††††† The destiny of the lost is tragedy beyond belief. All one has to do is read Luke 16:19-31 to get a glimpse of this awful calamity. "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 fatherís 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.'"

††††† A "Newsweek" poll found that 94 percent of Americans believe in God; 77 percent believe in heaven; 76 percent think they have a good or excellent chance of getting there. But, only 58 percent of those surveyed believe in hell.


††††† The Bible teaches there are two gates which men may enter, two ways men may walk and two destinies men may reach. "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" (Matthew 7:13-14.) "How beautiful heaven must be." However, there is likewise a horrible destiny awaiting those that reject Christ. We must not close our eyes to that awful place of torment.


††††† Hell is a place of vile association. Unbelievers and those who do not obey the gospel will be in hell. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.) Hell will be the eternal abode of the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11.) Those who do not love and believe the truth will also be in hell. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.) Others among the vile associates in hell will be angels who sin and unfaithful Christians. (2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:20-21.) Revelation 21:8 describes some who will be in hell. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Hell is a place of vile or evil associates.


††††† Hell is a place of separation from the saints. Those who die faithful in the Lord will be blessed in heaven. "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." (Revelation 14:13.) If we are faithful children of God we will go to Heaven. However, many will not be in heaven. Hell will be their eternal home. If we go to hell we will be separated for all eternity from God's people, from every righteous person, from every good person and from every holy and good influence. "But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." (Revelation 21:27.) What a horrible end it will be when you realize you are lost and lost forever. "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." (Luke 13:28.)


††††† Hell is a place of eternal darkness. Hell is a place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12.) Many of us have gone down into those caves and experienced the darkness when the lights are turned out. It would probably do us good to just be quiet for a moment and feel the darkness. Hell is a place of darkness which is darker than any darkness we have known.


††††† Hell is a place of despair. Observe John's picture of Hell in Revelation 14:10-11. "He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." There is a false cult which goes about teaching that there is no everlasting punishment in hell. If the Bible is true, if black print on white paper means anything there is a place of everlasting punishment. There is no rest day or night, no refreshment, no hope of release! Despair! If you die and go to hell all hope is lost.


††††† Hell is a place of torment in flames. Someone may ask, "Is this figurative or literal fire"? All I can do is preach it like it is written. I would rather face God at judgment and have Him say, "You took my word too literally"; rather than say, "You got so smart you tried to explain my word away." Hell is a lake of fire and brimstone. "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10.) Someone says, "This is just something to scare people." But, I had rather scare you into heaven than to lull you into hell.


††††† You do not have to go to hell. You can die in the Lord. God wants to save you. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9.) Every where we look we see reminders that God loves us and wants us saved. The mountains remind us of God's love piled high at Calvary. (Luke 23:33.) The stars remind us of Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star who was sacrificed for our salvation. (Revelation 22:16.) Each stone reminds us of Jesus, the rock of ages, who doesn't want any to perish. (1 Corinthians 10:4.) Every flower says Jesus, the rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley wants you saved. (Song of Solomon 2:1.)


††††††††††† Have you obeyed the gospel? (Mark 16:15-16.) Are you living for Heaven? (1 Corinthians 15:58.)††††††


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA