Jesus Christ and St. Augustine on “The Nature of Hell and Eternal Punishment”

(The bad news is: you are on your way to Hell. The good news is: Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from Hell. #2)

hell-sermons


TEXT: Mark 9:43-48

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: 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:

48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

This is the second message in our series on Hell leading up to Halloween. People today, even many Christians, do not like to talk about Hell. However, I believe that if lost people become convinced about the reality of Hell, they would trust Christ as Savior. And if saved people believed in the reality of Hell, they would tell lost people how to be saved from Hell.

Regarding Mark 9:43-48, Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy Zuck write: “These strong words warn disciples about the danger of letting themselves be led astray. Jesus reinforced the demands of discipleship in hyperboles. If the activity of your hand, an instrument of inward inclinations, causes you to sin, then cut it off. Jesus meant a disciple should take prompt, decisive action against whatever would draw him away from his allegiance to Him. The same is true of the foot and the eye, for temptations come through various means. Whatever tempts a disciple to cling to this world’s life must be removed much as a surgeon amputates a gangrenous limb. It is better to be a disciple and to enter eternal life in God’s future kingdom, and to do so maimed, minus earthly possessions that have been renounced, than to be an unbeliever. An unbeliever retains his allegiance to this world, refuses eternal life with God on His terms, and so will be thrown into hell.

“The Greek word “gehenna” is transliterated from two Hebrew words meaning “Valley of Hinnom,” a place south of Jerusalem where children were once sacrificed to the pagan god Molech. Later, during the reforms of Josiah, the site became Jerusalem’s refuse dump where fires burned continually to consume regular deposits of worm-infested garbage. In Jewish thought, the imagery of fire and worms vividly portrayed the place of future eternal punishment for the wicked. Jesus used the word “gehenna” in 11 of its 12 New Testament occurrences.

“Where the fire never goes out” is probably Mark’s explanation of Gehenna for his Roman readers. The worm (internal torment) and the unquenchable fire (external torment) vividly portray the unending, conscious punishment that awaits all who refuse God’s salvation. The essence of hell is unending torment and eternal exclusion from His presence.”

Today, we are going to consider the topic, “The Nature of Hell and Eternal Punishment” from St. Augustine. Augustine was a Christian theologian and philosopher who lived from 354 to 430 AD. He presided as the Bishop of Hippo in northern Africa (modern-day Algeria) for 34 years. He is well-known for his important works, “The City of God” and “Confessions.”

Regarding “The Nature of Hell and Eternal Punishment,” he said:

What God, by His prophet, has said of the everlasting punishment of the damned shall come to pass without fail — “their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.” In order to impress this upon us most forcibly, the Lord Jesus Himself, when ordering us to cut off our members, meaning thereby those [body parts which] a man loves as the most useful members of his body, says, “It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” Similarly of the foot: “It is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” So, too, of the eye: “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.”

He did not shrink from using the same words three times over in one passage. And who is not terrified by this repetition, and by the threat of that punishment uttered so vehemently by the lips of the Lord Himself?

Now they who would refer both the fire and the worm to the spirit, and not to the body, affirm that the wicked, who are separated from the kingdom of God, shall be burned, as it were, by the anguish of a spirit repenting too late and fruitlessly; and they contend that fire is therefore not inappropriately used to express this burning torment, as when the apostle exclaims “Who is offended, and I burn not?”

The worm, too, they think, is to be similarly understood. For it is written, they say, “As the moth consumes the garment, and the worm the wood, so does grief consume the heart of a man.”

But they who make no doubt that, in that future punishment, both body and soul shall suffer, affirm that the body shall be burned with fire, while the soul shall be, as it were, gnawed by a worm of anguish. Though this view is more reasonable,—for it is absurd to suppose that either body or soul will escape pain in the future punishment,—yet, for my own part, I find it easier to understand both as referring to the body than to suppose that neither does; and I think that Scripture is silent regarding the spiritual pain of the damned, because, though not expressed, it is necessarily understood that in a body thus tormented the soul also is tortured with a fruitless repentance. For we read in the ancient Scriptures, “The vengeance of the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms.”

It might have been more briefly said, “The vengeance of the ungodly.” Why, then, was it said, “The flesh of the ungodly,” unless because both the fire and the worm are to be the punishment of the flesh? Or if the object of the writer in saying, “The vengeance of the flesh,” was to indicate that this shall be the punishment of those who live after the flesh (for this leads to the second death, as the apostle intimated when he said, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die”), let each one make his own choice, either assigning the fire to the body and the worm to the soul,—the one figuratively, the other really,—or assigning both really to the body.

For I have already sufficiently made out that [human bodies can survive] in the fire, in burning without being consumed, in pain without dying, by a miracle of the most omnipotent Creator, to whom no one can deny that this is possible, if he be not ignorant by whom has been made all that is wonderful in all nature. For it is God Himself who has wrought all these miracles, great and small, and who has enclosed these marvels in this world, itself the greatest miracle of all. Let each man, then, choose which he will, whether he thinks that the worm is real and pertains to the body, or that spiritual things are meant by bodily representations, and that it belongs to the soul. But which of these is true will be more readily discovered by the facts themselves, when there shall be in the saints such knowledge as shall not require that their own experience teach them the nature of these punishments, but as shall, by its own fullness and perfection, suffice to instruct them in this matter. For “now we know in part, until that which is perfect is come;” only, this we believe about those future bodies, that they shall be such as shall certainly be pained by the fire.

In closing, Jesus Christ said in Mark 9:43-48:

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: 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:

48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

———-

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you how you can be saved from your sins and Hell and have a home in Heaven when you die.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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