Billy Graham Sermon: Is There A Hell? (Transcript)

Read the transcript of Billy Graham’s sermon titled “Is There A Hell?” which was preached in Sacramento in the year 1983.

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Billy Graham – Evangelist

Now tonight, I want you to turn with me to the 16th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, and beginning at verse 19, there’s a story that Jesus told.

Luke 16:19-31:

‘There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.”

But Abraham said, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and you’re in torment. And besides all this, between us and you, there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Then he said, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

And Abraham saith unto him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

And he said, “Nay, father Abraham, they would not, but if one came from the dead, they will repent.”

And he said unto him, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded even though one rose from the dead.”’

Well, I’m up here tonight, not to say, “Go to hell,” but rather “Go to heaven.” And I’m urging you not to say, “I’ll be damned,” but instead, “I’ll be saved.”

And this story, the word hell is used, translated hell in our authorized version, though it’s actually Hades, because Hades was in two compartments apparently: one was called Paradise, and one was called the place of torment. And they could apparently see across the gulf between each other.

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And the word hell today is constantly used as a swear word. You hear it on television, you see it in the films, you see it in the writings of people, and you hear at work, and you hear it in school.

The United States Catholic magazine, in the May issue of this year, 1983, polled Americans and came up with the figure: 86% said they believed in the existence of hell. Can you imagine that?

86% of Americans believe there’s a hell. You can never understand hell though, until first you understand the great love, mercy, and grace of God. And it should never be preached by any preacher without tears.

I’ve heard some preachers preach on hell as though they were glad there was a hell, and glad that people were going there. But, I’m not. I don’t like to preach on it. I do it only because I’m commanded in Scripture to preach the word, and it’s against the backdrop of God’s love and mercy and grace that I must preach it.

You see, hell was not made for man. Hell was created for the devil and his angels. But some have taken license in imagination and distorted the idea of future judgment. It causes some people to say that God is not a God of love. And they’ve distorted the Biblical concept of the love of God.

A lady said some time ago, “I hate the very thought of hell.” So do I, and I also hate the sin that sends them there. I hate war, I hate the fact that people are starving in the world. But war is a reality in Lebanon and places like that. And starvation is a reality in our world unfortunately.

My hating it does not change the facts. And hating to die doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to die. And Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Preach the word.” And if I’m to be faithful to my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I must include in that word what our Lord Jesus Christ taught on the subject of hell.

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One clergyman said if he used hell in the pulpit, the people would fire him.

Well, I know that down in South Carolina, I came to a place some years ago in which they had 16 slow down signs and stop signs because so many people had been killed at that intersection.

Now, is that right for the state of South Carolina to put those signs up and warn people?

Is it right for me to warn you tonight what Jesus taught and what the Bible teaches from cover to cover?

Is it wrong for a man to wave a lantern to stop people at a railroad crossing? Is it wrong to wave the flag and warn of coming judgment?

I remember years ago, we were in Mississippi, and there’s a stretch of highway, and there came one of those terrible tornadoes. And a bridge was washed out in the gush of water. And a man got out at night when he saw what had happened and he tried to wave the cars down with his wet handkerchief and a flashlight, and none of them would stop, and five of them went over, and the occupants of the cars were killed.

Now Jesus cured a mentally ill person one time, the Gadarene, and a demon possessed man, and the people asked Jesus to leave them alone. And He answered their prayersHe left them alone.

You don’t have to listen to this sermon tonight, you can say, “I don’t want to hear about it, leave me alone.” And Jesus may answer your prayer and leave you alone.

And if you’re left alone by the Spirit of God, you can never find forgiveness of sin, and you can never enter paradise.

People do not want to be warned of judgment and hell. And you say, “It’s none of my business.”

Well, suppose you were a drowning man, and I have the gospel lifeboat. And I’m not going to let you drown if I can help it.

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You’re a starving man, and I have the bread of life. And I’ll not leave you without some bread.

You’re a poisoned man, full of the poison of sin, and I have Christ’s gospel antidote, and I will not leave you to die, I will not leave you alone.

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