Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 9:38-11:21 / Revelation 20:1-15 / Psalm 149:1-9
A 2003 Gallop Poll reported that 82% of people polled believed in heaven and 69% believed in hell. Only 1% of those polled believed they would go to hell. That means a lot of people believe they are going to heaven and only a small fraction are going to hell. Interestingly, a 1991 Gallup Poll showed similar results with 4% believing they would go to hell.
Everybody thinks that they are going to heaven…or wants to think they are heaven bound. Jesus said it was the opposite, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” The existence of hell is not debatable and is not erased by a popular poll, scientific reason or human emotion. Man won’t believe in hell until they stand before it.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done… If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:12,13,15)
The New Testament word “Gehenna” was used to describe the “lake of fire”. It is a place of eternal punishment where people are tormented day and night forever. The “Valley of Hinnom”, a place outside the walls of Jerusalem, was described as Gehenna. This was the valley where people worshipped Molech and offered human sacrifices. It was also a garbage dump where refuse burned continuously and was overrun by festering worms. Jesus referred to this place as an illustration to the continual fire, infestation and stench of hell.
The lake of fire will be a place of eternal punishment where people are tormented day and night forever. The sea and earth will give up their dead so man can be judged as body, soul and spirit. Sinful man will stand before the Great White Throne as the books of their deeds and works will be examined. Their works, deeds and goodness will fall short of the standard of God’s holiness.
Because their names are not found in the book of life, sinful man will be thrown into the lake of fire. This is a fulfillment of Christ’s words, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (Jn. 3:36) When man rejects Christ’s plan of salvation, they will stand condemned and judged by an eternal verdict of everlasting and continual torment. It will be too late; there will be a judge but not a jury, a prosecutor but no defense, a sentence but no appeal. Today is the day of salvation as eternity awaits all of us…it’s either heaven or hell. Is your name written in the book of life?