Summary: The reality of hell should motivate the church to action. God has given each member of the body of Christ keys of the kingdom with which we can conquer hell.
On this Father’s day we can all remember what it was like to think our dad was the greatest. Three little boys were talking about how great their fathers are. "My dad is the greatest; he’s a lawyer and can make guilty people look innocent." The second boy says, "My father is greater than that; he is a doctor and he can make sick people well." The third says, "My father is greater than either of yours because he owns Hell!" "Your father owns hell?" questioned the other two boys. "Yes! Dad came home last night from work and said his boss gave him hell."
As we continue this series of messages on the body of Christ, the Church, I have a simple message for Father’s today–it’s a message not only for dad, but also for each of us who are a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Are you ready; here it is in three words: YOU OWN HELL!
Now if I thought you all fully understood what it means to “own hell” we could all be done early and get going to our Father’s Day picnics. The problem is I know you don’t understand it. Some of you may even be repulsed by the idea of owning hell; you are happy to own many different things, but hell is not on you list of things you want.
Turn with me to Matthew 16:18-19. Now as you are turning there, I want to let you know that I have brought my keys with me today. I’ve got a lot of different keys: keys for the house, our car and van, keys for the church, the post office box, the bank deposit box. I even have keys that I’m not sure what they are for.
Keys speak of ownership–each of my keys give me the ability to lock and unlock something. My keys give me power and control over the things that they are for. For instance, I may own my car, but without the keys I am powerless to use it.
As we look at what Jesus says in Matthew 16, I want you to understand that Jesus has given each of us a set of keys, and one of those keys actually unlocks the very gates of hell. YOU OWN HELL; Jesus has given you and me, His Church, authority and power over hell itself!
✞ Matthew 16:18-19 18. . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (NIV)
Dad (mom–grandpa or grandma too), you own hell. You don’t have to let you children be taken from you by Satan; you have the authority to set them free from the chains of sin. But before we talk about the keys that the church has been given to conquer hell, I want to talk to you about hell first.
When we stop and think about it hell is no joking matter. We should be telling people about the reality of hell. Many preachers don’t even want to talk about hell from pulpits today; we would rather talk about heaven. It is not often that the preacher would stand and cause those who listened to him feel flames of hell and smell its smoke as Jonathan Edwards did in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
Jesus described hell as a place where the “worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48), a place of “darkness,” a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30). Jesus talked about hell as a real place of eternal torment; how can we ignore the reality of hell?
1. Satan has deceived people about the reality of hell.
C.S. Lewis knew the truth that hell was real. He wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity. . . if it lay in my power. . . I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully: ‘All will be saved.’”
Satan wants to convinces us that hell is not real. Paul McCartney would sing with the Beetles, "Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky." Some of the Beetles may want to change their tune today; they have found out that hell is real.
✞ 1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (NIV)
Satan would have us believe that hell doesn’t exist. If he can convince us that hell isn’t real, then it stands to reason we will not talk about it, nor be concerned with the eternal destiny of those around us.