Let me begin with this little exercise that I hope will be helpful.
Imagine going to a funeral service. As you enter the chapel you notice the size and makeup of the crowd that has gathered and it speaks of the life of the person who has died. You hear whispers of family and friends, coworkers and neighbors, and again you are impressed with the impact and influence of this person on the lives of others. As you go up to the casket and look into it, lo and behold, it is YOU! This is your funeral.
Those who are gathered are from your work, your family, your friends, your church. There will be four speakers for this service: one from someone who knows you well at work, another from your family, another from your long time friends, and finally instead of the preacher, someone at church who knows your life best.
Each of these speakers will speak honestly and truly according to what they know about you and your life.
Now... What would you want them to be able to honestly and truly say about you?
I heard about an evil man whose brother died. The brother that died was rotten too, but just so happened to be a member of a local church! The living brother was very wealthy and he went to the preacher who was speaking at the funeral and told the preacher that he will give a million dollars to the church if that preacher would say that the dead brother was a saint. The preacher looked up and said, "Ok, I'll do it." And he took the money. At the funeral service the preacher stood up and said, "Today we will bury one of the meanest, most dishonest, most foul men in this town. He has caused more problems to this church than anyone in its history. He has ruined its reputation with more people than I can imagine. But next to his brother, he was a saint.
What if all the choices and activities in your life were to be projected on a screen before everyone here? How would you feel about that? Is there anything in your life that you would like to put to death before you die?
Did you know that God made you to be like Him and to glorify Him where ever you go and whatever you do? Did you know that? Last week we talked about Genesis 1:26-28 about how God made us in his image and after His likeness. What God really wants is for us to be like Him! But God will not drag anyone into heaven. God invites us to come. If we choose hell over Him in heaven, God will let us have it.
Last week we talked about choices and consequences, remember? God has given us this powerful gift and responsibility to choose. We can choose what we do, but we can't choose the consequences of what we do! But if we listen to God and follow his word and choose his will and way, we receive the best and most wonderful consequences!
If we reject God's will and way, we receive the worst and most horrible consequences.
Today's lesson is called: The End!
I remember hearing stories as a child that often concluded with these words: And they lived happily ever after... The End.
Did you know that God's story and plan for you actually leads to a happily ever after? Oh, the path to that happily ever after is sometimes full of trials and tears, but the end, THE END is worth whatever you have to go through to stay on God's team. The Bible has two endings: One is called heaven, and the other is called Hell. God gives you the choice, but He delivers the consequences.
Open your Bibles to 2 Corinthians. Let's read from chapter 3 and verse 17 to chapter 5 and verse 10. (read)
Colossians 3:1-17 (read)
The way of sin is like a pyramid. When you start out at the bottom it seems so free! You can do anything you want! You can go anywhere you please! You can party and sin and live it up as hard as you want! That's what all the beer commercials tell us! Get it all while you can! What they don't tell you is that you are spending all your life working for a reward called death.
As you go down this broad path of destruction things begin to get harder and worse, but now you are convinced that this is the right path and that it will get better later. But it doesn't. You begin to see hell coming even before you get there. You begin to smell the smoke even as you approach the end. You watch as everything falls apart and you can't do a thing about it. Listen to Proverbs 5:22-23.
On the other hand, the way of life is like an upside down pyramid or "V." This path starts with death. Jesus Christ's death for you and your death with Him in baptism, Romans 6:2-4. It is the narrow path that leads to life and it is so small that you feel crushed at the start of it. You can't get in and carry anything with you. Jesus said, "Anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33. Did he really mean that? Oh, yes! He did!
Can you follow Jesus today? Can you enter the narrow gate and walk the straight path? Listen to Romans 8, just a few select verses. God wants you! God gave up his Son, Jesus to die for you, God's plan for you is eternal life in glory! Choose life!