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Jesus, Who Loves You, Warned Frequently About Hell

May 24, 2017

Many people today put Hell in opposition to the love of God, but Jesus combines them. Here is an important truth: No one loves you more than Jesus Christ, yet no one spoke of or taught on Hell and Judgment more than He did. He gave warning after warning and told parable after parable, practically shouting about judgment and the reality of Hell.

No “heresy” of our day is more widespread or pernicious than the denial of hell, its existence, and its sad frequency. I use quotes around the word only because I, as a simple priest, do not have the power to declare formal heresy. However, “heresy” in a broader, more descriptive sense simply means picking and choosing among revealed truth. Confronted with truths that are in some tension (such as God’s justice vs. His mercy or human freedom vs. God’s sovereignty) the “heretic” chooses one and throws out the other in order to resolve the tension. Orthodoxy says “both” but “heresy” picks one and discards the other.

With respect to the teaching on Hell and judgment, the “heretic” cannot reconcile God’s love and mercy with the reality of Hell and eternal separation from Him.

Yet the Lord of Love, Jesus, spoke of these more than did anyone else. The problem is in us, not in Jesus and not in the Father.

We simply refuse to obey what is taught and to accept that because we have free will, the choices we make ultimately matter. We have been bewitched by the fairy tale ending that everyone “lived happily ever after.” We deny that the sum of our choices constitute our character, and that our character ushers in our chosen destiny. We refuse to take responsibility for the fact that we make choices that build over time and which we will one day never be able to renounce. Instead we blame God and call Him (who sent His own Son to save us) the bad one; we say that He is responsible for whether we go to Hell or not.

Meanwhile God is pleading, “Come to me. Come to me before it is finally time to rise and close the door!”

Bottom line: either God is love and we are free to choose Him or not in our own act of love, or God is a slave driver and no matter what we go to His Heaven and live with Him forever. In other words, freedom means choice and choice permits us to say “no” to God. Therefore, there is Hell.

We need to be sober about this; Jesus certainly was. He warned and warned and warned; He pleaded and pleaded and pleaded. He knows whereof we are made; He knows how stubborn and stiff-necked we are, that we don’t like being told what to do. Yes, Jesus sadly observed that many—indeed “most”—prefer Hell to serving in Heaven (cf Matt 7:13 inter al).

We must overcome our smug presumption that salvation is a done deal and hear the pleading of our Messiah and Lord, Jesus. We must allow Him to warn us in love, we must allow Him to ignite in us a holy, even servile, fear in order to sober us and draw us to be serious about the work necessary to save us.

In service of this plea, I’d like to present a collection of “warning texts” as a sort of antidote to this “heresy” of modern times. Note that these are only some of the passages I could have used. Please feel free to use the comments section to add to my list. I will publish a final version once I’ve finished collecting any input. As I hope this compilation will show, those who deny Hell or its possibility must reject a huge number of biblical texts in order to do so.

Let us all realize this basic truth: No one loves you more than Jesus does, yet no one warned of Judgment and Hell more than He did, no one. Allow the Lord to wed these ideas in your mind. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling, O Sinner, come home! Do not buy into the modern “heresy” of universal salvation. Jesus did not teach this; neither did the Apostles, His appointed spokesmen and successors in ministry. Do not try to overrule or correct Jesus. Just accept what He taught and listen in love and faith. Hell is real. We need a savior, but He needs our “yes.”

Here then are many texts that warn of Hell; most of them are right from the mouth of Jesus. These quotes are available in PDF format here: Texts on Hell and Judgment.

Texts on Hell and Judgment

The first two passages are from the Old Testament, and exemplify the prophetic tradition into which Jesus will draw.

Is 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Is 66:24 And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.

Matt 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. John the Baptist speaks here.

Matt 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell. Even unrighteous anger, unrepented of, can bring forth Hell. We tend to justify our anger; God does not. He warns that we cannot cling to it and still walk into Heaven.

Matt 5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. We make light of sin, but the Lord does not. He is not saying that we should mutilate ourselves, but rather that it is more serious to sin than to lose our eye, foot, or hand. We do not think this way, but God does. He warns us that our most serious problem is not our physical health or finances or any other passing problem; our most serious problem is our sin.

Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. This is a pretty clear warning that we must allow God to give us the gift of mercy and forgiveness or else we cannot enter Heaven. Blessed are the merciful, for (only) they will obtain mercy.

Matt 7: 13 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Do you understand this? More are lost than are saved. This is a mysterious text in terms of its sweeping quality. Why would God permit this? But it is a text whose meaning is clear: most are lost. Hear Jesus’ pleading and be sober about how stubborn and stiff-necked we can be.

Matt 10:28 Do not 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. Jesus is talking about Himself and calling us to a holy fear.

Matt 11:23 And you, Capernaum! You won’t be lifted up to heaven, will you? You’ll go down to Hell! Because if the miracles that happened in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. Don’t think that just because you’re a member of “the club,” you’ve got it made, you’re in. Indeed, for those who have heard and seen, more is required, not less.

Matt 12:36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Yes, we will have to give an account even for the gossip we make light of. Lord, have mercy!

Matt 13: 24-30 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters, ‘First, collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” So there is a day of judgment; not now, but it will come.

Matt 22:1-14 (Parable of the Wedding Banquet) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 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.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.” It is the shocking parable of a king who, in the end, accepts the “no” of the invited guests. As for the wedding garment, remember that it is provided by God (cf Rev 19:8). The refusal to wear the robe of righteousness is on us, not on God.

Matt 23:33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Matt 24:36-51 (The Day and Hour Unknown) But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, “My master is staying away a long time,” and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Beware of presumption and making light of sin!

Matt 25:1-13 (Parable of the Ten Virgins) At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out, “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. The groom delays, but not forever!

Matt 25:26-30 (Parable of the Talents (conclusion)) His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We will have to reckon for what we have done and what we have failed to do with our gifts.

Matt 25:41-46 (Sheep and Goats (conclusion)) Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Reward or loss, you decide.

Mark 9:42–48 (Giving Scandal) If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Those who lead others to sin are going to have to answer to Jesus for what they have done. Do not doubt this. Pray that all repent prior to the day of reckoning!

Luke 8:17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. You cannot hide from God.

Luke 12:42 (The Day and Hour Unknown) Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. This is a warning against presumption.

Luke 13:22-30 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Hell and exclusion are quite real. Jesus is pointing to fear here. Some call fear “unhealthy,” but Jesus is willing to use it if it will bring forth repentance.

Luke 16:19-31 (Lazarus and Dives) There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” He answered, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Contempt and indifference toward the poor is a damnable sin. Note, too, that the rich man does not change after death. He is locked into his patterns. He does not ask to come to Heaven; he wants Lazarus sent to Hell. He still does not recognize Lazarus’ dignity; he still sees him as an errand boy. After death, the rich man is miserable, but he cannot and will not change. This teaching on our fixed character after death explains why Hell is eternal: because we will never change.

John 12:48-50 If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. In effect, we bring judgment upon ourselves. We might wish to blame God, but at the end of the day, we show by our own disposition that we are not fit for heaven and would not be happy there because it is the full realization of many things we either detest or scoff at (e.g., love of the poor, forgiveness of our enemies, chastity, worship of God).

Rev 22:12-16 “Look, I am coming soon!” says the Lord. “My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Jesus speaks here in vivid terms of sinners as dogs and cowards. Pay attention: the “Mister Rogers” version of Jesus is not the Jesus of Scripture.

Jesus commissioned the Apostles to preach, teach, govern, and sanctify in His name. Therefore, in hearing them in the following texts, we hear the voice of Jesus.

Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Only those open to God making them holy can endure the bright lights of the Kingdom of God.

Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Pay attention, modern age, which has shredded marriage at every turn.

James 2:12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Help us to show mercy, Lord, for the measure we measure to others will be measured back to us.

Romans 2:3-11 Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. We are judged by deeds, not by prerogatives or by being “better” than someone else.

1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. Although the modern world makes light of sexual sins, God does not. He warns that these sins render us incapable of enduring the bright lights of Heaven because we “prefer the darkness” (cf John 3:18).

1 Cor 9: 26-27 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. If even Paul realized he had to be sober, why not us?

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Some call fear unhealthy, but God is willing to appeal to it.

Gal 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Not inheriting Heaven means going to Hell.

Eph 5:3-7 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them. Once again, God says that sexual sin excludes us from the Kingdom of God. We go to Hell if we die unrepentant, because it shows that we prefer the darkness and cannot stand the light.

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Comments (59)

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  1. Bee Bee says:

    A priest at our parish gave the most eye-opening homily on Divine Mercy Sunday. He spoke of God’s justice. We know God is just. To be just is to give someone their due. Since He has revealed to us what is expected of us (to keep the commandments and to live a life loving Him and our neighbor), then when we die we will get what is our due, either good or ill, depending on if we kept those commandments. When we die we will be judged justly and given justly what is coming to us.

    And so only in light of Divine Justice can we understand the immense gift of Divine Mercy. If there was no Divine Mercy our due would be hell, because we all sin, and sin gravely. But there is a way to avoid hell, and that is to throw ourselves on the Divine Mercy, to confess our sins and repent of the way we have not lived the commandments. Jesus pleads with us to do this. It is our only way to avoid hell.

    Anyone who presumptuously believes there is no hell, or that Divine Mercy is automatic, is being deceived. You WILL get what is your due, unless you appeal to the Mercy of God and repent …

    • Edward Hara says:

      So is it our due to be tortured forever for sins we have committed here on earth? Or does a just God scourge our sins in proportion to their severity and to the end of producing repentance in us?

      Would you consider a judge on earth to be just if he sentenced a child to life in prison for stealing a candy bar? That is a small analogy of the inequality of eternal perdition (as described by the Roman Church) given to men for their sins in time.

      Christ taught in an analogy in Luke 12: 42-59 regarding the seeking of the Kingdom of God. In it, He spoke of the sinner who would not do his Master’s will, who was not watching for the judgment, who was not ready to meet the Master and in a state of rebellion. And what does Christ say is the punishment? Eternal fire? No.

      Luke 12:59 I tell the, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

      There is scourging for sin in the next life. The Early Fathers called it hell, but they did not teach that it lasted forever. Justice demands that it last only until the last mite is paid.

      • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

        Your quotes pertain to purgation not to Hell which Christ teaches in eternal. He speak to that place where where the fire is never extinguished and their worm dies not. The eternality of Hell is not because of punishment but due to the impossibility of repentance or change after we are quickened in death.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for this post. I was just thinking about some of these scripture passages today. I’m glad to see these all in one place. It puts things in perspective. Although, I am wondering, why is there a Mormon video at the end? And the video covers up the last scripture and comment.

  3. Tessye says:

    Dear Father Pope- In the Lazarus parable, could the rich man have been in a lower level of Purgatory instead of Hell since he was asking Lazarus to “save” his brothers by warning them? I figured souls in Hell don’t love and care about the salvation of others.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Unclear, but if he is in purgatory where is the repentance? His only sorrow is that he is in pain, not that he mistreated Lazarus whom he still sees as beneath him. I am not sure the souls in hell do not care as you say.

    • Stewart Davies says:

      Dives, the “rich man” is not an actual historical figure. Dives can be any one of us if we live out our lives according to the spirit of the world while consciously rejecting, or even merely ignoring our baptismal covenant. Therefore, Father Abraham’s admonition that “they have Moses and the prophets” is meant for us. None of us can hope to plead, when we come to judgement, that “we didn’t know”.

    • Cory says:

      He isn’t in hell. Prior to Christ, there is only the place of the dead. Abraham’s bosom is not heaven. I they are both in the place of the dead with a particular “space” for the bad and the good.

      • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

        So you hold that Jesus only told the parable to that generation? I think I have set forth why calling it sheol has a lot of problems of its own.

    • Beth says:

      I have also heard a priest say that he did not want his family to join him in hell because that would increase his torments. Just as every soul we help get to heaven will increase our glory, should we get there ourselves, so also every soul we have assisted in leading to hell would increase our punishments when they join us, and would literally hate each other for it.

      So, possibly, it was out of selfishness that he wanted his family warned. Just a thought…….

  4. RAY - PORTSMOUTH - UK says:

    Thank you so, so much for this unbelievably beautiful arrangement of this gorgeous old American Hymn.
    It takes me back to my very early days when, at my grand old age of 8, in 1954, Billy Graham and his team came to this country to conduct probably his most successful evangelical campaign here in London’s Harringay Arena. My parents, devout and convicted Christian people who led their Christian lives in the most sincere manner, took me to it, I am so very glad to say.
    Throughout the meeting, I had already been very deeply affected by the atmosphere and the genuine (and unexpected) sense of peace and calm generated at this wonderful occasion, even though there were thousands of people crowded into that huge stadium. Jesus was truly there . . . . . !!!
    But then, approaching the end of the meeting, Billy Graham made his usual urgent but gentle invitation for any who wished to come forward to receive Jesus as their personal Saviour and change their lives for ever. Cliff Burrows, the musical director, led the not inconsiderable choir in a beautiful and calming performance of this lovely old invitation to ‘Come To Jesus’.
    I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have had this background and these kinds of experiences in my very earliest days.
    And now, 63 years after that momentous event and and 52 years after having become a Catholic, I find myself praying on the very knees of my soul for the Catholic Church itself to run these kinds of life-saving – and soul-saving – evangelical campaigns. Using the kinds of scriptural texts and explanations and exhortations as your own above, Father, that we ALL need to take very serious account of throughout our lives, then maybe – just maybe – we would see a return of our own lost brothers and sisters to a true relationship with Jesus in their lives and set the Church on fire!!
    Oh yes – there is truly a place for this ‘old time religion’ in the Catholic church.
    And I make an impassioned plea to all of us to pay serious attention to the words of the third verse of this beautiful hymn:

    ‘Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
    Passing from you and from me;
    Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
    Coming for you and for me.’

    Oh Lord, help us to set this world on fire with the heat of your love and merciful forgiveness for all who genuinely ask – ourselves first . . . . .
    God bless all.

  5. Marguerite says:

    Thank God He gave us Purgatory where hopefully 99.9% of us will go for cleansing. This alone should lead all Protestants to the Catholic Faith!

    • Edward Hara says:

      I expect to be purged after death. I believe you are right about the 99.9% who will need to be changed into Christ’s likeness before entering into the love of the Blessed Trinity.

      So here’s another question: why wouldn’t purgation after death work for all men and women? Why not restorative scourging in the fires of God’s love for all men and women? After all, Scripture clearly states that God wills the salvation of all mankind.

    • James says:

      No one should ever want purgation in purgatory. Be careful my dear, that is pride talking, one of the deadliest sins. I certainly do not want to go to purgatory, and I pray to Our Blessed Mother to rescue me from there if I shall have to go as quickly as possible.

  6. Daniel says:

    Thank you for this.

  7. Brad Miner says:

    Msgr. Pope: I recently had a conversation with a young man interested in the Church, but who is stuck on the matter of hell. He posed an interesting question, which I I felt I was unable to adequately answer: “How can eternal damnation be just when none of us ever chose to be born?” It would be one thing, he said, if in the soul were given warning before birth and a chance to opt out, but to live on earth for so short a time with only finite knowledge when infinite suffering may result seems fundamentally unfair.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Brad, tell the young man that his life is a gift. The giver has given him his time on Earth to decide if he can love the giver. If he chooses not to he will be separated from the next level of this wondrous gift. But if he uses his will to do the givers will he will not only be included in the next level which we call heaven, but will have a joyful life at this lower level. The idea of not being asked whether or not you would accept a chance to live and breath and be is a specious argument. Who would say no to existence given the description i have laid out above? No one! Mommy says to her son “Would you like to have great time today going places and doing things? All you have to do is learn about your mommy and see if you can love her? After all she gave you everything! However, if you cannot find it in your heart to love her…well then that is up to you and you can stay in your room!”

    • Russ T says:

      Existence for all things is simply because God wills it so – perhaps more correctly, he loves things into existence.

      To exist is to be loved by God – if God were no longer to love us (impossible), we would no longer exist.

      To exist is a great gift, but a gift that can be wasted. Prior to existing, it isn’t a matter of not wishing to exist, which would be absurd, an impossibility. However, once we do exist, we are able to reject God’s love (notwithstanding that as long as we exist, God continues to love us, maintaining our existence).

      The young man you speak of simply posed an impossible question to answer, since the precept itself is impossible – no thing or person could ever decide it wanted to exist (or not to exist) before it actually exists. Deciding one does not want to exist is to reject God’s love, which is to choose Hell…

    • Stewart Davies says:

      We understand that God implants a knowledge of the Natural Law in every single soul He creates, at the moment it is created. Hence we can understand why even the most primitive pagan societies, including those who have never known any contact with the outside world, have a moral code that is essential for their survival. This knowledge is not a conscious awareness, but in fact something far more profound. Such peoples as those who have never been exposed to the Gospel or any proper understanding of the One True God will still be judged according to how well they lived in accordance with their established moral code. “I never asked to be here” will be no defence, even for them. Far less so for us.

    • Edward Hara says:

      Eternal damnation is not only unjust, but it is unscriptural. But punishment for our sins, in proportion to the evil we have chosen here on earth is very just, and I think your friend would agree with that.

      This is what Patristic Universalism teaches, that God, who is just, scourges us for our sins in proportion to the depth of wickedness we have committed. The scourging is restorative, not revengeful.

  8. Vanessa says:

    There’s a typo on Romans 2:3-11 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

    Immorality needs to be morality.

  9. RJO says:

    Thank you, Msgr. Pope!
    As for the number saved, I believed St. John Bosco in a private revelation said 90%
    go to hell, but St. Padre Pio (his opinion), said most are saved. Knowing that St. Pio saw and spoke to Jesus and Mary on a regular basis, I’d hope his opinion was more valid.

    • Edward Hara says:

      St. John Bosco was a product of his time, and his time was deeply influenced by the ruminations of Augustine and then Anselm of Canterbury (of whose Cur Deus Homo David Bentley Hart describes as “Catholics in the Hands of a Psychotic God.)

      The God of love seems to be completely absent from most Medieval musings.

  10. Eliza says:

    Thank you for loving us by teaching the truth, Msgr. Pope

  11. Great inputs no doubt. However there is one question I might add in regards to this reflection. How does this article relate to one missing their vocation whether it be Matrimony, Religious Life, or Priesthood. If the single life in it’s self is not a vocation and one where to remain in that state though they received confession and eucharist regularly throughout their earthly life would they still be liable to hell because they possibly weren’t fulfilling their God given potential? I have yet to hear a priest or anyone from the catholic hierarchy speak on the potential consequences of missing one’s vocation even if they were living a faithful life to the best of their abilities as a single person. There is a over whelming plethora of transitory single Catholics in the world and the priest to laymen ratio is getting wider. Do you have any input on this and has the Vatican done anything to address this possible issue. Thanks.

    • Gennavette says:

      Wow! What huge choices! I think it would be more helpful for this person to think of life in a less global scale.

      How should I spend my life? Married or vowed religious? Very difficult to answer. I might not be able to answer that for several years (and in the meantime I am, guess what, single.) I could even get it wrong, despite my best efforts.

      What is the next right thing to do? This is a much better question that people in all states of life — married, single, or religious; happily, unhappily, or totally by mistake — still have to deal with every day. Fortunately, this question is always easy to answer.

      What is the next right thing to do? Call my mother. Clean up my house. Pay the taxes Take a troubled friend out for coffee. Apologize to a co-worker. Pray. Go to the doctor. Get some exercise. Be kind to a particular child. Deep in my heart, I always know the answer to this one.

  12. Russell Morrissey III says:

    Anyone committed to spreading the faith will find this article very useful. Thank you for it!

  13. Andrew Tucker says:

    Great points here. However there are a few questions I have in regards to this reflection. How does one reconcile Hell and the consequences of missing one’s vocation. If the single life is not a vocation and one does not enter the priesthood, matrimony or religious life what is the fate of that individual despite receiving confession and Eucharist on a regular basis? I have yet to hear a priest or hierarchy clergymen speak about this. I have to admit the priesthood to laymen ratio in the catholic church world wide is getting wider. Has the Vatican address this issue?

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Not sure I get your point. The single life is not per se a vocation, but there can be something one does to help others and can do because he or she is single. That would be vocational, not being single per se.

      • Andrew Tucker says:

        Okay. Let me clarify this a little better for you. The transitorial singles in the catholic church today are at an all time high. Many of these catholics practice their faith to the best of their abilities. They have good jobs make a decent living and have some involvement within their parish but they never consider Religious Life, Priesthood or Marriage because they think God is not calling them to those. Many of these catholics go to confession and Eucharist on a regular basis to improve their moral life and spirituality. They contribute to the church and support others as best they can. Now consider that these same Catholics have been living this life style for many many years. The question becomes do they potentially end up falling short to what God had been calling them all along and therefore face the possibility of hell fire?

        • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

          You’re off topic and on some sort errand. Perhaps you should write an article of your own and publish it elsewhere. Also you might look up the meaning of the phrase “per se” which I think you miss and hence your reply is to a straw man. I do not hold the absolute view you are opposing.

          • Andrew Tucker says:

            Monsignor I am so sorry if I came off the wrong way in these questions. I need to more careful in interpreting things while reading these reflections. Everyone please forgive me if I have offended anyone on this forum.

    • Kirsten says:

      Andrew, I have never heard anyone say the single life wasn’t a vocation. People who remain single, for whatever reason, have a calling. They are more free than married or religious to spend their time in good works and prayer. I have 3 kids with one on the way. I cannot spend time volunteering to help out at church in any capacity. I used to do music ministry but had to discontinue that because I couldn’t watch my little ones and sing at the same time. I also used to be on the board of our local pregnancy resource center but kids made that impossible. There are time I am envious of those who do not have my obligations. If you are single, embrace your state in life and use your time wisely. Its a gift to be able to serve God unencumbered by other obligations. You can also become a third order religious as a lay person. So many possibilities. Don’t think for one minute that isn’t a valuable way of life.

  14. Tony R says:

    I’m in trouble. might be read as a joke but as my faith has increased, I see how far away I am from living my Catholic faith like I should. I read somewhere that when we sin we justify it like we are a lawyer. when we see someone else sin (especially someone whom we don’t see favorably) we see it as a judge see’s it. this is gonna be hard to change.

    • Peg says:

      Thankful for people’s comments on this most serious topic and Tony R, thank you for being so honest and I can relate to what you said. We just cannot give up trying to be good in order to live with Jesus in eternity. I remember reading about a well known journalist who kept putting off joining the Catholic Church until someone mentioned to him that eternity is a long time. Thank you, Monsignor Pope, for helping us to stay the course.

    • Kirsten says:

      Tony, you are closer than you think. St Therese use to say as we get closer to the light, the more dirt we are able to see on ourselves (I am paraphrasing). If we are in the darkness we cannot see how dirty we are. As we get closer to God, the dirt gets revealed little by little. Being able to see your “dirt” means you are getting closer to God. Don’t mourn that. It is when we see how dirty we are that we come to rely on God’s grace and we see the immensity of His mercy.

    • Domingo says:

      Indeed there are many things that WE might not be able to change; but God can. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit.

  15. Nick says:

    Proverbs 7:27 [The adulteress’s] house is a highway to Sheol, leading down into the chambers of death.

    Jesus’ Descent to the righteous dead, Resurrection, and Ascension also reveal Hell and Purgatory to us.

  16. Matt C. says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    Why is it that you are using a Protestant bible to cite these verses and not a Catholic bible, such as, the NRS or NAB?
    I find it odd your use of the word “heresy” and how you define it. I agree with your definition. But why condone followers of a Christian theology whose founding fathers were heretics. Perhaps the NIV reads better than most of the Catholic translations. As a revert from those denominations, I had a difficult time accepting Catholic translations upon my return.
    I don’t mean to sound too picky or critical, but many of the Protestant bibles change the wording of many passages to support their theology. And from my experience of my fellow Catholics, very few of them realize these subtle differences.

    Matt C.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Copyright issues. Catholic bible publishers are fussy about anyone using their texts at over a certain number of words. Protest publishers are glad that the word of God is being shared. Pretty strange. I have complained to them bitterly about it and how unevangelical this is. They don’t seem all that interested in this matter and just go on sending terse legal warnings. I know a well-published bishop who uses Protestant Bible translations for the same reason. If there is a problematic translation find another one that is more accurate. But it isn’t the common problem you cite. It is a pretty rare problem actually.

      • Catherine Elliott-Dunne says:

        Msgr. Pope,
        Thank you for another excellent teaching.
        Two things:
        (1) Have you tried the Knox bible (translated mid-20th century by Ronald Knox, and I believe it is one of the approved bibles in England/UK and/or Ireland). Dom Mark Daniel Kirby OSB recommends it on his excellent blog Vultus Christi. They may be a little more receptive than here in the USA>
        My favorite bible for personal reading is a used copy if the confraternity new Catholic edition of the Holy Bible, shown on the frontispiece as “a revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version, etc.) Copyright is 1953. This is written in sacred language, not slangy language and is very beautifully worded. Maybe if you could find one of these bibles which are out of copyright?
        (2) Unless I misunderstand what you were asking for in your article, some of my favorite texts on Hell come from the psalms and the book of Ezechiel. For example:
        (a) “The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God.” Psalm 8:18.
        (b) “Let death come upon them, and let them go down alive into hell. For there is wickedness in their dwellings: in the midst of them. Psalm 54:16.
        (c) “I shook the nation with the sound of his fall, when I brought him down to hell with them that descent into the pit. Ezech. 31:16.
        (d) For they also shall go down with him to hell to them that are slain by the sword: and the arm of every one shall sit down under his shadow in the midst of the nations. Ezech. 31:17.
        (e) To whom art thou like, O thou that are famous and lofty among the trees of pleasure? Behold, thou are brought down the trees of pleasure to the lowest parts of the earth: thou shalt sleep in themidst of the uncircumcized, with them that are slain by the sword: this is Pharoah, and all his multitude, saith the Lord God. Ezech 31:18.

        • Catherine Elliott-Dunne says:

          A couple more quotes on hell:
          (f) “The most mighty among the strong ones shall speak to him from the midst of hell, they that went down with his helpers, and slept uncircumcised, slain by the sword.” Ezech. 32:21.
          (g) “And they shall not sleep with the brave, and with them that fell uncircumcised, that went down to hell with their weapons and laid their swords under their heads, and their iniquities were in their bones because they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.” Ezech 32:27.
          (h) “The path of life is above for the wise, that he may decline from the lowest hell.” Prov. 15:24.

  17. Rowland S says:

    Jesus never used the word “hell” as he didn’t speak English. Jesus did speak figuratively of Gehenna and the Gospel writers used the Greek word “hades”. And the English word “eternal” most likely did not have an Aramaic equivalent. It is a philosophical term unknown to the Hebrew mind, steeped as it was in the physical world of time. Those who die in unbelief will face judgment, but the judgment of the wicked is part of God’s plan to save them. Their second death in the lake of fire is meant to burn away the false self and heal their sick soul. Why would a loving God resurrect the wicked only to cast them into hell or annihilate them? God would never make weak and broken human beings responsible for their final destiny. In the end, God is responsible for our salvation. He is not called “Savior” for nothing.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Nice try but your attempts to explain away this teaching so consistently taught by Jesus fails to convince. I think I have explained why the existence of Hell is not opposed to God’s love and see no need to repeat it here. I think is a discussion you need to have with God, not me. He said these things not I. Saying he didn’t speak English is a poor subterfuge. You know what he is talking about, he describes it far vividly than even the word Hell captures.

      • Beth says:

        Msgr. Pope- Here is a verse that addresses the above comment: John 5:29. Indeed, some are resurrected to eternal life, while others are resurrected to eternal judgment (condemnation). Thought you might add it to your list.

        Also, THANK YOU for this and all your other writings and podcast homilies.

        Stay in the fight! This is indeed a good fight to be in 😉

  18. Josephine R says:

    Father, One of my children has totally rejected his faith; my son declares he does not want a God who will create someone as gay and then condemn them to Hell for acting on it. He is a broken young person who as a child had to deal with his daddy who he loves,leaving us to live with another man. It seems he sees it as a choice- to love his dad and believe he loves him or to love God -but cannot reconcile both. I pray for them all but I do not know how to respond to my children’s pain in faith.

  19. Thomas B says:

    I got to say I sin regularly – Although I try I go to confession say daily Rosary try and do a Holy Hour daily – it’s the 3 o’clock pray I live for Mercy – but reading your column has me in doubt about the enormity of my sins That – will I ever get to Heaven? – And I have to say there has been some in my long life that have caused and are causing great distress – and I would not shed a tear for their mishap and yet being me and the reading of your column – with all my praying I’m going down not up………………

  20. Tom says:

    It’s very discouraging in some ways. I recently read an article on the “fewness of the saved,” and it was disheatening. I feel like I’m pre-programmed to fail because I can’t seem to change behaviors. Behaviors that go back to adolescence and possibly before that. I only hope that “wanting” to change hold some merit, because actual change, I am finding, is harder to implement than I ever thought it would be. And the constant failure to change has become too much to bear.

  21. Charles Fears says:

    SUFFER TO TAKE THE PLACE OF MY SECOND MARTYRDOM
    Jesus speaks:
    “To purify the world the first time, My Father sent the Deluge to bathe the world with water; the second time He ordained that it be bathed with blood, and with what Blood! Neither the first nor the second Purification was sufficient to transform mankind into the children of God. Now the Father is weary and allows the scourges of hell to break forth, so as to destroy the human race because men have preferred hell to Heaven. Their master, Lucifer, tor¬tures them, in order to incite them to curse Us, making them so completely his own children.
    I would come again to die for them a second time, to save them from an even more terrible death… but My Father will not allow Me to do so… My Love would allow it, but Justice will not. Justice knows that it would be use¬less. Therefore, I will come only at the last hour. But woe to those who will see Me after they have chosen Lucifer as their Lord! My Angels will need no weapons in their hands to win the battle against these antichrists. My Look will be enough!
    Oh, if men would once more learns to turn to Me, Who am their Salvation! That is all I desire. If I cry, it is be¬cause I see there is nothing I can do to make them look to¬wards Heaven, from where I am stretching out My Hands to them.
    Suffer, Maria, and tell good souls to suffer, to take the place of My second Martyrdom, which the Father does not want Me to accomplish. To every one who offers himself as victim, will be given the salvation of some souls. Some… and it is not to be wondered at, if those souls given to each little redeemer are but few, when one reflects that at the hour of My Immolation on Calvary, from amongst all the thousands of people present at My Death, I, the Divine Redeemer, succeeded in saving only the good thief, Longi¬nus and so few others…”
    (Notebooks, pp. 83-84, Good Friday, April 23rd, 1943)

  22. Charles Fears says:

    Everyone from the age of 12 on up should read
    The Testimony of Gloria Polo
    “I was at the gates of heaven and of hell”
    At http://english.gloriapolo.net/
    Also I found this very interesting
    Conception & the Soul
    I found this very interesting- how a God forms a soul at conception.
    Now what really amazed me is I read this in Gloria Polo’s testimony (Great Direction for our Times), which happen in 1995 and I read it in the writings of Maria Valtorta (Poem of the Man God 5th April 1944, 602.
    From Gloria – In the book of life I saw how our soul is formed the moment the sperm and the egg touch. A beautiful spark is formed, a light beaming from the sun of God the Father. As soon as the womb of a mother is impregnated, it lights up with the brightness of that soul.

    From Maria Valtorta – Genesis says also: “Adam then had intercourse with his wife Eve”.
    They had wanted to know the secrets of good and of evil. It was fair that now they should also experience the pain of having to reproduce themselves in flesh, having God’s direct help only for what man cannot create, the spirit, the spark that-departs from God, the breath that is infused by God, the seal that on the flesh affixes the sign of the Eternal Creator. And Eve gave birth to Cain.
    Awesome two people so far apart in years and countries (unknown to each other) Maria Valtorta died in 1961, to have the same revelation on how a soul is formed – a spark from God.
    May God have mercy on all those who oppose life.

  23. Jim says:

    Not directly related to hell, but a prayer uttered frequently that sets the standard for God’s judgment and the measure of mercy that may come to bear: …”and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Praying that God apply the standard by which we judge others, as the guide in our own judgment. Heaven or hell. Charity, loving your neighbor and mercy towards others all become alarmingly relevant!

    I often wonder how many people reciting the only prayer our Lord gave us truly understand their petition to God to judge them as they judge others?

  24. Charlene says:

    1 billion babies ripped apart in the womb
    Endless wars created by a industrial military complex killing millions of people destroying nation after nation
    1 billion dollars paid out by the Catholic Church to lawyer of victims of sexual abuse by priest .
    Human trafficking of children by predatory men making them slaves of pornography.
    Millions of people addicted to cell phone screens and technology that isolates and destroys relationships .
    Political systems that are corrupt to the core and have governments owned
    by corporate interests.
    Is it possible that we are not already living in hell?
    The earth and its creation is reeling under the assaults of mans destruction and assault on the mind and soul and heart of all living creation .
    People are dumbed down and numb to the core and only Mercy is going to save such a broken twisted already dead suicidal humanity.
    They do believe in hell because they are already living it !

    • Kobe says:

      Nah, this can’t be hell or we wouldn’t see, hear, know God. When all that is good and holy is gone, then that is hell. Yet heaven, hell and purgatory (can) begin now. How about this?… in Christ, the human mind and soul and heart are wed to the divine. Try not to let the world get you down.

    • John says:

      One billion dollars paid out by the Catholic Church for sexual abuse cases by the clergy is low number. The last big settlement in Los Angeles was 560 million dollars which is over half the amount you noted. It is a stain on the U.S. Church that I will outlive.

  25. Seamus says:

    90% heading for hell because NO ONE is praying for them – The simple prayer ‘Jesus Mary I Love You’ saves a Soul – The good Monsignor should start a site recruiting 1,000,000 people – Each person saying 60 times per day saying ‘Jesus Mary I love You Save Souls’ equals 60, 000, 000 souls saved

    One day Padre told his doctor: “I’m praying for the good death of my great-great grandfather”. But he died more than one hundred years ago!” ….”Remember that for God there is no past and no future, and everything is present. So God made use at that time of the prayers I’m saying now.”

    So get praying Confession Mass Holy Communion Daily Rosary As Our Holy Mother says in all her visions ‘Pray Pray Pray’’

  26. dineth says:

    I think its to save souls from purgatory