Summary: The church speaks with God’s voice to the community to 1) Warn against refusing Him who speaks, 2) Promise a better world, and 3) Invite people to become part of the community of believers.
The One Who Speaks
Rev. Sean Lester
October 26, 2003
Text: Hebrews 12:18-29
A. See to it that no one is godless or immoral like Esau was, is how the passage ended last week. Godly discipline in the members of the church makes for a powerful church that produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. The church can do this because its members are committed to the work, they are considerate of each other, and they are concerned about each other’s spiritual well-being.
B. The church that does these things is given authority in this world to call people to repentance from sin and to faith in Jesus Christ.
1. The church is not calling for sinful people to be judged. We are not trying to scare people into behaving like the Israelites were when God gave them the law. The church is not preaching that salvation is beyond their reach, and that if they even try to get close to God they will be killed.
2. The church is saying that there is a heavenly place where the angels are dressed in their Sunday best. We are inviting people to the assembly of the born-again, whose names are written down in a place beyond the sky. We are inviting people to a God who is willing to make imperfect people perfect. We are inviting people to accept the offering of the blood of Jesus Christ, who clears the conscience of sin and removes the penalty of sin.
Proposition: Your mandate is to call people to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interrogative: How do we do that?
Transition: The text tells us how we are to address the people in our communities in calling them to worship the Lord.
I. A warning not to refuse Christ.
A. When Jesus was on earth, he warned the people that God’s kingdom was near. He told them that the axe was already at the root of the trees ready to burn up every tree that did not produce fruit. Even now, the Lord cries out through the preaching of His Word for people to repent and obey the Lord God.
B. When God warns people to repent, it is with urgency and sincerity. Adam and Eve were warned, and their refusal to obey cost them their lives. Noah warned his people to repent. They refused and lost their lives in a flood. Lot’s family was warned not to look back when fleeing Sodom. His wife did, and she was killed. The Israelites were warned to repent from sinful activities. They refused and lost their nation. Won’t God, who has always made good on his warnings keep his word with anyone who refuses to obey his commands?
All who refuse to follow Jesus Christ are destined for eternal ruin. Whenever there is a change in government, there is an expectation of allegiance to the king. All who refuse allegiance are killed. There is a kingdom coming, and all who are loyal to Christ alone will be a part of it. All who have refused him will be cast into hell until the Day of Judgment.
C. You have the authority to issue the warning to those you know. It isn’t an act of meanness to tell people that all who refuse to follow Christ will go to hell. The very idea of going to hell is terrifying. I have been at the bedside of sinners going to hell, and I have been at the bedside of saints going to heaven. The sight of a sinner descending into hell is horrifying. There is terror in their eyes. There is no peace in their soul. No one who has seen it will ever remain silent about hell’s reality. It is real, and will be the temporary habitat of all demons and lost souls.
Transition: The warning is for those who are hard hearted, but for those who are willing to hear, there is a promise.
II. The promise of a better world.
A. The day will come when the earth and the heavens will be shaken away and replaced by a new heavens and a new earth. Even if medical science were to come up with a way to extend life on earth forever, there would be no way to escape the ultimate end for the planet God has declared will come. The heavens and the earth and everything in them corrupts and is corrupting. The moon slowly descends toward the earth. The sun gradually cools. The mantel of the earth hardens. The stars pull away from each other. Nothing is permanent in all of creation. But the day will come when all of this will be replaced by what will never wear out.
B. The promise is this: all who follow Christ are given an eternal soul by the Holy Spirit that is eternal. Upon death or the Lord’s return, that soul is kept in heaven until the time of the new cosmos and the new earth. Then, a new, incorruptible body will be given. You will live forever in a world that will last forever.