Summary: So what difference does it make? If Hell is real, what difference not only does it make in how you live your life today but what difference does it make in being a disciple of Jesus
Hell and Being a Disciple
Luke 16: 19-31
Dan Kimball writes, “I am passionate about hell. That sounds odd – but I am not passionate about hell itself, but passionate about studying what it is because of the seriousness of what it is. I am passionate about it as I don’t want anyone to experience it. Sort of like when you study cancer, you are doing so in order to learn how to have people relieved of it not just because you like studying it. So my passion for studying hell, is because of (my) care for people….I am consumed with hell….because I don’t want to see anyone experiencing hell. I know nothing rests on me, as it is all about Jesus, the cross, atonement, faith and salvation which saves from hell. But the way you do see things happen in the New Testament is that God uses people to teach and speak about Jesus, the gospel, salvation etc. so we do have our part in it.”
Hell. We’ve been talking about Heaven and Hell in this series. As we get to the end of it, we have to ask the $64,000 question: so what difference does it make? If Hell is real, what difference not only does it make in how you live your life today but what difference does it make in being a disciple of Jesus. A disciple makes disciples. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). He emphasized this priority in His last words as well, “Go and make disciples of all nations,...” (Matt. 28:19–20). From the start, God’s design has been for every single follower of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples until the gospel spreads to all peoples. This is the grand purpose for which we were created and you are now commanded. So if we are to be disciples who make disciples, what difference should Hell make in that?
In this series, we’ve learned in Scripture Hell is real. In fact, Jesus tells us more about Hell than anyone else. (He said) “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out….And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Mark 9:43, 47-48 Jesus describes hell as a “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:42 Sinners and those who reject God would be told to ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41 And here’s the scary thing: if they go there… they’re not getting out! It’s eternal. Jesus uses the same word ‘eternal’ to describe both heaven and hell: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 No one who goes to Hell will ever get out. Once you’re there… you’re there.
In our Scripture today, we have the story of a Rich Man and Lazarus. Upon death, Lazarus was sent to heaven and the Rich Man was sent to Hell. The Rich man asks Abraham to have pity on him and to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue from his agony in the fires of Hell. Abraham reminds the Rich Man that he had already received his good things in life and is told no one can cross over from heaven to hell or vice versa. The Rich Man then asks to have Lazarus sent to his five living brothers to warn them so that they avoid Hell. But Abraham tells the Rich Man that the moment for sharing His faith and this warning of Hell has passed.
But it has not passed for us. When we talk about what role Hell plays in sharing your faith, I want to be very clear. I’m not talking about fire and brimstone preaching about sin and Hell. I’m not talking about asking people if they are saved or telling people they are condemned to hell if they don’t profess their faith in Jesus Christ. What I am asking is this: Does the reality of Hell and eternal damnation play any role as a catalyst in sharing your faith? Does it get you up out of your seats an into the world to share your faith? Does it move you beyond the fears which hold you back from sharing your faith? Are sharing your faith more often and more fervently?