Tag Archives: eternal lostness

Is Stephen Paddock in Hell?

“In reality, along with the power to forgive, we have lost the power to condemn.” (C.S. Lewis)

Stephen Paddock, the maniac who slaughtered 58 people and wounded over 500 more in Las Vegas on October 1, ended his own life before he could be arrested by authorities. He, thereby, successfully escaped human judgment.

But is there no divine judgment? Perhaps he thought that suicide would end his pain or exorcise whatever demons were inspiring his hateful rampage. It may be that he had given up on any view of an afterlife or judgment before God. However, his beliefs do not equal reality.

We wish no one to be in hell. However, our wishes also do not make reality. Whether one is a universalist (who says God will save every person, perhaps even the devil) or an annihilationist (who says God will put out of existence those who die in their sins) or a post-mortem conversionist (one who says numerous opportunities will be given in the after-death state for people to believe in Jesus),[1] the rock-bottom fact for Evangelicals is — What saith the Word of God?

We long for justice. And Paddock’s ending his own life, without trial, does not strike us as justice. That’s why the Psalmist takes the long view when he thinks about the prosperity of the wicked. They live long lives, without care, and die in comfortable beds. But there is the judgment of God awaiting them (Ps. 37).

One need only read through the gospel of Matthew to see that Jesus Christ clearly taught the doctrine of eternal lostness. We learn the following from that first gospel: Jesus speaks of “the fire of hell” (5:22) and says that ripping out one’s eye or hacking off one’s hand is better than being “thrown into hell” (5:29-30; 18:8-9).

Jesus speaks of a wide gate and a broad road that lead to “destruction” (7:13-14). Despite some claiming to do works in Jesus’ name, He will say to some at the end of history, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (7:23).

Hell is a real place (not just a state), for Jesus says, “the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (8:12; 22:13). The demons recognize that they will be “tortured” at the end of time (8:29) and thought Jesus had jumped the eschatological gun.

Apparently there will be levels of judgment in hell, for Jesus says of certain unbelieving cities: “It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for [you].” (10:15; 11:21-24). The Lord warns us not to be “afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (10:28). He is not referring to Satan as some kind of king in hell, but to God.

Jesus speaks of blasphemy against the Spirit as a sin which will never be forgiven (12:32). He says that acquittal or condemnation are the only two options “on the day of judgment.” (12:36-37).

The angels (sent by the Son of Man) will weed out of His kingdom everything causing sin and all who do evil. “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (13:42, 49-50). We read in Matthew 16:26 that the soul is of infinite value — “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” The Mount of Transfiguration event in Matthew 17 certainly shows that there is life after death.

Jesus accuses the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, in their winning of converts, of making them “twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (23:15). In Matthew 24, we read that the evil servant will be cut to pieces and assigned “a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (vv. 50-51). In the parable of the bags of gold, we read of the worthless servant who will be “cast outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (vv. 28-30).

Finally, in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Mt. 25), we read that the sheep are invited to receive their inheritance, the kingdom prepared for [them] since the creation of the world (v. 34). The goats, however, are told, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (v. 42). Then, in summary, we read, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (v. 46).

Is Stephen Paddock in hell? Unless one wishes to ignore the biblical teaching on eternal lostness, there can be only one answer. If he died without Jesus Christ as his Savior, that is precisely where he is. Apart from the saving work of Christ, that’s where I should be as well.

[1] See my The Other Side of the Good News: Confronting the Contemporary Challenges to Jesus’ Teaching on Hell (Christian Focus, 2003).


Posted by on October 8, 2017 in hell


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 83)

Psalm 83

A song. A psalm of Asaph.screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-6-04-58-am

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people;
    they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

With one mind they plot together;
    they form an alliance against you
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    of Moab and the Hagrites,
Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them
    to reinforce Lot’s descendants.

Do to them as you did to Midian,
    as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
    and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
    all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
    of the pasturelands of God.”

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in imprecatory Psalms


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #58 (the Gospel of Matthew)

What an amazing gospel the Gospel of Matthew is! Here are a couple of takeaways for me (my notes are at the end):
1. Dreams are prominent in this gospel.
2. The teachings of Jesus are immensely practical!
3. Hell/eternal lostness is mentioned several times in this gospel.
4. Jesus’ top priority is not to not offend the Pharisees!

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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in unit-reading


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“My Heavens! There’s a Real Hell?!” (a sermon)


I recently had the privilege of preaching in a great church in Charlotte, Southbrook Church.Screenshot 2015-11-24 06.37.46

The pastor, Shane Freeman, has been doing an important series entitled “Under the Hood.”

Here’s the video of my sermon if you wish to watch it:

Comments welcome!

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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in hell


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Time for a Warning about TEXTING! (And a whole lot more)

What’s a greater danger than texting when driving?

Living one moment of this life without Jesus Christ!  If the gospel is true, then death ends all opportunities to be saved.  And when death comes — through distracted driving or distracted living — there are no second chances.

I’m all for warnings about texting.  But what about ETERNITY?

I like the slogan at the end of the commercial:  “Put it down.  Save your life!”  May I suggest a slogan for the spiritual life about the Bible, God’s Word?


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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in texting


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A Poem on Hell

Going through my files I just found a poem I wrote in response to a 1996 article in Canada’s Free Press entitled “Church turns down hell’s heat.” The Anglican church has modified the doctrine of eternal lostness. Let me know what you think of my poemScreen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.19.32 AM!

 So hell’s not real, some Anglicans say.
That’s the good news for us today?
I guess that Jesus was misinformed
When he warned of judgment
He should have conformed.

To the sweet belief
That sinners just fade away
Instead of eternal exclusion
From heaven’s redeemed way.

And to flee to God out holy fear
Is a bad reason for one to hear
The great news that God’s love is true
And that Jesus paid what we had due?

Sadistic charges not withstanding
The Bible’s message is quite demanding
And revisions of hell’s terrible reality
If untrue, bring ultimate finality.

Examine for yourself the Bible’s teaching
And you’ll see these Anglicans reaching
To edit God and Calvary’s price
I’ve done that study and I say, “no dice!”

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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in hell


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Hell — You’re Kidding, Right?! (a sermon)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.55.58 AMI recently was invited to speak at Sandhills Community Church where my friend Jeff Philpott is the pastor.  He preached on Heaven the week before.


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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in hell


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Rejection! (Time for a good cartoon)

KeynoteScreenSnapz124None of us cares for rejection!  I have painful memories of high school girls that I just knew would reject me if I asked them out.  The adolescent insecurity of making that phone call (do kids even use the phone today?) to ask a young lady out is one of the difficult markers of encroaching adulthood.

And it is not easy for the young lady either!  If she is kind and caring, her task is more difficult in politely saying “no” to invitations from young men for whom she has no affection.

Rejection is tough.  When I met my wife-to-be Linda, she was actually named Robin.  No, it wasn’t a case that she was in protective custody by the federal government.  She and her friend Robin decided to switch names at the Freshman retreat.  I immediately “fell in love” with this beautiful young lady from New Jersey and for the next week or so lay in my bunk bed in the men’s dorm moaning, “Robin!  Oh Robin!”

Eventually Linda told me her real name, we got married, and now have four wonderful grandkids.  This June 5th will be 43 years together.  I rejoice in God’s provision for my life and that Robin, I mean Linda, didn’t reject me!


1.  What experiences of rejection have you had?  Care to share one?

2.  The sad biblical truth is that for those who turn away from the Lord Jesus, He will reject them.  Take a look at the following texts on the awful reality of rejection for those who don’t come to Christ:

22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mt. 7)

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, KeynoteScreenSnapz125you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.(Mt. 25)

12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt. 8)

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt. 22)

30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt. 25)




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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in eternal lostness


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