Hell, Fire & Brimstone
HELL, FIRE & BRIMSTONE
We used to say preachers preached hell, fire and brimstone sermons back when I was young, and they did. What has happened to such preaching? Hell hasn't changed, fire hasn't changed, and while 90 out of 100 people probably don't even know what brimstone is anymore, it's the same too. And we know God hasn't changed, He tells us that very clearly.
When the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their unrepentant evil, he rained down burning sulfur or brimstone. Scripture talks about wasteland, burning of salt and sulfur. Sulfur is talked about in several places in the Bible, along side of fire, smoke, unpleasantness and destruction. In Revelation, we read, "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Then about people, we read, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev 20:10, 21:8)
It seems to me anyway, that sermons warning about being thrown into Hell are becoming scarce. Certainly, we want people to understand and respond to God's grace and love through obedience, but in comparison to 50 years ago, we don't tell them much about what happens if they don't, and somehow because we have gone almost silent on Hell, there are more and more people who don't even consider it to be a reality anymore. But scripture still teaches it's one or the other, It's God and His way and His will, or it's Hell. I'm sorry if that offends or hurts, but it's true all the same. God hasn't changed, and has made it perfectly clear in His Word that he never has and never will, and because He's is indeed just, He will indeed punish those who reject Him.
So Paul warns the church in Thessalonica (as he talks about God's righteous judgment) that perseverance and obedient faith will cause us to be counted worthy on the day of judgment, but if we have placed ourselves on the other side of the equation, then God will punish us. He says these things will happen ..."when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might"... (2 Thes 1:7-9)
In yet another Bible passage, we get a description of what is going on today in our world. It's nothing new, but it's growing. Peter says, ..."you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires..." (2 Peter 3:3) As he describes these people who will question the 2nd coming of Jesus and the existence and Word of God, he says they deliberately forget that God created the world, but he says, "the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly." (2 Peter 3:7)
Peter reminds that God's promise is real, that it's on His timeline and not ours, and that God is patient, wanting people to repent and obey. He also reminds us that Jesus will come unexpectedly, and when He does, "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare." (2 Peter 3:10)
So there you have it, the elements of a hell, fire and brimstone sermon. It will happen, it is going to be a reality, it is real, and it hasn't been watered down by God, only by mankind. I know it's real because God says so, very clearly through Peter, "Since everything WILL BE destroyed in this way...". Peter asked his audience this question, and all of us need to consider it today, "Since everything WILL BE destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?..." Peter not only asked the question, he gave us the answer, "You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming".
Even after prompting his audience to consider their position with God, after describing some of the things that will happen at the end of time, Peter reminded them one more time what that day will be like, "That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat." (2 Peter 3:12b)
Toward the end of his thoughts, Peter tells us to "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him". Why Peter? Because hell, fire and brimstone are going to be a real thing one day, whether or not we talk about them, and whether or not we determine to believe in them!