My Scripture text is from Matthew’s gospel,
- “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers, therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.” (Matthew 23:14 – NASB)
In His rebuke of the “Scribes and Pharisees,” the religious hierarchy of His day, Jesus sternly warned them of their “greater condemnation.” It is this passage and others that bring to our attention the subject of hell and the matter of degrees of punishment.
The subject of hell has been a problem for the world for some time. Our so-called modern world has especially found the subject to be repugnant. Man makes continuous efforts to find scientific evidence that will assist him in rejecting the doctrine of eternal punishment in a place of eternal fire. Charles Darwin was an example of this effort. He turned from Christianity, not because of his scientific “discoveries,” but because of Christ’s teachings that unbelievers would end up in hell. It is known that Darwin especially had a problem with this whole subject matter because of his unsaved father.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, hated the doctrine of hell so badly he created a religion that sought to dismiss it. It really bothered Russell that not only were their teachings of a place of eternal punishment but that the Bible taught of degrees of punishment, of “greater condemnation.”
But yes, there is a hell, and Jesus taught about it. And yes, there are degrees of punishment, and Jesus also taught about these. Note what He said in Matthew eleven,
- “Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent . . . Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you” (Matthew 11:20, 22 – NASB – NOTE also Matthew 10:15)
Jesus had done mighty works in these “cities” yet they did not believe, they “did not repent,” and Jesus said because of this they will suffer more than the inhabitants of “Tyre and Sidon.” Greater “light” was given to these “cities” than to “Tyre and Sidon,” and they rejected it.
In the book of Hebrews, the author writes,
- “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment . . . How much severer punishment do you thing he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10: 26-27, 29 – NASB)
A “much severer punishment.” If a people, “after receiving the knowledge of the truth . . . willfully” rejects that “truth,” there will indeed be degrees of punishment in the judgment to come, and the punishment will be “much severer” to those who “trample under foot the Son of God and . . .” and in their rejection of Him essentially say that, the” saving “blood of the covenant” is “unclean,” thus insulting “the Spirit of grace.”
It may be a message that is not so readily received, but it is clear that there is a hell and it is clear that in this eternal place of judgment there are degrees of punishment. A sobering message, yet one that Jesus proclaimed and warned of, and one that needs to be heard by the saved as well as the unsaved in this day in which we live.
Have a good day brethren . . . and as you walk may this matter of hell and degrees of punishment in hell give you pause, and lead you to thank God for what He has done for you in Christ, saving you from the wrath to come!
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