Summary: This sermon completes the series as it addresses our choice - to perish or have eternal life - heaven or hell.
A. Life is all about choices.
1. For the most part, our lives are what they are based on the choices we have made.
2. I know that sometimes things happen and are no fault of our own, but how we choose to deal with what happens makes a difference.
B. Just as life is about choices, so is the afterlife.
1. We have been studying John 3:16 – one of the best known and most treasured verses in the Bible: “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.”
2. From that verse we have learned that God is and that God loves.
3. We have learned that God loved us enough to give his one and only Son.
4. We have learned that God’s loving offer is for everyone – for whoever.
5. Finally, we have learned that the rewards and blessings of God’s offer are for whoever believes.
a. Last week we talked about what it means to put our trust in Jesus.
C. Today we want to learn why we need to respond to Him in faith.
1. God clearly describes the two choices that He lays before us – Hell (perishing) and Heaven (eternal life).
2. What do you think about heaven and hell?
3. I think our society and culture tries to make fun of and downplay the significance of these two places.
D. Look with me at a few cartoons that poke fun at heaven and hell.
1. Slide 1: Don’t you love those “you are here” maps. Don’t think you need one in hell – you’ll know where you are.
2. Slide 2: We have our choice - “Smoking or Non-smoking?”
3. Slide 3: If you really dislike exercise, do you picture hell as eternal aerobics?
4. Slide 4: Yes, hell will be hot, but it will be a dry heat.
5. Slide 5: Here we have the irony of the afterlife – everything will be hot, but the soup will be cold.
6. Slide 6: Welcome to heaven…here’s your harp. Welcome to hell…here’s your accordion.
7. Slide 7: Two people talking about heaven – “To be honest, I was a little disappointed. It’s hard for a place to live up to the hype.”
8. Slide 8: “Would you please stop saying ‘I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven’?”
9. Slide 9: Don’t you just hate those user names and passwords – I’m always forgetting them!
10. Slide 10: I wish I’d brought a magazine – That’s how I feel at the doctor’s office, but it’s not how I’m going to feel in heaven!
E. There are so many ideas about heaven and hell circulating out there, let’s spend a few minutes looking at what the Bible says about heaven and hell.
1. We know that God wants everyone to go to heaven, The Lord doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, but the choice is ours.
2. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
3. 2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
4. God wants everyone to believe and repent and be saved, but He leaves the choice to us.
I. The Tragedy of Hell
A. God makes the greatest offer of all time – “Come and enjoy living with Me forever in my perfect world.”
1. Yet so many people have no desire to do so.
2. Max Lucado puts it so well: “They don’t want anything to do with God. He speaks; they cover their ears. He commands; they scoff. They don’t want him telling them how to live. They mock what he says about marriage, money, sex, or the value of human life. They regard his son as a joke and the cross as utter folly. They spend their lives telling God to leave them alone. And at the moment of their final breath, God honors their request.”
3. God says: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Mt. 7:23)
B. Hell is a subject that few people want to think about.
1. Who wants to think about eternal punishment.
2. People prefer to trivialize the issue, making jokes about it or turning it into a flippant adjective.
C. There are also those who prefer to sanitize the subject, and make it a moral impossibility.
1. The famous atheist, Bertrand Russell said, “I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”