Summary: The gospel is good news, but is preceded by the bad news that we are lost in our sin, and hell is our destination apart from the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Hell is for Real
TCF sermon text
February 7, 2016
There’s the story of a man who went on a vacation to Florida from their home in Alaska. He arrives a day earlier than his wife, and waits for his wife to come the next day to stay with him.
Well, this guy is technologically challenged, but he tries to send his wife a text the evening before she comes. Unfortunately, he sends his text to the wrong number – he picked the number of a friend of his, who had died the day before, and this dead man’s wife gets the message instead.
The message says: "Having fun, but it sure is hot down here. I can’t wait for your arrival here soon."
Then, we have the story of a grandfather who took his 4 year old grandson to buy donuts. On the way, Grandpa turned to the boy and asked, “which way is heaven?” The boy pointed to the sky. The grandfather then asked, “which way is hell?” The boy pointed to the floor of the car. Grandpa continued, “and where are you going?” The boy replied, “To Dunkin Donuts.”
There was a man who, when something bad would happen, would always use the phrase, “well, it might be worse.” One day a friend said to him, "I have something to tell you, and you won't be able to use your favorite phrase, because it couldn’t possibly be worse. I dreamed last night that I died and went to hell."
"It might be worse," said the man. His friend was astonished: "come on, now - how could it be worse?" To which the man replied: "it might be true."
We call the gospel good news, and it is. Gospel literally means good news. Really good news. But it’s only good news, because of the bad news reality, that precedes it.
We human beings are in a bad situation, because we are sinful, and sin is a power that controls us, and shapes our destiny apart from Christ.
We underestimate sin. We trivialize what it means to be a sinner. People take sin way too lightly. We are absolutely powerless to free ourselves from the grip of sin in our lives. What’s more, this sin in our lives absolutely earns us eternal punishment.
The bad news is that there is sin. The bad news is that we are, by any measure, but especially when measured against God’s holiness, sinners. And because we are sinners, and because we are unable to free ourselves from its grip, the worst part of the bad news is that there is justice. Because there is justice, we are destined for eternal punishment. A few years ago, there was a book, which became a movie, called Heaven is For Real. Now, without going into a lengthy commentary on the value of a book like that, let me appropriate the title and change it slightly.
Hell is for real.
There is a real place that the Bible calls hell. And this real place is the place where every one of us here deserves to spend eternity.
If you believe the Bible at all, you cannot ignore the reality of hell. If you accept the words of Jesus that sound nice and sweet, words like God so loved the world, or love one another; or words like we read in His sermon on the mount:
Matthew 5:3-5 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:7-9 (ESV) 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
If we accept and believe these words, then let’s not just be cafeteria Christians. Let’s not pick this to believe, and not this, picking and choosing what we like best – the comfort food we most enjoy. If we believe any of the words of Jesus, then we cannot ignore the more difficult things that Jesus said – the harder truths:
Matthew 25:41 (ESV) 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matthew 25:46 (ESV) 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment
John 3:36 (NIV) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Luke 12:4-5 (ESV) 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!