17 Aug 2014
Turn your bibles, if you would, please to the book of Matthew and Matthew chapter seven. I want to deal with a subject today that we don't deal with very often. It's a subject as titled, “What Happens After Death, Heaven or Hell?” We live in a world today where we go to extremes or we live in a world today where we want to soften truth, and we want to throw out all that is negative, and deal only with what is positive. But friends, the Bible is balanced. Because just as there is a heaven, there is a hell, and we need to be reminded of what happens after death. So, Matthew chapter seven is our text today.
By the way, we've seen a lot of deaths lately, have we not? I remember waking up this week and reading on the newspaper that Robin Williams, the actor, took his life. I mean pick and pentacle (sic) says he did it last week, the week before that.
My wife and I had a friend of ours who is 50 years of age; a pastor in San Diego, California, had a massive heart attack and fell over dead. It just seems that all of this has been thrown my way recently. It stirred me to deal with the subject, “What happens after death?” Because death knocks upon every man's door, is a respecter of no persons, and you just don't know when death will knock on your door, so you better be ready! Friends, we better understand what happens after death. Our text is Matthew chapter seven.
An Analogy of “I don’t know where I’m going...”
I heard the story about the famous physicist, a man by the name of Albert Einstein, you know the name! One day, he was on a train and he was going to an out-of-town engagement. As he was there studying his notes, the conductor came around checking tickets. When he came to Dr. Einstein, Einstein was so busy, he didn't remember where he placed his tickets. He checked in his coat pockets, in his briefcase, but to no avail. He looked up at that conductor with kind of that sheepish look upon his face saying, “You know? I don't know where my ticket is!” The conductor looked down at him. He says, “Don't worry about it, Mr. Einstein. We know who you are. And we believe that you have bought a ticket. Everything will be okay. Don't worry!” So, the conductor moved on down the cars punching tickets and before he went into the next car, he turned around, and to his surprise, he saw Dr. Einstein upon his hands and knees, looking under a seat for his missing ticket. He kind of chuckled, you know? Walked up to the great physicist and said to him, “Dr. Einstein,” he said, “I told you everything was be okay! We believe that you bought a ticket. We know who you are,” to which Dr. Einstein then looked up at the conductor, and he said, “I too know who I am. But what I don't know is where I'm going!”
Tobey Maguire’s Thoughts on Mortality
You know? Since everybody will live somewhere forever, it is vitally important that we know where we are going. In fact, one of the most important questions in life, and it is a question that everybody will eventually ask, is that question: “What happens after death?” Or, “Where will I spend eternity?” It seems [that] the day in which we live, more people than ever are concerned with death and the after-life. In fact, if you've just been paying attention, you will see that there have been more movies made, more books written, and more television programs dealing with the subject of death and the after-life than ever before. In fact, I read a recent interview in Harper’s Bazaar. (I didn't read it in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, by the way) I read the interview. It was done by Harper’s Bazaar magazine, but it was [an] interview interviewing the actor Tobey Maguire, do you know the name?
Tobey Maguire? You know the name? Famous for? Spider Man! All right, all those above 50, forget it. You don't know any way! But everybody else, right? Famous for Spider Man! Well, here's what he said regarding death and the after-life. He said: “I asked myself,” he said, “ ‘What is life all about? Is it the pursuit of material success? Is it a spiritual journey?’ ” He says, “I'm really learning about responsibility and mortality. These are the two big issues [of life].” Since death and mortality are one of the two big issues of life, [death and mortality] is something that every single person needs to think about.
Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Mortality
In fact, it has been wisely said that two things are true of every single person. Everybody wants to be happy and that is true. Yet at the same time, everybody is going to die. Because death does knock upon everybody’s door and since it does knock upon our door, we need to be certain where we will spend eternity because death is no respecter of persons.
I remember it wasn't long before Steven Jobs of Apple Computer fame passed away. He gave a speech at Stanford University to the graduating class. Here's what he said. Interesting enough, he says, “No one wants to die and yet death is the destination that we all share. No one has ever escaped it.” Friends, those are true words. Death is the destination that every single person here shares and it is no respecter of persons. It took the life of Steven Jobs. It caught up with that man, Robin Williams, just recently.
God’s Thoughts on Mortality: There are 2 Destinations
But you know, when it comes to death and the after-life, there is no greater authority on the subject than the Bible itself. The Bible reminds us that for every single person, there are only two destinations: There is an eternal life with God in heaven, or there's an eternal separation from God in the place the Bible calls hell. Regarding death and the after-life, Jesus Christ made this statement in our text here in Matthew chapter seven. With these words, He said, “Wide is the gate and broad is that way that leads to destruction. But narrow is the gate and difficult is that way that leads to life.” (Matthew 7:13b-14) In other words, Jesus was simply reminding us that for every single person, there are only two destinations. There is, as He says, that broad way that leads to destruction - eternal separation from God in a place called hell. Or there is that narrow way, which leads to life and eternal life with God in a place the Bible calls heaven.
We All Share a God-designed Need to be in His Presence Forever
Considering that everybody will live somewhere forever, I want to deal with this subject: “What happens after death?” Because you see, deep down in the heart of every single person, everybody wants to go to heaven. Now, I may not know many of you very well. But one thing I do know about most of you, and probably one reason that you're here today is because you want to go to heaven. In fact, the Bible reminds us that every single one of us, without exception - it doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter what you believe, it doesn't even matter what you believe about God - but here is what is true of you: Every single person, the Bible says, was made in the image of God. When the Bible said that we were made in the image of God, He's simply reminding us that all of us were, we were made to know God; we were made to have fellowship with God. In other words, you were made to go to heaven.
We Were Made to be Satisfied by God - Not What this Brief Life Offers.
You know, that's why the things of earth cannot fully satisfy the heart of man. Because you see, we are not made to be satisfied by this life - we were made to be satisfied by God. That's why the things of life cannot fully satisfy the heart of man. Why? Because we were made to be satisfied by heaven. Or as C.S. Lewis once said, “The emptiness of life is nothing more than man's longing for heaven.” Friends, that is absolutely true.
In fact, do you realize today that it is God's deepest desire, and it was the prayer of Jesus Christ, that you would be with Him in heaven? You see, 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ with the eye of that omnipotent God looked down the tunnel of time, He saw you, and in seeing you, He prayed for you. Here's what Jesus Christ prayed. It's found in John 17, in verse 24, the Bible says, Jesus said, “I desire that ‘they’,” He's referring to you, “that they might be with Me, and that they might behold My glory.” You see, friends, the fact is that God desires and He has placed eternity in your heart; He has given to you a longing in your heart for heaven, because you see, that is His deepest desire.
In fact, that was the prayer of Jesus Christ for you regarding heaven. When Jesus mentioned heaven in the New Testament, do you realize that He referred to heaven as a place of paradise? Do you know that? You remember when Jesus was dying upon that cross, dying for your sins, dying for the sins of the world - the Bible records that on either side of Jesus were two thieves. Although those thieves were dying for their crimes against society, Jesus was dying for the sins of the world. In an instant, in a moment of time, one of those thieves looked at Jesus and there, he realized that this was the Son of God, and He was the Saviour of the world, dying for the sins of the world. In that cry of conversion, remember? He cried out, and he said, “Lord, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” And remember? Jesus responded with that promise of salvation. He said, “Today, you shall be with Me in paradise.” Because you see, without a doubt, heaven is a place of paradise; it is a perfect paradise. Wouldn't it be amazing if you are able to die, go to heaven, and then come back to Earth and share your experience?
Heaven – God’s Presence and His Pleasures
Now, I know there are a lot of books like that in the bookstore. I'm not sure I'd put a lot of “stake” in those [books], but I do know a person or, may I say it this way, I do know of a person who went to heaven, and came back to earth and he shared his experience. You know his name. In fact, it happened to a man by the name of Paul the Apostle. Paul shares his experience this way in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. Listen to what Paul says. He says, “14 years ago, I was caught up into the third heaven.” When he uses this phrase “third heaven”, he's taught simply talking about the realm in which God dwells. He's talking about heaven where God is, and he says, “14 years ago, I was caught up into that third heaven [where God dwells].” Notice, he says, “I was caught up to… ” What’s that word? To “paradise” [New Living Translation] “I heard things that were so astounding, I heard things that were so amazing that I can't even express them in words.” In fact, Jesus Christ and Paul the Apostle, when they talked about heaven, they always referred to heaven as a place of paradise, a perfect place, a place of paradise.
I can imagine Paul, sitting around a table drinking a cup of coffee with a bunch of guys. These guys are starting to tell Paul about all the beautiful places that they visited in the world. I can hear in my mind's eye one guy saying, “Hey, Paul, listen, I have been to Hawaii. I want you to know something about Hawaii – it is the most beautiful spot on earth. I mean, the sand is like powder. The sky is the most, deepest blue I have ever seen. The water is as warm as a bathtub.” I can hear another guy say, “Listen, I have been to the Tahiti. Tahiti is - and Hawaii is nothing compared to Tahiti, because the sand - they are softer, the sky is bluer, the water is warmer, and the food is to die for.” I can see Paul just sitting there, you know, with a smile upon his face. He looks over these two men. He says, “Guys, listen. I've been to heaven. And heaven is far superior to Hawaii, Tahiti, and even the Maldives. I can only describe it with one word. Paul says it is a place of paradise. It is an absolute paradise.”
The New Heavens and The New Earth
It's interesting. When the Bible begins to describe heaven for us, it refers to heaven as a New Earth. Have you ever noticed that? John said he saw a New Heaven and a New Earth coming down. Heaven is referred to as a New Earth which means this - it means that heaven is much like the old earth without the curse of sin. In other words, in heaven, we can expect to see what we see on earth; we can expect to see grass and mountains, cities and villages, people, sports activities, so on and so forth. It's much like Earth except without the curse of sin. Why? Because the Bible refers to it as a New Earth. Yet we do know it is without the curse of sin. So, we could say it this way - we can expect in heaven to see no one painted [vandalized] buildings, or to see no garbage-lined streets, we can expect to see no ponds of stagnant water breeding, you know, Aedes mosquitoes! We can expect to see no potholes in the road. No broken windows and buildings. You know? In heaven, we can expect to see a world that will never again be ravaged by flood, or destroyed by typhoons. We should expect to see a place that will never again - its forests be blackened by fire. A place where the grass will never wither and the trees will never die. In fact, the Bible makes it crystal clear that in heaven, the burdens and the tragedies of life will forever be lifted. Friends, did you hear what I said? The Bible says that for certain in heaven, the burdens and the tragedies of life, the weights and the worries, and the fears and the cares that you carry right now, the Bible says will be lifted in heaven. You say: “How do you know that?” Because John said it. He put it this way in Revelation 21:4, he says, “God will wipe away every tear from the eye.” Friends, [do] you have things that are causing you pain right now. Do you have things that are causing your eyes to shed tears? He says, “But there's coming a day and that day is heaven, that place is paradise, where God will wipe away every tear from the eye, and there shall be no more death. There should be nothing that will ever again cause death. Nothing in heaven will again ever die. The grass will never wither, the flower will never fade, the forests will never be blackened.” Why? Because there shall be no more death nor sorrow, no crying, and there shall be no more pain for the former things - these things, the Bible says, have passed away. Why? Because the curse and the burden of sin has been lifted.
In fact, can I take it a step farther? And say it this way? Do you realize that in heaven, man will not be able to sin? In fact, in heaven, man won't even want to sin. In fact, in heaven, man won't even want to want to sin Are you with me? You see in heaven, there will never again be anything that will ever tempt man to sin. Why? Because it's going to be a perfect paradise where the curse of sin has been lifted.
In fact, John again put it this way, in the book of Revelation [chapter 21], verse 27, he says, “But there shall by no means enter [in heaven], anything that defiles or causes an abomination, or a lie.” And friends, that means this there'll be in heaven, no fear. There'll be no sorrow. There will be no death. It means there'll be nothing in heaven that will ever again displease God or damage our human relationships. It means that in heaven, there'll be no more missing children. No more orphans upon the streets, no more homeless people, you know, lining the streets of our major cities. It means that there'll be no more rape, no physical abuse, no more AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] centers, no more drug rehab centers, no more drug addicts. There'll be no more crime of any kind. There'll be no mugging and no killings, and no theft. There'll be no more terrorist threats. Why? Because heaven is a perfect place. Because the curse of sin has been removed. There'll be no more periods of depression, no economic downturns. There'll be no unemployment. There'll be no more wars. There'll be no more anguish over our failures, no more human miscommunication. You see, our relationships one with another will be absolutely peaceful. Won't that be fun? There’ll be no more cliques. No more betrayals, no more anger, no more behind-the -scene deals. No more gossip, no more jealousy, no more lust. There'll be nothing ever in heaven that will ever again ever eclipse your joy. Why? Because you see heaven, without the curse of sin, will be an absolutely perfect paradise.
A New Body to Be Given
Friends, that place of paradise awaits those who repent of their sin and receive Jesus Christ into their life to be their Savior and to be their Lord. But friends, I'm not done with heaven. [Do] you realize in heaven, you're going to receive a new body? I know this does not impact those who are young and still have the spirit in their legs. But for those of us who get a little older and try to climb four flights of stairs, all right? It's not easy! You know, your knees grow weak, and your lungs begin to scream out for air. But I want you to know something? In heaven - this old body that is decaying, this old body is getting older - is going to be renewed [with] immortality, or this mortal body is going to put on immortality; this body of corruption is going to put on incorruption. Hey, we are going to be changed! That means in heaven, there'll be no wheelchairs and canes and crutches. There'll be no blind eyes and limp limbs and weak hearts. Hey, there's going to be no body subject in to disease, decay or death. Why? Because heaven is going to be a perfect paradise because the curse of sin has been
lifted. Isn't that exciting?
It may not be exciting to you because maybe you still think this way. And I used to think this way and many people think of heaven, I think, you know, ah Heaven is one long boring church service! I knew it. Or maybe you think this way: “You know, in heaven, I'm going to have…my angel's wings are going to flap. I'm going spend my time between polishing the streets of gold and strumming my harp...” And as a result, nobody has any eye towards heaven and no certainty towards heaven. No desire to go there. But you see, nothing can be farther from the truth.
Fullness of Joy and Pleasures Forevermore
Because you see, not only is heaven a perfect paradise, but it's a place of absolute, wonderful, pure pleasure. I love the words of David. He put it this way in Psalm 16. He said [in verse 11]: “In Your presence,” by the way, that's heaven, [David] said, “is the fullness of joy,” and he says that, “at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Hey, listen, heaven is not going to be one long boring church. Young people, okay? You're not just going to get up here and hear, you know, some guy just droning along throughout eternity! And you're just sitting there, watching… and watching…. the angels worship… Hey! The Bible says [heaven is] like this old earth and yet it has doesn't have the curse of sin. The pleasures of life will be the pleasures of heaven without the curse of sin.
Now, imagine it this way. Can I give you some - a little bit of a sanctified imagination - for a moment? Are you with me? Pleasures. It means that you might be able to bungee-jump from the top of the New Jerusalem without even a hint of fear. You say “Why?” Because fear is the result of the curse and the curse is removed, my friends. There's going to be no fear in heaven. So, if you want to bungee -jump to the top of the New Jerusalem, go ahead and do a 200,000-storey straight up. Straight down. No fear. Or how about this? How about jogging up on the longest trail and never breaking a sweat and never getting tired? You say, “Well, how do you know that?” Because you see, sweat is the result of the curse. In heaven you see that curse has been lifted. So, you can jog the longest trail and you could swim the longest river and never tire, never get to it. But here's something for you. Singaporeans, you're ready for this one? Do you realize that you can eat as much as you want, as often as you want? And you'll never grow fat? And you'll never die of heart disease. Because in heaven, there is no death. Okay, I say this to people. I'm an evangelist, but my first profession before I was an evangelist, I was a chef. So, you'll know what I'll be doing in heaven? Nobody to evangelize [to]. So might as well go back and just practice my art. You come to my restaurant. By the way in heaven, you don't even have to pay a bill.
I heard the story by the way. Let's just stop here for a moment. Ready? I heard a story about an 85-year-old couple that had been married for like 65 years and they died in a tragic car accident. By the way, this is not a true story. They had a great last 10 years because the wife put them on a regimented exercise program and health food. So, when they died and went to heaven, of course, they met who at the pearly gates? Of course, they met Peter! (Because you can't tell a heaven's story without Peter at the pearly gates!) So there you are, Peter, at the pearly gates, this couple, and so, he ushers them into their mansion. Of course, they're “oohing” and “ahhhing” at this beautiful mansion, you know? I mean, there it is, their cupboards decked out with their favorite foods, a sauna, jacuzzi, and you know, they're just looking this and wow, this is so great, But, in true male fashion, the husband looks at Peter and says, “Listen, how much is this going to cost me?” Peter says, “Hey, listen, this is heaven. Everything's free.” The man put a smile on his face. Peter says, “Come, I'll show you more.” Takes him outside. Behind the house, is this beautiful championship golf course, and [Peter] says, “You know, you can play here every single day. Here's the amazing thing: this golf course changes shape every week into one of the major golf courses on earth.” The man says, “Well, that is great. But Peter, let me ask you, how much would this cost me?” Peter says, “Listen. This is in heaven, it is free.” Of course, the man puts a smile on his face, and Peter takes them to the clubhouse. As they walk into the clubhouse, there's this huge lavish buffet - foods are all from the different parts of the world there. You know? Peter shows him all this stuff. And the man says, “Well, this is great. But Peter, again, how much is this going to cost me?” Peter says, “Don't you get it? This is heaven! Everything in heaven is free.” And [the man] said, “OK, but Peter, listen, where are the low carbohydrate and the low-calorie tables?” Peter said, “Hey, this is the best part. Do you realize in heaven, you can eat as much as you want, as often as you want, and you'll never grow fat? You'll never die of heart disease? And you'll never grow sick?” And with that, the man got angry. He took off his hat, he threw it on the ground, he began to stomp on it and begin to scold his wife. He said, “This is all your fault!” He said, “If you didn't put me on an exercise program and a healthy diet, I could have been here 10 years ago!”
Now whether that's true or not, I do not know. But here's one thing I do know. The highlight of heaven will not necessarily be all the pleasures, but it will be a place of pleasure. The highlight of heaven is the fact that we will forever be with our God. I love what the evangelist D.L. Moody once said, he said, “It is not the jeweled walls or the pearly gates that are going to make heaven attractive.” He says, but it’s you and I simply “being with God” because on that day, you see, we can ask God anything. We can listen to all that God has to say to us [in] heaven. But heaven is reserved for those men and women who repent of their sin and place their faith and their trust in Jesus Christ alone.
Hell – A Place of Unimaginable, Unrelenting Torment, Our Default Destination
But my friends, just as there is a heaven, there is at the very same time, a hell. Justice. There's an eternal life with God in heaven. There's an eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell. I realized that hell is not a popular subject. It is not a politically correct term. I realized that if I were to advertise on GLCC, or to advertise last week and say, “Come, Pastor Mike is going to preach on the horror of hell”, we would probably not draw a crowd. But friends, hell is real. In fact, do you realize that Jesus Christ spoke more on the subject of hell than He did heaven? In fact, Jesus Christ spoke more on the subject of hell than any other preacher in the Bible. You know why? Because Jesus Christ had been there, He had seen it, and Jesus Christ knew its reality. The last thing that He wants is for any man, woman or child to die, and to go to an eternal hell. In fact, Jesus Christ often spoke up on the subject.
In Luke chapter 16, Jesus Christ tells a real story. This is not a parable. But he tells a real-life story of two men who died; one went to heaven, and one went to hell - the story of the rich man and Lazarus. You remember that story? That story goes like this: That one day, two men died. One was a rich man who had everything in this life and the other was a poor man who had nothing in this life. This poor man by the name of Lazarus died, and the Bible says that he is immediately ushered into heaven. Now this poor man did not go to heaven because he was poor, but he went to heaven because he was saved. We could say in a modern vernacular, he had “repented” of his sin, and he'd “received Jesus Christ into his life, to be his personal Savior and his Lord”. Although he had nothing in this life, he gained everything in the next life. But the Bible says that this rich man also died, and he went to hell. Now, he did not go to hell because he was rich. He went to hell because he was not saved. He had not repented of his sin, nor had he received Jesus Christ in his life to be his personal Savior and his Lord, and although he had everything in this life, he received nothing in the next life simply because, he was not a child of God. His descent into hell is recorded for us, by Jesus, with these words. In Luke chapter 16, in verse 24, listen to what Jesus says; He's telling a real-life story, Jesus says that in hell, he, that is the rich man, he lifted up his eyes and being in torment, he cried out and he said, “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me! And send Lazarus and he might dip the tip of his finger in the water, and cool my tongue, for I am being tormented in the flame!”
Full Consciousness of Torment
It is interesting what this rich man said while [being] in hell. The Bible says that he cried out, and in crying out, he said, “I'm being tormented in the flame,” which reminds us of several things. It reminds us that when a person dies, and go to hell, they're aware of their surroundings. They know what's going on. They don't fall into a point of, you know, suspended animation; they don't go into a soul sleep, but they are totally aware; they are conscious of what is happening and how [this] also reminds us that hell is a place of suffering, torment, and pain - because he says, I hear him being tormented, “in the flames”. In fact, so intense is the suffering and torment and pain of hell that six different times, that Jesus Christ said that hell will be a place where there is the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. In other words, the only relief a person who will have when they die and go to hell will be the shedding of tears and the grinding of their own teeth.
Many Dismiss the Reality of Hell
Yet when it comes to hell, many people look at it and say, “You know? Hell is nothing more than a big fat joke.” Or maybe they reason this way, they say, “Well, it may not be a joke, but here's what hell is: Hell is going to be the eternal party place where the bar never closes. In fact, the matter is, I can't wait to go there.” But friends, the fact of the matter is such deception is tragic beyond words. You know, we all know the name John Lennon. John Lennon bought into that deception when he made, when he said these words in a song that he wrote many years ago. Maybe you remember this song? He said, “Imagine there is no heaven.” By the way, it's just imagination, because it's not reality. He says, “It's easy if you try. No hell below us, but above us, only sky.” Yet, although this is the mantra of many today, friends, it is tragic beyond recall, that people would actually believe that heaven [hell] is not real. Even if it is real, they say, “Well, it's an eternal party place with a bar that never closes.”
Friends, the Bible speaks otherwise. It is interesting when this rich man died and he went to hell that he cried out to Father Abraham. Being in torment in flames, he cried out and he begged Father Abraham, “Would you please send Lazarus back from the dead? That he might go to my home, then he might speak to my five brothers? And he might compel them to turn from their sin and not come and suffer my fate?” Why? Because this rich man knew the reality. He knew the certainty of an eternal hell. The last thing he wanted was for his relatives to die and to go to this place of pain, suffering and torment. In fact, Jesus records this rich man's words this way. Then he said, that is the rich man, he said, “I beg you, therefore, Father [Abraham], that you would send him (that is Lazarus) to my father's house, because I there have five brothers, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Notice what this rich man did not say. He did not say that, “Hey, I'm having fun in hell. This is an eternal party place - the bar never closes - and I can't wait for my brothers to come because we're going to party throughout eternity.” It's not what he said. There in heart anguish, he cried out to Father Abraham, “Please send someone to my brothers and warn them that they don't suffer my fate!” Because you see, friends, hell is not an eternal party place where the bar never closes. But it is a place of pain, suffering; it is a place of torment. Friends, do you realize that in hell, there will be no movie theatres? There'll be no video shops. There'll be no bookstores for a person to hang out and to chill out in. In hell, listen, there'll be no football games and no parties, there will be no friends. People aren't going to die and go to hell and make a bunch of friends. The place is, it's a place of utter darkness; where there is weeping, and wailing, and the gnashing of teeth. There'll be no bars, there’ll be no drugstores. There'll be no drug dealers in order, you know, to get your fix so you can wash away the pain. There'll be no doctors who can prescribe pain pills and sleeping pills so that you can, you know, find ease from your torment.
You see in hell, there'll be no rest. There'll be no sleep. There'll be no death and there'll be absolutely no escape. Because hell's eternal.
I think we know the name Malcolm Forbes, don't we? One of the richest men who ever lived. Just before he died, he made this comment. He said, I think that he said, “The thing that I dread most about death is that I know that I will not be as comfortable in the next life as I was in this life.” Friends, that's true if you die, having never repented of your sin and received Jesus Christ into your life, to be your Savior, and to be your Lord.
Better to Enter Life Maimed Than to Enter Hell with Whole Body
You see, in hell friends, there will be no escape, there will be no second chances. Because hell is eternal. Maybe that's why Jesus gave these words of warning. He said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin,” He says, “Cut it off, and cast it from you. Because it is better for you to enter life maimed, rather than having two hands and two feet and be cast into ever-lasting fire.” You see, friends, Jesus Christ knew its reality. The last thing that He wants is for any man, woman or child to die, and then go to hell. His desire is that you and I would be with Him in heaven. Friends, this story in Luke 16 - these verses remind us that there are only two options: There's either an eternal life with God in heaven, or an eternal separation [from] God in a place the bible calls hell. It reminds us that our eternal destiny is determined right here right now and not in some future world. Hell.
Maybe you're sitting out there today, and you're thinking to yourself, “Well, you know what? I'm not sure I believe that… I don't believe that there's an eternal hell, a place of torment, suffering pain, where people go and pay for their sins. throughout eternity. I don't buy that.” Well, I realized today that 65% of our world believe in a real eternal hell and yet 35% don't. Maybe you're here this morning, and you're part of that 35%. You say, “Listen. I don't believe.” Maybe that's where you find yourself.
But friends, let me just say this. Let's say there's a 10% chance that the Bible is right, and there is a real, literal, eternal hell. Are you willing to take that chance? Let's say, for example, we go to the airport and you're sitting on the plane with your family, about to go to your holiday destination. A pilot gets up on the intercom. He says, “You know? One of our engines is having some trouble and there's a 10% chance that we are not going to safely make it to our destination.” What would you do? I know what you would do, because you would do and I would do! I’d look, go to my wife and say, “Let's take another flight.” Because nobody is willing to gamble with their life! Yet so often, men and women gamble with their eternal souls. Friends, don't take that gamble.
The Foolish Gamble
I heard once of a very famous juggler who retired and he wanted to move back to his home of Italy. So, he took all of his worldly possessions and he placed them into one large diamond. Everything that he owned, was in a diamond. As he was taking a boat back from where he was, back to his home in Italy, he was there on the floor of the ship with a bunch of kids and he was juggling some apples because he spent his life as a juggler. So, he's just kind of entertaining these kids and doing all kinds of tricks. Soon, the crowd grew and grew. Before long, almost the entire ship had gathered, watching this famous juggler juggle apples. As he was juggling, pride went to his head and he said, “I'll be back in just a moment.” He ran back into a state room and he grabbed that diamond. He came and stood before the crowd and told everybody, “This diamond represents my entire net worth; everything that I own, everything that I have, is within this diamond.” So, he began to juggle the diamond with the apples. And of course, you know, that got the attention of the crowd. They are “oohing” and “ahhing”, you know? He’d throw it higher and higher and he would do it higher and higher. And once he threw it so high that for a moment it disappeared from sight. And everybody was like “oooh” and “ahhh” and all of a sudden it dropped into sight. The sun hit [the diamond] and it glistened there in the sunlight. Everybody cheered. Just as that diamond began to fall from the sky, and just before it landed back into the hand of that juggler, the ship lurched to one side, the diamond fell to the ground and rolled through a porthole and dropped into the sea - gone forever.
Do you know in the same way there are many people who are gambling today? Gambling with their eternal soul. Hoping and pretending that hell is not real. Friends don't take that chance. Because if the Bible is right and there is a literal hell and you believe, you gain heaven. But if the Bible is wrong and there is no hell and you believe, you lose nothing! But if the Bible is right and there is a hell and you don't believe, you lose everything! Because life is temporary, death is eternal. Maybe that's why Jesus gave these words of warning when He said [in Mark 8:36], “What profits a man, if that man gain the whole world, and yet he lose his own soul?”
Listen to the Gospel and Believe in Obedience
Friends don't take that chance! Let me just say this: God's deepest desire, and the prayer of Jesus Christ for you, no matter who you are, no matter what your background may be, no matter what you believe about God, God's deepest desire for you is that you would be with Him! In fact, do you realize that hell was not created with you in mind. But the Bible reminds us that hell was created for the devil and the [disobedient] angels. In fact, Jesus put it this way, in the book of Matthew, He says [in Matthew 25:41], “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” [Hell] was not designed for you. In fact, God loves you so much, and so desires you to be with Him in heaven, that He is patient; He is long-suffering for you. In other words, He gives you a long rope, but one day that rope will come to an end. He speaks of that when He says this, in 2 Peter 3:9, it says, “The Lord,” He says, “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
This is the heart of God for you. He says, “Quit gambling with your soul! Make the choice!” He says, “Trust My Son!” Why? Because His Son came to do for you what you can't do for yourself; He came to deal with your sin. Because you see, the Bible makes it clear that every single one of us without exception, we have sinned. Sin has separated us from our God. And every one of us, step by step, we're marching to an eternal hell. Friends, do you realize that all a person has to do to go to hell is to live and die? Because your sin from the very moment of your birth has separated you from a holy God. Sin is a serious matter. You know, sometimes people say, “Hey you know, preacher, what's the big deal about sin? You know? Everybody's sinning!”
Sin is a big deal. It is so big that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to deal with your sin on a cross [Matthew 1:21; 1 John 2:2] That's how big of a deal sin is. In fact, it's so big that God gave these words of warning. He says [in Romans 6:23a], “The wages of sin is death,” that refers to eternal death and eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell. But God doesn’t want anybody to die and to go to hell. So, what did he do? He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, and there [on earth] Jesus Christ died upon that cross; He died for your sin; He died taking the punishment that you deserve; He died, so you might live and the price that He paid for your salvation was the price of His own blood. That's why the Bible says that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son has the ability to cleanse us of all of our sin.
Letting God Pay for Our Sins
Friends, when we make a choice, to accept Christ’s payment for our sin, then God forgives our sin and He gives us heaven. But if we reject God's payment on our behalf, then we will pay for our own sin, and that payment will be made in hell forever. Did you hear that? Jesus Christ came to pay for your sin. Because God is a holy God, God cannot tolerate your sin. Your sin must be forgiven [like a debt has to be ‘settled’ in order to be ‘forgiven’]. Because you can't wash your own heart, God in His love for you, sent His Son to do what you can't do - to wash away your sin. And when you accept His sacrifice, Jesus Christ, God accepts you. He forgives your sin, and He gives you heaven. But if we reject God's sacrifice on our behalf, if we reject Jesus and say, “No,” then we will pay for our own sin. And that payment will be made forever. In a place the Bible calls hell. I want you to know something, my friend, the choice is yours. Let me just explain it this way (and we're almost done).
The Analogy of a Judge Making Payment for Traffic Violation
Let's say for example, you find yourself in a court of law, because you've been found guilty of a serious traffic violation. The judge is bound by law to set a punishment. [And] he does so by giving you a large fine. But in a surprise move, that judge comes off the bench and looks at you and says, “Because I love you, I'm going to pay your debt. I'm going to pay your fine.” So, he reaches into his pocket and he settles your debt. Then he looks at you and he says, “Your debt is forgiven. Your crime has been erased. You have been set free.” But friends, do you realize although that [judge] paid [the man’s] debt, do you realize that man still has a choice? You know, he can choose to accept the [judge’s] payment for his crime on his behalf, or he can reject it. You see, if he accepts [the judge’s gift of payment for his legal violation], he’s set free. But if he, if he accepts it, he’s set free but if he rejects [the payment for the penalty], then he will suffer the consequences.
God Likewise Makes an Eternal Payment for our Eternal Violation of His Eternal Laws
The same is true with God. You see, in God's great love for you, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die up on the cross for your sins. He came to do what you cannot do. He came to take your punishment, so you might have life and have life more abundantly. And if you accept what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ, God accepts you! He forgives your sin and He gives you heaven. But if you reject His salvation, you've rejected His Son, His sacrifice, His payment for your sin, then you will [have to] pay for your own sin. And that payment will be made in the place the Bible calls hell, and that payment will be made forever.
Friends, [do] you realize that nobody ends up in heaven and nobody ends up in hell by accident? Because you choose where you will spend eternity. And you choose in this life! Not in the next life. You accept what He did for you, or you reject it. We decide where we will spend eternity, right here. Right now. Because if we end up in hell, upon that final day, please know this, that you have nobody to blame but yourself. You see, how do you know that? Look at this verse here. Is that what Jesus said? He said [in John 3:18], “He that believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned.” What? Already [condemned prior to believing]!
Friends, please note this, that everybody is born in this world condemned. Everybody is born as a sinner separated from God due to their sin. Everybody is born, not innocent. Everybody is born a sinner, separated from God. Everybody is born condemned. We come into this world, step by step marching to an eternal hell. The only thing that a person has to do to go to hell is to live and die. But he says if he believes, he is not condemned. That [default trajectory] is REVERSED. And your sins are forgiven, and you have the eternal hope of an eternal heaven. And on that fateful day, if you wind up in hell, you have nobody to blame, but yourself.
Can I just give you an illustration (and then we're done)? Let's say for example, you're driving down the road. You're about ready to go up over a bridge and about a click [1 km] away, as you're driving towards that bridge, all of a sudden, you see a sign that says “Danger - Bridge out - Take immediate exit”. But you dismiss the warning, and you go again, and you see another sign: “Danger - Bridge out - Take immediate action.” But again, you ignore the warning. And then you see another sign that says: “Danger - Bridge out - Pull over immediately - Do not proceed”. And you blow by that sign, and you draw closer to the bridge, all of a sudden you see police cars with flashing lights. You see policemen with those big yellow gloves saying, “Stop! Do not proceed.” But you press on, and you push through those barriers, and you go up over that bridge in there. Sure enough, as those signs warned, the bridge is out, and you plunge to your watery death. Whose fault is that? Can't blame the government. They put up a sign. Can't blame the policeman. They warned you. You have nobody to blame, but yourself. And yet the same is true with God. You see God in His great love for you, gave to you a warning. And the warning goes like this [in Romans 6:23]: “The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Friends if we heed the warning, and we turn in faith, and we trust Jesus Christ to be our Savior, and as our Lord, we receive eternal life and the hope of an eternal heaven with God. And yet if we reject the warning, the Bible says that we will forever be separated from God and be in a place the Bible calls hell. The choice is yours. In fact, I think that's why Jesus made this statement in that great verse of John 3:16. He says, “For God so loved you [the world] that He gave His only begotten Son (that's Jesus, who came to do what you cannot do, and) whosoever (that's you - doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter what you believe, doesn't matter what you think, doesn't matter what you've done) whosoever believes in Him, (God promises that you) will not perish, but you will have ever-lasting life”. So let me ask you this question as we close.
Where will you spend eternity? Heaven or Hell? The difference is what you do with the person of Jesus Christ. Friends, my prayer, the prayer of Jesus, the desire of God is that you would make a wise and a right choice. REPENT of your sin and receive Jesus Christ into your life, to be your Savior, and to be your Lord. Let's bow for prayer, shall we? With our heads bowed and our eyes closed…
More Episodes from Pastor Mike Redick:
23 Jul 2023
II Samuel 11-12 Satisfied?
13 Aug 2017
13 Nov 2016
06 Nov 2016
19 Jun 2016
25 Dec 2015
21 Jun 2015
20 Jun 2015
Episodes from other sermons:
03 Dec 2023
26 Nov 2023
23 Jul 2023
18 Jun 2023
28 May 2023
07 Apr 2023
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022