A friend passed along this quote from Mortimer Zuckerman: "Hell is truth seen too late." Tonight as part of my Pastor's Bible Class on Mark 2, I asked people to tell me what that statement means. One person replied that it explains what happens to people who hear the truth of the gospel over and over again, and yet refuse to believe it. If you ask them why they don't believe, they will say, "I just don't see it," which isn't an excuse. It's the literal truth. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, no one can ever "see" the truth.
That's why Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17 that "the eyes of your heart might be opened." The heart has eyes. Did you know that? When Paul speaks of “your heart,” he’s not referring to the organ in your chest that pumps blood throughout your body. The term “heart” refers to what we might call “the real you,” the place inside where the decisions of life are made. The heart is the place where you decide what values you will live by and what direction you will go and how you will live your life each day. Every important decision you make is made by your heart. And your heart has eyes that can be opened or shut. When the eyes of your heart are closed to the light of God, you stumble blindly through life, making one dumb choice after another. You fall into sinful patterns, you break God’s Laws, you end up driving into the ditch, you make the same mistakes over and over again, and you enter one dead-end relationship after another. Why? Because the eyes of your heart are shut and you can’t have moral vision. The light of God is shut out of your life. And that means you can see and be blind at the same time. That is, you can have 20/20 vision with your physical eyes but the eyes of your heart can be blind to the light of God. There are lots of people like that in the world. Physically they can see but spiritually they are totally blind.
Tonight someone in my class observed that in hell all eyes are opened to the truth. Those in hell see the truth too late to do anything about it. Jesus spoke of the rich man in hell who begged for Lazarus to come and dip his finger in water and cool his tongue because he was in agony in the flames of hell. He even wanted Lazarus to go and warn his five brothers lest they end up in hell like him (Luke 16:19-31). Not only is hell a real place of real torment, it is a place where you will understand the truth at last.
We all have experienced the disappointment of learning a truth too late to do anything about it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth. Part of the punishment of hell will be seeing at last the truth that would have taken you to heaven.
To sign up for Pastor Ray's free weekly sermon email list, click here. You can find his daily weblog, online sermons, travel schedule, and other resources at www.keepbelieving.com. You can write Pastor Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.