Back in the late 80’s I was the co-Executive producer and Showrunner of the television series, The Equalizer. It ran for four years on CBS and starred the wonderful actor, my friend, the late Edward Woodward. Since then, the series has aired around the world. While we were in production, as Showrunner I decided to commission an episode about a street gang in New York that was terrorizing a high school.
In the story, Robert McCall, The Equalizer, takes on the task of turning these young men from their dangerous and destructive lives. It would be a kind of “scared straight” episode. A freelance writer was assigned. When the script came in it just didn’t work. So, I took on the task of re-writing it myself. That’s what is called a “page one rewrite.” Basically, you start all over. In the episode, McCall does the traditional “scared straight” things. He takes the gang to see the autopsy of a former gang member. But as I wrote, none of this was enough. In our day, street gangs see death all the time. I struggled with the script and I prayed. Then I remembered a story that I had read years before.
I wrote a scene such as had never appeared on television. It broke every rule of TV writing. The scene was pages long and it was just one man talking – no cut aways, no nothing. It was a scene about a hit man who had been hit himself – shot in the head. It was about his journey into hell and back.
I turned in the script on a Friday afternoon and thought, “Well, this is it. I’ve done a lot of stuff on this series, but I’m never going to get away with this.” It was a long weekend of waiting as I knew that everyone was reading that script. I went in on Monday morning prepared for the war I thought might come. I was utterly shocked to discover that everyone loved the script. Talk about amazed relief. Suddenly, our only problem was finding an actor strong enough to carry such a heavy cameo.
Actor after actor was read in New York. And we couldn’t find anybody. It came to the day before it was supposed to shoot. I made the decision that if it couldn’t be done right I would cut the scene. At the last minute we found our actor. And what a great actor he is. His name is David Strathairn. No one could have done that scene better than he did it. A few years ago you saw him in the feature film, Good Night and Good Luck. In it he played the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow. He did our cameo and the name of The Equalizer episode became Sea of Fire. The true story upon which I based that scene I want to share with you right now. It has haunted me for many years.
Oregon’s Amazing Miracle
The experience happened to a man named Thomas Welch on July 1, 1924. Thomas lost both his parents when he was 11 years old and was raised by an aunt and uncle who were kind to him. But no one could replace his parents. At an early age, he stopped believing in God. As a young adult, he had Christian friends who took him to church. He heard the message of Jesus many times and it never moved him. His heart was hard.
Thomas got a job at a saw mill in Oregon as an engineer’s helper. What happened took place on his first day of work. The mill was sawing giant squares that were flumed down a trough of water to the Colombia River. There was a dam at the mill and a log pond. The trestle over the dam was 55 feet above the water. Thomas went out on the trestle to straighten out some timber that had become jammed causing the conveyor to stop moving.
Suddenly, he fell off the trestle between the timbers. An engineer saw him fall. He landed on his head on the first beam 30 feet down, then tumbled from one beam to another until he landed in the water and disappeared. The pond was ten feet deep. The mill shut down. There were 70 men working that day and all of them joined in a search for his body. It took almost an hour to find him. He was submerged for that entire time. While that search was going on, this is what Thomas Welch was experiencing in his own words:
“I was dead as far as this world is concerned. But I was alive in another world. There was no lost time. I learned more in that hour out of my body than I could ever learn while in this body. All I remember is falling over the edge of the trestle. The next thing I knew I was standing near a shoreline of a great ocean of fire. It appeared to be what the Bible says it is in Revelation 21:8 “The lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” It was the most awesome sight one could ever see this side of the final judgment.
“I remember more clearly than any other thing that has ever happened to me in my lifetime every detail of every moment, what I saw and what happened during that hour I was gone from this world. I was standing some distance from this burning, turbulent, rolling mass of blue fire. As far as my eyes could see it was just the same. A lake of fire and brimstone. There was nobody in it. I was not in it.
“I saw other people whom I had known that had died when I was thirteen years old. One was an uncle of mine who died of consumption. Another was a boy I had gone to school with who had died from cancer of the jaw. He was two years older than I. We recognized each other, even though we did not speak. They too, were looking and seemed to be perplexed and in deep thought, as though they could not believe what they saw. Their expressions were those of bewilderment and confusion. The scene was so awesome that words simply fail. There is no way to describe it except to say we were eyewitnesses now to the final judgment. There is no way to escape, no way out. You don’t even try to look for one. This is the prison out of which no one can escape except by Divine intervention.
“I said to myself in an audible voice, ‘If I had known about this I would have done anything that was required to escape coming to a place like this.’ But I had not known. As these thoughts were racing through my mind, I saw another Man coming by in front of us. I knew immediately who He was. He had a strong, kind, compassionate face, composed and unafraid, Master of all He saw. It was Jesus Himself.
“A great hope took hold of me and I knew the answer to my problem was this great and wonderful Person who was moving by me there in this prison of lost confused judgment-bound souls. I did not do anything to attract His attention. I said to myself, ‘If He would only look my way and see me, He could rescue me from this place because He would know I never understood it was like this. He would know what to do.’ He passed on by and it seemed as though He would not look my way, but just before He passed out of sight He turned His head and looked directly at me. That is all it took. His look was enough.
“In seconds I was back and entering into my body again. It was like coming in through the door of a house. I could hear my Christian friends praying minutes before I could open my eyes or say anything. I could hear and I understood what was going on. Then, suddenly, life came into my body and I opened my eyes and spoke to them. It’s easy to talk about and describe something you have seen. I know there is a Lake of Fire because I have seen it. I know Jesus Christ is alive in eternity. I have seen Him.” (End of statement)
There were many witnesses to the miracle that Thomas Welch experienced. It was written up with sworn statements by several of those witnesses including a statement by a physician who attended him.
After his terrible ordeal, Welch was taken to a hospital and his scalp was sewn back on. His broken body was sore all over and he was in bed for several days. All that time he was talking to Jesus. The Lord told him that he had been spared to tell his story to the world. Thomas decided that he couldn’t do that in a hospital bed, so he got up and left on his own. Wrapped in bandages, he went to a friend’s house and pulled out all the stitches on his head with tweezers. There was no bleeding. His body had been healed. You can find Thomas’s story on the Internet if you search for Oregon’s Amazing Miracle.
The Most Difficult Subject
This is one of the most difficult things I have ever felt compelled to write. Hell has become a joke, a meaningless swear word. But if you do any serious study of it at all you come away horrified with a broken heart. You wouldn’t want your worst enemy to spend a minute there.
Most people, including many who consider themselves Christians, don’t believe in a literal hell. They think that when the Bible talks about hell it’s just being metaphorical, a kind of scare tactic to make people live right. Surveys have shown that the overwhelming majority in the United States who believe in an afterlife are sure they are going to Heaven when they die. Almost no one thinks they are going to hell. Those who do, joke about it as though it were a giant sports bar where all the most fun people hang out forever in an endless party.
Beneath all of this is a deadly serious question, “Why would God, who is supposed to be a God of love, send anyone to hell?” Before we deal with that, we should ask another question. Is hell real at all? Now, either it is or it isn’t and if it is real what we believe about it doesn’t affect its actual existence in the least. When I lived in Illinois I could have said that I don’t believe in earthquakes. If I had thought that, when I moved to California there would have come a rude awakening. The same is true about hell.
What Did Jesus Believe?
People who never read the Bible have the common misconception that Jesus was just a humble teacher of love. They need to do a lot more study. Did He believe in a literal hell? Let’s read some of the things …and He said a lot on this subject:
Matthew 5:21-22: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ (which means worthless one) shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
Matt 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Matt 10:27-28 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Matt 18:6-9: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”
Matt 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Luke 13:22-30: And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from? Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
Finally, one of Jesus’ most unusual parables: Luke 16:19-31 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'”
This is one of the strangest of Jesus’ parables. It is the only parable in which He names a person in the story. The implication is that it may not be simply a story at all. Jesus could be describing something that actually happened. And with that story comes the most solemn warning.
To Write about Hell as Being Real is Dangerous
Many people will consider you a primitive, judgmental fanatic living in a dark, fantasy world. But if you really care about people, that’s a risk that must be taken. I believe that if we could see the reality of hell right now and the great mass of humanity that is suffering there, we could never say the word “hell” again without our eyes filling with tears. Most of all we would be desperately concerned that not one more soul go there. I don’t want you to go there. That’s why I am writing this.
A Frightening Vision
Over the years I have read dozens of eye witness accounts of people who were shown the reality of hell and came back to give a warning. A number of years ago, I spoke to a group about the reality of Heaven and hell. When it was over, a woman told a story.
She was a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as her Messiah. Life had not been easy for her. Her mother was an atheist who did not believe in an afterlife at all. For years, she had mocked and derided her daughter for her faith. Finally, the mother’s life approached its end. But a few days before she died, something happened. She had been in a coma. Suddenly, she awoke. What she told her daughter was stunning.
Though unconscious in this world, she had been completely alive in another one. In fact, more alive and aware than she had ever been. First, she had found herself outside a gigantic city larger and more lovely than anything on earth. It had huge entrances with beautiful gates. From inside the city came sounds of incredible joy, as though the greatest party in the universe was taking place. But she couldn’t go in. The gates were closed.
Then, the scene changed. The city vanished. She found herself standing outside an ominous door darker and more forbidding than anything she could have imagined in a nightmare. From behind that door came wails of agonizing sorrow and raging cries that utterly terrified her. More than anything, she didn’t want to go in there. One thing was certain to her, whatever this was, it wasn’t a dream.
Her daughter explained to her what she had seen from the Bible. The city was the New Jerusalem, the Messiah’s home. She told her that Yeshua, Yahweh’s Only Begotten Son, had paid the price for her sins with His death on the cross. If she believed in Him, the gates to that beautiful city would open for her and she could live there forever. The dying woman placed her faith in Yeshua and a few days later passed from this world.
There are those who would tell us that all such “visions” are just excretions from a dying brain. What they don’t explain is why the brain would create such specific images. In the brain of an atheist, where would they come from and what would be the purpose for them? In my library are many books that deal with “Near-Death Experiences”. Almost all of them focus on the beautiful and positive visions that many report. Very few deal with the kind of reality that I am sharing with you. And a significant percentage of people have such terrifying experiences. What is going on? We’ll deal with that in my next article, Flight Out of Darkness Part II.
Right now, I want you to understand that according to the Bible, hell is not the Lake of Fire that is described in the Book of Revelation and that Thomas Welch saw. God created the Lake of Fire as a terrible and eternal punishment for Satan and his Angels of Darkness. It wasn’t created for people, but there will be many, many people who are cast into it. For all those lost ones, Satan’s Kingdom of Hell, the center of his power, is a waiting place, an awful prison that holds them in his power until the Final Judgment. He wants as many people as possible to go with him into the Lake of Fire which is his future. Why? Because every lost person breaks the heart of God. And that brings him pleasure. Remember the words of John 3:16. “God so loved the world…” That means every one of us. Satan hates whatever God loves.
From many reports it is clear that the Kingdom of Hell is a huge dimension with a vast number of areas where levels of suffering and punishment vary. This is why people have different experiences in this horrifying place. Here is another one:
A Descent Into Death
Howard Storm was a professor of art at Northern Kentucky University. When he was 38 years old he and his wife were leading a group of students on a tour of the art museums in Paris. He had been having some gastric pain, but over-the-counter medications had been taking care of it. Then one morning he was talking to a member of his group, when suddenly, it felt as though he had been shot in the stomach. But no one had shot him. He didn’t know it, but the wall of his stomach had been perforated and acid was flowing into his abdomen.
In agony, he was taken to a hospital. But it was a weekend and the ineptitude of the French medical system kept him from seeing a doctor for hours. Finally, he was in such pain that all he wanted to do was die. He knew that was the only way to get relief. Storm was an atheist. He didn’t believe in God. He didn’t believe in an afterlife. He viewed such things as foolish fantasies. So in the hospital bed he drifted into darkness, a sleep that he thought would lead to annihilation. He recounts what happened in his book, My Descent Into Death. I’m going to relate some excerpts from it. Here is what happened to Howard Storm.
The darkness vanished. He found himself standing up in the hospital room next to his bed. Clearly, this was all wrong. All he wanted was oblivion, anything to be free from the horrible pain he was experiencing. He told himself that this must be a dream. But it didn’t feel like a dream at all. He was totally aware of everything around him in a way that he had never been in his whole life. All of his senses were extremely vivid. He felt the cold floor under his bare feet. Strangest of all, his entire environment seemed alive.
He looked down at the hospital bed. A body was lying under the sheet. He bent over to look at the face. To his horror, it bore a frightening resemblance to him. But how could that be? How was it possible? He was standing over it, looking down at it. And the face was utterly lifeless. Everything that was “him”, his consciousness and physical being, was standing next to the bed.
Then, he heard voices calling from the distance. They were coming from outside the hospital room in the hall. “Howard, Howard…” He heard friendly male and female voices calling in clear English, which was very weird because none of the hospital staff spoke clear English. He was confused. What was going on here? His wife, Beverly, who was sitting in a chair next to the bed, didn’t appear to hear them at all. Storm called out to them, asking who they were and what they wanted. All they said was, “Come out here. Let’s go. Hurry up. We’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”
He told them that he couldn’t leave, he was sick. They responded that they could get him fixed, but he had to come now. Then they asked, “Don’t you want to get better? Don’t you want help?”
Storm was afraid of them. He moved closer to the door. The hall outside the room looked very odd. The terrible thought came to him that if he walked out there he might not be able to get back in again. He tried to speak to his wife, but she didn’t seem to hear him or even be aware of his presence. The voices called out telling him that they couldn’t help him if he didn’t come out to where they were. He knew he needed surgery, so he began to think they were there to take him to an operation.
He left the room.
Once in the hall, he felt very anxious. The light was strange and hazy. The people were off in the distance. It was hard to see them, but he was sure they were adults, both male and female, tall and short, old and young. But they didn’t look right. What they were wearing was gray and their skin was pale. He started walking toward them, but the closer he got the more they withdrew into the fog. He felt like he had to follow, but he never got closer than ten feet.
As he walked, he asked them a lot of question, but he never got any answers. They just kept urging him to hurry up, move faster. Again and again, they repeated that if he followed them his troubles would be over. They walked for a long time. Gradually, the fog got very thick and turned dark. He demanded to know when they would get to where they were leading him. Over and over, he told them that he was sick and couldn’t keep doing this.
The voices changed. They grew angry and sarcastic. In Storm’s words, “The more questioning and suspicious I became the more antagonistic and authoritarian they became. A terrible sense of dread was growing within me. Everything I had experienced before this was a dream compared to the way that I was now experiencing reality. I was frightened, exhausted, cold and lost.”
As he kept walking, he realized that people were moving around him in the dark fog. And there were a lot more of them. How far had they travelled? He was sure it had been miles. In spite of that, when he looked back he could still see the doorway to the hospital room. He could still see the body on the bed and his wife sitting in her chair as though frozen.
Then, without warning, the light vanished. To his horror, he was in total darkness. And with the darkness came a crushing hopelessness such as he had never known in his entire life. He was overwhelmed with it. Calling out, he told the people to leave him alone. He said they were liars and he wouldn’t follow them anymore. They started raging at him, shrieking insults. Then they began pushing and shoving him.
He fought back, which started an insane battle of screaming, mocking and hitting. He fought like a wild man, swinging and kicking at them. They bit and tore at him. Most hideous of all, it was clear they were having fun doing it. Though it was totally dark, he knew there must be hundreds all around him. The more he fought the greater was their glee. They were in no hurry. Each new attack brought shrieking laughter. They started tearing off pieces of his flesh. In his words, “To my horror I realized that I was being taken apart and eaten alive slowly for their entertainment.” There was no one in control of them. It was a mob of raging beings whose only pleasure was endless cruelty.
Though he couldn’t see, he could hear and feel everything with the most awful intensity. The noise alone was a horrifying assault. Hundreds of people were yelling, laughing and jeering in their excited lust over his torment. The harder he fought, the more they loved it. Finally, he was lying on the ground with his attackers swarming over him like huge, ravenous rats.
It was at that moment that he heard a voice.
It sounded like his own voice coming from inside himself, but what it said wasn’t a thought of his. He knew he hadn’t spoken it. The voice said, “Pray to God.” Storm’s first thought was what a stupid idea. Being a good atheist, he knew that wouldn’t work. It would be nothing but a cop-out. Even lying in pitch-black horror, he didn’t believe in God. And what did it matter anyway? He was far beyond hope or help whether he believed in God or not. He just didn’t believe in praying, period.
The voice came again, “Pray to God.” It was his voice, but he hadn’t said a word. Desperately, he thought, “Okay, what should I pray, how should I pray?” In his whole adult life, he had never prayed. A third time the voice said, “Pray to God.” He was stumped. When he was a child he had heard adults pray, but it was always something fancy. He tried to remember prayers from his childhood in Sunday School, but it was just so long ago.
Storm says he “murmured a few lines – a jumble from the 23rd Psalm, the Star Spangled Banner, the Lord’s Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America.” What happened next amazed him. The cruel beings that were shredding him to pieces grew absolutely enraged by his pitiful prayer. “It was as if they were throwing boiling oil on me.” They screamed, “There is no God. Who do you think you’re talking to? Nobody can hear you. Now we are really going to hurt you.” They shrieked obscene language worse than any kind of blasphemy he had ever heard on earth. But, while they shrieked, they began pulling away.
As he lay there the voices grew more and more distant. He realized that saying things about God was driving them away. He became much more forceful. Slowly, they receded into the darkness where he could no longer hear them. But he knew they could return.
Storm says that lying there torn apart, inside and out, he knew that he was lost. He would never see the world again. He was left alone to become a creature of Eternal Night. Then, a song from childhood started playing through his mind. It was his voice, but him as a little boy singing the same words over and over. As he describes it, “The child that I had once been was singing full of innocence, trust and hope, Jesus loves me. There was only that bit of the tune and those few words that I could remember.”
Then an incredible thought came to him. “Somewhere out there in that vast darkness there could be something good. There is someone who might love me. I didn’t have any theological interest about what it meant. It was simply a spontaneous recollection from my Sunday School days. Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me. I desperately needed someone to love me, someone to know I was alive. A ray of hope began to dawn in me, a belief that there was really something greater out there. For the first time in my adult life I wanted it to be true that Jesus loved me. I didn’t know how to express what I wanted and needed, but with every bit of my last ounce of strength, I yelled out into the darkness, “JESUS, SAVE ME.” I had never meant anything more strongly in my life.”
As Howard Storm stared into the darkness, far away he saw a little pinpoint of light like the faintest star in the sky. Why hadn’t he seen it before? As he watched, every moment, it grew brighter and brighter. At first he thought it was a thing, not a person and it was streaking toward him at frightening speed. Finally, it was huge and brilliant and he couldn’t stop looking at it. He was afraid it might burn him up. Storm relates that, “The light was more intense and more beautiful than anything I had ever seen. It was brighter than the sun, brighter than a flash of lightning.”
And then it was on him.
With all of its unspeakable brilliance, it wasn’t just light. It was a “luminous being approximately eight feet tall and surrounded by an oval of radiance.” As the intensity of the light swept through his body, ecstasy swept the agony away. Storm says that, “Tangible hands and arms gently embraced me and lifted me up. I slowly rose up into the presence of the Light and torn pieces of my body miraculously healed before my eyes. All my wounds vanished and I became whole and well… More important, the despair and pain were replaced by love. I had been lost and now was found. I had been dead…and now was alive.”
Once more he entered his physical body and healing came. But Howard Storm was never the same. He had met Jesus Christ, his Savior and King, who loved him so much He had given his Life for him. For much more, read Howard Storm’s book, My Descent Into Death.
Lies Are Everywhere.
Especially about hell. I have read many reports of near-death experiences. Satan has many lies that he wants you to believe about death. The first one is that there isn’t a hell. And if there is one, only Hitler and few other people have gone there. He wants you to think that everybody’s going to Heaven. It doesn’t matter what you believe. He wants you to think that all religions are just different paths up the same mountain heading toward the same destination. God wouldn’t condemn a person to hell.
And within the literature of near-death experiences, there seems to be evidence to support all of these lies. In that literature, so very few people report experiences of hell. So many report a positive, wonderful experience traveling up a tunnel into a loving presence of light, where they are validated no matter how they have lived or what they believe. I’m going to deal with those lying manifestations in my next article. But what you have read right now is the most serious warning. Hell is real. And it is real whether you think it is real or not. If you go there it will be the most real thing that you will ever experience.
God with a Broken Heart
Why would a loving God send people to hell? In the Bible we are told clearly that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance for their sin. (II Peter 3:9) That means confess what you have done, turn away from it and ask for God’s forgiveness. If you read the Bible, one fact becomes startlingly clear. God, the Creator of the Universe, has a broken heart. In our lives, too often broken hearts come because someone we love has betrayed us.
Over the years, I have known of many husbands and wives whose spouses have cheated on them. Some have written to me. The agony they felt was like a burning fire. And it didn’t stop. In so many cases, it led to endless anger, bitterness and hate. The damage was so deep they could never forgive. But imagine someone who had been cheated on over and over, who had a broken heart, but continued to love, who continued to pursue the cheater offering forgiveness if only they would turn back. That is the God of the Bible, who loved us so much that He came in the Person of His Beloved Son to offer healing and life and a new relationship of eternal love to all of us selfish, adulterous cheaters.
In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis writes that “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.” Those in hell are locked in eternal self-justification, self-righteousness, self-pity and rage. Whatever they chose to enslave them in this world is in total control. Not even in their agony would they repent. Their pride and hate will not allow it.
People go to hell by their own choice.
That choice starts here and now in this world. Don’t let that be your story. It doesn’t have to be. The God with the broken heart loves us so much that He came to suffer with us in the Person of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah, who gave His life to pay the price for all our sin and evil. Hell is the place where people insist on carrying their own sin, instead of letting Jesus carry it for them.
If Jesus Christ is not your Lord and Savior death is a door into eternal darkness, utter hopelessness and endless suffering. That future does not have to be yours. Jesus came and suffered the penalty for your sin so that you wouldn’t have to.
These are the most important words you could ever read: John 3:16-20 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
If you do not know Jesus, if He is not your Savior and your Lord, but you want Him to be, read this beautiful prayer written by a pastor named Dr. Louis Evans, Sr. As you read it, make the words yours:
Jesus, I believe you died and rose from the grave to purchase a place in Heaven for me. Lord Jesus, I hear you standing at the door of my heart and knocking. I now open the door and ask you to come into my life. Take control of my life. Forgive my sins and save me. I repent of my sins and now place my trust in you for my salvation. Lord Jesus, I accept your free gift of eternal life and I ask you to give me a new beginning today. And the new life which you give to me I will give back to you to use in whatever way you see fit. Come into my life, Lord Jesus. Amen.