Forty-Eight Hours In Hell

John N. Reynolds

One of the most interesting cases of resuscitation that ever came to my knowledge was that of George Lennox, a notorious horse thief of Jefferson County. He was serving his second term. Sedgwick county sent him to the prison the first time for a similar offense-stealing horses.

During the winter of 1887 and 1888 he worked in the coal mines. The place where he was laboring seemed dangerous to him. He reported the fact to the officer in charge, who made an examination, and deciding that the room was safe, ordered Lennox back to his work. The convict, obeying, had not continued his work more than an hour, when the roof fell in and completely buried him. He remained in this condition fully two hours.

Missed at dinner time, a search was instituted for the missing convict, and he was found under this heap of rubbish. Life seemed extinct. He was taken to the top, and on examination by the prison physician, was pronounced dead. His remains were carried to the hospital where he was washed and dressed, preparatory for interment. His coffin was made and brought to the hospital. The chaplain had arrived to perform the last sad rites preparatory to burial. A couple of prisoners were ordered by the hospital steward to lift the corpse from the boards and carry it across the room and place it in the coffin. They obeyed, one at the head, the other at the feet and were about half way across the room when the one who was at the head accidentally stumbled over a cuspidor, lost his balance, and dropped the corpse. The head of the dead man struck the floor, and to the utter surprise and astonishment of all present, a deep groan was heard. Soon the eyes opened, and other appearances of life were manifested. The physician was immediately sent for, and by the time he arrived, some thirty minutes later, the dead man had called for a cup of water, and was in the act of drinking when the physician arrived.

The coffin was at once removed and later on was used to bury another convict in. His burial robes were also taken from him, and the prison garb substituted. On an examination he was found to have one of his legs broken in two places, and was otherwise bruised. He remained in the hospital some six months, and again went to work.

I learned of his peculiar experience while apparently dead soon after, from a fellow miner. Prompted by curiosity, I longed for an acquaintance with Lennox to get his experience from his own lips. This opportunity was not offered for several months. At last it came. After being removed from the mines I was detailed to one of the prison offices to make out some annual reports. The subject of this man’s return to life was being discussed one day, when he happened to pass by the office door and was pointed out to me. It was not long until I had a note in his hand, and asked him to come where I was at work. He did so, and here I got well acquainted with him, and from his own lips received his wonderful story. He is a young man, probably not over thirty years of age. He had been a hardened criminal; is possessed of a very good education, and naturally very bright.

Complete text of: Forty-Eight Hours In Hell

The most wonderful part of his story occurred during the time he was dead. Being a shorthand reporter, I took his story from dictation.

Said he: “I had a presentiment all the morning that something terrible was going to happen. I was uneasy on account of my feelings that I went to my mining boss Mr. Grason, and told him how I felt, and asked him if he would not come and examine my coal room, the place where I was digging coal. He came and seemed to make a thorough examination, and ordered me back to work, saying there was no danger, and that he thought I was going ‘cranky.’ I returned to my work, and had been digging away for something like an hour, when all of a sudden, it grew very dark. Then it seemed as if a great iron door swung open and I passed through it. The thought then came to my mind that I was dead and in another world. I could see no one, nor hear any sound of any kind. From some cause unknown to myself, I started to move away from the doorway, and had traveled some distance when I came to the banks of a broad river. It was not dark, neither was it light. There was about as much light as on a bright, starlit night. I had not remained on the banks of this river very long until I could hear the sound of oars in the water, and soon a person in a boat rowed up to where I was standing.

“I was speechless. He looked at me for a moment, and then said that he had come for me, and told me to get into the boat and row across to the other side. I obeyed. Not a word was spoken. I longed to ask him who he was, and where I was. My tongue seemed to cling to the roof of my mouth. I could not say a word. Finally, we reached the opposite shore. I got out of the boat, and the boatman vanished out of sight.

“Thus left alone, I knew not what to do. Looking out before me, I saw two roads which led through a dark valley. One of these was a broad road and seemed to be well traveled. The other was a narrow path and led off in another direction. I instinctively followed the well-beaten road. I had not gone far when it seemed to grow darker. Ever and anon, however a light would flash up from the distance, and in this manner I was lighted on my journey.

“Presently I was met by a being that is utterly impossible for me to describe. I can only give you a faint idea of his dreadful appearance. He resembled a man somewhat, but was much larger than any human being I ever saw. He must have been at least ten feet high. He had great wings on his back. He was black as the coal I had been digging, and in a perfectly nude condition. He had a spear in his hand, the handle of which must have been fully fifteen feet in length. His eyes shown like balls of fire. His teeth, white as pearl, seemed fully an inch long. His nose, if you could call it a nose, was very large, broad, and flat. His hair was very coarse, heavy and long. It hung down upon his massive shoulders. His voice sounded more like the growls of a lion in a menagerie than anything I can recall.

“It was during one of the flashes of light that I first saw him. I trembled like an aspen leaf at the sight. He had his spear raised as if to send it flying through me. I suddenly stopped. With that terrible voice I seem to hear yet, he bade me follow him; that he had been sent to guide me on my journey. I followed. What else could I do? After he had gone some distance a large mountain appeared to rise up before us. The part facing us seemed perpendicular, just as if a mountain had been cut in two and one part had been taken away. On this perpendicular wall I could distinctly see these words, ‘This is Hell.’ My guide approached this perpendicular wall, and with his spear handle gave three loud raps. A large massive door swung back and we passed in. I was then conducted on through what appeared to be a passage through this mountain.

“For some time we traveled in Egyptian darkness. I could hear the heavy footfalls of my guide and thus could follow him. All the way along I could hear deep groans as of someone dying. Further on, these groans increased, and I could distinctly hear the cry water, water, water. Coming now to another gateway, and passing through, I could hear, it seemed, a million voices in the distance, and the cry was for water, water.  Presently another large door opened at the knock of my guide, and I found that we had passed through the mountain, and now a broad plain lay before me.

“At this place my guide left me to direct other lost spirits to the same destination. I remained in this open plain for a time, when a being somewhat similar to the first one came to me; but instead of a spear he had a huge sword. He came to tell me of my future doom. He spoke with a voice that struck horror to my soul. ‘Thou art in hell,’ he said: ‘for thee all hope is fled. As thou passed through the mountain on thy way hither, thou didst hear the groans and shrieks of the lost as they called for water to cool their parched tongues. Along that passage there is a door that opens into the lake of fire. This is soon to be thy doom. Before thou art conducted to this place of torment never more to emerge-for there is no hope for those who enter there-thou shalt be permitted to remain in this open plain, where it is granted to all the lost to behold what they might have enjoyed instead of what they must suffer.’

“With this I was left alone. Whether the result of the terrible fright through which I had passed I know not, but now I became stupefied. A dull languor took full possession of my frame. My strength departed from me. My limbs refused to support my body longer. Overcome, I now sank down a helpless mass. Drowsiness now took control of me. Half awake, half asleep, I seemed to dream. Far above me, and in the distance, I saw the Beautiful City of which we read in the Bible. How wonderfully beautiful were its walls of jasper. Stretching out and away in the distance, I saw vast plains covered with beautiful flowers. I, too, beheld the river of life and the sea of glass. Vast multitudes of angels would pass in and out through the gates of the city, singing, oh, such beautiful songs. Among the number I saw my dear old mother, who died a few years ago of a broken heart because of my wickedness. She looked toward me and seemed to beckon me to her, but I could not move. There appeared to be a great weight upon me that held me down. Now a gentle breeze wafted the fragrance of those lovely flowers toward me, and I could now more plainly than ever, hear the sweet melody of angel voices, and I said, ‘Oh, that I could be one of them.’

“As I was drinking from this cup of bliss it was suddenly dashed from my lips. I was aroused from my slumbers. I was brought back from happy dreamland by an inmate of my dark abode, who said that it was now time to enter upon my future career. He bade me follow him.  Retracing my steps I again entered the dark passageway, and followed my guide for a time, when we came to a door that opened in the side of the passage, and going along this, we finally found ourselves passing through another door, and lo! I beheld the lake of fire.

“Just before me I could see, as far as the eye could reach, that literal lake of fire and brimstone. Huge billows of fire would roll over each other, and great waves of fiery flame would dash against each other and leap high in the air like the waves of the sea during a violent storm. On the crest of the waves I could see human beings rise, but soon to be carried down again to the lowest depths of this awful lake of fire. When borne on the crest of these awful billows for a time their curses against a just God would be appalling, and their pitiful cries for water would be heart-rending. This vast region of fire echoed and re-echoed with the wails of these lost spirits.

“Presently I turned my eyes to the door through which I had a few moments before entered, and I read these awful words, ‘This is thy doom; eternity never ends.’ Shortly I began to feel the earth give way under my feet, and I found myself sinking down into the lake of fire. An indescribable thirst for water now seized upon me. And calling for water my eyes opened in the hospital prison.

“I have never told this experience of mine before for fear the prison officials would get hold of it, think me insane and lock me in the crank house. I passed through all of this, and I am as well satisfied as I am that I live, that there is a Heaven and there is a Hell, and a regular old-fashioned Hell, the kind the Bible tells about. But there is one thing certain, I am never going to that place any more.

“As soon as I opened my eyes in the hospital and found that I was alive and on earth once more, I immediately gave my heart to God and I am going to live and die a Christian. While the terrible sights of Hell can never be banished from my memory, neither can the beautiful things of Heaven I saw. I am going to meet my dear old mother after awhile. To be permitted to sit down on the banks of that beautiful river, to wander with those angels across the plains, through the vales and over the hills carpeted with fragrant flowers, the beauty of which far surpasses anything that mortal can imagine; to listen to the songs of the saved-all this will more than compensate me for living the life of a Christian here on earth, even if I have to forego many sensual pleasures in which I indulged before coming to prison. I have abandoned my companions in crime, and am going to associate with good people when I am once more a free man.”

We give the account to the reader just as we received it from Lennox. We recognize the inability of the human mind to describe heaven or hell. Therefore the account of Mr. Lennox may not be an accurate description of hell but rather a glimpse into eternity. May God bless this experience to the awakening of many lost souls.

How can men doubt the real existence of a literal burning hell? We have the Bible, the Word of God, and revelations like Mr. Lennox’s that teach a literal hell. Men and women, stop! Face the facts! Your life is going on record. God wants to save you and will forgive you when you are willing to admit that you are a sinner. The only way to salvation is to be cleansed from sin, by accepting the blood of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for your sins. When you accept this forgiveness from God, He will give you a peace and rest in your heart. You can be free-free in this life and much more, free to experience the bliss of heaven instead of the reality of not only forty-eight hours, but an eternity in hell.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

(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 hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth 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 thou art tormented. And beside 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 wouldest 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. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Additional Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:7-8; Revelation 20:10, 12, 13; 2 Peter 3:10-12.

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Repentance—Door of Mercy

Do you know that man has been found guilty of sin by a holy God, and sentenced to death? If he is to escape this eternal death and be eternally saved, he must receive God’s mercy. Mercy in this respect is God withholding from man the penalty which he deserves. But God does not bestow his mercy on people without condition, even though salvation is free, without price, and cannot be earned. The condition upon which God grants mercy is repentance.

John the Baptist came preaching the word of God and his message was simple and powerful: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus, the Son of God, began his ministry with the same message: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Repentance is a requisite of salvation, as Peter the apostle said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Through repentance, the door of mercy is opened and salvation obtained.

All Have Sinned

In our world there are multitudes of people, and in many ways we are different one from another. But this message we all share: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And listen further, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). God spoke through his prophet Isaiah and said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Do you notice the central thought of these scriptures? “All have strayed.” “None righteous.” “All have sinned.” Wouldn’t this also include you? Your soul, your life belongs to God. The man or woman who does not recognize God as the master of his life lives in disobedience and sin. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

Sin Separates

Your sins have separated you from God. You feel a longing inside that you can’t explain. You may feel forsaken and that God doesn’t hear. The reason is pointed out by God: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Again, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). As you think of your life and your sins, think also about God. God is without sin; therefore He is holy, righteous, and just. God says sin must be judged: “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). There is a great gulf between you and God. Unless you find the way which spans that gulf between a holy God and sinful man, you shall die an eternal death! (Luke 16:26) But listen, there is a way—there is hope for you!

Jesus Opens the Door

Complete text of: Repentance—Door of Mercy

While it is true God has decreed a judgment of death upon sin, He is also a God of love. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). God loves you even if you are living in sin. His love has made a way for you to be saved (John 3:16). God will carry out his judgment on sin, and if this justice would be meted out to man, he would instantly die. Therefore God, not willing that any should perish, sent his son Jesus to take the penalty of our sins that we may live. The Bible says, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22). The goodness of God desires to save man but his judgment demands sentence.

Jesus came to this world for the express purpose of redeeming our souls. He was holy, without sin, the spotless Lamb of God. God’s love for us was proven when He took our sins and guilt and put them upon Jesus. Behold his goodness! Jesus was now made sin in our place, and to satisfy the judgment of God, He was crucified on a cross. He endured the pain and agony, and then died. Our sins were paid. Behold the severity of God!

Repentance: Our Part

Can you see that Jesus died for you; He died because of your sins? Who really crucified Jesus? Were only the Jewish rulers, or Pilate, or the Roman soldiers responsible? Peter the apostle preached a sermon to a multitude of people numbering thousands. Peter’s message was right to the point: “Him [Jesus]… ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). Will you look to Jesus, the One who was crucified, and acknowledge your sin?

By the power of the Spirit of God you will realize that you are helplessly lost. As this realization weighs on your heart, it will bring a burden and regret for sin. In despair, you will cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). As God hears your honest plea, He will save you. Your burden will be gone and you will be born again. As you continue to follow, you will turn away from your former ways of sin to heavenly things. This is the work of repentance as it is wrought by God in the heart of all those who will come to Him. Then your heart will be washed clean, and you will have peace, happiness, and security.

Finally, repentance results in a deep appreciation and loyalty to Christ and God’s will. When we were doomed to die with no way out, Christ said, “Come unto me… and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

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The Church-The Fellowship of True Christian Believers

The church of God is not a man-made institution, but is of the Lord. Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Jesus knew that the church was essential to God's great plan, and declared it would endure for time and eternity. The church is the spiritual home for believers while they are here on earth; heaven is the home of the saved throughout eternity.

What is the Church?

The term "church of God" refers to a visible group of people which can be located and observed, as in Acts 13:1, Romans 16:5, and Ephesians 1:1. This body is defined in the Scriptures as "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). In the church, the doctrines and ordinances of the Word of God are taught and practiced. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are identical to the kingdom of Christ (Luke 17:20-21). This kingdom consists of all souls throughout the world who are the children of God, who truly have Christ as their King, even though some of them are not members of the visible church. Jesus referred to these children of God in John 10:16, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

How Can I Recognize the Church of God?

The church of God can be recognized because she believes, teaches, and practices the Word of God. The church does not add or subtract from Biblical teachings, but holds to them even in the face of opposition, ridicule, or death (John 14:15). The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ. The saving gospel is her most important message. The new birth is required to become a member of the church. Water baptism is the door into the church. This baptism symbolizes the covenant made by members with God and the church (Matthew 16:16-19). The presence of the Holy Spirit is revealed within the church. The unity of the Holy Spirit is proven by a kindred spirit and a mutual love for one another. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). This love and humility will instil a desire in the observer to be united with the children of God. The church teaches against worldly pleasures, fashion, lust, and the pursuit of power, fame, and riches. Strife, force, and war have no place in the church of God. Ministers are chosen by the leading of the Holy Spirit from among the brethren. These ministers teach and proclaim the will of God. The church of God teaches that marriage between a man and woman is honorable and must be a life-long commitment. It is against the will of God for a believer to marry an unbeliever. Those seeking marriage recognize the importance of God's leading in their lives and the necessity of purity in their conduct. 

Since the time of Christ, there have always been a people who have embraced Jesus' doctrine of living in peace and loving their enemies. These people, known by different names at different times, believed and taught that the kingdom of God is a peaceable kingdom which does not allow the use of force or violence by its citizens.

Why Do I Need the Church?

Complete text of: The Church-The Fellowship of True Christian Believers

Every Christian needs spiritual food and spiritual fellowship in order to grow. He welcomes the reminders, warnings, and the encouragement of other mature believers. Jesus instructed God's children to watch over each other and to be their brother's keeper. There is safety in the company of fellow believers. Jesus wanted His children to live in unity for the same reason that a shepherd wants his flock to be close together. The writer of the book of Hebrews instructed the believers not to forsake assembling themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). This brotherly concern for one another, as taught in the New Testament, can only be carried out within a body of born-again believers. Keeping the doctrines and ordinances of baptism, holy matrimony, Holy Communion, and church discipline requires a visible, united body. Christ built the church to meet the needs of the believers and to portray God's plan to the lost world. This church is endowed with spiritual gifts to edify the believers and to bring the gospel to the world. In times of trouble, the church is a friend indeed, as Peter discovered. While Peter was in prison, the church prayed without ceasing in his behalf, and the Lord delivered him (Acts 12:4-14). When going through the valley of the shadow of death, or in other times of sorrow, it is comforting to know that God's people are caring and praying.

How Can I Become a Member of God's Church?

Those who repent of their sins and are born again shall be baptized (Acts 2:38). To repent means to find remorse for one's sins and to forsake them. Upon these conditions, God grants forgiveness and the Holy Spirit is received. This gives one a new life in Christ Jesus. If you serve the Lord by faith and are willing to believe and obey all of the doctrines and teachings of His church, then the conditions for church membership are met.

The Blessings of the Church

Believers find unity, warmth, and fellowship in the church. There is love and concern for one another, and a burden for the unsaved. The pastor and the members join in a common effort to keep sin out of their hearts, homes, and congregation. Parents love their children and teach them to be obedient and respectful. In the church, both young and old receive courage and inspiration for daily Christian living. Bible principles are taught which nurture lasting marriages and produce solid homes. Moral purity and peaceful consciences in the membership creates an atmosphere of trust and confidence. True contentment overcomes the temptation to pursue selfish pleasures, fame, riches, or power.

Where Can the Church of Christ Be Found?

Jesus will dwell in the hearts of humble, obedient believers (John 14:23). This group of Christians is identified by their adherence to all of the doctrines of the Bible and by the witness of the Holy Spirit. A seeker should carefully and prayerfully read the outline described in the New Testament and join the church that abides by Scriptural teachings and is under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).

  

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