not even for a moment. You will never sleep or become unconscious – but will be constantly tormented – night and day.

Also, those who live on earth are often diverted from depression by changes in the weather, the light of the sun, the happy sound of children playing outside, or the sound of music. But those who are in Hell have nothing to entertain them or take their minds off of their torments – even for a minute:

Total eclipse: No sun, no moon!

No change of season; no friends to come and cheer you up; no music; no business to work at; nothing but an uninterrupted scene of horror. They are

Trembling alive all o’er,
And smart and agonize at every pore!

And there is no end to this torment. What a thought! You will be consigned to Hell forever. And who can count the drops of rain, or the sands of the sea, or the days of eternity? Every suffering on earth is softened by the thought of deliverance from it. Even the thought of death is a thought of deliverance to those on earth who are in great pain. But in Hell you will never die, so there is no hope even of death. In Hell

Hope never comes, that comes to all

the inhabitants of upper earth. There suffering never ends. What! Sufferings never to end!

NEVER! – Where sinks the soul at that dread sound,
Into a gulf how dark, and how profound!

Suppose millions of days, of years, of ages passed, still you will be only at the beginning of eternity. The pain of your body and soul will not be any nearer an end a million ages from now. When you are cast into “to pur, to asbestos.” How emphatic! “The fire, the unquenchable.” All is concluded:

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

I conclude with one more thought, taken from Dr. Watts (Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748):

Have we not seen many sinners, on our right hand and on our left, cut off in their sins? And what but the tender mercy of God hath spared us week after week, month after month…? How often have we incurred the sentence of condemnation by our repeated rebellion against God! And yet we are still alive in His presence, and are hearing the words of hope and salvation. O let us look back and shudder at the thoughts of that dreadful precipice, on the edge of which we have so long wandered! Let us fly for refuge to [Jesus Christ].

It is time for you to come to Christ and be washed from your sins by His Blood. If you do not come to Christ, and experience a definite conversion, you will soon go

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 25:41-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Almost Persuaded” (by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47-48).

I.   Think of what you will lose in Hell.

II.  Think of what you will feel in Hell.

III. Think of several other things connected with the
never-dying worm and the unquenchable fire.