The Resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked

The Resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked

A business was opening a new store and a friend of the owner sent flowers to the ribbon cutting ceremony. The flowers arrived on time and at the right location, but when the owner opened the card that was attached to the flowers it read this: “Rest in Peace”. The angry owner phoned the florist right away to complain about this obvious mix-up. The florist tried to calm him and said, “Sir, I am very sorry for out mistake, but I have an even greater concern. Somewhere we sent flowers to a funeral with a card that reads, ‘Congratulations on your new location!’”

We take up the subject of the bodily resurrection of every human being. There will be a time when we will have a “new location”. This is the subject that separates Christianity from the world religions that are disconnected from the Bible. This resurrection of the body occupied center stage in the preaching of the Apostles. It was not a minor doctrinal point and that is why we will take some time with it in this study. It was a very central doctrine in all of the preaching. This subject was the primary source of ridicule and persecution for the early church. We have come to know that through our study of the Book of Acts. In Acts 4:2, when a persecution first arose against the church, says,

2 (The Temple guards and the Sanhedrin) were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.

That is why the Sanhedrin was so troubled – they were preaching “the resurrection of the dead”. The next day they were released after some conversation and after some warning and in Verse 33, we read,

33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…

The Apostles didn’t allow the persecution or the warning not to talk about the resurrection of Jesus and of the believer to hinder them in their boldness of continuing to proclaim this very subject.

Again, before the intellectuals in Acts 17, we see how that is true before the Jewish audience and on through the first eleven chapters of the Book of Acts, but then in Acts 17, Paul is not speaking to a Jewish audience. He is speaking to a pagan audience. He is speaking to the intellectuals gathered at the Areopagus in the city of Athens, the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world. In Acts 17:18, the Apostle Paul has been proclaiming and preaching. A group of Epicureans and stoic philosophers begin to speak with him.

18 …Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

This was something that was totally strange to these pagan philosophers: the resurrection of the body. Then Paul had a chance to give a discourse to this group of Athenians and they listened until Verses 31 and 32 when they wouldn’t listen anymore, when Paul says,

31 For he (God) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered…

They decided that they were not going to listen to Paul anymore, end of sermon, and they walked off.

In this study, in Acts 24, Paul then testifies the reason why he is on trial an in Verse 21 we read these words, which is Paul’s explanation,

21 “unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”

He understood exactly why he was on trail and it was on this very issue and subject of the Doctrine of the Resurrection. When we speak of this Doctrine it is important for us to distinguish between the belief in the immortality of the soul and the belief in the bodily resurrection. These two are related, but they are different doctrines.

The Bible teaches that we believe in something more than in an afterlife. We believe in more than the idea that our spirit lives beyond our physical bodies. If Paul only taught the immortality of the soul to the philosophers gathered on the Areopagus that day, he would have been applauded because Plato and Socrates taught such philosophies: that there was an afterlife and that there is within the common grace that God gives man who have sinned there is something beyond death for all men. They believed in an afterlife and they believed in the immortality of the soul but Paul taught something that was most strange to them and something that seemed ridiculous to them. It was namely that the physical body that is put into the grave, and the body that they knows decays and turns to dust, that body will one day be resurrected in a new, powerful, glorious form, joined with the individual spirit of the person, and forever united to live eternally with God.

This Gospel is good news to the whole of our person, not just a part. The Gospel is not only good news to our soul and to our spirit, but the Gospel is also good news to these often weak and failing bodies of ours. God does not leave any part of us unredeemed and unsaved. When Jesus redeems us, He does not just redeem our soul and our spirit, but this redemption includes our bodies as well. This is a precious hope for us who are transformed by Jesus Christ, so we look forward to the resurrection.

This truth prompted Charles Wesley, the hymn writer, to write these words, in the hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”:

Lives again our glorious King,
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once he all doth save,
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave?

Soar we now where Christ has led,
Following our exalted Head,
Made like him, like him we rise,
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia! Alleluia!

Ours is the “skies” when this body will be one day resurrected and transported, taken into the skies even as Jesus body ascended into Heaven to take His rightful place on His Throne.

In this study we focus on one verse of Paul’s defense that he makes. Remember, he had been charged with heresy, with sedition, and with desecration of the Temple. He is charged with heresy, of leading a “Jewish sect”. Paul, in his defense, makes a confession of his faith. In Verse 14, he confesses four truths that he believes in: “However, I admit and I confess that I worship the God of our fathers; I believe in God the Father, Creator, and Maker of Heaven and earth. I admit that I am a follower of the Way; I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son and my Savior.” He goes on to say, “I believe everything that agrees with the Law that is written in the prophets. I confess that I believe in the Bible, God’s wholly authoritative and inerrant Word.” Then he says in Verse 15,

15 “…and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

Paul is saying that he believes in the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Paul teaches us that both the righteous and the wicked have their bodies resurrected in the End Times. In this study we will consider the resurrection of the righteous and then we will take up the resurrection of the wicked, as well.

In the resurrection of the righteous, Paul speaks, first, of this “hope in God” in Verse 15. This hope is in reference to God’s working of bringing about the resurrection of the body for all people. The word “hope” in Scripture is “a certain anticipation of a future event”. Webster’s Dictionary defines hope this way: a desire accompanied by an expectation. That is a great definition. If we have this hope it is that we have a desire for the resurrection. It is not that we just have a belief and not that we have an affirmation, but it is that we have a longing for the resurrection that is accompanied by an expectation, a certainty, that it is going to take place.

The New Testament hope is not the kind of hope a person has when they buy a lottery ticket: “I ‘hope’ I win!” They may have an anticipation, but there is no reasonable reason why a person would have a hope that they would win anything from a lottery ticket. Rather, over the course of their life they will loose and loose and loose. That is why such entertainment is most foolish.

The kind of hope that the New Testament has is not the hope that considers that there may be a “chance” that something good may happen: slim though it may be that something good will happen. No, the Christian hope is more like the man who watches his favorite team, on a tape-delay, play in the championship game. He has already heard the news report that his team has won the game but he has not personally experienced the victory; he has not “seen” it yet, so he watches the tape of the championship game. And, as he watches the game, he watches not with anxiety and fear as his team falls behind in the first half, wondering, “Oh, no, will they be able to come back?” He watches not with the frustration whenever his team takes a bad shot or makes a bad pass, or worse, the referee makes a bad call. He is not in the slightest frustrated by that at all as he watches this game. Why is that? Why is his experience so different as one who doesn’t know the end? The answer is because he knows the end and that makes all the difference, and so it is with the hope of the Christian. Knowing how the game ends, knowing how we end up makes all the difference in how we live out our lives in this world. It makes a difference in our anxieties, in our fears, and in our frustrations. It makes all the difference in our joy, our gladness, our satisfaction, and our contentment in the Lord.

We want to first consider the reality of this bodily resurrection. Someone may ask, “Is it really true that the righteous will bodily rise from the dead?” There are two lines of evidence: Old Testament evidence and New Testament evidence.

Let us first consider the Old Testament evidence for the bodily resurrection of the righteous. This doctrine concerning the resurrection of the body is not new to the Apostles. No, it is something that they believed in prior to the Advent of Jesus because the Old Testament bound up this truth. Abraham, for instance, believed in the bodily resurrection. Hebrews 11:10, tells us:

10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews also tells us, in Verse 19, that when Abraham ready himself to sacrificed Isaac,

19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead…

He believed in the resurrection.

Job also believed in the bodily resurrection. In Job 19:25-26, Job would say, in the midst of his trials:

25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God…

Did Job believe in the resurrection? Absolutely! He said, “I, myself, will see Him with my own eyes.” A spirit and a soul do not have eyes and yet Job says that he will God with his own eyes.

Turn to Daniel 12:2-3, which is a key passage in the Old Testament regarding the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Daniel believed in this bodily resurrection and he is speaking of the End Times and he says,

2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Who are those who “sleep in the dust of the earth”? They are people who have been born over the ages and they are sleeping in the dust of the earth which is a reference to their bodies which are now in the graves, so “those who sleep”, their bodies are resting in the graves and the dust of the earth. What will happen to these bodies? Daniel says that these multitudes will awake “some to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” What a great description that is. Do you believe that is true of you? Is that your longing? Is that your desire with an eager expectation and a certain hope that one day you will rise like the stars shining forever and ever and ever, and shining with the brightness of Heaven itself? Think of the glorious nature of these new bodies.

Isaiah also believed in the resurrection. In Isaiah 26:19, Isaiah would say,

19 But your dead will live; their bodies will rise.

And, in the Old Testament we have these two remarkable individuals who did not die, whose bodies never went into the grave, but rather they were translated up immediately into Heaven. In Genesis 5:24 we read,

24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

Elijah was transported by this “chariot of fire” straightly and directly up into Heaven in the sight of Elisha, in 2 Kings 2:11-12,

11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more…”

Would we imagine that Enoch and Elijah would be the only ones for all of eternity who would have a physical body in Heaven? No, this is a pledge of the description that the Scriptures have for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.

Consider not only the Old Testament, but also the New Testament evidence for the bodily resurrection of the righteous. This is such a major theme in the New Testament that I can only reference several passages for you, but that is what we will do. The first is in reference to what Jesus taught. Jesus teaches that this resurrection will be our reality. In John 5:28-29, Jesus says,

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

Furthermore, the Apostles, in almost every epistle, teach us that we should live in “eager anticipation of the resurrection”. In Philippians 3:20, we read,

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

The ultimate piece of evidence, however, from the New Testament for the bodily resurrection of the believer is, of course, Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the grave: “All who are joined with Him must also rise from the dead”. This is Paul’s argument: those who are joined by faith with Jesus Christ necessarily must not be able to decay forever and ever in their bodies, apart from resurrection, for we have been joined with Him and Jesus Christ is not joined to corruption, but rather He makes that which is corruptible, He makes it incorruptible, as we are joined with Him and to Him.

The classic chapter is 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, in which Paul will say,

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

These verses also tell us when this resurrection will take place, in Verse 23, when He returns and we believe that is a time prior to the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus Christ returns in the clouds and raptures His church in the clouds. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes this precious hope and comfort for those who have fallen asleep and they will be caught up and brought up together to meet Christ in the air:

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

We have gathered up this evidence of biblical revelation with regards to the Doctrine of the Resurrection. Now comes the question: “So what? What difference does it make in our lives?”

I would like to make four personal applications of the truth of the bodily resurrection.

The first truth is this: make certain that you are a part of this resurrection of the just. Not everyone born into this world is a part of the resurrection of the just. In fact, the Bible teaches that only a minority are a part of the resurrection of the just. Do not be like Felix, in Acts 24:24-25, who had spent some time with Paul and learning from Paul the truth about Jesus and the truth about the resurrection. It tells us,

24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid…

Who better to evangelize than the Apostle Paul? Who better to explain the Truth of the Gospel? Oh, how precious it would have been to hear those words, “Felix believed!” But, we never hear the words or the report that Felix believed. Despite having the best evangelist filled with the Holy Spirit explaining time and time again the truth regarding Jesus Christ, Felix only was “afraid”. He recognized the truth of the Gospel and he was afraid of the truth of the Gospel, but he refused to submit himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Felix, rather than being left with salvation and hope, was left only with fear. I urge you, do not be like Felix!

You may say, “Pastor, you talk about the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked; the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. Tell me who, exactly, are the ‘righteous’ and who are the ‘wicked’?” The Bible has a very clear answer to that question. The Bible tells us that everyone, every man, woman, and child, was born into a state of wickedness and that you and I were born into a rebellious and sinful state opposing God from the very beginning of our lives. The Bible teaches us that as a result of our rebellion against God we can never labor or work our way out toward a position and a state of righteousness. The Bible teaches us very clearly, in Romans 3:10,

“There is no one righteous, not even one…”

There are no exceptions to this: there are none who are righteous. You may say, “Pastor, if that is true then isn’t is also true that there will be no one who will experience the resurrection of the righteous if there are none who are righteous?” Here is the good Good News of the Gospel: God makes a way for a wicked man and a wicked woman to become righteous, not through any deed that they have done in their own flesh, but through the deeds that Jesus Christ has done on our behalf.

At the beginning of Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul says,

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the (Greek). 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed…that is (from) faith…to (faith)…

Beloved, if you and I are to be righteous it is because that we have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our own Savior and have received from Jesus a righteousness that doesn’t come from our own heart up to God, but a righteousness that comes down from God to us as a precious gift. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, God explains this in regards to Jesus:

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We, in our wickedness and sin, deserve the just penalty of our sin and condemnation by a Holy God, but the One who had no sin whatsoever, the One who became man yet was fully God became sin and He took our sin upon Himself so that you and I might be able to become the righteousness of God in Him.

Who are those who are righteous? Namely, they are those who have called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and have called upon Him to provide that which we could never have provided for ourselves, and He provided for us a righteousness that we need to be fit for Heaven and to be fit for a right relationship with God. It is apart from this kind of righteousness, a perfect righteousness, that no one can ever see God and no one could ever come into His presence. But, here is the Good News, God has given us what we need: righteousness through Jesus Christ.

Today, my friend, if you are considering these two resurrections, the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked, and you consider which resurrection you will be a part of, please understand, and I encourage you to make it certain, even today, by calling out upon God and pleading for His mercy, “God, have mercy upon my soul! I need a righteousness that is only found in Jesus Christ and I need Jesus Christ to fill me.” It is then that God will be gracious to your soul.

The second application is that we have hope. Of all people, we have hope even in the midst of dark, dark trials. When in the pain of sickness or even death we know how our story ends. Our story ends with triumph, with glory, with brilliance, and with bodily perfection. This poor body of ours wears out. Amen? As it wears out it becomes more and more painful to live within this body. There are some who got up this morning and the first thought they had was, “I hurt really, really bad!”

There are some people who are in bodies that hurt and they have no hope that in this life and in this present existence that they will have one single more day apart from that pain. They realize that their body is in such a state that as long as they live in this temporal world they will experience pain everyday.

You may ask, “Where is the hope in that?” The hope is found in the resurrection that the fingers and joints that ache with arthritis and the knee that aches from a past surgery and can no longer stand under the strain that certain athletic events give it and the back and the nerves those things all become knit together at the resurrection so that this poor body of ours that falls ill to aches and pain and then dies, every muscle will be made new and strengthened and even beyond the former glory of youth will have a greater power. Our eyes will brighten for all of eternity to see clearly and brilliantly even the glory of God. Our voice will sing like the angels, no longer shaking in weakness. Our ears will hear every whispered word from the mouth of our loving Savior. Our legs will leap for joy and our hands will be raised powerfully in praise.

All of our sufferings will be well paid that day as we have been faithful to our God.

Christians have every reason to live positive, hope-filled lives. We have no reason what-so-ever to live grumpy, grouchy, crotchety existences.

Have you ever met a person in whom the whole world is against them? This past week Alexander, my son, and I took a trek to Arizona to spend some with Kimberly’s parents and to spend some time on the golf course. Prior to boarding the plane we met this middle-aged man and nothing in this man’s life was right. He was eating a meal prior to getting on the plane and he was eating an egg roll. He said, “This doesn’t taste like chicken. It is supposed to be a chicken egg roll. I don’t know what is in it!” I looked at him and I said, “I don’t know what is in it, either.” That didn’t seem to encourage him. He went on to say, “Do you know what happened when I got this food? I was first in line and there were two people behind me. I ordered and then they ordered. They got their food first! I asked the lady why that happened and I wanted to see the manager. Then I got really mad when the lady told me that the manager wasn’t there. I am going to call them tomorrow morning and really give them a piece of my mind.” I asked him if he had family or if he had kids out here. He said, “I wouldn’t dream of having kids. You care for them for fifteen years of their life and at age fifteen they turn around and call you ‘an idiot’. I don’t ever want to have kids.” I said, “By the grace of God, not all of them turn out that way. Some teenagers,” as I pointed to Alexander who was sitting and smiling through the whole conversation. He said, “Oh, by the grace of God. I have the grace of God. I am a spiritual man. I don’t go to church. Church, all they ask for is your money. What does Jesus need money for?” After that he went on a different rant when he said, “You know, I don’t understand why rich people don’t give more. Look at Bill Gates, he is going to make all of this money and what is he going to do with it? He will give it to his kids. If I were rich, I would buy golf courses and give them to the poor.” I don’t know about that but that seemed to make sense to him.

This conversation only lasted about fifteen minutes and I have only told you a part of it. It was one rant after another. Finally, we get on the plane and we are right behind him and he sets his bag down and says, “I am going to stretch out and sleep.” He puts his bag down in the center seat of a three-seat section. Mysteriously, he walks back toward the back of the plane. Someone comes and sits down at the window seat in the section that he had “reserved” with his one bag. When he comes up, he says, “What is this? Didn’t you see my bag there?” He grabs his bag and yanks it on towards the back of the plane and I am still hearing say, as the engines start up, “If anybody else messes with me today…!”

Nothing in this man’s world was right. Sadly, as I thought about that man I started talking to Alexander, “Do you understand why it is so important to hold onto your hope? If you don’t hold onto your hope you are going to end up being like that man.” I am sure that this man was not a Christian and not a believer, but how sad it is when Christians begin to enter into that kind of existence. I can understand how a person without the hope of the resurrection is like that: life is bad, life is hard, life ends in death, and that is it. But, for the life of me I cannot understand how a Christian who has the hope of the resurrection would go through their life with a grumpy, grouchy, crotchety demeanor. We of all people should be a people with hope-filled joy.

I don’t make light of our trials. I know that our trials are severe and they are painful, but even in the darkness of trials as we watch the game of our life on this tape-delay, when calls go bad and we get way behind on the score, or when our star player gets injured, we can watch that with joy in our hearts because we know how the game ends up.

It is important for us to hold on to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

The third application is to think often of Heaven. Heaven should occupy our daily thoughts. This is where we will experience 99.9999999% of our lives. Someone once said, “Don’t be so Heavenly minded. You are of no earthly good.” I tell you, it is not possible to be so Heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good. The more you think about Heaven, the more you will want to prepare for it here. Any thoughts of Heaven that make you less useful here are not true thoughts of Heaven and the resurrection.

C.S. Lewis said it right: “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” How often, in your daily thoughts, do you think of that other world and of the resurrection?

The last application is that we should labor diligently for Jesus in this life. This is the application that Paul gives at the end of 1 Corinthians 15:58,

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that (your labor) in the Lord is not in vain.

The resurrection makes that so. There is no fruitful, frustrated work for the Master. The resurrection absolutely guarantees that every bit of work is not in vain. Our opportunities are too short in this life to yield even one.

We want to look at the resurrection of the body for the wicked. Just as surely as there is a Heaven for the resurrected body of the righteous, there is a Hell for the resurrected body of the wicked. The wicked do not die and disappear, never to return in soul or in body. No, they too are made in God’s image and those who are without Jesus Christ will one day rise from the dead in bodily form.

Two lines of evidence are in the Old Testament and the New Testament. How do we know that there is a resurrection of the body for the wicked? In Daniel 12:2, which we read earlier, says,

…some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

There is also Isaiah 66:22-24, a key verse in this regard, which says,

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

Let’s turn to the New Testament evidence and the primary evidence we have is Jesus in regards to this Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Wicked, or the Unjust, and to Hell itself. In Matthew 5:29-30, we read these words, as Jesus is speaking,

29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Jesus, in Matthew 25:30 and 46, talks about Hell being a place where the “worm doesn’t die” and “where there is fire and torment.”

Friend, when the Bible speaks of a resurrection unto judgment that is accompanied by fire, many today say that it is “a symbolic fire”. I don’t believe that this is the case. There is a physical body that the wicked have, with physical sensations, and the Scriptures don’t talk about the “fire” in metaphorical senses, but in a genuine sense. A metaphorical threat is not a real threat. If you came up to me and said, “Ritch, I am going metaphorically punch you in the nose!” “Please don’t do that!” There is no threat there, but it is when there is a real threat, “I am going to punch you in the nose…”, and this is what the Scripture provides for us: the very real threat that the Scripture gives to us.

Charles Spurgeon says this: “There is real fire in Hell. As truly as you now have a real body, a fire like that which we have on earth and everything except this – it will not consume, but it will torture you. You have seen the asbestos lying in the fire, red hot, but when you take it out it is unconsumed. So you body will be prepared by God in such a way that it will burn forever without being consumed. It will lie not, as you consider, in a metaphorical fire, but in actual flame. Did our Savior mean fictions when He said He would cast body and soul into Hell? What should there be a Pit for if there were no bodies? Why fire? Why chains if there were no bodies? Can fire touch the soul? Can pits shut in spirits? Can chains fetter souls? No, pits and fire and chains are for bodies and bodies shall be there.”

Please know this truth: no everyone who dies goes to Heaven. This is a grave truth and a sober truth. If you go to very many funerals, you would think that is not true because somehow everyone who is being talked about at a funeral makes it into Heaven, but the fact of the matter is that is simply not true. Not everyone who dies goes to Heaven.

Here are two applications. Plead to God for your own salvation through Jesus Christ. There is no need for you to miss Heaven and no need for you to experience the torment of Hell. There is no one in Hell who is going to be able to say, “God put me here!” No, whoever is in Hell placed themselves in that very place.

The second application that I would make to you is proclaim to Gospel to others. Hell is very real. It is too real to be silent about, to be silent about the offer of salvation, about Jesus, about His cross, and about the hope of the resurrection. Indeed, many people will not want us to tell them about salvation because they don’t believe that they need it, but the Gospel is powerful enough to change a heart that does not want to hear it. You have to believe that. I have to believe that the Gospel is powerful enough to change a heart that doesn’t want to hear it. Even if the person says, “I don’t want to hear it,” I am going to try and tell it to them anyway because I believe, not that I am going to convince them or persuade them, that the Gospel is powerful enough to change their heart in such a way for them to come to humble themselves before God Himself.

Archbishop J.D. Ryle, about one hundred years ago, wrote these words, “A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us that God is too merciful to punish souls forever; that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly, will soon or later be saved. We are to embrace what is called a ‘kinder theology’ and treat Hell as a pagan fable. This question lies at the very foundation of the whole Gospel. The moral attributes of God, His justice, His holiness, His purity, are all involved in it. The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of Hell. If words mean anything there is such a place as Hell. If texts are to be interpreted fairly there will be those who will be cast into it. The same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Jesus Christ to die for sinners does also teach that God hates sin and must, from His very nature, punish all who cleave to sin and refuse the salvation that He has provided. God knows that I will never speak of Hell without pain and without sorrow. I would gladly offer the salvation of the Gospel to the very chief of sinners. I would willingly say to the vilest and most profligate of mankind, on his deathbed, ‘Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ But, God forbid that I should ever keep back from mortal man that Scripture reveals a Hell as well as a Heaven; that man may be lost as well as be saved.”

And God forbid that any of us hold that back in our witness and in our testimony before our friends and our families. Let us proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for in the Gospel there is hope, real hope.