Summary: How do we interpret death? Is it a sign of God's love or hate? How do we put God in the picture? this sermon answers the question.
March 18, 2012 John 3:16-18
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
We are all well aware of the signs that are prominent in our town that talk about God’s hatred. They associate the death of soldiers with God’s hatred of America’s sin. They interpret a multitude of diseases and death as God saying to America, “I hate you.”
The natural response is to get angry at them and just say, “That’s idiotic and it’s wrong.” It’s easy to say the opposite, “God loves everyone.” But that doesn’t make sense to the world either. If God loves everyone, then why does everyone die? So how should we interpret death? Should we just leave God out of it and not try to explain it at all?
It might be safer, but the Scriptures do not tread so lightly. Romans 5:12 says, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Death is a result of sin; not necessarily a specific sin; but just plain old sin. You can die slowly from a cancer or a disease or you can die quickly from a car wreck or a gun shot through the head. Under the curse God didn’t promise to always intervene or stop murderers from murdering or cancer from spreading or arteries from clogging, for then we would never end up dying. But no matter how you die it all goes back to the original curse. You don’t have to be old. It can happen to anyone; young or old; for they all are sinners.
What is death? It’s not just the physical deterioration of the body. Here is where the Scriptures explain how serious God was about His curse on sin. He talks about being both saved and condemned. Suffering does not necessarily end at death. Not all spirits return to God. Jesus warned of the eternal destiny of the soul in Matthew 13:40-42, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
What percentages of people make it to heaven and hell? Matthew 7:13 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Jesus spoke of ONE gate; and it is NARROW. In comparison with the multitudes that end up in hell; few end up in heaven for eternal life.
Even from a Scriptural standpoint this is offensively scary to people. He says that because of Adam’s sin we were all born under a sin that makes us ugly and damnable? He allows people to slowly die or to die at an early age and then assigns so many to an eternal place of torment where the torture never ends. This is so offensive to so many that they say, “Christianity just can’t be true. I just can’t believe in a God who would allow this or do this to anyone!” When people are even living in this world they pray against the suffering and death of their loved ones and they beg God to temporarily withhold the laws of at least suffering from their loved ones. Yet He doesn’t always give them the answer they want. So they grit their teeth and hate God all the more or tell themselves that this God just can’t exist. But this is true: sin causes God’s curse of death. God’s Word is not unclear on the matter. We can’t just throw out or ignore what we don’t want to hear or what we don’t like to hear.
Death: What’s Love Got to Do with It?
I. It has everything to do with it
It sounds depressing to start out a sermon with such facts, but we can’t forget that God’s Word has always been a heaven and hell proposition. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to give us happier marriages or better finances or good health. He has come to save us from hell. Christianity today would like to put God in a more neutral place; a more gentle place; someone who doesn’t really like sin and yet someone who likes everyone as they are. God is a God who wants to make your life easier and happier; not a God who wants you to rescue you from death and hell. God’s Word isn’t so kind. God has always been a God who has hated not just the worst of sins; but all sin. God doesn’t just threaten hangnails. He threatens death and hell. We need to take God’s Word seriously.