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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Don’t Go to Hell

It is reported that one day, when Vice President Calvin Coolidge was presiding over the Senate, one senator angrily told another to go "straight to hell." The offended senator complained to Coolidge as presiding officer. The Vice President looked up from the book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate. "I've been looking though the rule book," he said. "You don't have to go." "Go to hell" is a form of profanity that is used millions and perhaps even billions of times each day. We hear the expression from men and women, from boys and girls, on TV and radio, from singers and movie stars, in magazines and newspapers and paperbacks. People toss this phrase out rather thoughtlessly. It is as if going to hell would be just another inconvenient and unpleasant experience. In his song, "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie," Hank Williams, Jr. sang words that betray the light-weight view of hell embraced by many today. Included in that song were these words: "If Heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I don't wanna go; If Heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, I'd just as soon stay home .... Just send me to hell or New York City, It'd be about the same to me." It makes for a cute line in a country song, and it helped popularize Hank with a lot of southerners. But is it true? Can we dismiss hell with a laugh and a song?

Jesus describes hell as a place "where the worm does not die and the f ire is not quenched .... a furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth .... a place of outer darkness where there will be weeping" (Mark 9:43-48; Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:30). "Go to hell?" Not a good idea. Jesus told about a rich man who went there in Luke 16:193 1. We don't know how this guy felt about going to hell before he got there, or if he ever thought about hell. But the text is clear that from the moment he arrived in hell, he wanted to get out. He did his best to negotiate his way out of the pain, torment, misery and agony he was in. But it was no go. He was stuck in a place where his money was useless. Next he turned his thoughts to his family on earth. He begs that the former beggar Lazarus may be sent to them "that he may testify to them, less they also come to this place of torment." Now in hell, he wouldn't wish hell off on anybody. He was told they had the written word of God to warn them to stay out of hell and that that was all the message from God they would get on the subject.

"Go to hell?" Coolidge was right - we don't have to go. Through the gospel of Christ, Heaven continues to plead with every soul, "Don't go to hell. You don't have to go."

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ