by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 17 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Salvation is More than Being Saved)
(A sermon preached in the First Baptist Church of Hammond)
This will surprise you. I am going to preach on a subject that you have never heard me preach on Sunday morning probably in the almost a quarter of a century that I have been Pastor of this church. I do not know if I have ever preached on this subject on Sunday morning. I'm not sure why Maybe it's because the length of the service is not as long as Sunday night, and so the messages are shorter. Also, it is a subject about which I do not like to preach! It causes me to think about loved ones and friends of mine who may be-well, I am speaking on the subject, "Why Hell?" This will not be a Hell-fire and damnation sermon, though I have been known to preach them. I want to talk to your mind as well as your heart. I want to talk to your culture. I want to speak to your refinement. I want you to give me a hearing. You have never heard a sermon like this. I have never preached one like this, but you're going to have to follow carefully
It is not easy for me to preach on this because my own father died outside of Christ as far as I know, and because to be quite frank with you, the thought of a Hell pricks my culture and my refinement. The thought of people dying and burning forever bothers mc-it is not easy for me to accept. I accept it for one reason: When I was a young boy my mother taught me that this Book is the Word of God! She taught me that every word of it is the Word of God! I made a mistake and went for a year to a State University where godless professors stood behind desks and said to me, "The Bible is not the Word of God." They laughed at my mother's faith; they laughed at my preacher's Bible; they laughed at the Word of God. To be quite frank with you, 1, like any other person who does that, had my faith shaken. About half way through that year I was doubting the fact that the Bible is the Word of God. (That is why I thank God there is a school like Hyles-Anderson College!) I doubted. I do not mean that I didn't believe it; I just didn't know. They shook my faith! Mama said it was the Word of God, and the Preacher said it, but my professor who was a PhD said it wasn't, so I decided to do something! I decided to take the Bible and start with the first verse in Genesis and read every word in the Book on my knees. I decided to read the Bible through on my knees. Every time I read it I asked God to reveal to me if it is true. "If it is true, let me know." I spent three or four months and read every word of this Book while on my knees, and by the time I got through, I believed Mama was right!
I do not believe I am an intellectual nut. I do not believe my mind is illogical. I do not claim to be a genius nor an intellectual; nor do I claim to be an idiot or a moron. I believe I am as mentally intelligent as some of the folks who think I'm a screwball and who I think are screwballs, but I believe this Book! Because I believe this Book, I believe every word in it is true! Since I believe every word in it is true, when the Bible says, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God," (Psalm 9:17)...I have to believe it. Now it pricks my culture, but I believe it because the Bible says it. When the Bible says, "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels," (Matthew 25:41)...I believe it. I don't want to believe it. I wish I didn't have to believe it, but I believe it, because I'm convinced that that is the Word of God.
Now follow me carefully. This is not easy for me. When I was a young man I would rather preach on sin than forgiveness, but not anymore. Now I would far rather preach on forgiveness than sin! When I was a young man I would rather preach on the wrath of God than the love of God, but those days are gone. You give me a chance to preach on the love of God, and I would ten to one rather preach on the love of God than the wrath of God. There was a day when I was a young preacher that I would rather preach on judgment than mercy, but no longer! I preach on judgment but I would rather preach on mercy. There was a day when I would rather preach on the coming of Christ, but today I'd rather preach on the Christ Who is coming! I always shrink from this subject, but I must preach it because it is in the Bible!
Years ago I was Pastor of the Grange Hall Baptist Church outside of Marshall, Texas, on highway 43 about ten miles toward Henderson, Texas. I was a country preacher. Our little parsonage was next door to the church, and on the back porch there was a well with a pump on it. The parsonage was valued at $2,000, and that was an extravagant evaluation! We had a rat that lived on the back porch. The rat was long-it was a Texas rat! We tried everything to get rid of it. We put a rat trap out there, and he thought it was a present, a toy. We put rat poisoning out, and he gained weight on the stuff I got a larger trap and put it out there. I was going to get him! We also had a little dog, an Airedale terrier, named Pookie, He was the kind of dog that didn't know whether he had eyes or not. He couldn't see through his hair. One day I heard the trap go off, and I said, "I caught it! I caught it!" I heard the loudest noise and the strangest noise a rat ever made. I rushed to the back porch to catch the prey and take it to the taxidermist for mounting, but there was Pookle caught in the trap!
This is as perfect an illustration as you will ever hear about why there is a Hell. The trap wasn't set for Pookie; the trap was set for the rat, but it was set and since it was set, when Pookie got his paw in the wrong place, he got caught just like the rat! Now follow me carefully:
1. God created the angels. He made them as ministering servants. He created three groups of angels. He placed an archangel over each group. Here is one group of angels; the archangel Lucifer was placed over that group of angels. Here is the second group of angels that were used as messengers, and the archangel Gabriel was placed over those angels. Here is the third group of angels who were given the ministry of fighting for God's people, and the archangel Michael was placed over those angels. There are three groups of angel s-one-third under Lucifer; one-third under Gabriel; one-third under Michael.
2. God made a place of suffering-Hell. This place the Bible says was a place of fire. The Bible says this place was a place of conscience and memory where you would remember your opportunities not to come there, and God called this place Hell. Remember, there was not one single man on the face of the earth when God made Hell. God didn't make Hell for man. God made Hell for the angels just like we set the trap for the rat.
3. God placed Hell as a price if angels ever sinned. God made angels. He made Hell, and He placed it as a price for angels to pay if angels ever sinned. The trap was set. God didn't want the angels to sin, but He said, "Here is Hell and here are the angels. If you sin, you have to go to Hell and spend eternity there." He was not talking about man; He was talking about angels.
4. The angels were fully warned. God told Michael, "If you and your angels sin, they will go to Hell." He said, "Lucifer, now you and your angels hear Me. If you sin, the price on that sin is Hell." God said to all the angels, "I have made a place for you if you sin." I want to say again, God never made Hell for one single human being. He set the trap.
5. One-third of those angels sinned. Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God. Lucifer said, "I will exalt myself. I will be like the Most High. I will ascend into the heavens," and pride came, and when the sin of pride came, Lucifer said, "I will rebel and cause insurrection in Heaven, and I, the second in command, will become the first in command." God had already set the price on sin. He had a place prepared, so what happened? One-third sinned, and that leads us now to the sixth statement.
6. God had no choice but to do what He said He would do. If God's Word is not good, God is not God. God's Word is always true. God said, "I have to do it." That is why Matthew 25:41 says, "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Bear in mind, there was no man yet. There was no Adam in the Garden of Eden. Not one human being had ever been created or born, there was no man. So, God made angels. He made a place of suffering-Hell. He placed that as a price for angels if they sinned. They were fully warned. One-third of them sinned under Lucifer. God had no choice.
7. God made man. Before God made man, there was already a Hell. God didn't make Hell for man nor man for Hell. God made Hell for the Devil and his angels. Wait a minute. Let's go back to Pookie. We set the trap for a rat. We caught the rat later on, but first we caught Pookie. Was I trying to catch Pookie? No, I was trying to catch the rat.
8. Satan came to man and wanted to drag man to the Hell where he was going. He wanted company He didn't want anybody to enjoy Heaven if he had to go to Hell. Lucifer and his angels became the Devil and his angels, and that is what they were doing in the Garden of Eden when man was there. He came to man and said, "Why don't you do this?" Man became proud and committed the same sin that Lucifer committed. Man said, "I'll be my own god. I'll decide what's right and wrong. I'll be God. I'll run my life. I'll be the king of my life. I'll sit on the throne of my heart. I'll make my decisions. I'll do what I want to do. I'll go where I want to go. I'll be what I want to be," and man was seduced by Lucifer to do what he did, and man did what Lucifer did, and man was caught in the trap that was not made for him.
9. Satan persuaded man to do what he had done and commit the same sin he had committed.
10. The price had already been set. Now wait a minute. God said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4b). "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23a). "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin . . ." (Romans 5:12a). God had already set the penalty for sin. He did not set that penalty originally for man. He set it for the angels. He made Hell for the angels if they sinned. They sinned, and the Devil caused man to get in the same trap.
11. God had to let mango to Hell, though Hell was not prepared for man.
12. God was willing to break up the Godhead for 33 years so that man could be freed!
Why didn't God redeem the angels? Why didn't Jesus come to die for the angels? It is the same reason we wanted to get the rat and didn't want to get Pookie. When Pookie got caught in that trap I said, "Oh, Pookie! Boopsie, woopsie, Pookie."
And Pookie said, "I don't like this."
I went on the back porch and proceeded to make a plan to get Pookie out of the trap! I didn't care if the rat got in there or not. God Almighty made angels. He did not make angels in His own likeness. He made them as ministering servants. When angels sinned, it was not worth it for God to give His only begotten Son to die on Calvary and suffer their Hell, but when God saw man in the trap, God said, "I'm going to make a plan to get him loose!" That means God loves you more than He loves Gabriel. That means God loves you more than God loves Michael. That means that the angels who fly in Heaven today or come to earth as an embassage for God or to bring messages from God--that angel who came from God to tell Mary about the Messiah in her womb, that angel who came and told Peter he could be free from prison and unlocked the doors of the jail, that angel who came and told Joseph not to be afraid that Mary was not pregnant by man but that the Holy Spirit had placed the Seed in Mary's womb, that angel who came and ministered to Paul in prison-those angels God loves, but not enough to give His Son! When man made in the image of his Creator fell into the trap that was not made for him, God found a way to get man out, a way that met His justice.
I say this and I say it lovingly I don't want to be unkind, but if you because you are a sinner do not take the way out of God's trap, you are going to end up with the Devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41, "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." If you go to Hell, you will be an intruder.
Every once and awhile someone says to me, "Do you think a loving God would send anyone to Hell?" A loving God doesn't send anyone to Hell, A loving God made a trap for Satan, and you fell in the trap because you listened to Satan! Because of that, the justice of God makes Him keep His word. God looked, saw you in the trap, and said, "I must keep you there, but I'll make a plan." God did make a plan whereby He would become flesh and come to the earth and fall into that trap for you. Falling in that trap for you, He says, "You can come on out," but He won't drag you out!
God said, "I didn't make Hell for you. I don't want you to go to Hell. My righteousness and my veracity demand that I make you pay the penalty." However, God made a plan to get man out! Stop and think! God loves you more than God loves Gabriel, and He has had Gabriel all these millions of years! What God would not do for His angels, He did for you! What God would not do for the archangels, He did for you. What God would not do for cherubim and seraphim, God did for you because He made you like Himself. God said, "I did not make angels like Myself, but I made man like Myself!" As soon as man fell into the trap that was made for the Devil and his angels, God said, "Lucifer is condemned to Hell forever, and the angels with him who tried to take over My throne are condemned to Hell forever, but man made in My image, man the apple of My eye, man the great love of My life and the love of My heart, I have to free him from that trap!"
There is only one way that man can be freed from the trap and escape the fires of Hell, and that way is not by joining a church! Pookie could have joined all the churches in Russ County and Marshall, Texas, and still have been in that trap. Pookie could have gotten baptized in that trap and still been in that trap. I could have taken the Lord's Supper on the back porch and given it to Pookie and he would have still been in that trap. I made a way. I lifted up that big spring and said, "Pookie, take your paw out of the spring," and Pookie said, "I think I will!" Pookie had a lot more sense than some of you folks.
God became flesh; His name was Jesus. He never sinned, so He didn't get in the trap. (Now Pookie accidentally got in the trap, but Jesus didn't accidentally get in the trap). Jesus never sinned, but after 33 perfect years on earth He said, "Trap, here I come," and He voluntarily put Himself in the trap so He could free you!
In Oklahoma City a strange thing happened years ago. A tiger got out of the zoo there and frightened everybody in town! Horror gripped the whole neighborhood! Somewhere in the town was a wild tiger loose-a ferocious animal. Somebody got an idea. '17hey got a little lamb and put that lamb in the door of a trap cage. When the tiger saw that lamb, he got hungry. (You see, a lamb to a tiger is like a cheese quarter-pounder!) The tiger came and grabbed that lamb, and when he did so, down came the door, and the tiger was caught!
Jesus Christ became the Lamb of God, and the Devil said, "I'll get Him!" The Devil came into the cage and tried to get Him, and he did. The Lamb was slain. Why? So you and I would not be afraid of the wild animal running loose which is called the Devil.
Now you have learned why there is a Hell. You will never hear it any clearer. Preachers get up and say, "You're going to go to Hell if you don't repent." We don't want to say it. We don't like to say it. We wish we didn't have to say it, but it is true, but Hell was not made for you!
I .God created the angels.
2. God made a place of suffering-Hell.
3. God placed Hell as a price on sin if the angels sinned.
4. The angels were fully warned.
5. One-third of those angels sinned.
6. God had no choice but to do what He said He would do.
7. God made man.
8. Satan came to man and wanted to drag man to the Hell where he was going.
9. Satan persuaded man to do what he had done and commit the same sin he had committed.
10. The price had already been set.
11. God had to let man go to Hell, though Hell was not prepared for man.
12. God was willing to break up the Godhead for 33 years so that man could be freed!
Now you have one choice of two. You can go ahead and join the church for your salvation, get baptized for your salvation, turn over a new leaf for your salvation, live a good life for your salvation, and take communion for your salvation; go ahead, but you will die and go to Hell! However, you can say, "Thank God, Jesus the Lamb of God took my place, suffered for me and set me free--not Lucifer, not the angels, not Gabriel, not Michael--God set me free from a trap that was not made for me! I am the object of God's love!"
Yes, God has made a plan. That plan is when you come to a place in your life when you say, "I cannot save myself, but from this moment forward I will rely on Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross as my hope for Heaven, and I will trust Him like I trust a pilot."
I will be flying to Florida to preach tomorrow night and Tuesday night. I will get on the plane at O'Hare Field. There will be three men up in the cockpit. Now I am trusting those men to get me to Florida. I do not know how to fly an airplane, and I do not know how to fly without an airplane! I have one hope to get to Florida, and that is to trust those three men. It is the only hope I have! Let us suppose that when we get up in the air about 30,000 feet or so, I decide to slap the stewardess across the face. I say, "Hey, baby, whack!" Where am I going? Florida. Suppose the pilot comes back and says, "Did you slap the stewardess?"
I say, "Yes, and I can do it again," and I slap the pilot. I also take out a knife and cut off his tie and slash the seat in front of me. Now where am I going?
Florida. Why? You do not get to Florida by behaving on an airplane. You can sit in a pilotless plane on the ground and behave yourself and you will still be at O'Hare Field. You get to Florida by saying to those three men up in the front, "I'm trusting you."
You do not get to Heaven because you live a good life; you get to Heaven because you say, "Jesus, Saviour, pilot me, over life's tempestuous sea. Unknown waves before me roll. Be the guardian of my soul. Jesus, You are my pilot, and I trust You to take me to my destination."
That is the way you get freed from the trap!
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