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Is Hell A Myth?
By Roy Mason - (1894 - 1978)

      “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

      Is there such a place as hell? And is there a personal devil? Or are both hell and the devil only the creation of superstitious and ignorant minds? Can we of the twentieth century still hold to belief in these things, or have we reached the place where we can no longer hold to them? I am quite frank to any that I, for one, believe fully in the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. If I did not believe in these absolutely without any reservation whatsoever, I would most certainly quit the ministry, and quit at once, for back behind all of my preaching and all of my Christian efforts, as a background, is the belief that men are hastening toward hell and an eternity of suffering just as rapidly as time can carry them. And my belief in hell and future punishment is not merely founded upon superstition, either. I have what I consider to be good and sufficient reasons for my beliefs. Some of these I expect to give you presently. Some there are who would have us believe that hell is a myth and that the devil is just merely a mythical character, like Santa Claus, for instance. Some time ago I heard a story of a boy who had become quite skeptical. As his Sunday school teacher went on to tell the class about hell and the devil, this boy sat with a smile of half-derision on his face. When the teacher had finished he said, “Aw---they ain’t no devil. It’s just like Santa Claus, it’s paw.”

      Of course, belief in the devil and in hell stands or falls together, because certainly if there is no personal devil there is likewise no hell. Any place inhabited by such a character as the devil is described as being, could hardly be less than a hell, don’t you think? If there were no hell, then a devil and such characters as his followers must be, would not have much trouble in creating a hell all their own.

      Now, before I give you my reasons for believing in the existence of a hell, I want to consider the objections that are commonly raised by people who profess not to believe in the existence of such a place. There may be other objections than those I shall mention, but they are the ones that I have commonly heard made. I desire to face these objections frankly and fairly.

      The first objection, and one that I have seen and heard repeatedly raised, is this: God is too merciful to let anyone go to hell. Let me ask you, what do you know about God, or about His character? Isn’t it true that you get all of your information from the Bible? This same Bible tells us that there is a hell. By what rule of interpretation do you accept the Bible’s teaching on one point and reject its teachings on another? God is merciful, that is true, but let us remember that God is also just. Let us also remember that God never sends anyone to hell. If any man ever goes to hell it will be because he, of his own will and volition, voluntarily chose hell as his portion, instead of heaven and eternal life. When God made man, there was one of two things possible for him to do; either to make him with no power of will of his own---just a machine---or else to make him a free being with the power to choose between good and evil. God made man with the power to make choices for himself, and, that being the case; man becomes responsible for his own actions and his own choices and must abide the consequences in case he chooses the wrong. Let us suppose that I am standing on the bank of a river, I and my son, who has grown to be a man. I see a man drowning in the river, and I cannot swim, but my son can. I send him out into the water in an attempt to rescue the man, but instead of permitting himself to be saved, the man fights off my son---strikes him a blow that stuns him such that he sinks beneath the water and drowns. Should I be expected to do any more toward rescuing the man than that? I have given the life of my own son in an attempt to save the man from death. If he drowns in spite of all my efforts and in spite of the efforts of my son to save his life, whose fault is it? Listen: that man, who talks about God being too merciful to permit anyone to be lost, forgets that the man who goes to hell has sinned against the mercy and love of God, and has refused to make use of God’s supreme effort to save him from his danger. A man can die and go to hell in spite of God’s mercy if he wants to, and that is exactly what everyone that goes to hell does.

      Again, another objection that is often raised to the Bible doctrine of hell is this: A good and merciful God would not suffer His children to spend eternity in torment. I agree with those who raise this objection. We cannot conceive of a God of love sending, or permitting, his children to go to torment. But the point at which I disagree with the objector is in regard to who are the children of God. Many people assume that God is the Father of all men. There is, in fact, no doctrine that is more popular in our day than that of the “Universal Fatherhood of God and the Universal Brotherhood of Man.” But is it true? It absolutely is not. If God is the Father of all men, then hell is an absolute impossibility and an insult to God and to man. “But how can you deny that God is the Father of all?” I have had people to ask me, “Didn’t He create everybody?” Yes, He did, but there is a vast difference between creatorhood and fatherhood. God made the devil, didn’t He? Is He, then, the Father of the devil? If God is the father of everything that He created, then He is the father of every old mule, every cat, every dog, every skunk, every tree, every cabbage, and so on. It is not right to confound creatorhood with fatherhood. A certain preacher tells the story of how once upon one occasion, after he had preached on hell, a certain woman approached him and said, “You are a father, and I am sure that you love your children.” “Yes,” said the man, “I do.” “Then I suppose that if you could ease the pain and sorrow of your child you would do so?” “Yes,” said the preacher, “I would.” “Well, what would you think of a father who could ease the pain and sorrow of a suffering child, and who would not?” “Why,” said the man, “I think he would be a tyrant and a monster.” “I am glad to hear you say so,” said the woman, “for you see that is what you are making God out to be. God could never see His children in hell and in torment. He would be a monster if He did.” The preacher said, “Lady, there is just one point on which you are mistaken. God hasn’t a child in hell, never had one and will never have one. Moreover, there are none on the road there. All of God’s children are either in heaven or on the road there---one or the other. The people who go to hell are the devil’s children. God as a father has a home for His children, and the devil has a home for his. God is only the Father of those who believe on and trust Jesus Christ as their Savior” (John 1:11-12; Galatians 3:26).

      Again, let me note another objection to hell that many people raise. It is this: They say that it is unreasonable for us to believe that people are to be punished for all eternity for the things they did during the short space of time that they lived here. That is a very plausible objection. But let us just think for a moment and we will come to see the truth about the matter. The person who dies a lost sinner and goes into hell, goes into that place still a sinner with all the tendencies to sin that they ever had active. Now, if they lived in sin in this world, where there are many good influences, is there any reason to think that they would no longer sin after reaching hell, where every good person and every good influence had been removed? Certainly not. In hell they would go on sinning forever. Thus sinning in eternity, they would be guilty of eternal sin and deserving of eternal punishment.

      Then again, someone else objects to hell because of the Bible’s teaching about fire. They say that they can’t understand how a person in the world to come can be tormented in “literal fire.” That objection grows out of the failure to think. Let me ask you this question: In describing hell, didn’t the writer of Scripture have to express himself in language and in terms capable of being understood by human beings? The only way either heaven or hell could possibly be described to the human mind, so as to mean anything at all, was for the description to be couched in terms understandable to the human intellect. Consequently, heaven is described to us as containing those things that are most beautiful to us here in this world, and the most precious. Hell is described to us by means of terms that convey the idea of supreme suffering, horror, agony and woe. If you should ask me the question, “Do you believe in hell as a place of fire?” I should answer, “Yes.” It seems to me but reasonable to believe that hell will contain fire, or else something that corresponds to it so closely that to the human mind it could not have been properly described in any other way or by any other term. And I say to you, we do an exceedingly dangerous as well as a foolish thing when we, with our puny little minds, rise up against what God has revealed in His Word, and attempt to say that it is impossible for this or that to be, just because we don’t happen to know the how of it all.

      And now I want to take a little time to tell you some of the reasons as to why I believe in the existence of hell. I believe in it, first of all, because I believe the Bible, and the Bible teaches the existence of hell too plainly for any honest man to deny. The Bible is absolutely the only book in this world that has any creditable claim to divine inspiration. No other book on earth even begins to bear the stamp of having come from God. I have read the Koran, the writings of Confucius, the sacred books of India, the Book of Mormon, Mrs. Eddy’s book on Christian Science. I have even struggled through such a collection of bunk as Darwin’s Origin of the Species, but in none of these do I find anything to intimate that they are divinely inspired. The Bible is the only book that reveals God and that furnishes the human race with any adequate conception of a Supreme Being. The same Bible that reveals God tells us in plain, unmistakable terms about hell. Either there is a hell, or else the Bible is a lie, one or the other. There is no escape from this position.

      Again, I believe in the existence of hell because Jesus Christ said there is a hell. I believe that Christ was truthful, and that He knew exactly what He was talking about. All over the world today we have men who claim to hold Jesus in great admiration. All admit that He was a great character. They say that He was the world’s supreme teacher, and they quote many of His teachings, but when it comes to what He taught about hell and future punishment, they ignore that---they omit that. Why? Simply because they don’t want to believe it. Such men know that if there is a hell they will go there, so they deny it. But listen: a fact cannot be altered, no matter how many times it is denied. If Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is, then there is a hell. You may deny it, but that won’t change matters one bit. Fire burns whether I believe it or not. Poison kills whether I believe it or not. Frost freezes whether I believe it or not. Two and two make four whether I believe it or not. Hell is a reality whether I believe it or not. I land right into hell if I reject Christ, whether I believe it or not.

      Once more, I believe in the existence of hell because I do not believe that Jesus Christ was a fool. To deny hell is to make Jesus the most foolish person that ever walked the earth. He claimed that He left heaven with all of its glory in order to come to this earth to save men. “Save men from what?” If there is no hell, then there was no danger, and there was nothing to be saved from. Wasn’t it ridiculous for Jesus to permit Himself to be foully murdered unless there was some reason for it? He said that He didn’t have to give up His life. “No man taketh it from me,” He said, “I lay it down of myself.” He told Pilate that He could speak the word and God the Father would come to His rescue with ten legions of angels. Why did He lay down His life? He claimed that He gave His life in order that all who believe in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. And unless men were in real danger of perishing---perishing in hell, at that---then the death of Christ was a useless, bloody tragedy. Either there is a hell, and men are in imminent danger of going there, and His death offers the only way to escape, or else Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about and was laboring under self-delusion, one or the other.

      Then again, I believe in the existence of hell because, apart from the Bible and divine revelation, the human reason demands the existence of such a place. This world is a place where there are all sorts of inequalities. Injustice of all kinds is constantly being perpetrated. Will any person dare to assert that everyone gets exactly what they deserve in this life? No, for everybody knows that they don’t. Then isn’t it but reasonable to believe that sometimes, somewhere, all such matters will be adjusted and men will get exactly what is coming to them? Some months ago the whole nation was horrified when the sons of two Chicago millionaires took a boy, the son of another millionaire, and deliberately killed him with no reason than that they wanted to experience how it feels to be a murderer. There was money enough behind them to save them from the electric chair, and it will not be long until they will both be turned loose. Can you believe that those two cold-blooded murderers will never be brought to justice? Will God turn those two red-handed wretches into the same place with His people to live with them forever? Just a few months ago, the whole State of Kentucky was filled with horror and revulsion over one of the most brutal crimes that has ever stained the record of our state. A Negro in Fayette County, apparently with no good reason, killed a man, brutally murdered the man’s two children, in front of the very eyes of their mother, assaulted the mother, and then shot her in an attempt to kill her. You just let that crime soak into your mind for a moment, will you? Can you think of or conceive of anything more brutal, more horrible, more awful than that? Then will someone stand and watch a fiend like that murder innocent, helpless children- --spill their blood before the horrified gaze of the screaming mother, and tell me that there is no hell? If the Bible had nothing to say about the existence of hell, I would be forced to say that there “ought” to be one for such characters. I don’t believe that a just God is going to turn a wretch like that unregenerate into the place where His children have to live throughout eternity.

      Did you ever read Josephus’ History of the Jews? There is given there the story of the persecution carried on by that wicked and notorious ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes. Never have I read of such brutalities as was carried on by that inhuman fiend. He had people put to death with every conceivable torture that his demoniacal brain could devise. Josephus tells of a mother that had seven sons. The mother was tied and each of the sons was in turn put to death in some different way before her eyes. One was boiled to death, one was cut up and fried, another was baked, another was roasted, and so on. He goes on to tell of how mothers were crucified and of how their babies were run through with a sword and their dead bodies hung around the neck of the mother as she suffered the tortures of crucifixion. You tell me that there is no hell for such a monster as a man who would torture human beings like that!

      Do you think that a just God would turn a fiend like that into heaven to live with His children throughout eternity? Why, it is preposterous for anyone to think so!

      A lot of people talk as though they think they are better than God. Yet in these civilized lands we have jails and penitentiaries. Isn’t it a shame to put men like the Fayette County murderer I described, in a place like that? Isn’t it awful to rob men and women of their freedom and shut them up in jail? Isn’t it a shame that civilization should permit such a thing? Many times a man is jailed or electrocuted for only one crime. “But,” you say, “Don’t you know that these people are lawbreakers? It is for their own good and the safety of the country and the people that we put them in jails and prisons.” Yes, I understand that, and I also understand that hell is simply God’s prison house where the incorrigibly lawless, the criminal and the vile are shut out from the society of those whoa re the pure and good. What sort of place would this world be, anyhow, if there were no prisons, no asylums, no jails, and if all criminals were just turned free to murder, pillage, burn, mangle and destroy? Why, this world would be almost a hell. Nothing would be safe, and we would be living in a constant reign of terror.

      Then we have all over the land great asylums, where many nice, respectable people are taken. Isn’t it a shame that they are taken there and shut up? “Why,” you say, “they are crazy, they are not responsible, they are taken there for their own good and for the good of society at large.” Yes, I understand. But let me ask you, “Has God such a place for mad people in eternity?” Certainly He has. Surely a man is mad---is crazy---who will damn his own soul by willfully rejecting Jesus Christ as his Savior in spite of the love of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Listen: maybe you have never thought of it in this way before. What sort of a world would eternity be if all the people who will not have God to be their God, will not have His law as their guide, will not have His Son, Christ Jesus, to reign over them, should be turned loose to go where they pleased and do as they pleased? Why, such an outfit would turn God’s heaven into a hell! Oh, no, men and women! Hell is God’s penitentiary, hell is God’s madhouse. And those that continue to rebel against God, to break His laws, to refuse His Son, will go there just as certainly as God lives. God has an asylum for you, lost man or woman, if you will and choose to go there! God never sends any person there. They send themselves there. Suppose I go out here and kill someone, and for that am sentenced to prison. Who is to blame? I am. Is it the law that sends me there? Not in the truest sense it isn’t---I have sent myself there. If I had acted right the law would never have disturbed me in any way. If the Bible is true, then God never prepared hell for mankind. The Bible says that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. If a man or woman prefers the company of the devil, prefers to live for and to serve the devil, then they have no kick coming if they are forced to spend eternity in the presence of the devil. Every person who ever goes into hell will have to trample upon the Bible’s warnings, spatter through the blood of Christ, and pass right by the Cross of Calvary. God has literally blockaded the road that leads to hell, and the person that goes is without excuse.

      But someone comes to me with another question: “Where is hell?” I am not going to try to give you the locality. Just where in all this boundless universe hell is located doesn’t concern me. Some people say that the only hell that there is, is right here on earth. When they say that they pit their own puny minds against what God’s Word says. This present earth is not the hell the Bible speaks about by a thousand miles. Where, then, is hell? I will put the answer in this way: “Hell is at the end of every Christ-rejecting, Christless life. You may be a church member, you may be very devout in the performance of what you think to be your Christian duties; you may give your body to be burned; you may preach with the eloquence of an angel, but if you have not Christ in your life---if your whole dependence for eternity is not on Him, then you are just as certain of hell as anything in this universe can be certain.

      And listen: Some folks are all confused on this whole question. That Negro that I described a while ago, that killed that man, wife and children in cold blood---will he go to hell? “Certainly,” you say, “if there is a hell, it looks like he is deserving of a place there.” Well, here is a man who lives a good, clean, moral life, pays his debts, is nice and kind to his neighbors and friends, is a good citizen, good neighbor, good friend. But with all that he is not a Christian and has never received Christ as a personal Savior. He dies. What about him? Does he to go hell just like the vile murderer I mentioned a moment ago? Many people are extremely hesitant about saying that he does, but if there is any truth in the Bible’s teaching he does. He goes to the same hell as the murderer, the thief, the libertine, the harlot, and all other criminals and lost sinners. Here is the thing that many people fail to realize. We are all sinners. We are all guilty---even the best among us, of breaking the laws of God. We are all in our natural state, sinners, deserving of hell. God has provided a way for the pardon and the salvation of hell-deserving sinners, through faith in His Son, whom He sent to be our Savior. Don’t you see, the person who will not have Christ as a Savior has repudiated the plan---the only plan that God has devised for the salvation of lost people? So the man who refuses Christ is bound to go to hell. There is simply no way around it. He may not receive the punishment that the hardened criminal will receive---I don’t know about that, but he will go to the same hell.

      And what kind of a place is hell? I haven’t the time or space to give you a description of the place. If I had the time, I should not want to draw upon my imagination, and simply try to depict something to scare you with. I wouldn’t have to do that. The description of hell given in the Word of God is horrible enough to make anyone want to shun it. A lot of people decry what they term “hell-scared” religion, but let me tell you, men and women---you who are not Christians---you ought to be scared---you ought to be scared about your condition enough to cause you to do something about it. Jesus said, “Fear him that hath power to cast both body and soul into hell.” There are thousands of people who live through a hard struggle here in this world. They work hard every day, never have very much, and, to sum it all up, there are more sorrows and hardships in life than there is joy and pleasure. About all folks that have to look forward to is the better life out yonder. And if they haven’t that, then it would be better if they had never been born. To live in privation and toil here, then to die and go on out into hell, is like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. It is bad enough here in this world, where there are many good people and many good things, but if we are to believe the Bible, hell is ten thousand times worse than anything we know here. There, in hell, will be all of the criminals, all of the vile, the depraved, the moral lepers, the scum of the earth that have lived through all ages. Here there is always some hope, some joy. There in hell will be no hope, no joy---nothing that is good, pure wholesome, happy or glad. Cut off, cut off forever from all contact with God and with good people, doomed, doomed forever to live in that life that is worse than death---that is the state and condition that awaits every Christ rejecting person that leaves this world and this life.

      And now may I, in the closing moment of this sermon, dwell upon the one way of escape? I have already indicated it. May I repeat the truth that there is no need that any should perish, no need that any person should go to hell? Jesus Christ the just has died for you, the unjust; He was wounded for your transgressions; He was bruised for your iniquities. Surely I am not speaking to anyone today who will go on to hell with his eyes open and his feet stained in the blood of Christ. For your own sake, and your soul’s sake, let me urge you, if you are not right with God, if you are not ready for eternity, get right by receiving Christ and by placing your case in His hands.

      “In the north of Scotland, where the main line of a certain railroad crosses a great ravine or gully, is a fearful looking abyss. The viaduct that bridged it was one of the wonders of the North. One night a fearful storm raged over that district. The little stream or burn that meandered under the viaduct was turned into a raging mad torrent. A young Highland shepherd lad sheltered his sheep as best he could for the night. In the morning, long before dawn, he set out to see how they had fared. As he made his way up the hillside, he noticed, to his horror, that the central column had gone and that the bridge was broken. He knew that the mail train was due, and that if not warned she would be dashed to pieces and many lives lost. He looked at the raging torrent. He wondered if he could get across. The thought of the danger of so many urged him on. He plunged in and made his way to the other side. He was battered and baffled and breathless and bleeding when he got to the other side. He made his way up as best he could, wondering if he would be in time. As soon as he reached the rails he heard the ‘pound, pound’ of the mighty engine. He stood and beckoned wildly, but all he saw was the hand of the engineer beckoning him out of the way. He was making up lost time. The train came on nearer and nearer, and still he stood beckoning to stop. At last it came to where he was. He flung himself in front of the engine. The driver put on the brakes suddenly and managed to stop the train almost in its own length. The stop was so sudden that the passengers were awakened and came out to see what was the matter. When they could see nothing they were very angry, but the driver said, “It has been a close shave this time. We might all have been lost.” And when they saw how near they were to the ragged edge of the broken bridge, their faces blanched. The driver said, “Come with me and I will show you the one who saved us tonight.” They went with him back along the track a little way, and there they saw the mangled remains of the young Highland shepherd laddie. ‘If he had not died for us,’ said the engine-driver, ‘we would all have perished tonight.’

      “That is what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross. He flung Himself between us and wrath and hell. He died for us or we would have died. What base ingratitude it would have been if they had not felt grateful for what that lad did for them! But what baser ingratitude on your part to spurn His love and make light of His death on the cross. Tell me, you will not rush over His body to hell, will you? Why should you perish? There is no need. Receive Him. Trust Him. Believe Him, and you shall never perish. But if you spurn His love and mercy you will surely perish. May God incline your hearts to come to Him now.”


[Christopher Cockrell, Editor: The Berea Baptist Banner, July 5, 2008 p. 377-379. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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