Summary: An investigation into heaven and hell...answering the questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Ok, I would like to ask everyone to look up here and take a look at the hat again...remember what we said last week...we are doing an investigation in this series...we are after the truth...and we are seeking the truth on heaven and hell. Again I’m going to remind you of the basic questions that we are attempting to answer...who, what, where, why and how. Last week we answered the "what" question...we answered the question of what exactly makes Heaven so great and Hell so terrible...and we came to the conclusion that it is the presence of God that makes all the difference in both places. It isn’t the streets of gold or the fire...it is quite simply whether God is present or absent.
Today we’re going to move on to the question of "who" and I have to tell you...there are several different ways that we can take this question. We could ask the question of "Who will be in Heaven"...which leads to the question of "What are the requirements." That’s how it works in an investigation...often the "who" questions lead into the "what’s" and "whys." So, if we took our investigation in that direction we would be looking at the "requirements" for entrance...who will be there and what did they have to do to get to either place? You know, maybe one of the requirements is to be able to spell...listen to this:
Three people from different parts of the country passed away at the same time. All were met at the gates by St. Peter. The first was an architect from California. Peter said, "You’ve built beautiful buildings and served men on earth, but before you come in you have to pass one small test, spell God". "G-O-D," replied the architect and St. Peter waved him through.
The second person to approach was a rancher from Texas. Peter looked at him and said, "You’ve served man upon the earth by providing food through the cattle you’ve raised but before you come in there’s just one small test, spell GOD". "G-O-D", said the rancher and Peter waved him through.
The third person was an attractive businesswoman from New York. Peter said, "You’ve served the world of commerce, but before you come in you’ll have to pass one small test." At this the woman interrupted, "Oh come on now Saint," said the woman, "I’ve had to fight for every promotion I’ve ever gotten. I’ve had to take lower pay for the same job as a male colleague, and I’ve been continually harassed by bosses and peers for one reason, my gender. And now here I am and you’re giving me a hard time too; what kind of test? Let’s get it over with."
Peter thought for a moment and said, "Spell Czechoslovakia"
So, if you aren’t able to spell....maybe you won’t make the cut...or maybe there are other criteria. But, for what it is worth...we’re not going to go that specific direction this morning and there are two reasons that we’re not going down that path. First, the question we are going to answer will answer that question in a roundabout way...we’re going to touch on the answer without going to far into it. So, in a way, we are going to kill two birds with one stone. The second reason is that we have already semi-covered it in our series on the parables. Remember the parable of the banquet....who did we say that God was looking for...who did we say would be at that banquet? Misfits...that’s what we decided...those who are down-trodden, who aren’t "religious", who are not relying on themselves...who recognize that they are not holy...they are not part of God’s chosen people because of simply who they are...those are the ones who will be at the banquet. No, today, we aren’t going to directly address the question of who will be in either place.
Today we are going to attempt to answer the question of "who decides the destination of each person." Or, to put it more simply, who is the one responsible for sending someone to hell or sending someone to heaven. Now, I have given my opinion on this before...and if you already know it then don’t zone out on me here...because I’m going to go much deeper into this than I ever have before. In fact, I’m going to give you the answer to our investigation before we even begin. Have you ever heard of a detective conducting an investigation...or maybe you have seen it on TV...and they say that they know someone did it and they just have to prove it? They have a suspect...they already have the answer to the question that they are asking...they just have to prove their case. So, today, we’re going to start out that way...with the answer and then prove our case. Here’s the answer...the one responsible for where a person goes when they die...the one who actually does the determination...it is the person themselves. One day all of us will stand before God...and our eternal destiny will be based on one decision we made in our lives...kind of scary, isn’t it? We have only decision to make and that decision...it will determine our eternity. You see, sometime in our lives...we are presented with the choice of what do I do with this God-man named Jesus? What am I going to do with what I have been taught....what I have learned....what his Holy Spirit has impressed upon me. Turn over in your Bibles to John chapter 3.