Hell – Gospel in Life


Tim Keller |  June 8, 1997

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  • Heaven and Hell
Luke 16:19-21
RS 297-02

Luke 16:19–21

The story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 gives us important lessons about saying sorry for our mistakes and the powerful transformation that comes from rising again. It also touches on a topic many people avoid: Hell. This story is a reminder not to think too highly of ourselves, to share what we have, and to understand how hell relates to Jesus and the importance of having a relationship with God.

1. Hell is a place of separation

Hell is not literally a place of fire, but a terrible outcome of being far away from God. When we sin, we’re asking for God to leave us alone, which He does, allowing us to face the results of our actions. But real freedom is found not in being self-sufficient, but in relying on God, who is the source of all good things like love, wisdom, and decency.

2. Hell, therefore, is a place of disintegration

Hell is not a place God sends us to punish us, but a path we choose ourselves when we think it’s better than submitting to God. The images of fire often related to hell represent something far worse: our souls breaking apart when we’re apart from God. This breaking apart shows up as bitterness, worry, stress, and fear, and gets worse when we idolize other things instead of God. This leads to a never-ending state of ruin and breaking apart, which is what hell really is.

3. Hell is a place of complete self-deception

The story talks about a rich man who refuses to admit he’s done wrong and blames God instead, showing he doesn’t understand himself. Hell is shown as a place of loneliness, decay, and self-delusion, with the only way out being through Jesus. But many people reject this way out. The Christian God, who is unique in his willingness to suffer for our love, and the idea of hell, both highlight how great Jesus’ love and sacrifice are. This gives us comfort knowing that his suffering keeps us from experiencing such a fate.



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