Summary: When we confront our eternal destiny, our perception changes.
“If I Were to Die Tonight…”
Living with the Reality of Heaven and Hell Series
Matthew 24:36-44 (verses taken from NKJV unless noted)
Wakelee Church ~ September 26, 2004
Theme: When we confront our destiny, our perception changes.
Introduction - The Old Revivals
Illus. Remembering the old revival services with teh preacher always asking...“If you were to die tonight…do you know where you are going?” - Would that work today???
Illus. Dad was counseling with a man high on drugs and alcohol. The guy wasn’t being responsive to
dad’s invitation because he had to get to the bar across the Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing. Michigan Ave. is a five-lane street that leads right up to the capitol building. There are no crosswalks except at the corners, and Dad knew that this guy planned on j-walking to get across. So he asked the guy a rendition of this familiar question… “If you get hit by a car and die as you cross that street, where do you think you’re going from there.” The guy shrugged it off and started to make it way over to the bar, but for some reason, probably heightened by his physical state, he couldn’t bring himself to cross the street. And even though, it took a couple of days…that man eventually accepted Christ and is now a brother in the faith, no longer on the streets, but working a full-time job with a family.
The old technique may still work because when we confront our destiny, our perception changes.
I. A Lost Passion
Are we so involved in this world that we have lost our concern for the next? It may just be…
The reality is that even some believers have lost the immediacy in the reality of heaven and hell. Our culture trains us to think for the here and now, and for others in our culture who know almost nothing about our Christian heritage, the question is almost useless.
The naturalists (who deny any Creator) don’t’ think there is a heave to be gained and a hell to be shunned. When you die you die.
Others think, somewhat vaguely, that whether you call it heaven or Nirvana or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It is simply important to live a pretty good life. That’s the best anyone can do.
As we talk about realities, let me give you stats this morning….two-thirds of Americans don’t believe in the existence of a personal Satan. More than half of professing Christians are in the same camp, according to Barna Research.
The existence of hell, with its threat of conscious, eternal torment, has prove so repugnant in recent decades that a rising number of evangelical thinkers argue that the Bible really teaches annihilation: which is, after a time, those who are lost simply cease to exist…that is their eternal punishment.
And as for heaven, according to Barna’s statistics, if we are not under persecution, or impoverished, or sick than we who are well fed, enjoying comfortable homes and relative security, don’t have the passion that Christians of every age before us has had to cry out, “Even so, Lord Jesus come.”
In Matthew 24:38-39 – we find the phrase “…they did not know…” Just like in the days of Noah, they had lost their passion for their eternity, and the flood came.
When we confront our destiny, our perception changes.
II. What’s At Stake?
The Bible tells us what’s at stake…Matthew 24:37 – “…But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
“The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.” – A.W. Tozer
As a culture, we spend so much time eating and drinking that we do not even notice the floodwaters rising.
I made a phone call this morning down to Bonnie. Bonnie is a psuedo-member of the Buchner family. She and her husband, Rene, with her cats, Simba ant Maggie, are at this moment experiencing the effects of Hurricane Jeanne as it heads west toward their home in Tampa. Their floodwaters are arising.
Steve Boyer and his crew were set to come back home this week, but now he finds himself heading to West Palm Beach, waiting on yet another storm to go through Florida. The Boyer’s floodwaters are arising.
And there are others…
For the single mother who hasn’t seen a child support check in months, and is trying to figure out which past due bill she needs to pay first…she’s in the midst of floodwater.
For the husband who receives the pink slip from his employer, because his job has gone overseas…he’s in the midst of floodwater.
For the wife and kids who deal with a drunk, angry, and abusive father…