Robin Williams, Death, Hell, and Denying Yourself

Robin-Williams

One of my favorite actors died yesterday. His name was Robin Williams. He was born in the early 1950’s and rose to fame in the television series, “Mork and Mindy” where he played an alien named, “Mork” who fell in love with a woman named Mindy. Later on, he entered a successful career in film. His most notable work includes, “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting.” As for me, a 90’s child, his work in, “Aladdin” and “Flubber” made me laugh and shaped my sense of humor. His gentle, yet rapid-fire delivery appealed to many people. He was always eager to earn the laughs of his audience. Many will miss him. Yet, as I found myself upset at the news of his death, the weight of it soon began to lift. I didn’t know him personally, maybe that’s why the feelings left so soon. His talent will be missed (no doubt!). Hollywood will mourn, but soon his coffin will be in the ground and all that will be left is his memory. One hundred years from now, he will be studied but eventually forgotten. This earth is our temporary home, just like our bodies.

A voice says, “Cry!”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass. Isaiah 40:6-7 (ESV)

For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. (James 1:11, ESV)

His death caused a ripple in our lives; for a split second, the world felt a bit lonelier. Many throw sentiments around like, “Rest In Peace” or “You will be missed” or “heaven just got another angel.” But, us Christians don’t think about why we say these things. We look at death with tunnel vision: everything gets blurry past the point of our own experiences. It’s so much easier to just think of Robin Williams as a man we saw, and see no longer, instead of an eternal soul who stood before God when he died.

It’s with great sadness that I am about to say this: Maybe Robin Williams is in Hell. We forget that he blasphemed God, used profane language, and planted dirty jokes in the minds of people. For all the (sometimes) clean laughter he gave us, Robin Williams was still a sinner like us, and like us he needed to be redeemed. He needed more than another trip to rehab. He needed more than the money, the acting jobs, and our applause. He needed to be redeemed from himself. He needed to be made new. Instead of us listening to him, he needed to hear from God. He needed to hear about the cross; about the resurrection; about forgiveness, and the mercy, longsuffering, and love of God. He needed to deny himself, carry his cross, and follow Jesus. Perhaps he had, maybe he was saved during his last days on earth. Only God knows. But, for God’s sake we shouldn’t brush Hell under the rug and say, “rest in peace”- we need to take his death as a reminder that someday soon we will die along with everyone else.

Our bodies are temporary (Rev. 21-22). It’s a part of living in a world dominated by sin (Gen. 3). Somehow we get caught up in the hoopla of trying to look young forever, to pile high our bank accounts (no generosity), and live life to the “fullest.” It’s much easier to live this life as if it ends when your body dies. Your body may die, but you won’t. But, it seems like lately we Christians seem to enjoy talking more about the comforts we have in Christ, while missing the point: we were rescued.

It’s not the dying that should scare us- it’s the fact that we will see God (Heb. 9, Matt. 12). Unless Christ is our attorney, the verdict will be guilty. To be guilty means more than just being counted a sinner, it means receiving due justice: Eternity in Hell. Hell is not a bad word, it’s actually a good word: it’s a real place because we really deserve to be there. That’s the cost of sin.

Here’s my point: Christians, Hell needs to mean more to you than a curse word you use. It needs to wake you up to an existence that is far more real to you than your feelings and everyday problems. The flames need to be felt in your own heart. You must understand where you came from and Who saved you. You must snatch others out of the flames (James 5). You were going to perish, but God took you out of the fire.

Jonathan Edwards in his sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” says,

“O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.”

We are helpless. There is a tarp under us that is hanging over the flames, slowing tearing apart. Our own hearts are inclined to turn away from any help- we are neither able nor willing, but God was able and willing. He rescued you. He brought you back to Himself. The moment you understood your inevitable ruin, is the moment you ran to safety in Christ. That, is the gospel! That, is the grace of God. Hell is what we rightly deserve, but God chose to give us something we cannot earn nor deserve. God was not obligated to save you, but He committed Himself to be your Rescuer. Consider what your fate would have been, now consider the fate of those around you. Where do they stand with God?

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:4-5, ESV)

There will be people around us who won’t be counted innocent in God’s eyes. They will not spend eternity with Jesus. They will spend eternity away from God. There are many who doubt that a loving God would send someone to Hell- so, they accept the Jesus part, but throw away the part about Hell and punishment. Perhaps we don’t understand what God’s justice means.

Therefore, listen closely:

If we fail to understand God’s justice, then we fail to know God’s love, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. Good news is only good when there is bad news. If Hell does not exist, then Jesus saved us from nothing, died for nothing, and only came to preserve us. If all we are in danger of is evaporating, then there is nothing to drive us into the arms of Christ except the selfish motive of wanting to stick around. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that non-witnesses will be “burned up” and obliterated. Same goes for some Seventh Day Adventists.

The best way to not think about Hell is to suppress it, or find a more temporary, false alternative. But, if we are to see the truth about our sinfulness and God’s grace, then we need to accept the consequences of both: For Hell to exist, sinners must be punished. For grace to exist, Jesus must be punished instead of you. Jesus had to die the death worthy of a sinner, in order to give us the reward He deserved (eternal life). There is no other option. Either both exist or neither do.

In the gospels, Jesus speaks about Hell far more than He does about heaven. The words of Jesus are haunting because they are true. Unless we turn from ourselves, to God, we will perish:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5, ESV)

We are sinners and we are guilty- and, like a father watching his children rebel, God is grieved in His heart to see His creation turn away. As Judge, He must condemn them (see Ezekiel 18, Lamentations 3). If God doesn’t punish the guilty, then how can He be God?

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28, ESV)

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24, ESV)

Hell is a real place, but God’s grace is greater than our sin (Eph. 2:1-4). Jesus has come! Jesus is alive. You are set free by trusting in Him. The Christian life begins with obeying the command of Jesus: come and die, and you will live. The old you must die, in order for your new life in Christ to begin.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 Forwhoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

Like Robin Williams, we all will die. The applause, the glory, the money, our bodies, will deteriorate.The clock will stop ticking on this life here, and eternity will begin. On which side of eternity will you end up?

Until next time,

Austin Thompson

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21 Comments

  1. If your god bases one’s place in the after life on the idea that one believed in him rather than the actions one carried out in one’s life then what a terrible, terrible god. Certainly not worthy of worship.

    Why would anyone even pay passing lip service to a being that based one’s eternity on that?

  2. You say in one breath that he’s one of your favorite actors and that he helped shape your sense of humor. In basically the next breath you explain why you think he might be in hell. Then you proceed to judge him in detail from your High Horse. Arrogant much?

  3. Dirty jokes planted in the mind of people, like a seed, can only take root if the mind is fertile for it to grow. Judge not lest ye be judged. Only God can determine if he is in hell or not. He was already in hell while he was alive here. I thought Jesus taught you to be compassionate. I guess your mind was not fertile enough for that teaching.

  4. God put the tree in the Garden of Eden and watched Adam and Eve partake in the forbidden fruit. Sounds like an irresponsible deity if you ask me. 😀

  5. To be a Christian means to be better than everyone else I guess… They forget that people are just human and EVERYONE has problems, and those with mental illness shouldn’t be judged by the likes of you and your sky God. Robin Williams was a great man, you didn’t know him and I hope that you realize that your God would more than likely look down on you for writing this while his family, friends and fans are mourning… Shame on you little Christian sheep!

  6. How unchristian like of you. Perhaps you can show me where god decided you would decide who goes to hell. If I understand the bible I think the underlying message is love. You seem to be stuck on spite and hate. How dare you stand in judgment of anyone. I guess that will be the sin you burn in hell for

  7. Arrogance is never a redeeming quality. Unlike you, having been a Christian for just 65 years, I do not judge other’s lives by my parochial prejudices and bigotry. The Bible tells me not to judge others, much less to arrogantly state that someone who used a different path to connect with people, is going to Hell. I would dare to suggest that his likelihood of spending eternity in Heaven is far greater than that of his vain judge and jury. So many Christians in America are arrogant judges and juries of those they don’t like. It is easy proclaiming that someone is going to spend eternity in Hell, but it is hard accepting the Biblical dictum not to judge. I pity shallow little ‘christians’ who fail at Christ’s charge to love and care for others. I hope you thoroughly enjoy the publicity generated by your pious libel. I have committed a sin for which I shall be judged, and for which I have no excuse. I have judged you to be an arrogant, unChristian publicity hound. I will ask the Lord’s forgiveness, but not yours. Robin Williams stand-up, movies, etc., helped my mother laugh as the cancer killed her, inch by inch. Her moments of escape from the pain were moments of joy for us. Have you brought similar joy to anyone by broadcasting your hate?

    1. Dr. William, may I have the floor for a minute?

      Your accusations are without justification. I actually think it is a good thing that you chose to judge me, because that is exactly what the Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 5, and Jesus in John chapter seven. The sin would not be with judging me, but with judging me according to your own standards instead of God’s. God calls us to judge those inside the Church, and to judge with righteous judgement (read the passages I referenced above). The only one who is righteous is God, and His judgements are made clear in the Bible. However, you error in saying I claimed that Robin Williams went to Hell. It is clear that you either did not read my article carefully or in its entirety. Your interpretation of what I said is not the same as what I intended with what I said.

      I said he did not claim to believe in Jesus. He was born a sinner, like every human being, and needed Christ’s atonement like every human being. Regardless of how he made your relative laugh while in the hospital, that could not atone for his sin. I do not know the state of his soul when he died, that is only known to God. Jesus claimed to be the only way and unless we know God through Christ, we do not know love at all (1 John 4). I am saddened that someone who claims to be a Christian would respond in such an inappropriate and, appearing to be, unloving way. I do not know you personally, but I would appreciate you asking my intentions before accusing me of arrogance. I have nothing to boast in except Christ and Him crucified, and I was a helpless sinner, and still am, without the blood of Christ. Truth is humbling and never degrading. If you have any questions let me know.

  8. Austin

    I am so glad you took the opportunity to show the world what a repented Christian is really like. A wolf in sheeps clothing. You haven’t repented, you have just redirected your hatred. If there is a hell, I am sure Satan will welcome you to sit at his right as you both face eternal flames. True Christians forgive, they do not judge as you have. May Robin Williams be welcomed in the Kingdom of Heaven and when God decides to take a whiz, may the urine from heaven drip upon your face to cool it for only a moment before your face turns to the fiery pain of hell for eternity.

  9. I want your autograph! I used to think I was perfect until I read your spiel. But I don’t know the fate of passed human spirits like you do. I would prefer your autograph hand-written and mailed. Thanks!

  10. It’s people like you that make me ashamed of being a Christian or at least using the title of Christian. Just grieving for Robin would have been more Christlike than the diatribe you published which was full of hate and judgment. Only God can judge, only God will decide who goes to hell. Fortunately for everyone who has ever stepped on this planet, idiots like you will not be the judge of who spends eternity with Christ and who does not. You should learn to love as well as you have learned to judge.

  11. Austin, great blog post I stumbled on. Dr William Bernard uses an overused argument, “judge not…” which taken out of context means something completely different from it’s context. We better be judging all the time and we do. Righteous judgement, discretion, etc.

    Back in the late 70’s my in-laws had cable TV and Robin Williams was performing the most anti-Christ vitriol routine I have ever seen in my life. I will not even say the 1st letter of some of his words used while giving God the one-finger salute and shaking his fist skyward. Much of his stan-up continued to the end of his life on Broadway.

    I did appreciate your use of the commands of Christ in order to be his follower. Superior post…be encouraged!

    In Christ, mike

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