Summary: Hell is a literal place that most preachers shy away from preaching in this current "seeker-sensitive" church culture of ours for fear of offending, and to ensure religious correctness and church growth. In our text we find a man preaching from Hell.
A Sermon from Hell
On an airplane a pastor opened his Bible to the story of Jonah and began to study. The man sitting next to him glanced at this pastors reading selection and commented, “Surely you do not believe that a man was actually swallowed by a whale and lived? What could he have done in the belly of a whale for three days?” to which the pastor replied, “When I get to heaven I will ask him”. With a grimace the man countered “What if he is not in heaven”, “Well then”, the pastor quirked, “you can ask him”.
We can laugh at jokes about hell, we can chuckle at cartoons that depict a devil with horns and a pitchfork chasing little demons in hell, we can read of liberal theologians discounting the very concept of hell and we can even deny the existence of hell. However, Hell is real.
“The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and risks of love is Hell”-C.S. Lewis (Four Loves)
“Hell is no less than the eternal and second death, in its utmost extent and terror, as, just in all respects the opposite to eternal life…filled with incessant stings and horrors of conscience, and tormented in soul and body with such painful and raging flames, as will forever distress, but never consume their bodies, or destroy a lively consciousness of guilt in their souls to all eternity.”-Wellins Calcott, Thoughts Moral and Divine
“Hell is not evil; it’s a place where evil gets punished. Hell is not pleasant, appealing, or encouraging. But Hell is morally good, because a good God must punish evil.”-Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good
“The devil, as a master of deceit, does everything he can to keep people from believing in the existence of a hell; but hell is a literal state of existence that will be the plight of all those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ” -Tim LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled
Hell is a literal place that most preachers shy away from in this current “seeker-sensitive” church culture of ours for fear of offence and to ensure religious correctness and church growth. In our text we find a man preaching a sermon with three points, a sermon, if you will, from Hell. Let us consider this Sermon from Hell and discover the rich man’s Vanity, and Vision and our Victory.
Point One: His Vanity:
First of all let me fill you in on a little secret, you are going to die. The Bible says “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”-Heb. 9:27. (Room for sidewalk crack story-understanding I will only die when HE is ready for me!).
There will come a day, and it may be sooner than you think (ask Whitney Houston), that you will close your eyes on this side of eternity and open them up either, like the Apostle Paul “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”-II Cor. 5:8, or like this rich man who opened his eyes “in hell”. What on earth could this rich man have done to merit and deserve spending an eternity in hell separated from the love of God? The answer is vanity. He was caught up in self.
The girl knelt in the confessional and said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
"What is it, child?"
"Father, I have committed the sin of vanity. Twice a day I gaze at myself in the mirror and tell myself how beautiful I am."
The priest turned, took a good look at the girl, and said, "My dear, I have good news. That isn’t a sin... it’s simply a mistake."
God does not predestinate anyone to spend an eternity in hell. And for our five-point, Hyper-Calvinist friends, I say again, GOD DOES NOT PREDESTINATE ANYONE TO HELL! And contrary to what many religions and cults will tell you today, the only unpardonable sin one can commit that will ensure an eternal separation from God and His love in this place is the rejection of the gift of His Son Jesus Christ for the full and free pardon of one’s sins.
To be so caught up in self that you actually believe that you can be good enough to enter heaven on your own, that you have no need for anyone or anything, is the only way you will be separated eternally from a loving God.
The truth? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” –Jer. 17:9. So, if we are counting on a scale or balance in the next life that will weigh our good works against our bad to determine our eternal destiny, we must understand that even our best days are “as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” –Isa. 64:6. And don’t be fooled into comparing yourself with the person sitting next to you, in that compared to them you are morally and spiritually superior. Paul points out that, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” –Rom. 3:23. And the consequences of our sin? Again Paul tells us that the “wages of sin is death” –Rom. 6:23.