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Sermon Central Staff
THE GRADUAL ROAD TO HELL
In C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, we read the story of an older demon counseling a younger demon. At one point in the book, we read these words:
"You will say that these are very small sins, and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy [God]. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to keep the man away from the Light.… Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
(From a sermon by Billy Ricks, Perspective: The Destructive Power of Sin, 8/14/2011)
Arthur Pink, a theologian from another generation, talks against those who preach about Jesus as a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. He explained that there are many who are dangerously deceived by this, because there are many who desire to escape the flames of hell, but have no desire to be delivered from their sins. I believe he is right. So many today think they can love God and still live in their sin. It cannot be done. You have to make a choice. It must be God or your sin. You can’t have both. You can’t love both. You have to die to your sin in order to come alive to God. Jesus stated an important kingdom principle with these words: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
"LIVING LIFE UPSIDE DOWN" by Russ Lee
John has a new way of looking at life
He’s tired of his job, his kids and his wife
He says the secret to his success
Was in leaving and finding himself
Now he’s someone to somebody else.
And you say we’ve risen to a new age of truth
You’re calling it a spiritual Godly pursuit
But I say, I say,
We’ve got a program for saving the earth
While unborn children are denied their right to birth
One baby’s blessed, another cursed
Have we made this world better or worse
Now that the life of a tree comes first
And you say we’ve risen to a new age of light
You’re telling me what used to be wrong is now right
But I say, I say,
What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well
Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we’re heaven bound
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we’re living life upside down.
FROM MY DEPARTED HUSBAND
A couple from north Oklahoma decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out during one particularly icy winter.
Because they both had jobs, they had difficulty coordinating their travel schedules. It was decided that the husband would fly to Florida on Thursday, and his wife would follow the next day.
Upon arriving as planned, the husband checked into the motel. He decided to open his laptop and send his wife an e-mail back home. However, he accidentally left off one letter in her address, and sent the e-mail without realizing the error.
In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral. He was a pastor of many years who had been called home to glory. The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. Upon reading the first message, she fainted and fell to the floor.
The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
Several years ago C.S. Lewis wrote a book entitled “The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape was a Master Demon who wrote a series of letters to his nephew Wormwood, who was a Demon in training. I came something this week that someone who had obviously read Lewis’ book had written. It is another letter. This one written by a Demon named Twisttape to his young apprentice Harshwood. I made a few changes to it, and want to share it with you in closing today. The letter begins: Dear Harshwood, I understand that you are about to graduate with honors and begin your work on earth. I’m Glad that your training went so well. I would like to give you one piece of advice, one bit of devilish wisdom that I feel will be very useful to you as you begin your tour of duty on Earth. One of the most important things I learned about humans during my tour of duty was that they think very highly of themselves. For the most part they consider themselves to be good, moral and upstanding people. The faults, the shortcomings and even the sins of others are very obvious to them. But when they look at themselves all they see is what they want to see, which of course are their good points. My advice to you my dear Harshwood, is to encourage that kind of thinking. Encourage it for all its worth. Our Enemy wants them to see their sins as He sees them, so they will turn back to Him. But that’s the last thing we want. I encourage you to blind their eyes, their hearts, and their souls to that revelation. Encourage them to think only of their good points and you, my dear friend Harshwood, will succeed in damning thousands of human beings to the fires of Hell. When Pastors and Evangelists preach about repentance convince them that there is no need for them to repent, that the pastor is really talking about the person sitting in the balcony or on the other side of the church. Convince them that they are in pretty good shape, that there is no need for them to repent, and then you’ll have them. For you see my dear Harshwood, when human beings start thinking about how good they are, they get filled with pride, and when that happens they are as good as ours. Good luck on your tour of duty, my heart goes out to you as you use every trick, every scheme, every evil desire, every good intention, every proud thought to win souls for the god of this world, our lord and Master, Satan himself. Signed Your Devoted Teacher, Twisttape
Sermon Central Staff
THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PROCRASTINATION
There is a fable which tells of three apprentice devils who were coming to this earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan, the chief of the devils, about their plans to tempt and to ruin men. The first said, "I will tell them that there is no God."
Satan said, "That will not delude many, for they know that there is a God."
The second said, "I will tell men that there is no hell."
Satan answered, "You will deceive no one that way; men know even now that there is a hell for sin."
The third said, "I will tell men that there is no hurry."
"Go," said Satan, "and you will ruin men by the thousands."
The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.
(William Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2 [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], p. 317. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)
WHAT KIND OF HEART DO YOU HAVE?
I was reading this week an article by Bryan Doyle. It talks about hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds have race car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight.
They are tiny little birds and their hearts beat 10 times a second. So even if you put your huge ear to its chest, it would be hard to discern the heartbeat.
The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine.
The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.
Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.
What kind of heart do you have? Is it beating to the rhythm of songs of praise to God? for eternity? Or is your pulse set to the city, the job, the constant striving for possessions and property, the ways of the world, the pulse of hell?
My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, “The Man Who Predicted 911.” We were both moved by this hour presentation and its focus on one man by the name of Rick Rescorla. Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank’s offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.
On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials’ advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to "be proud to be an American ... everyone will be talking about you tomorrow", and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.
After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, only 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.
The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who now in tears were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for saving their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero.
Mr. Rescorla left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, and two children that day. Since 911, a memorial stone was erected in Rick’s hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life and the sacrifice he made to save others.
James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As sinners saved by grace, we must have a “Rick Rescorla Attitude.” He was convinced people entrusted to his care would perish if his plan of escape were ignored. Rick Rescorla stayed the course even when unpopular and ridiculed because he believed what he was doing would save lives.
Sadly, many Christians today have a “Cain Attitude” when it comes to rescuing the perishing and having a consistent witness. Unlike Rick Rescorla, they say by their actions: “I am not my brother’s keeper.” How this must grieve the heart of Almighty God who has left us here as His Beloved Children to sh...
An Emergency-room doctor wrote, "Recently we saw another preview of hell in the Parkland Hospital in Dallas. A woman struck down by a drunken driver. A college student lying semi-conscious following a head on collision with another drunk driver who himself was critically injured. The drunk's companion was dead. Four other drunks with lacerations and stab wounds waiting to be treated. Night after night, year after year, the same bloody trail of horror, major automobile accidents, stabbings, rapes, wife-beatings, the nightly emergencies treated and released or admitted to the hospital or pronounced dead on arrival; and almost always the bloody trail is lead by that honored man of distinction, the weekend drinker, not the alcoholic.
I wonder if there is that much joy to be gained from the total consumption of all beers and whiskies ever made, ever to equal even a small fraction of the innocent suffering, the damaged bodies, the broken marriages, the discarded children, the total brutalities and crimes that will inevitably accompany its use.
What a quiet place our emergency room would be if beverage alcohol were ever abolished from our city!"
Late one summer evening in Broken Bow, Nebraska, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. The waitress had just served him when three tough looking, leather jacketed motorcyclists - of the Hell’s Angels type - decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, one grabbed the hamburger off his plate, another took a handful of his french fries, and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. How would you respond? Well, this trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the bikers said to her, "Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?" She replied, "I don’t know about that, but he sure ain’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot."