Summary: There is no place in heaven for those who think they are morally, spiritually or intellectually superior to others and thereby contradict the very nature of Jesus Christ.
IN GOD'S IMAGE 85 - REVELATION 20 - HELL AND THE SUPER-RIGHTEOUS
This message is part of a series of 90 sermons based on the title, “In God’s Image – God’s Purpose for humanity.” This series of free sermons or the equivalent free book format is designed to take the reader through an amazing process beginning with God in prehistory and finishing with humanity joining God in eternity as His loving sons and daughters. It is at times, a painful yet fascinating story, not only for humanity, but also for God. As the sermons follow a chronological view of the story of salvation, it is highly recommend they be presented in numerical order rather than jumping to the more “interesting” or “controversial” subjects as the material builds on what is presented earlier. We also recommend reading the introduction prior to using the material. The free book version along with any graphics or figures mentioned in this series can be downloaded at www.ingodsimage.site - Gary Regazzoli
Last time we looked at the subject of hell.
• We saw that hell is reserved for those foolish enough to reject the gift of salvation offered to them by the righteous judge, Jesus Christ.
• Although the odds are stacked in favour of them accepting God’s invitation to join Him in heaven, there appears to be some recalcitrants who reject the invitation.
• The decision comes back to one of relationship, heaven is to be in communion with God, and hell is to be cut off from God.
• Hopefully, none will be foolish enough to bring God’s judgment on themselves.
However, based on the reception Jesus Christ received at His first coming, there may be a couple of groups who may be reluctant to accept God’s gift of grace.
• A common misconception of hell is that, heaven is the reward for being good, and hell the punishment for being bad.
• However according to Jesus’ teachings, this concept is turned on its head.
• Instead He taught, “heaven is for sinners, and hell is for “good” people.
• Mark 2:16-18 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
• The simple exercise of looking at those who accepted Jesus and who rejected Him at His first coming is a good indication of this principle.
• Jesus’ good news of grace and salvation was primarily welcome by sinners such as prostitutes, tax collectors, and social outcasts.
• In contrast, his sternest criticism and warnings were directed at the “super righteous” of His time, the Jewish religious leaders (Luke 1:52-53; 4:18).
• It was almost exclusively to this super righteous church-going group of the time that Jesus’ teachings and parables on the subject of hell were addressed.
• The classic tale on this subject is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray.
• Luke 18: 9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
• What riles this super righteous group so much is their perceived injustice in the equation.
• “Here I am fasting twice in the week, tithing my income, going to church each week for the last 50 years and these no-good bums come along and get the same reward as me?”
• “The tax collector gets let off the hook despite his self-confessed long list of sins!”
• “The prodigal son gets a free pass despite bringing shame and scandal on the family!” (Luke 15:11-31).
• “The workers in the vineyard get the same pay for a half-hour’s work as I’ve received for a full day!” (Matthew 20:1-16).
• The problem with grace for the super righteous is according to their calculations it is just so unfair.