Surprises in Hell

by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould
(Devon, Southwest England)

Sabine Baring-Gould<br>1834-1924

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould<br>1834-1924
Baring-Gould's ancestral home

Hell is
a horrible place

"In hell he lift up his eyes,
being in torments."
-Luke 16:23

Our text this morning is Luke 16:19-31, where Jesus relates a most intense story about the horrors of hell. I must first point out that Hell is a real place, mentioned by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 20 of the 23 times it occurs in the New Testament.

I arrive at the number 20 because the four times hell is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, that information was conveyed to the Apostle John by Jesus Christ Himself, Revelation 1:1.

I must next point out that hell is the surprising and unexpected destination for all who trust their religion instead of trusting Christ. What a great surprise for the rich man Dives, so called because of his Latin name. So utterly unexpected that when death closes his eyes on earth he opens his eyes in hell!

He who had lived so comfortably, clothed in purple and fine linen, and had such a good coat and such excellent dinners and such a cellar of wine and such good friends at his dinners, goes to sleep one night after a banquet and wakes up in hell, surprise number one.

Tormented in the flames, he perceives himself surrounded by demons, his tongue is burning with thirst. He lifts up his eyes and sees surprise number two, Lazarus the poor dirty wretch who lay full of sores at his gate. He did not even know that the beggar had died. And surprise number three, this wretched poor beggar Lazarus is in Paradise.

Death is
often unexpected

There is another story of a great surprise in the Gospels, the man who laid up for himself great possessions, and said to himself, "Soul! thou hast much goods laid up for many years, I will pull down my barns and build greater; take thy ease, eat, drink and be merry." Luke 12:16-21.

That night he was surprised by death and his soul came to realize that he had nothing left of all he had gathered: that was a very unpleasant surprise. None of us wants to end up in hell yet none of us knows when s(he) will die.

Let us take care that we do not have such a great and unpleasant surprise ourselves. Are you ready to die? What is the state of your soul? "Take heed," says our Lord, "to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."

Life is full
of great surprises

Now I am going to tell you of another great surprise. The king of Syria was engaged in war with the king of Israel and one of the servants of the king of Syria told him that Elisha the Prophet saw and knew all that was planned by him against the king of Israel and that Elisha told the king of Israel. So the Syrians were never able to catch Israel's king at a disadvantage and defeat him. Then the king of Syria enquired where this prophet lived and was told he lived in Dothan.

"Therefore sent he thither horses and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night and compassed the city about." Then Elisha prayed to God to deceive and blind the eyes of the soldiers. After he prayed, Elisha went out of the gates of Dothan to them and said, "This is not the way, neither is this the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." So he went before and led them along the road to Samaria, the capital of the king of Israel.

Then he brought the Syrian army in through the gates, and they followed, as docile as lambs. And when they were in the market-place, he said, "Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and lo! they were in the market-place in the city of Samaria.

And all around them were soldiers of their enemy, the king of Israel, with swords drawn, and in the windows men armed with stones and javelins and molten lead to hurl down on them. Here was an unpleasant surprise yet not so bad as dying on earth and awakening in the tormenting flames of hell!

The king of Israel and all his soldiers were eager to be at them and cut them to pieces but Elisha was too good-hearted for that. He persuaded the king to be generous, to give them their breakfast and send them home. So "He prepared great provisions for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master."

They were lucky to be let off so easily and they owed their lives to Elisha being a Saint of God who was willing to intercede for them. But you may be assured to their dying day they carried in memory a lively recollection of the very unpleasant surprise it was to them when their eyes were opened, and they found themselves in the midst of their enemies, when they fondly supposed themselves in the humble and undefended little town of Dothan.

Friend, what surprises
await you?

Do you know the grace of God? Where are you going when you die? Where are you being led? I fear that a great many of you are as blind and ignorant of the road you are treading as were those soldiers of the king of Syria.

You are going on headlong, chattering with one another, laughing and singing, with very little discipline and perfectly confident that you will come to no harm. Take care! Some day your eyes will be opened, and you will experience an unpleasant surprise. Then, when your eyes are opened you will see yourselves surrounded by the enemies of your soul, ready to drag you to hell and destruction and no help available.

Very unexpected was the situation of the Syrians, that the prophet prayed for them and instead of being put to death they were fed and sent away in peace. That is not what you must expect. Your day of salvation is today. What must you do to be saved? The rich man Dives, when his eyes were opened, cried out to Abraham but according to our blessed Lord, Dives got no help in hell, no, not even a drop of water to cool his tongue.

Trusting Christ is
the right thing to do

No man or woman today need go blindly to destruction in hell for God has given us guidance and power to see where we are going. Elisha the prophet led the soldiers of Syria into the midst of their enemies but God's Holy Spirit, Who is our guide, will lead us into the way of salvation if we will listen to His voice and obey Him.

We cannot plead blindness and ignorance, if we find we have gone astray. Our eyes are opened now so blindness cannot come upon us unless we willfully shut our eyes to God's truth. With the teaching of Christ and His Church ever sounding in our ears, we have no right to plead ignorance.

Moreover, God is so merciful, that He never allows any to go to hell unwarned of their danger. As He sent His angel to stand in the way of Balaam, so will He send warning and throw some obstacle in the road you are treading, to bring you to your senses in time. God offers you salvation now.

He will not allow you to perish if you will heed His voice. Will you deliberately persist on the road of evil, knowing the consequences that await you and knowing where you are going?

What will you
do with Jesus?

It was a great surprise to Lazarus when he found himself in Paradise. Life on earth had been difficult and lonely. No doubt Lazarus hoped and prayed he would go to paradise but when he found himself there, he was amazed to see how far its happiness and its peace surpassed his expectations.

So with those who answered the call of God, repented of our sins and trusted Christ. We need not be surprised but rejoice because God saved us when we cried unto Him. However great our anticipations of heaven, they will be surpassed.

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, to conceive those good things which God hath prepared for those who love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

Aren't you glad you've trusted Jesus Christ? Are you telling others about Him so they can go to heaven too? If you have not trusted Jesus Christ, here is easy to understand information about how to be saved.

Surprises in Hell by our preaching guest, the British pastor and hymn-writer who wrote Onward Christian Soldiers.

Sabine Baring-Gould was born into a wealthy family in Victorian Britain who furnished him with a fine classical education. His brilliant mind was fascinated by everything from theology to folklore to history, travel, art, archaeology and social commentary.

He mastered six languages, ministered to congregations in Yorkshire, Essex and Devonshire and still found time to write more than one hundred books. Sabine Baring-Gould was also an accomplished poet who wrote and published more than 1200 articles, hymns, poems and sermons.

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