Summary: A message comparing the horrifying attributes of hell to the wondrous goodness of heaven.
I read a news article the other day that said over 50% of society believes in a heaven, but less than 40% believe in a hell. There is a discrepancy in those numbers because everyone wants to go someplace good, and we all recognize that heaven is a good place. Likewise, we do not want to go any place bad, so we have a tendency to deny bad places exist. That seems to give us a measured, but false, peace about eternity.
And if we think we are all going to heaven anyway, then it makes it easier to deny the Christhood of Jesus. But in reality, is that the best way to think? Not if we are concerned about our eternal future, which every one of us should be.
Today, we expect our churches to be a place of refuge, comfort, and even a place where we don’t have to do anything but enjoy the temporary escape from the outside world. And I will agree, that it should be those things – to a degree.
But where I draw the line is when the congregations expect the pastor to give nice, easy listening sermons that don’t really do anything to enhance a person’s walk with Christ, as long as they are sermons we can feel good listening to. But is that the kind of message Jesus wants us to give? I don’t think so.
Now, we don’t need to always be pounding the drum of hellfire and brimstone, but we do need to give you the true and unabated word of God so that you can have the proper information to make proper decisions about your eternal future. And telling you how to handle anxiety in your workplace or on the golf course doesn’t do the trick.
Always telling you how much God wants to bless you doesn’t do it. But those messages along with messages that tell you about how to avoid sin in your life and explaining to you what the consequences of keeping sin in your life does help you have a more Godly walk – if you listen and make application to it in your life.
The father and his young son were driving home from the library one night, and the boy saw some spotlights moving about the clouds. He asked his father what they were and what they were used for.
The father told him that they were like very large flashlights, and the reason people used them was to get people’s attention. ‘They are like signs saying, ‘Come over here and see what we have!’
The father continued, ‘That is how the devil tempts people to sin. He gets their attention and they go over to see what he has, and most people end up taking it.’ When they got home, the little boy told his mom they had seen the devils signs and for her to never go near them!
Today, I’d like to talk about how the prophets of old were given specific messages from God to give to certain groups of people. Those messages were always aimed at ungodly people who needed to know what the future held in store for them.
Jonah was called by God to give a message to the people of Nineveh. He didn’t what to go, so he ran from God, hoping God would forget about him. Well, we all know God didn’t forget him but God did pursue him. To keep him from running even further, he was swallowed by a big fish and kept in the fish’s stomach for three days and was eventually expelled from the fish’s mouth on a shore near the city he was supposed to go to in the first place.
Even though Jonah started off with the wrong heart, he did go tell the city to repent or suffer God’s wrath. And God led the king and all of the citizens of that city to repent and receive the Lord God.
We don’t see Jonah giving any light and fluffy sermon here. We don’t see him trying to please the people. We see him giving the message God gave him to give. And because he gave that message, the entire city was saved.
And in every case we read about from the Old Testament, the prophets did the same. They didn’t try to tell people how to handle the anxieties of the day; the prophets didn’t put on performances or entertainment shows; they preached the unabated word of God and warned people of their sin and the consequences of that sin.
So today, I want to talk to you about something I believe God has put on my heart, and that is the subject of hell. The first thing we should know for a fact is:
1. HELL IS VERY REAL