Summary: The Christian life is lived in the here and now with strength borrowed from the future.
Everlasting Destruction or Eternal Life?
1. We have many jokes about the subject of hell.
Consider the supposed story of the Illinois man who left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick e-mail."
"Unfortunately, when typing her address, he missed one letter, and his note was directed instead to an elderly woman, a pastor’s wife, whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint."
"At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:
Dearest Wife, Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival" tomorrow.
"P.S. Sure is hot down here." http://www.collegenet.com/elect/app/app?service=external/UserTaggedPosts&sp=59550&sp=2589]
2. But when we discuss the subject of Hell in seriousness, we realize that it is a subject in which opinions abound: From Wikipedia:
Daniel 12:2 proclaims "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt." Judaism does not have a specific doctrine about the afterlife, but it does have a tradition of describing Gehenna. Gehenna is not Hell, but rather a sort of Purgatory where one is judged based on his or her life’s deeds…The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that people are not in Gehenna forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be 11 months, however there has been the occasional noted exception. Also, Subbotniks and Messianic Judaism believe in Gehenna, but Samaritans probably believe in a separation of the wicked in a shadowy existence, Sheol, and the righteous in heaven.
3. Catholicism has two bad place: purgatory and hell. Eastern Orthodoxy holds views similar to those of modern Judaism. But what does the Bible really teach?
4. The New Testament teaching about hell and judgment is tied into our text with the suffering and mistreatment of Christians. During such times, believers can easily wonder why God allows these things to go on seemingly unpunished. The answer is that everything will be brought into account in the future.
5. Let’s read our text, noticing the practical use of the doctrine of God’s coming judgment.
Main Idea: The Christian life is lived in the here and now with strength borrowed from the future.
I. The Future: God Will EVEN the Score (6-10)
Expectation: Eternal Life is Future
A. He is JUST (6a)
• Life isn’t fair, but God is
• God could choose to make life fair, but He chooses to even things out in the long term, not the short
• If you think about it, maturity is about being futuristically minded…now…planning ahead…God is the epitome of maturity
B. He BALANCES the books (6b)
1. He will pay back
2. He will give relief
Revelation 6:9-11, "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ’How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."
C. He Will Assign SEPARATE destinies (7-10)
Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”
1. Believers will ENJOY God forever
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Cor. 4:16-18
2. Unbelievers will be SEPARATED from God forever
• Those who do not know God
Biblical Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. In religion, man is reaching up to God; in the Bible, God reaches down to man. In religion, we work to gain brownie points with God; in the Bible, God saves us freely by His grace and then encourages us to live as His children because we already have been accepted. We are to act in a worthy manner because He has declared us worthy in Christ.