When Saul (who was later named “Paul”) was on his way to Damascus, and heard the voice of God, the Lord Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Later, (recorded in Acts 26:14), the Lord said to Saul, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (better “goads”). A “goad” is a sharp stick used to drive animals. In essence, the Bible says that it is difficult to resist God. And we might add, it is dangerous to resist God.
Jesus says that in this life there are two roads which we may choose to take. One is a broad road that leads to destruction; the other is a more difficult narrow road that leads to life. We would think that the broad road is an easy road, and that it doesn’t take much effort to follow in it—but actually God has chosen to make it difficult to continue on that road.
The Scriptures are absolutely clear in stating that our God is a God of love. He displayed a tremendous love for all human beings when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. The Apostle Peter says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise . . . but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). One of the purposes for the seeming delay in Christ’s return is to allow more time for people to repent. God wants all of us to be saved, but as the prophet Isaiah says, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2).
The Bible teaches further that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)—not only physical death, but eternal banishment from the blessing of God—in a place which the Bible calls “hell.” The Lord Jesus Christ (in every sermon recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew) makes mention of hell. In His first recorded sermon (the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus says, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29). In the last sermon that Jesus preached (just before His crucifixion), we read about the judgment of the nations: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
Jesus spoke often about Hell; there is no doubt that it is a real place. But God has done (and is doing) everything possible to keep men and women from going into that awful place. God has filled the road to Hell with a number of obstacles (roadblocks) designed to prevent us from going there. If any person reading this article ever ends up in Hell, it will be by your own deliberate choice, and by ignoring the roadblocks which God has set in your path. It is not God’s intent that anyone should be lost.
1. The Message of the Bible
The Bible is a blockade between your soul and Hell. You cannot go very far in the path of sin without finding the Bible standing in your way.
The Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to sin in the world. It is the great disturber of history. You can never get rid of its words. The message of the Bible will haunt you until you find peace with God.
Many years ago, while preaching a revival series in one of our churches in eastern Pennsylvania, God was speaking to a teen-age girl in that congregation. One night she called her parents at two o-clock in the morning, and there, during the wee hours of the night, she decided to accept Christ as her Savior. She came forward the following evening when the invitation to accept Christ was given. She had heard a sermon on the words of Amos 4:12, “Prepare to Meet Thy God.” She knew she wasn’t ready to meet God. She tried to forget the words, but they haunted her day and night. They haunted her at her meals, at her work, when she was trying to sleep—and finally she surrendered to God. I am convinced that the message of the Bible will stand in the way of anyone who continues on in sin.
The rich man in Hell (that Jesus talks about in Luke 16) wanted someone to return from the dead to warn his brothers, lest they would also come to that awful place. The answer given to him was, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). God is not going to send someone back from the dead to convince you that Hell is real. The Bible is clear enough, and its message is God’s first blockade to try and stop you from traveling on the broad road that leads to destruction.
2. The Prayers of God’s People
I am convinced that a number of people in our churches and communities who are active Christians, are living as Christians today because somebody prayed.
Some of you can remember how your mothers and your fathers loved you and prayed for your salvation. Their holy influence and Christian teaching will follow you down through the years. The poet says:
“I grieved my Lord from day to day
I scorned His love so full and free,
And though I wandered far away
My mother’s prayers have followed me.”
by Lizzie DeArmond
God uses the prayers of upright mothers and fathers (and other concerned believers), as roadblocks to stop sons and daughters and neighbors and friends from continuing on the path that leads to eternal doom.
Some years ago in the Midwest a young man who had run away from his home and traveled with the wrong crowd, was sitting in a revival meeting, and fell under conviction. He was converted, and on the day of his baptism, he wrote home to tell his parents what had happened in his life. About a week later he received a reply from his mother. The envelope was bordered in black. The letter said, “My dear son, the joy which your letter brought to our hearts was exceeded only by the sadness which was here at the same time. As far as we can determine, the same hour that you stood for Christ in that meeting, your father was going into the skies. (All day long he tossed upon his bed. Every little while he would cry out, `Oh God, save my wandering boy today!’ We tried to divert his attention from your waywardness and sin, but his mind seemed to roam from place to place—and then he would cry out again in sorrow, `Oh God, save my wandering boy today.’) Just as he passed away, he cried, `Oh God, save . . . ` and then in the midst of that sentence—in that moment—he died. He must have finished the prayer in the presence of the Lord Jesus.” Down at the bottom of the letter, the mother added a note saying, “You are a Christian today because your father would not let go in prayer.”
The Bible says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). If you have been making light of the prayers of God’s people, this is a reminder that some day a crisis will come, and you won’t know which way to turn—and you’ll wish that you could bring back the innocent days of your childhood. If you die in your sins, and go to the place of outer darkness—you will go there over the prayers of God’s people—perhaps over the prayers and tears of your own mother.
3. The Preaching of the Gospel
Another obstacle that God puts in the sinner’s path to stop the mad rush toward eternity in Hell is the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. There are some in these days who think that preaching is a waste of time, but the Bible says that “in the wisdom of God . . . it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
God has ordained the simple preaching of the Gospel as one means of stopping people on the road to Hell. He ordained preaching “to save those who believe.” You cannot get into Hell without climbing over every Gospel sermon you have ever heard. If you are determined to continue on in your sinful way of living, and to keep on running with the worldly crowd, then this article (which is really a sermon) becomes a blockade which troubles your conscience. When the moment of death comes, you will recall every Gospel sermon you ever heard. And even in the regions of the lost, you will remember how the preacher was pleading with people to get saved, for Jesus says that memory is going to be part of the haunting torment of Hell.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells about a man who “fared sumptuously” every day (Luke 16:19). Life was one continual party for him, but when he entered the eternal world, he wanted just a drop of water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24). Jesus responded by saying, “You must remember that in your lifetime you had good things”—but you failed to take seriously the message of the prophets—and now you are in torment. And what’s more, there is a gulf fixed, and there is no second chance.
4. The Old Rugged Cross On Calvary
Think for a moment about a skull-shaped hill just outside the city of Jerusalem—on the first Good Friday. There were three crosses. A thief hangs on one side; a man who committed murder is on the other side; and in the middle, is the Son of God (wearing a crown of thorns). The blood flows from His hands and His feet; it rushes from His side; it drips from above His eyes. Those who stand by sneer and mock. Crucifixion is the most painful mode of torture ever conceived by the human mind. The draining of blood from the body brings on an intense thirst. The whole body cries out for water, and thirst can be horrible beyond words to describe.
Can you see the haggard lines on Jesus’ face? Can you see His back all swollen and bruised from the scourging earlier in the day? Can you hear His bitter cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Why all this suffering—by One who lived a perfect life and never committed a single sin? Isaiah the prophet says that He was wounded “for our transgressions and he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Hebrews 10:29 says that it is a terrible thing to make light of the blood of Jesus. Those who ignore what Jesus did on the cross are worthy of a sore punishment.
One of the roadblocks that God puts in your way, is the marvelous message that the sinless Son of God died for you—and He begs you not to die in your sins. Are you trampling the blood of Jesus under your feet? Are you saying, “I want to be king of my own castle; I want to run my own life”? Someday death will suddenly strike. The hearse will back up to your door. Your body will be carried away, and you will not be saved. How sad!
5. The Call of the Spirit of God
It is not an easy thing to continue on the road that leads to destruction. There are obstacles in the way: These include the message of the Bible, the prayers of God’s people; the preaching of the Gospel; the old rugged cross of Calvary; and now—the call of the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit, at some time or another, pleads with every human being. One of His functions is to convict the world of sin, and to call sinners to repentance (John 16:8). Some who read this message—right now—may be sensing a strange feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction with life. You are longing for something better. You have memories of the Bible, and church, and your childhood home—but you have drifted far from those things. My friend—the Holy Spirit is here. He calls you. He knocks on the door of your heart. I remember what it was like. I was only twelve years old. On Friday morning, in public school, we sang “The Fire Song.” Among its words are these: “Oh my loving brother, when the world’s on fire, don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow?” I was so moved with conviction that I cried and cried, and within a few days I made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Later, I was baptized, and came out of the water with a sense of cleanness that I had never experienced before. That was more than fifty years ago, and I have never regretted the decision.
Often, people who are living in sin and wandering away from God, awaken suddenly in the wee hours of the night. You don’t know why; you can’t go back to sleep; you’re confronted with the question, “Where would I go if death would strike tonight?” And, “What if I’d die before morning?” You try and dismiss it from your mind, but it keeps hammering away at your heart. What are those experiences all about? It is the blessed Holy Spirit of God pleading with your soul.
Friend, what about your sin? Does it bother you? Does it keep you awake at night? If you go out into eternity, after reading this warning today, it could be your last chance. You can trifle with the preacher and laugh at the church—but you had better not trifle with the call of the Spirit of God.
6. A Look At the Glories of Heaven
Another roadblock which God sets up to stop unbelievers on their journey toward destruction, is a glimpse of Heaven. The Bible speaks much more about Hell than it does about Heaven, but it does reveal some of the glories of Heaven.
The New Jerusalem will be a city of great magnitude. It will be lighted by the radiant glory of God. It will be indescribably beautiful—walls of jasper, gates of pearl, and streets of gold. It will be totally free of tears, and sorrow, and pain, and death. As we read about Heaven (especially the last two chapters of the book of Revelation in the Bible)—God is saying, “Sinner friend, Look what you will be missing.” We read in Luke 13:28, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”
Some day, according to the Bible (perhaps in a moment of sickness, or when approaching the borders of death), you will actually get a glimpse into Heaven, but you yourself will be cast out. And that one look into Heaven will make Hell seem all the more agonizing. That brief glimpse into Heaven will be a blockade designed to stop you in the path to destruction.
7. A Description of Hell Itself
The figures used in the Bible to describe Hell, present to us a terrible condition for those destined to go there. Jude calls it “blackness of darkness.” Jesus calls it “outer darkness.” Peter describes it as “chains of darkness.” Hell will be a land where the sun never shines and the day never comes—a place of darkness and night-time forever. Imagine having to hear the Lord Jesus say, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13).
Hell is also described as a “furnace of fire,” a place of “everlasting fire,” and a land of “unquenchable fire.” You might respond by saying that this is only figurative language. Perhaps it is, but if this is only the figure, remember that the real thing is always worse than the symbol. The symbol is only intended to give us a tiny clue as to what the real thing is like.
You say, “But surely God is too good and too loving to permit a person to suffer in Hell.” I challenge you to put your finger on a red hot stove and see if God is too good to keep you from getting burned. Jesus says of those who reject God’s plan of salvation, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
If anyone who reads this message ends up in the place of outer darkness, you will go there over the love of God, the warnings of God, the cross of Calvary, the prayers of God’s people, and the preaching of the Gospel.
Many years ago, a young man in our area violated some traffic laws, and was involved in a hit/run traffic accident. He was chased by the police, but made a desperate effort to get away. He attempted to get on to the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the interchange. And when he saw that the entrance was lined with cars, he went off the entrance drive, around the pay stations, and sped on to the Highway.
The police followed the speeding car, and telephoned ahead. Roadblocks were quickly set up in an effort to stop the youth from his mad rush to a likely accident. But he was able to dodge the roadblocks, one after another. Sometimes he simply ran them down; other times he crossed the medial strip and went into the other lane of traffic, and then turned back again. Finally, in a desperate effort to stop the young man, two huge tractor trailer trucks were placed across all four lanes of traffic. Red flares were set up at intervals several miles ahead, to warn the driver of approaching danger. Everyone was sure this blockade would stop the mad driver, but as he approached the roadblock, he looked in his mirror; he saw the police behind; he looked straight ahead and saw the two tractor-trailers—but instead of stopping, he kept moving at one hundred miles per hour, and crashed headlong into the trucks, hurling his soul into an endless eternity. His car went under the trucks, and came out on the other side, a smashed, mangled, twisted bundle of steel.
If you are unsaved today, I remind you that just as the policemen did everything within their power to stop the speeding boy, and even gave him warning signals ahead—so God is doing everything possible to keep you from continuing on the path that leads to Hell. It is God’s desire that every human being should repent, believe the Gospel, and live a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ, walking daily under the control of the Holy Spirit. Write to Bible Helps for more information about the plan of salvation.