Summary: When we think about hell we think about Retribution; when God thinks about hell God thinks about Redemption.
“HALLELUJAH” OR “HELL-A-LUJAH”?
Revelation 20:11 – 21:8
Big Idea: When we think about hell we think about Retribution; when God thinks about hell God thinks about Redemption.
REV. 20:11-21:8 (ESV)
11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
In 2009 the Pew foundation did a survey on America’s sentiments regarding hell. There were 35,000 people surveyed. Pew discovered that over half (59%) of us believe that hell is a real place. Gallup, Barna, and Baylor University have as also done similar polls in recent years with similar findings. Other interesting findings include:
• About 74% Americans believe in heaven
• Of those 74%, 77% believe they are going to heaven while, at the same time, the overwhelming majority do not think their neighbor is going to heaven.
• In 1993 the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board conducted a study and estimated that 70% of all Americans are going to hell.
In a survey conducted in the 1990’s Americans were asked what chance a variety of public figures had of going to heaven. The winner in this “heavenly survey” was Mother Teresa. Of those surveyed, 79% said she was very likely or somewhat likely to go to heaven. Of those surveyed, 87% believed themselves likely to go to heaven. Those polled gave themselves better chances than Mother Teresa. According to the results of this survey, here are the chances that other famous persons will go to heaven.
• Oprah Winfrey - 66%
• Michael Jordan - 65%
• Hillary Rodham Clinton - 55%
• Bill Clinton - 52%
• Newt Gingrich - 40%
I guess my point in all of this is that our understanding and opinions of hell are all over the charts. Even recent surveys conducted by Baylor University and Barna Research group show a wide variance among conservative evangelicals about hell, heaven, and how to get there.
I am not surprised. Let’s face it; most of us hear very few sermons on hell. I assure you it is not a topic I relish speaking about today. I’ll be honest. I don’t like hell and I don’t like talking about hell. However, Hell is a topic in the Scriptures. Jesus, for example, spoke more about Hell than he did about Heaven. Other authors spoke of God’s judgment against sin as well.
In my humble opinion, people who do like (or feel qualified to) talking about hell have a very very shallow understanding of the gravity of the subject.