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Looking For the Loophole
by Pastor Ricky Kurth
To many people, it just doesn't seem right that God would punish someone in hell for all eternity, and so they look for loopholes in the Bible's clear teaching about eternal damnation (Rev. 14:11, etc.). They mean well, but they remind us of what the Lord said about the rich man in hell, who pleaded that Lazarus be sent to warn his five brothers, "lest they also come into this place of torment" (Luke 16:28). It is often argued from this that this man had repented, and only a God who was a monster would refuse to release him. As we compare Scripture with Scripture, however, we believe otherwise, especially when we compare the torments of hell to the torments of the Tribulation.
There are many ways to show that the Tribulation will be a time of hell on earth, but perhaps the simplest is found when we read that "in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it" (Rev. 9:6). What a picture of hell! You would think that everyone on the receiving end of the unfathomable torments of that day would repent in the hope that God would relent and spare them further torment. Yet despite the fact that men will be "scorched with great heat" (Rev. 16:9), in John's vision, they "blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not… of their deeds" (vv. 9,11).
In light of all this, we feel the rich man's request to warn his five brothers was not an indication of any repentance on his part--far from it. Like many incarcerated men, he was looking for a loophole in the prosecution's case against him. You see, if Lazarus was sent from the dead to warn his brothers, he could argue that he never benefited from such a supernatural warning, making his conviction unjust.
Add it all up, and a more accurate picture of hell appears. Hell is not filled with cries of repentance to which God turns an unfeeling deaf ear. Like the description of the Tribulation we just read, the air is rather filled with the sound of blasphemy, voiced by men who are eternally convinced that God is wrong and they do not belong there.
Fortunately, dear reader, you do not have to go there. Just admit that God is right, that you are sinner (Rom. 3:23) who deserves to die an eternal death for your sins (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14), but that Christ died for your sins so that you don't have to (I Cor. 15:1-4). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).