Summary: If every Christian could spend just five minutes in hell, we would all have a new outlook on our responsibilities as Christians.
Five Minutes in Hell
The title of my sermon today, “Five Minutes in Hell” is the flip side of the sermon we heard two weeks ago, about how we would change if we had the opportunity to look into Heaven. I suppose it is a impossibility to actually take a tour of hell, but we can take a tour via the scriptures. It is not the ideal will of God that anyone go to hell. The Scriptures teach that hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). The whole redemptive program of God is motivated by the dual desire to save people from a destiny in hell and to save them to an eternal fellowship with God in heaven.
Have you ever speculated concerning what you would learn if you could make a five minute visit into the destiny of the doomed? Have you ever examined your heart and been convicted of the calloused, cold-hearted indifference of your heart toward the spiritual welfare of those for whom our Lord died?
I must say to you that there have been times when I have felt, at least momentarily, that a five minute trip to hell would be very profitable for my ministry. I must also confess that there have been times when, if I could have sent some of my church members to hell for five minutes and then brought them back, that I would have done so. I say this without malice or hatred or desire for revenge. These thoughts were motivated by a desire to help parents see the awful danger to which they were exposing their children by and attitude of total indifference concerning their spiritual and moral well-being.
So today I want us to take a short Scriptural trip to Hell, so we can learn five ways we might just be changed.
I. We would learn that hell is real.
a. Hell is not a myth or bad dream or the creation of some fantastic fiction writer.
b. Hell was a reality to our Savior to the extent that he died on a cross to save people from it.
c. Hell was a reality to the apostle Paul to the extent that he suffered great privation and hardship and martyrdom that he might communicate the saving gospel to the lost.
d. Hell was a reality to the rich man mentioned in the story by Jesus.
i. He was in possession of his consciousness
ii. He described his feelings
iii. He retained his memory
iv. He was in a hopeless condition
v. He had a concern for his five brothers, that they might come into the same torment.
II. Such a trip would cause the church to be aroused from a state of complacency.
a. The church is not a social club.
b. The church is not just a service organization.
c. The church is our Lord’s rescue squad charged with the responsibility of persuading people to forsake their lives of unbelief and rebellion against God that will eventually put them in hell.
d. We greatly admire heroes.
i. The newspapers contain stories week after week of those who have greatly endangered themselves to save someone form great peril.
ii. If the members of the contemporary church really believed that all of those who died outside of Jesus Christ would spend eternity in hell, we would become a community of compassionate concern unlike anything the world has never seen.
III. Such a trip would cause us to recognize the value of being genuinely Christian in all of our conduct.
a. The most effective sermons ever preached are not those that are uttered over the pulpit.
i. Unless the gospel is demonstrated in life, the testimony of the lips and the sermon from the pulpit will have no weight or influence.
b. By referring to his disciples as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Jesus was emphasizing the value of influence.
i. People will not believe in our Savior unless we demonstrate that he makes a difference in our lives.
c. Paul was emphasizing this truth when he said, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother stumble, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Cor. 8:13).
i. Our conduct must always be guided by our motive to attract people to our Savior.
IV. Such a trip would vastly influence our personal spiritual growth and discipline.
a. Prayer would take on a new meaning if we realized that it brought us into vital contact with the eternal God and that through prayer God would be able to work his work within us so as to make us more effective in our witnessing.
b. We would become diligent students of the divine Word that we might more effectively meet the personal needs of those to whom we would seek to bear a winning witness.