Ministers Go to Hell Too

Ministers Go to Hell Too

To think earnestly of hell for more than five minutes would bring a person to their knees.  Hell is a horrible subject, but one worthy of our attention.  When you think of the population of hell, what faces do you see?  Have you ever considered the reality that many ministers will spend eternity under the wrath of God?  It’s not only possible for a minister to go to hell, but it’s a reality that many ministers will hear the fearful words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

In Matthew 7:15-20, we see a clear warning about the pervasive attack of false teachers.  Jesus said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:19).    According to Revelation 22:18, those who persist in their false teaching will experience plagues of God’s eternal wrath.  Paul passionately guarded the door of the church in Galatia that he scolded the church for allowing those who contradicted the true gospel.  He writes, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).  The word “accursed” used by Paul there is the Greek term “ἀνάθεμα” literally meaning – damned by God (damned to hell).  But, what about those who are earnest in their beliefs, but earnestly wrong?

John Wesley:  When John and Charles Wesley went to Oxford to study, they were serious young men.  They were not living open and immoral lives.  They were so serious, they formed a club known as the “Holy Club” where they would covenant together to live sober lives before the Lord and to give themselves to the study of God’s Word.  The club would grow to include several others and John would eventually become their leader.  These men would be given the derisive title, “Methodist” because of their methods of strictness in God’s Word.

After returning to England after ministering in Georgia, John Wesley wrote of his experience in Georgia, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, who shall convert me?” [1]  He would soon thereafter write, ““I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” [2]  Although often debated, it seems that Wesley was not converted until after his mission in Georgia ended.  He had ministered the gospel, but he was unconverted.

Martin Luther:  On July 2nd 1505, as Martin Luther was making his way home from law school, he was caught in a thunderstorm and with a nearby thundering bolt of lightening, Luther was brought immediately to the ground. He cried out in fear, “Help me, St. Anne; I will become a monk”  He kept his word and entered the monastery.  He was 21 years old when he became an Augustinian Monk.  In 1507 he was ordained to the priesthood.  On October 19th, 1512, Luther received his Doctor’s degree in theology, and Staupitz turned over to him the chair in Biblical Theology at the University of Wittenberg.

Luther was steeped in religion, was capable in theology, and had progressed nicely within the Roman Catholic system, but Martin Luther was not yet a Christian.  He was full of man-centered religion, and was on his way to hell.  When lecturing on the Psalms in 1518, Luther was being confronted with the true gospel.  He writes:

I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was … a single word in Chapter 1 [:17], ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed,’ that had stood in my way. For I hated that word ‘righteousness of God,’ which according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they called it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteous wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and trouble conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which [the] merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. Here a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory …

And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word ‘righteousness of God.’ Thus that place in Paul was for me truth the gate to paradise. [3]

The righteousness of God, as revealed in the text of Romans 1:17, was what opened Luther’s eyes.  For the very first time, he understood that it was an alien righteousness that must be received by faith, one that originated extra nos – outside of him – it was an external righteousness that comes from God.  Although Luther was extremely committed to his religion, he was not born again until years after progressing in his religion.  In short, Luther was an unconverted minister.

How many ministers of the gospel have labored in vain, died in their sin, and found themselves immediately beneath the wrath of God?  That number we may not know, but if Luther, Wesley, and others were fooled for years – what about you?  How do you know that you’re a true Christian?  When you examine yourself, do you find that you’re in the faith or do you find that you’re of the world?  Is your religion a mere check-box salvation or is it genuine, real, and alive?

How wonderful it will be as a minister of the gospel to see the glories of heaven after studying and preaching about it for years.  How terrible it would be for a minister to read about hell, preach about hell, warn about hell, and write about hell—only to die and go there.

A.W. Pink once said:

There will be many in the Lake of Fire who commenced life with good intentions, honest resolutions and exalted ideals – those who were just in their dealings, fair in their transactions and charitable in all their ways; men who prided themselves in their integrity but who sought to justify themselves before God by their own righteousness; men who were moral, merciful and magnanimous, but who never saw themselves as guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinners needing a Saviour. [4]

  1. John Wesley, Journal, January 24, 1738.
  2. Ibid., Journal May 24th, 1738.
  3. John Dillenberger, ed. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, pp. 11-12.
  4. A.W. Pink, Another Gospel.

Is Hell Dead?

That’s the question that Time Magazine is asking in their new cover story.  Why?  Because of the conversation that has been sparked by the Rob Bell firestorm controversy.  The Bible actually has an answer to that question in Matthew 10:28.

“When Hell Freezes”– Is it possible for Hell to freeze over?

The phrase, “When Hell freezes over”, has been used over the years for the purpose of saying, “it will never happen”, in a descriptive way. If the truth were to be known, some people actually would argue that it is possible for Hell to freeze. The people who hold to this radical view of Hell are not unfamiliar with Scripture; in fact, some could actually be teaching in our Seminaries and pastoring well known churches.Three main views concerning Hell exist among serious students of God’s Word. These three views are as follows, Hell is a literal place with literal fire where annihilation is impossible, Hell is a literal place without literal fire therefore no annihilation, and Hell is a literal place with literal fire that consumes its victims to the point of annihilation.As I sat in my Hermeneutics class in the Spring of 2004, the Professor made the following statement, I hold the position that Hell may or may not have flames. This statement troubled me and even caused me to lose sleep. How could a Professor at a conservative Seminary make such a statement? Once I started looking into the subject, I found that many other people hold to similar views of Hell.First, the traditional and historic view of Hell is that Hell is a literal place that burns hot with literal fire. Most conservative Bible believing Christians will take this position. It stems from the fact that Jesus preached more about Hell than He did about Heaven, and He used phrases to describe the place such as, “Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” The traditional position is also viewed through the eyes of Luke 16:19-31 concerning the rich man and Lazarus. The Bible tells a story about a rich man who died and went to Hell. While in Hell, the Bible says, “He lift up his eyes being in torments” and later in the passage it says, “I am tormented in this flame.” One position claims that Luke 16:19-31 is a parable. The parable position is based on the fact that the passage (Luke 16:19-31) is in the midst of other parables in the Book of Luke, therefore; it must be a parable as well.The second position is that Luke 16:19-31 is a literal story. The literal story position is based on language of the passage. It is a fact that no parable in Scripture ever includes a proper name, yet this story includes two proper names, Abraham and Lazarus. Those who claim Luke 16:19-31 is a literal story also point out that many parables start off with the saying, “And he spake this parable…” and this story does not contain the popular introduction. The traditionalist view is also based upon the meaning of the word Hell in Scripture. The term Hell or geenna {gheh’-en-nah} in the Greek has an interesting meaning. “Hell is the place of the future punishment called “Gehenna” or “Gehenna of fire”. This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction (Blue Letter Bible).” The traditionalist claims that since this place was always burning in order to consume the dead bodies of animals and criminals, it was a great illustration for Jesus to use in order to describe the future place of punishment for those who reject Jesus Christ.Secondly, the less common view of “separation only” involves complete separation from God’s mercy, love, and grace without hope of restoration and salvation, but without any literal fire. This view is rooted in the view that all language in the Bible concerning Hell is simply pictorial. The “separation only” view takes the position that all language of fire in Revelation is apocryphal rather than literal. The “separation only” proponents claim that the fire should never be considered as literal because it was only used to describe in human words the most severe condemnation upon those who reject Jesus Christ.Last of all, the “annihilationist” claims that Hell is a literal place that is composed of literal fire. Where the annihilationist and the traditionalist differ is in the length of the judgment upon those who reject Jesus Christ. The traditionalist claims that the literal fire will burn forever (all of eternity), however; it will never annihilate the victims. The annihilationist claims that the literal fire will burn those who reject Jesus Christ for a period of time, but will eventually consume them to the point of complete and total annihilation. Edward W. Fudge in the book, Two Views of Hell, claims that the saved receive an immortal body, but that is never the case with the lost. He claims that the lost will be forever destroyed by the flames of Hell.After reviewing the basic belief systems above on the subject of Hell, what is your position? Do you believe that Hell contains literal fire? Do you believe that Hell is a literal place? Do you believe that Hell is capable of freezing? Post your position and comments on this subject by clicking on the link below.God Bless,Josh BuiceMark 9:44, 46, 48Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.