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Highway to Hell
My very first CD was AC/DC’s High Voltage.
I was a big fan, and, guiltily, still enjoy a little Back in Black or Dirty Deeds and a done dirt cheap from time to time.
How often do we listen to songs without ever paying attention to the lyrics?
In 1979, AC/DC released the album “Highway to Hell” and the title track, written by the lead singer Bon Scott started like this:
Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don't need reason, don't need rhyme
Ain't nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I'm on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I'm on the highway to hell
4 months later, Bon Scott was found dead in a car from what was deemed “acute alcohol poisoning” or, as the English call it, “Death by MISADVENTURE.
One writer wrote of Scott’s death:
The words to "Highway to Hell" took on a new resonance when Scott drank himself to death in 1980.
AllMusic's Steve Huey observes:
The lyrics displayed a fierce, stubborn independence in his choice of lifestyle ("Askin' nothin', leave me be"; "nobody's gonna slow me down"), but not really loneliness (of hell: "goin' down!
party time!
my friends are gonna be there too").
It's ironic that Scott seems most alive when facing death with the fearless bravado of "Highway to Hell"
Bon Scott, like most everyone in this room, must have at least had an thought that there was something else after we died.
His particular view seemed to be “It ain’t gonna be all that bad”.
It may even be a pretty fun place.
The bible, and Christ Himself, paint a very different picture.
My goal today is not to manipulate you into making a decision or scare you into submission to Christ.
That is always the risk in preaching about hell.
My prayer is that the horror of hell would lead each and everyone of us to a newfound awe and amazement at the wonder of Christ and His Gospel.
That those who have not yet come to Christ for salvation, would give their hearts and lives to Him today.
And to us who have trusted Christ, we would be encouraged and challenged by the picture of what we have been saved out of.
The Truth about Hell
There is a lot of imagery in the bible concerning hell.
Just listen to what Jesus says about hell
There will be “a fiery furnace and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- There will be “a fiery furnace and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It is a place of “eternal fire” prepared for the Devil and his Angels.
- It is a place of “eternal fire” prepared for the Devil and his Angels.
the fire “never goes out”
- the fire “never goes out”
It is a place of torment.
- It is a place of torment.
The question that is often asked “Are these literal descriptions of heaven or figurative?
In the 14th Century, Dante Alighieri took the biblical imagery very seriously and created his famous “9 levels of Hell” including:
people getting tossed around by storms
buried head down and their feet caught on fire
forced to push large boulders around endlessly
being whipped by demons while walking around
Being immersed in human excrement
among many other ideas.
Dante took the biblical ideas about hell to a whole-nutha-level.
And the pictures in most of our minds are probably pretty similar to Dante’s
And though Dante’s depiction of hell should never be considered an accurate depiction, it does capture the seriousness and horror of hell.
It does capture the seriousness and horror of hell.
Darkness, fire, separation, gnashing of teeth
Like most imagery used in the bible (and outside the bible, it undercuts the real thing.
Most scholars believe these descriptions are not to be taken literally, but to be considered metaphoric.
Tom Ascol says this about biblical depictions of Hell:
To be separated from God is to be separated from anything and everything good.
That is hard to conceive because even the most miserable person enjoys some of God’s blessings.
We breathe His air, are nourished by food that He supplies, and experience many other aspects of His common grace.
But in hell, a person will be forever separated from God in His kindness, mercy, grace, and goodness.
He will be consigned to deal with Him in His holy wrath.
The greatest punishment of Hell is not the fire or the brimstone, it is the absence of the goodness and kindness of God.
Like most imagery used in the bible (and outside the bible) it often sells the real thing short.
With Heaven, the biblical imagery is meant to illicit hope, joy and longing for heaven.
Though the pictures we are given are glorious, the real things is immensely better than we can imagine.
With Hell the imagery is meant to cast light on the seriousness of sin and the severity of sin’s consequence.
Though the picture we are given is harsh, violent, and terrifying, the real thing is likely much worse than we are able to fathom.
What we DO learn about Hell is:
That it is eternal, unending, never ceasing punishment for man’s sin and rebellion toward our Holy God.
We may not know the specifics of the punishment, but it is clear that whatever it is it will not be “a party with our friends”.
The question often asked is why is hell eternal punishment?
Isn’t God overreacting, charging finite sin with infinite punishment?
At the heart of that question is the natural impulse of the human heart—to minimize the severity and seriousness of our sin.
The misery and torment of hell point to the wickedness and seriousness of sin.
The eternal nature of Hell point to the eternal nature God who was sinned against.
Tom Ascol points to our minimization of sin when he says:
I’m convinced the way we think about hell is always a reflection of how we think about sin and, in turn, how we think about Christ.
Problem is, it’s all too easy for Christians to think of hell as something “out there,” something other people deserve—people who don’t think like us or vote like us or live like us.
Eventually, this way of thinking makes us callous and cold to both the gospel and other people.
John Piper says
If we preach a hell we don’t think we deserve, we will eventually begin preaching a Christ we think we do.
John Piper says
"Hell is all about the outcome of a life of sin.
Sin is all about falling short of God’s glory; that is, failing to see God as glorious and to honor him and thank him as glorious, and to follow him and praise him and glorify him."
The just and proper punishment for sins against a glorious, holy, and infinite God is eternal, unending punishment in Hell.
But that is not all the bible has to say about the justice of Hell.
The people in hell never repent.
They remain filthy; they remain haters of God’s authority.
Their hearts remain unjust and corrupted.
CS Lewis wrote an allegorical story about a man named Narrator who, in a dream, boards a bus for a journey through heaven and hell.
While in hell, Narrator hears of what Hell is like
It describes hell as a drab and gray city with miles and miles of abandoned and boarded buildings.
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