Sermons

Summary: Death seals our fate for eternity so we must decide now to place our faith in Christ.

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THE GREAT PURITAN LEADER AND FOUNDER OF THE COLONY OF CONNETICUT, THOMAS HOOKER, WROTE THIS OF HELL: “CONCEIVE THIS MUCH, IF ALL THE DISEASES IN THE WORLD DID SEIZE ON ONE MAN, AND IF ALL THE TORMENT THAT ALL THE TYRANTS OF THE WORLD COULD DEVISE, WERE CAST AGAINST HIM; AND IF ALL THE CREATURES IN HEAVEN AND EARTH DID CONSPIRE THE DESTRUCTION OF THIS MAN; AND IF ALL THE DEVILS IN HELL DID LABOR TO INFLICT PUNISHMENT UPON HIM, YOU WOULD THINK THIS MAN TO BE IN A MISERABLE CONDITION. AND YET ALL THIS IS BUT A BEAM OF GOD’S INDIGNATION. IF THE BEAMS OF GOD’S INDIGNATION BE SO HOT, WHAT IS THE FULL SUM OF HIS WRATH WHEN IT SHALL SEIZE UPON THE SOUL OF A SINFUL CREATURE IN FULL MEASURE?”

IT HAS BEEN AN UNQUINCHABLE CURIOSITY OF HUMANITY TO UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF HELL. WRITINGS, ART WORK, AND TEACHINGS, FOR GENERATIONS, HAVE ALL TAKEN A SHOT AT DESCRIBING HELL’S HORRIFIC AND DETESTIBLE EXISTENCE.

NO MATTER HOW GRAPHICALLY WE TRY TO DESCRIBE IT OR HOW DETAILED WE TRY TO BE IN LEARNING ABOUT IT, WE CAN EASILY CONCLUDE THAT IT IS A HORRIBLE PLACE OF PAIN, TORTURE, AND AGONY.

WHAT BECOMES SO AGONIZING TO ME IN THE STUDY OF HELL IS THAT THOSE WHO FIND THEMSELVES ALREADY THERE HAVE BEEN QUICKLY AWAKENED TO A CHANGE OF HEART. IN THE SPLIT-SECOND OF THEIR ARRIVAL, THEY ALREADY HAVE DETEREMINED THAT THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE THERE. BUT, IT IS TOO LATE.

THE RICH MAN IN OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY SOON FINDS THE TORMENT OF HIS DISPOSITION TOO MUCH TO BEAR. HE BEGS AND HE PLEADS FOR RELIEF, BUT HIS REQUESTS ARE DENIED FOR HIS EARTHLY DECISIONS KEEP HIM ANCHORED TO THE PAINFUL REALITY OF EXPERIENCING HIS FATE.

SADLY, IT IS A FATE THAT MANY EXPERIENCE TO THIS DAY. THIS STORY DEPICTS A TRAGIC AND SERIOUS REALITY. THE COMING JUDGMENT IS PERMANENT FOR THOSE WHO REJECT GOD.

ETERNAL TORMENT IS IN STORE FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THAT GOD EXISTS BUT HAVE REFUSED OR HAVE FAILED TO RESPOND TO HIM IN THIS LIFE. SUFFERING AND BEING IN CONSTANT TORMENT WILL BE PERMANENT. THERE WILL NOT BE ANY NEGOTIATING OR AQUITTALS. ONCE ENTERED, ONE CANNOT ESCAPE OR BE SET FREE.

THE STORY OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS IS AMONG THE MOST TRAGIC AND SERIOUS WARNINGS IN THE BIBLE. IT SPEAKS OF A LIFE FILLED WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO SHARE OF ONE’S WEALTH AND RESOURCES TO HELP OTHERS WHO ARE LESS FORTUNATE.

THE RICH MAN HAD MORE THAN ENOUGH TO HAVE HELPED LAZARUS. THE MAN WAS SO WEALTHY THAT EVEN THE SCRAPS LEFT OVER FROM HIS EXCESS WOULD HAVE PROVIDED ENOUGH SUSTENANCE, BUT THAT HELP NEVER CAME.

NOW THE RICH MAN IS DEAD AND THE TABLES ARE TURNED. THE PERSON OF PRIVILEGE NOW CRIES OUT FOR PITY. HE IS FULLY AWARE THAT HE IS SEPARATED FROM GOD, IN REAL PAIN, FILLED WITH REGRET AND HAS LOST HIS OPPORTUNITY.

THIS REALITY IS EXCRUCIATING AS IS THE PAIN THAT HELL IS A FIRE THAT INCREASES THAT SUFFERING. THE MAN WHO DENIED THE BEGGAR EVEN A CRUMB FROM HIS TABLE WAS NOW DENIED EVEN A DROP OF WATER TO ALLIEVIATE ANY HOPE OF A RESPITE.

ALL OF HIS LIFE HAS BEEN JUDGE FAIRLY AND HE IS SERVING OUT HIS SENTENCE. THIS PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE ENCOURAGES US AS WELL AS WARNS US THAT IN LIFE AFTER DEATH, OUR RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, OUR GOD AND CREATOR, WILL BRING FORTH JUSTICE AND ALL THE INEQUITIES OF LIFE WILL BE CORRECTED.

THE RICH MAN HAD IT WRONG ALL ALONG. HIS WHOLE CONCEPT OR “RICH AND POOR” WAS TWISTED. IN THE DAYS OF JESUS, THE PHARISEES LOOKED UPON WEALTH AS A SIGN OF BLESSING FROM GOD. TO THEM, POVERTY WAS A SIGN OF GOD’S DISFAVOR. THE END RESULT WAS THEIR OVER ENDULGENCE OF THEIR WEALTH. THEY MADE NO ATTEMPTS TO BRIDGE THE CHASM THAT SEPARATED THEM FROM THE POOR SUCH AS LAZARUS.

THAT IS WHAT MAKES VERSE 26, SO POWERFUL. JESUS IS SAYING THAT A WHOLE NEW CHASM WILL BE DEVELOPING AND THEY WOULD SOON FIND THEMSELVES ON THE WRONG SIDE.

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE CHASM? JESUS IS SAYING THAT ONCE WE DIE, OUR ULTIMATE FATE CAN NO LONGER BE CHANGED. GOD’S DECISION UPON DEATH IS FINAL.

THERE IS ONLY ONE LIFE ON THIS EARTH AND THAT IS THE ONLY TIME GIVEN TO MAKE OUR DECISION. GOD LEAVES NO ROOM FOR US TO WAIT UNTIL ETERNITY TO MAKE OUR RELATIONSHIP RIGHT WITH HIM.

THE POINT IS CLEAR: GOD DOES NOT SEND ANYONE TO HELL. GOD ONLY FULFILLS THE WISHES OF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO REJECT HIS OFFER OF ETERNAL LIFE. WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD, HIS JUDGMENT WILL BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF OUR CHOICES HERE ON EARTH AND THAT DECISION WILL BE IRREVERSABLE AFTER DEATH.

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