(From the sermon entitled, “Ang mga Taong Makatatakas sa Impiyerno” for October 2, 2014) Contrary to the common belief about hell, the Bible tells us that hell doesn’t exist, at least not yet. If it doesn’t exist yet, where is hell now? What does the Bible tell us about its existence?
The Bible tells us that the present earth and heaven that we see are all reserved unto fire. Apostle Peter explains, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:7 NIV)
This will eventually happen when Christ comes again. In His impending return, Christ will bring the reward for those who remain faithful and victorious until the end. However, Christ will also carry His wrath to those who are worthy of eternal punishment. The topic doesn’t say that there were already souls in hell, and that they can escape it.
What is the meaning of escaping from hell? Is it true that there are people who can escape the everlasting punishment? The fact is, we can all escape hell. It is God’s will that we know the truth and be saved from hell. How can we escape hell and be saved from it?
We need to understand how we can avoid eternal punishment. At least, now we know that hell is not existing yet, we have lots of opportunity to escape it. How? The best way to avoid hell is to come to God and serve Him. The logic is simple, the more we come closer to God, the more we go far away from hell. People need to understand and know the will of God.
The Bible tells us that only those who do the will of the Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, to avoid hell, we need to do what the Father wills. One of His will is to repent and be baptized as written in Acts 2:38,41,47, which says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:38, 41, 47)
Notice that those who received Baptism became members of His church. Christ built His church so that we can fully serve God and do His will according to His pleasure. In Matthew 16:18, we can read that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
Therefore, if we are a member of His church, we have the biggest chance of escaping hell. As a proof, Apostle Paul says that it is the church whom Christ Will save. We can read it in Ephesians 5:23,25, which says, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:23, 25 NIV)
It is therefore a huge blessing to be part of His body, which is the church of God. Blessed are those who found and were able to enter the narrow gate. Many will try to enter it, unfortunately, they won’t find it. Having been baptized and becoming member of the church alone, doesn’t guarantee us the escape from hell. We need to follow the advises of the Bible.
One of the advises tells us, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV)
Becoming a member is only a step towards salvation. We need to remain clean until we reach the perfectness of our faith. Baptism removes and washes our sins away. However, what do we do with the sins after our baptism? Let us remember that no abominations will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, We do not let our bodies become an instrument of deceitful desires. Apostle Paul explains, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6:12, 13 NIV)
Most of all, we need to run away from all sorts of temptations and wickedness. Before temptations overcome us, we need to turn away. We don’t let our confidence and curiosity become a weakness in facing temptations. The story of Joseph teaches us that running away from his master’s wife made him more righteous before God. His master’s wife seduced him, but it did not prosper because he ran away from it. He did not face it remember, he fled.
Apostle Paul suggests, “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26 NIV) This means that even those who are already trapped trap can escape, only if they follow God’s will and instructions. Temptations will always be there. It comes in an unexpected place and time and anytime, it can overcome us if we don’t watch ourselves.
We need to avoid being like those who have been overpowered by temptations and deceits. As God’s creations, we really don’t have choices at all. Even if we do or failed to do His will, we shall face Him soon at the appointed time of judgment. We will all be measured to what we have done, be it secretly or revealed. We cannot hide from God.