By Grant Castleberry
Pastor Carl preached a powerful and convicting sermon this past Sunday on the doctrine of Eternal Retribution. The sermon was titled, A Place Called Hell. In the sermon, Pastor Carl looks at the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20 and talks about the place where the wicked will be thrown, the Lake of Fire.
One element that stuck out to me in the sermon that I had overlooked in the past is the fact that this place will be a bottomless pit (Rev. 20). Of course I had heard terms like "the abyss" and the "bottomless pit" before, but I had never really thought of their ramifications. In the sermon, Pastor Carl, in Edwards-like imagery, describes Hell as a place where you are always falling and are not able to gain your bearing. I have often thought about the flames of Hell, but I had not often thought about the endless expansiveness of Hell. What a terrible place! Not only is Hell a pit of fire, but it is a bottomless pit, of which the people that are there will never grasp its depths. They will be forever falling, groping, tumbling, and hurdling through its empty recesses, with no hope of ever finding solid ground. That thought is incredibly terrifying to me. I do enjoy climbing (with ropes), repelling down cliffs and climbing walls, and I do plan on sky-diving before it's all said and done, but the thought of falling from a plane without a parachute or falling off of a rock face is grippingly scary to me. The thought of falling for all of eternity is horrifying.
As I have been pondering this truth, several verses came to my mind which describe God as the rock of our salvation:
Psalm 18:2 - The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 94:22 - But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
Isaiah 28:16 (quoted in 1 Peter 2:6) - Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly conerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
These verses present quite a contrast to Hell for those that are in Christ. Those that are in Christ have God as their rock! They have a solid foundation, of which Christ is the cornerstone. There is no worry about a free-fall for eternity, because their feet are firmly planted in the true foundation! Finally, they will forever reign with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth and their existence will be defined by the one true Rock for all of eternity, Yahweh (Rev 21-22). Praise the Lord, for this is all of grace, and we should proclaim this gospel of grace to every creature (Mark 16:15)! Hell is indeed a terrible place, and we don't want anyone to go there.