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West Allen Church of Christ

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Have You Ever Been to Hell?


The Borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania has an unusual problem. That town has been burning for 39 years. Sometime in May, 1962, a trash fire was set in the new town landfill. It managed to ignite a vein of coal which has been burning underground since.

They say that the fire has spread throughout the township. And it burns hot. Scientists studying the site say that they are unable to remain on the site for long periods of time due in part to the heat. It burns so hot, in fact, that in some parts of town the soles of your shoes will melt if you remain standing in one place for too long. This is because the fire is burning at approximately 650 to 700 degrees, Fahrenheit.

One of the byproducts of the burning coal is sulphur. The stench of sulphur issues from the ground in places and makes it dangerous to breathe. Those scientists who work there studying the fire must bring portable oxygen with them so they don't suffer from the effects of bad air.

Now, can you imagine living in a place like that? How about being forced to move there knowing and being told that you can never leave?

One day something much worse than that will happen to many, many people. As Christians, we should be worried about that. People who we not only know, but love dearly, will be lost forever; finding out only too late the error of their ways.

Unfortunately, so many of us have become afraid of hearing the word "no" and of the rejection of the world that we have stopped trying to tell people about not only the offer of forgiveness that God has extended to them, but of their very need for it.

For all of the tale of Centralia and how life there seems to be close to how I sometimes think of hell, the picture that the Bible paints of that horrible place is worse.

Standing in one place in Centralia can melt the soles of your shoes. But the place of torment in the Hadean realm is described as a place where even a single drop of water on the tip of the tongue would be considered a wonderful blessing. Can you imagine a place so horrid? But, that is how it is described in the Bible.

The Lord describes the place of torment in His parables as a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Can you imagine being in a place so horrible that all you can do is weep uncontrollably and clinch your jaw shut? Yet, that is how hell is described in the Bible.

If you knew that your neighbor was driving a car that was on fire, you would try to stop him before that situation killed him. Yet, we see people day in and day out who are driving burning vehicles on the road to hell and we do nothing to flag them down.

If you saw that your friend was about to drink a deadly poison, you would surely stop him. Yet, we watch and do nothing as our brothers and sisters in Christ stop attending the assemblies of the saints and fall away.

If you ever go to Centralia, take a moment to think about hell and how much worse it is than what you're looking at then. Then, take a moment to think of all of the people your silence is helping to send there.