In Danger of Hell Fire

If a person cherishes a spirit of malice and unkindness, he is cherishing a spirit that will result in hatred and a desire for revenge. This is why the Bible says that a person who hates his brother is a murderer and cannot hope to have eternal life. The question is, how can this spirit be removed or changed?

Across the Sea of Galilee from where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount was the land of Bashan. This land, filled with wild gorges and wooded areas, had for a long time been a favorite lurking ground for criminals of all descriptions. Even in Jesus’ day, there were reports of frequent murders and robberies committed in the area. People thought that if Jesus was teaching the law, He would have a stern rebuke for the people committing these crimes. They were shocked when He quoted the sixth commandment that says, “You shall not murder,” and showed that the commandment applied to them.

The people of that time cherished bitter hatred against the Romans and other people of their own country who did not in all things conform to their ideas. They were contentious and passionate, and so Jesus said to them, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [an empty-headed, vain fellow] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ [a person who has abandoned himself to wickedness] shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22

Actually, many of the most accurate and ancient manuscripts leave out the words “without a cause.” The text would then read: “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.”

This spirit of hatred and revenge is at the basis of murders. It originated with Lucifer, the leading angel of heaven. His name became Satan, which means adversary, devil, or slanderer. This spirit led him to put to death the Son of God. The New Testament is very clear, the person, the intelligence that was behind the crucifixion of Jesus, was not just the Jewish leaders or the Roman government or Pilate, but an influence of supernatural forces. The devil wanted to destroy the Son of God, so he engineered and programmed the whole event. The heavenly universe saw and knew exactly what was going on, but the people of the earth did not know or understand.

So, as with the devil and many in ancient Israel, whoever today cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit and its fruit will be death. The revengeful thought is the seed that once grown or unfolded, produces the evil deed. The Bible says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

In the gift of His Son, given for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places on every human soul. He gives no one permission or liberty to speak contemptuously about another human being. It is true, having eyes and ears, we will see and hear of faults and weaknesses in other human beings. But God claims these as His property, first because He created them, as we find in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

But human beings are doubly His because He purchased them back by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. So, since all human beings were created in the image of God, even those that have been most degraded by sin, we are to treat one another with respect and compassion. When we study the life of Jesus, we find that He treated even His persecutors with politeness and courtesy.

Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount that God will hold us accountable if we speak contemptuously about anyone for whom Jesus laid down His life. The New Testament also is very strict about this principle. Notice what it says in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul says that everything you have received is from God, so why do you talk as if you produced something on your own? Paul also says in Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

We are not to speak contemptuously of any human being no matter how degraded they are because of a life of sin. We are not to condemn our brother or sister as someone who is beyond the reach of salvation, as though they cannot be saved. If we pronounce judgment on someone else and say that we believe they cannot be saved, Jesus says that we are in danger of hell fire ourselves. The book of Jude provides us with an example of how we should talk and treat our fellow human beings. “Yet Michael [one who is like God] the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Jude 9. Jesus did not bring a railing accusation against the devil. If He had, He would have placed Himself on Satan’s ground for accusations are the weapon of the wicked one. Revelation 12:10 says, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ ”

This scripture calls Satan “the accuser of the brethren.” Jesus did not bring an accusation against the devil; He left it for His Father to decide the condemnation and judgment of the devil. We are to follow His example. When we are brought into conflict with the enemies of Christ, for He still has many enemies in this world, we are to say nothing with a spirit of retaliation, or anything appearing to be a reviling or railing accusation. If we stand as a mouthpiece for God, as all Christians should, then we should not utter words that even the Majesty of heaven would not use when contending with the devil. We must leave with God the work of judging and condemning.

The love of God is a positive, active principle, a living spring ever-flowing out to bless others. If the love of Christ really dwells in our hearts, we not only will refrain from cherishing evil against our brother or sister, or speaking in a contemptuous way to them or about them, but we will ever and always seek to manifest love for them. In Matthew 5:23, 24, Jesus said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” In other words, don’t even go to church to worship the Lord in public until you have made things right with the person that you have wronged. We cannot expect to be able to express faith in God’s pardoning love if we are indulging an unloving spirit.

If, when we come before God, we remember that someone else has something against us, then we are to leave our gift of prayer, thanksgiving, or freewill offering, and we are to go to that brother or sister with whom we are at variance, and in humility confess our sin and ask them to forgive us. If we have in any manner defrauded or injured them, we are to attempt to make restitution. This has been a principle in the Bible from the most ancient times.

Ezekiel 33:15 says, “If the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” So, if we have unwittingly borne false witness against a brother or sister, if we have misstated their words, if we have injured their influence in any way, we need to go to those with whom we have conversed about them and take back all the injurious misstatements.

If Christians would do this in matters of difficulty between Christian brothers or sisters, if instead of laying them before third parties we went frankly and honestly to speak directly to them to make things right, in the spirit of Christian love, how much evil might be prevented. How much bitterness, would be avoided, and how closely Christians would be united in a bond of brotherly love (Hebrews 12:15).

As Jesus presented His sermon, the Jews prided themselves on their morality and they looked with horror upon the sensual practices of the Romans and other nations. But when Jesus showed them that the sixth commandment had to do with what was in the mind and heart, not just in the action, He also revealed something shocking about the seventh commandment. He said in Matthew 5:27, 28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, even secretly, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart.

He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity, he who indulges the evil thought and the lustful look, may behold in the open sin the result of what he has been thinking. The Bible is very clear that all human beings are tempted in this world. But temptation does not create the evil that is revealed; it only develops or makes manifest that which was already in the heart, although it has been hidden. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. “For out of it [the heart] spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23, last part

To prevent a physical disease from spreading to another part of the body and destroying the life, a man would submit to having a part of his body, an arm or a hand, amputated. How much more should a person be willing to surrender whatever imperils the life of his soul? In Matthew 5:29, 30, He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

This is a spiritual principle: whatever endangers the soul must be given up. If we are looking at something that endangers our souls, then we must stop looking at it. If we are handling something that endangers our souls, we must put it away. If where our feet take us is somewhere that endangers our souls, we must stop going there, because, through the gospel, souls that have been degraded and enslaved by Satan, by sin, are to be redeemed and are to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God. God’s purpose is not just to deliver us from the suffering that is the inevitable result of sin, His purpose is to save us from sin itself.

The gospel purifies, transforms, and sanctifies the soul that has been corrupted and deformed. It is to be clothed in “the beauty of the Lord our God.” Psalm 90:17. It is “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29. The Bible says that “ ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” 1 Corinthians 2:9. In fact, eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which every man and woman may be restored.

If we are going to reach this high ideal, whatever causes our souls to stumble must be sacrificed. It is through the will that sin retains its hold upon us. Often it seems to us that if we surrender everything to the Lord, we will be maimed, or crippled, or unable to do the things we have been planning to do. But it is through the surrender of the will to God, represented by Jesus as the plucking out of the eye or the cutting off of the hand, that we are freed from sin’s grip.

Jesus says it is better to enter into life, even if we are maimed or crippled, than to continue in sin and lose our souls. You see, God is the fountain of life and we can only have life as we are in communion with Him. Sin separates us from God and if we are separated from God, we may exist for a little time, but it is inevitable that we will die. The only way that we can truly live is when we surrender to the Lord as our Master and Saviour, and through that surrender we will receive what the Lord wants to give to us.

If we refuse to yield our will to God, if we cling to self and sin, then we are choosing death because sin is going to be destroyed (1 John 3:8), and we will be destroyed along with it.

Friend, what will be your destiny? You have a choice to make. Will you forsake your sin and live, or will you hang on to it and be destroyed?

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Wrong Expectations End in Disappointment

There is a common saying that there are no disappointments in heaven, but in this world everyone will meet with them at some time. This is one of the major causes of mental depression, which is a big problem today.

As Jesus left the temple for the last time, He said to the Jews, “See! Your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

As Jesus departed from the temple that day, His disciples were astounded at this and pointed out to Him the massive stones in the walls. We understand that these stones were so huge that we do not even understand how the builders in ancient times managed to deal with stones so big. They must have weighed hundreds of tons and were cut so precisely that they fitted together without the need of any mortar. Seen from a distance, it looked like one solid, white wall of marble.

The temple was considered by many people in ancient times to be one of the wonders of the world. The Bible records that Herod spent an additional 46 years beautifying it. The disciples thought that by pointing out to Jesus the massive stones, He would admire them, but instead, He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2. His disciples believed that He could only mean that the temple would be overthrown at the end of the world (Matthew 24:3), not comprehending that such an awful thing could happen.

A study of history shows that the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly to the letter in the destruction of Jerusalem that took place less than 40 years later when the temple was destroyed and burned with fire. As the fire spread, it got so hot that the gold melted, causing it to run down the stones. Later, to retrieve all of the gold, the stones were knocked down until there was not a single stone upon another, literally fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy.

Today, there are many ancient artifacts and various ancient buildings around the Mediterranean, but there is no part of the wall of the temple, because nothing of it was left standing. It was completely demolished.

It was only a few days before His crucifixion and His disciples were perplexed by what Jesus had predicted. They approached Him on the Mount of Olives with the questions, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

They wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed, when Jerusalem would be destroyed and what sign they would have of His coming and the end of the world. They thought that they were just asking one question, but they were actually asking two. Though Jesus did not tell them everything at that time, He did answer both questions, leaving them enough to figure out, as time passed.

He first pointed out the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:4–14). History proves that His predictions were accurate and precisely fulfilled.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus pointed out major events that would take place in earth’s history, before His return again to this world. He predicted a great tribulation for the church (Matthew 24:16).

This was not referring to the tribulation for the world. The great time of trouble for the world is still future, but the great tribulation for the church is in the past. Jesus made this very clear that after the destruction of Jerusalem there would be great tribulation for the church. He said it would be so great for His followers that there had not been anything like it in the past, nor would there be anything like it in the future for His church, or His people.

This prophecy, again, was exactly and precisely fulfilled. For well over one thousand years, Christians suffered persecution such as had never been before. History books tell about the massacre of Saint Bartholomew in France when it is estimated that around thirty thousand lost their lives. We will never know for sure until the Day of Judgment. You can read about the time when the whole nation of the Netherlands was sentenced to death, or the time when in the space of about one year a million people were martyred for their faith in Northern Italy. There are many other accounts of massacres of the faithful during this time. The Society of Friends estimated that fifty, or perhaps even seventy million Christians lost their lives during the Dark Ages because of their faith.

This great tribulation that Jesus predicted, such as had never been and never would be again, specifically referred to the persecution of His followers. Remember, that this does not refer to the great time of trouble such as never was. The great time of trouble for the world is still in the future, but the great tribulation for the church, the greatest tribulation that there has ever been, is already in the past.

Daniel, in his book, and John, in the book of Revelation, have also extensively spoken about these predictions, spoken of by Jesus. These books describe how long the tribulation will last—over a thousand years, twelve hundred and sixty years to be exact. Jesus said it would be cut short for the saints’ sake. As this persecution was to draw to a close, Jesus said there would be a dark day (Matthew 24; Mark 13).

As the 18th century came to a close, so did this period of persecution. Jesus, describing the dark day that would come at that time, said that the sun would not give its light, neither the moon. On May 19, 1780, that was fulfilled.

Jesus also said that the stars would fall from heaven. I am always interested in the order of things in Bible prophecy; it is one of the most intriguing things to study. If the order of things given in Bible prophecy should ever prove to be incorrect, then every skeptic and every scoffer in the world would point that out and say, “See, the Bible predicted this, but it didn’t happen that way; it happened this way.” But they cannot do that. Bible prophecy always turns out to be fulfilled just in the order that the prophets gave it. Jesus said there would be a dark day, and after that, the stars would fall from heaven.

It happened! The stars fell from heaven in November 1833. It was the greatest shower of meteors and meteorites that has ever been recorded. We do not know the exact number, but it has been estimated at 240,000. The shower was so great that night was turned into day on that November evening. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly as He predicted.

When they saw these things, Bible students all over the world studied to find out what these signs in the heavens were all about. Looking at the prophecy of Jesus and comparing it with the prophecies in Daniel and in Revelation they concluded that things had been fulfilled right in order, and the next thing to expect would be the second coming of Christ.

These Bible students did not understand everything, but what they did understand they began to preach and the result of this proclamation was that there was a second advent awakening that took place all over the world. People from all different faiths—Protestants, Catholics and other people not connected to any church saw the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. They realized that the next thing to happen was the judgment. This was the beginning of the judgment hour message that was preached.

In those days the believers did not understand exactly what the hour of God’s judgment was. They preached the 2,300 day prophecy from Daniel 8:14 that the hour of judgment would begin in 1843 and 1844.

Actually they were right about the time, but they just did not yet have a correct understanding of the event or what the hour of God’s judgment involved. It was thought that the hour of God’s judgment and the cleansing of the sanctuary meant that Christ would return for the saints, taking them out of this world before destroying the rest of the world with fire.

When 1844 came and Jesus did not come, those expecting Him were extremely disappointed. This was not the first time a disappointment is recorded in Scripture. It happened just six days before the crucifixion and the disciples had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. People were coming down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem witnessing to many miracles Jesus had performed there, proclaiming Him to be the Messiah, just as is predicted in the book of Zechariah. It says that the Messiah would come riding on a donkey and the people would say to the daughter of Jerusalem, “Shout! … Your King is coming to you.” Zechariah 9:9. They quoted the Scripture and told about the miracles. There were so many in that crowd and they were so happy. There were some people who could say, “I was blind until Jesus came and now I can see.” There were others who could say, “I was deaf until Jesus came, and now I can hear.” There were yet others who could say, “I was paralyzed and couldn’t walk until Jesus came, and now I can walk.” Lazarus was in that crowd and he could say, “I was dead; I was in a cave tomb for four days and Jesus came, and now here I am alive.”

As the people related all the wonderful things that Jesus had done, they became very, very excited. Even the disciples thought that Jesus would reign as a king in Jerusalem, but instead of that, in less than a week from that happy occasion, they were sorely disappointed as their hopes vanished and they saw Jesus being lifted up on the cross of Calvary.

They did not yet understand the plan of salvation and that sin cannot be taken away unless someone pays the price. The only person able to pay the price was someone who was above the law. You and I are not above the law. The Bible says we are beneath the law; we are below the law. Even the angels are made under the law. Only Jesus is above the law and for that reason He was the only One who could pay the price for sin. The disciples, not understanding, were disappointed. In the same way, those who were expecting Jesus to come in 1844 were disappointed, because it did not happen the way they had thought. They did not perfectly understand the prophecies.

Interestingly, when we study Matthew 24 and 25, we find that Jesus anticipated this. Notice what He says in Matthew 24: Jesus says, “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:48–51. Then Jesus, talking about the time when He would return said, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Matthew 25:1.

Jesus told them a story about a wedding. He described an Eastern marriage. I have never heard of a marriage that took place at midnight, but this is a marriage that didn’t take place until midnight.

The story in Matthew 25 is especially about Christ’s followers—His church, His people, those who will be living in the last days in the evening of this world’s history.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.” The bridegroom is Jesus Christ and the people who went out to meet Him are His followers. They are described as ten virgins.

“They all took their lamps.” Matthew 25:3. These are people who have a pure faith, because they are described as virgins. The meaning of lamp, when we are talking spiritually is found in Psalm 119:105. It says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Bible is a lamp, but it does not do any good if it is not lit—if there is no fire coming out of it. Anciently, in order to keep the lamp lit, there was need of oil in the base. Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Even the Bible will not do you any good if the Holy Spirit does not do its work on your mind. In fact, the apostle Paul says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. It is the Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible, and it is also necessary that the Spirit interpret to the reader the things of God.

Without the Holy Spirit working on your mind, you cannot understand the Bible. People often want the church, the theologian or the minister to explain Scripture because they can’t understand it. But what we really need to do is pray and say, “Lord, You have promised!” Jesus promised that if you ask, you will be given the Holy Spirit and you will be enabled to understand God’s word (Luke 11:9).

The main reason people do not want to receive the Holy Spirit is because the first thing that happens when the Holy Spirit starts working on a person’s mind is that person becomes convicted of sin (John 16). People generally do not want to be convicted of sin, but they want some other way out. They want to go to heaven without being convicted of their sins.

Many believe that they do want the Holy Spirit until their hearts become convicted of sin; then they say, “No, go away!” But, if you are willing, as you read God’s Word, to accept the conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin you can then confess, repent and forsake your sins and be ready for heaven.

All of the virgins had lamps—the Bible. They all had oil, the Holy Spirit enabling them to understand it, but notice what happened. Some of the virgins took extra oil. Jesus said five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish had their lamps, but no extra oil with them. The wise took extra oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

They were expecting the Bridegroom to return, but they didn’t realize there would be such a long delay. They thought it would be 7 o’clock, but it wasn’t. They thought the Lord would return at 8 o’clock but He didn’t. And then they thought 9 o’clock, but He still didn’t come. And then at midnight they heard the cry, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him” (Matthew 25:6). Then all those virgins awoke and trimmed their lamps.

Notice, according to this story, it will be in the darkest period of earth’s history that the Bridegroom returns. This does not mean the darkest period intellectually, but the darkest period spiritually and morally. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you. Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:8–10).

This is a very solemn story indeed. It tells us that there will be many Christians at the end of the world who will find out they are not ready to meet the Bridegroom.

The people who expected the Bridegroom to come in 1844 were disappointed. They had to go back and study their Bibles to find out what had happened, where they had made their mistake. As they continued to study the Word of God they found out a great deal about why they had been disappointed, what was going to happen and what they needed to do.

In the parable of the virgins is seen a delay. The Bridegroom tarried; the Bridegroom delayed his coming. The Bridegroom is not going to tarry forever and when He comes back at the darkest hour of earth’s history, are you going to be ready?

The story teaches us that a large percentage (50 percent) of people who call themselves Christians will not be ready for the Lord’s return. When the Bridegroom returns in the clouds of heaven they will not be ready with their lamps trimmed; they will be out of oil. It will then be too late to make preparation, for just before the Bridegroom returns, the proclamation is made, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:11, 12.

Christ believes in lawfulness and hates lawlessness. It means that each person is to choose which side of the great controversy he/she is on and that decision involves the law of God.

Whoever sins breaks God’s law and puts himself/herself on the devil’s side (1 John 3:4–8).

While this great controversy is going on it is still possible to change sides. If you find yourself today on the devil’s side, you could decide to change by surrendering your heart and life over to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and be on His side.

The opposite is also true. If you decide to live a lawless life, breaking God’s law as you please, you will be on the devil’s side of the great controversy (1 John 3).

Right now while there is an opportunity you can change sides, but midnight is coming; the Bridegroom is going to come back and then it will be too late to change. The door of mercy will be shut. At that time you will either be saved already, or you will never be saved.

Make a decision today while there is still time.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.