Summary: A sermon on Hell, it’s inhabitants, and why we must make it to Heaven.
Hell’s Biggest Party
Isaiah 14:9 – “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.”
l. INTRODUCTION -- WHAT AMERICA THINKS ABOUT HELL
-Hell has fallen on hard times. A recent George Barna survey found that 67% of Americans do not believe in hell. That means that only 33% of Americans believe in a literal hell.
-Couple that idea with a rapidly declining biblical knowledge and in just a few short years there will be no hell. . . . At least in the minds of Americans.
-Hell is being “frozen out” by many preachers who downplay damnation in their sermons. According to a lengthy report June 19, 2002 in The Los Angeles Times, the mention of hell from pulpits is at “an all-time low” as a result of the influence of secularism on Christian theology.
-“There has been a shift in religion from focusing on what happens in the next life to asking, ‘What is the quality of this life we’re leading now?’” said Harvey Cox Jr., an author, religious historian and professor at the Harvard Divinity School. “You can go to a whole lot of churches week after week, and you’d be startled even to hear a mention of hell.”
-I think that sometimes we are even startled to hear about hell here. In fact, it is now ___________ . The last sermon that I can recall being entirely related to the subject of Hell was in March, eight months ago, when we had our youth revival with ________________ .
-The Los Angeles Times said the tendency to forsake the fire and brimstone “has grown in recent years as nondenominational ministries, with their focus on everyday issues such as child-rearing and career success, have proliferated and loyalty to churches has deteriorated.”
-“It’s just too negative,” said Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at the Denver Theological Seminary. “Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding.”
-But despite what the popular preachers and theologians of our seminaries say about hell, they forget what the greatest preacher who ever lived had to say. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about Hell twice as much as He did about Heaven. There was only one subject that He dealt with more and that was money.
-Suffice it to say, if the Lord thought it important enough to speak about then I too am bound by that same task. The doctrine of Hell was not a doctrine that was developed by Paul, or Peter, or even John. The certainty of Hell was clearly established by Jesus Christ.
-Billy Graham was quoted in the Los Angeles Times article as saying that he could not any longer, in good conscience preach about a literal, burning hell. He felt that hell was more a separation from God than a literal place. He said that the thirst which the rich man in Luke 16 experienced was an unquenchable thirst for God that could not be filled and that would remain with him for eternity.
-Billy Graham said that hellfire and brimstone preaching was good for the ‘40’s and ‘50’s but is no longer good for the new millenium. It is funny how we change because in the late ‘50’s, Mr. Graham was quoted like this, “If there was more hell in the pulpit there would be less hell in the pew.”
-Yes, indeed, hell is having a bad day. Hell is being frozen out. But regardless of what our genteel “Christian” society thinks about hell, their opinions and views neither destroys hell nor changes the fact of it’s existence.
ll. OUR TEXT IN ISAIAH
-Isaiah 14 is a description of what happened to Satan. It gives to us what happens when pride begins it’s evil work of destruction. There is a pit waiting on evil.
-Consider with me some other renderings of this verse in various translations:
Isaiah 14:9 -- Hell from beneath is excited about you, To meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones All the kings of the nations. New King James Version
Isaiah 14:9 9 Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come, it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. Revised Standard Version
-But this rendering from the Living Bible should strike something in all our hearts. . . . . Listen carefully:
Isaiah 14:9-11 -- 9 The denizens of hell crowd to meet you as you enter their domain. World leaders and earth’s mightiest kings, long dead, are there to see you. 10 With one voice they all cry out, "Now you are as weak as we are!" 11 Your might and power are gone; they are buried with you. All the pleasant music in your palace has ceased; now maggots are your sheet, worms your blanket! The Living Bible