Theme: Eternity in hell is no joking matter 
This week’s lessons describe the horrid nature of hell and the importance of knowing our destiny.
Matthew 25:45-46
“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


The idea of eternal suffering has been so disturbing to some people that there have been countless attempts to deny it or limit its duration. People have claimed that eternal suffering is inconsistent with the goodness of God who certainly will never allow any of his creatures to be in hell forever. But God is a better judge of what is consistent with his goodness than we are, and it is he who tells us that hell is eternal. Others have argued that an eternal hell is inconsistent with the justice of God, for no sins committed in time could ever deserve such punishment. But what makes sin an infinite evil is that it is against an infinite God. Besides, we must remember that hell’s punishments vary in severity according to the nature of the sin (see Matthew 11:22; Luke 12:47; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
The bottom line is that verse 46 uses the same exact word to describe the duration of the sinners punishment in hell as it does to describe the duration of the believers life in heaven. It is the word eternal.
John Charles Ryle was no alarmist. He was an English bishop. But he wrote, “Who shall describe the misery of eternal punishment? It is something utterly indescribable and inconceivable. The eternal pain of body; the eternal sting of an accusing conscience; the eternal society of none but the wicked, the devil and his angels; the eternal remembrance of opportunities neglected and Christ despised; the eternal prospect of a weary, hopeless future, all this is misery indeed: it is enough to make our ears tingle, and our blood run cold.”1
Why does Jesus say these things? Is he trying to frighten us? No. What good would that do? People are not frightened into heaven. But Jesus is warning us, particularly if we suppose that we are right with God when we are not right with him and will not be ready when Christ comes.
Peter tells us to “make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10), and he explains how it should be done. He says that we must add goodness to faith, knowledge to goodness, self-control to knowledge, perseverance to self-control, godliness to perseverance, brotherly kindness to godliness, and love to brotherly kindness (vv. 5-7). He then adds rightly, “If you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (vv. 10-11).
1 John Charles Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St Matthew (Cambridge; James Clark & Company, 1974), pp. 344, 345.


Why do people deny the existence of eternal suffering?
Can people begin a relationship with Jesus solely out of the fear of hell?


Read Matthew 11:22, Luke 12:47, and 2 Corinthians 5:10. What do these verses have to say about hell?

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