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ALL OF HELL WITNESSED JESUS CHRIST’S VICTORY
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
11 September 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Hebrews 2:9, 14-18
1 Peter 3:18-20
1 John 3:5
Preparation: (1Peter 4:1-2)
1. Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2. so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
The last time we recited the Apostles Creed, I had asked that the phrase, "He descended into hell," be put back into the creed.
Several of you seemed to have a problem with this statement.
The reason for this, I believe, is that there is a basic misunderstanding of who Jesus Christ really is and the reason for His incarnation, death, and resurrection.
First of all let’s establish the fact that Jesus Christ is God.
In Deuteronomy 6:4, it says,
4. "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
This is the watch word of the Jewish people, and confirms that there is only
The Father is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus Christ is God.
In John 10:30 Jesus confirms this when He says,
30. "I and the Father are one."
And in John 1:1:3, John also tells of this fact, referring to Jesus as the Word:
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. He was in the beginning with God.
3. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Jesus Christ is God! He is not a created being.
Everything that ever was created was created by Him.
Let's not end here, but look further into the reason that Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of man and died. Note what we are told in Hebrews 2:9:
9. But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
This was so that He would understand every aspect of human existence in a personal way, so that if there was any possible way of excusing away any of man’s actions, He would know of it, and if not, His life and death would be a testimony against them.
Note also the reason for His sacrificial death as described in Hebrews 10:5-6
5. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,
"Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired,
But a body Thou hast prepared for Me;
6. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure.
The sacrifice of animals only covered the sin; it never took it away, and if the person was not repentant, it meant nothing.
This is why God never wanted animal sacrifice, He wanted obedience.
Animal sacrifices, and even the eating of animals, are part of this fallen and evil world, and has never been a part of God's creation and heavenly will.
Keep this in mind as we continue our discussion
But Jesus Christ in coming to earth as a man was prepared in His bodily form
to be the perfect sacrifice.
10. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12. but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
Jesus Christ is the only perfect sacrifice that can take away our sin, that
is, if we accept it with a truly repentant heart.
No other sacrifice or priest can do anything.
Jesus Christ is the only answer, and He rose from the dead to prove it.
Now let’s look at 1 John 3:5 –
5. And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
Some people try to imply or actually state that Jesus also sinned.
This is a statement direct from the mouth of Satan.
Jesus always was sinless and will always be sinless.
Any person who says, or presents in a book or a movie, otherwise is of their father the devil, and there is no truth in them.
We are to absolutely and completely reject such things.
In Mark 10:45 Jesus Christ Himself tells us why He came:
45. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom for those who believed, and as a testimony against all who didn't believe during their physical lifetime.
The understanding that even the dead must stand before God has been known from earliest times.
Job, the oldest book of the Bible, which was probably written about 4,000 years ago, speaks of this very point and the fact that everything and everyone is in God's hand.
Let's take another look at our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Job
5. "The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
Our spirits never die. Only our physical bodies die. We will always be conscious of our surroundings.
6. Naked is Sheol before Him
And Abaddon has no covering.
Sheol and Abaddon speak of hell. Sheol basically refers to the place of the dead. Abaddon is the name given to the fallen angel who is king of the abyss, probably Satan, and refers to the destroyer or the place of destruction.
Everything and everyone that is there will be completely exposed before the Lord. Nothing will be hidden from Him; everything that we have done in our lives or thought about will be seen by Him.
Then Job amplifies his statements by showing how powerful God really is, as a way of asking, "Why do you doubt?"
7. "He stretches out the north over empty space,
And hangs the earth on nothing.
8. "He wraps up the waters in His clouds:
And the cloud does not burst under them.
9. "He obscures the face of the full moon,
And spreads His cloud over it.
10. "He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
Job then returns to speak of the effect that this knowledge of God has upon all who know Him.
It is only the living that reject God and His free gift of forgiveness and salvation, and that do not tremble; for all the rest of creation know and tremble.
11. ''The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are amazed at His rebuke.
12. "He quieted the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
Job uses the symbolism of Rahab, a mythological monster who was subdued by Mardok, as a figurative expression of the pride of all mankind.
Rahab also refers to the power of Satan, and simply by the understanding of
God he will be shattered along with all his followers.
13. "By His breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
By the Spirit of God all of heaven has been made beautiful after having been cleared from the evil and rebellious acts of the serpent, Satan, as he fled from the hand of God.
How can we, fragile as we are, ever think that we can stand against the will
of God, for even His archangel, Lucifer (Satan) fell because of his pride.
14. "Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?"
Job’s conclusion to this passage is magnificent. God’s power and knowledge are way beyond anything that man is capable of seeing or hearing.
We must approach God with faith, in spirit and in truth, if we are going to begin to understand Him and gain knowledge.
Our belief in Jesus Christ is the open door to our entry into heaven and to all of the magnificence of God and His creation.
But if we reject this free admission, in this lifetime, we will be witnessed
to in hell, of our rejection, so that we will be without excuse.
This is what happened to the rich man in our New Testament lesson, Luke 16:19-31. Let’s take another look at it:
19. "Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
This rich man was living in his pride, the pride of Rahab that Job spoke of
in our previous passage.
20. "And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,
21. and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
Note that Jesus finds it important to remember the name of this humble poor man but never mentions the name of the rich man.
For Lazarus’ name is written in the Lambs’ Book of Life.
Is our name on the loving lips of the Lord?
22. "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
23. "And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Thus, in death this rich man finds out that there is a great separation between those who die in the Lord and those who don't.
24. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'
Note here also, that the witness of the godly ones is known to the ungodly.
The rich man realized, because of the testimony of Lazarus' life, that he
indeed would bring him water, if it were possible.
25. "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
26. 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'
In these verses is the true reality of hell being revealed. There is a permanent separation of the ungodly from the godly.
And also note something else. God knows that His believers are also merciful and forgiving, and would do what they could to comfort the lost.
God also knows that if the situations were reversed, that would not be the case.
The rich man did not help Lazarus during his lifetime, and if he were also in
death living in comfort, he would not help Lazarus.
But the reverse is true with Lazarus and all other true believers.
27. "And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house –
28. for I have five brothers – that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
29. "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'
30. "But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'
31. "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.' "
Moses and the Prophets refer to the books of the Bible which speak the word of God today even as they did in the day when they were first spoken.
God knows the intent of the heart. Just as each of us, and everyone else in the world, really knows the truth; but far too often we, as a people, would rather believe and follow the lie rather than the truth.
Thus God, in all His wisdom, has set a permanent boundary around the ungodly
through which they may not pass, nor may others enter.
It is final!
To prove that this statement is true, Jesus rose from the dead, and people still don’t believe Him.
But the witness of the truth is still present and understood.
This passage about Lazarus and the rich man also indicates that prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, the place of the godly ones, Paradise, was also held captive to a degree because of the presence of their sins.
Jesus’ death upon the cross took away all the sins of the believers.
And when Jesus died, He who is sinless took upon Himself all of the believers’ sins and delivered them to hell as a witness to the ungodly, and to free those in Paradise and take them to heaven.
Thus Jesus said to the believing man dying on the cross next to Him, in Luke 23:43 –
43. ..."Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
And it also speaks of this event in Ephesians 4:8 –
8. Therefore it says,
"When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men."
This message was prophesied by David in Psalm 68:18, and Paul is here reminding the people of Ephesus and us today of this fact.
Satan, when he caused man to fall, also acquired the power of death.
Thus, in order to truly free the believers, Jesus had to render Satan's power
over death powerless.
Note the explanation given to us in Hebrews 2:14-18.
14. Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15. and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
16. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.
17. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
18. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Jesus was tempted in all things, but never overcome; thus, and only because
He is sinless, could He fill this role as our Savior.
This is why this recent movie about Him is pure garbage and not worth any further comment.
In 1 Peter we also get further evidence of Christ's perfect witness to us and to the dead. Let's begin with 3:18-20.
18. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
19. in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
20. who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
Those persons in prison are in hell. Those persons who were not on the ark are in hell. In hell, Jesus Christ witnessed to them of His victory.
Note also verse 4:6 –
6. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
Jesus Christ, in dying on the cross, took upon Himself all the sins of true believers and delivered them into hell as a witness to the devil and his followers, who include the unbelievers, so that all sinners who repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have been delivered from death into eternal life with the Father in heaven.
God doesn't want anyone to go to hell.
He wants all to be in heaven with Him, but we must also want to be with Him and on His terms.
Are you absolutely sure that you will be with Him?
If not, now is the time to make sure by calling upon His name and asking Him to forgive you and truly be Lord of your life.
And if you're not sure, and are ready to change, then come up here, just like you see the people do during the Billy Graham crusades, and Jesus Christ will change you into a new person and give you that assurance of eternal life with Him.