Summary: A lesson designed to encourage the decision making process as it relates to eternity.
THE REALITY OF ETERNITY
INTRODUCTION: One Sunday morning a preacher noticed a little girl standing outside her Sunday School classroom holding a book in her hands. He asked her what she was doing and she replied, "I am waiting for my parents so we can go to big church." "Oh, okay," he said. "Well what’s that you have in your hand?" "This is my storybook about Jonah and the Whale," she answered. "Tell me something then. Do you believe that story about Jonah and that whale?" The little girl said, "Yes I do!" The preacher then asked, "Do you really believe that a man can be swallowed up by a big whale, stay inside him all that time, and come out of there still alive and OK? You really believe all that is true?" She declared, "Yes sir! This story is in the Bible and we studied about it in Sunday School today!" Then he asked, "Well, little girl, can you prove to me that this story is the truth?" She thought for a moment and then said, "Well, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah." He then asked, "Well, what if Jonah’s not in Heaven?" She then put her hands on her little hips and sternly declared, "Then YOU can ask him!"
Heaven and Hell are not new subjects to us. They are in fact two of the elite topics that receive the greatest discussion in Christianity along with salvation, faithfulness, and grace, to name a few. Eternity was also a hot topic in the time of Jesus. There was as much religious confusion then as there is today, and it no less affected man’s concept of the afterlife. (Expound on the times popular conceptions of eternity) In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it quite clear concerning the reality of eternity and the paths that lead to it. READ TEXT
A. There is within every man, woman and child a yearning for peace, tranquility and happiness. Some say it comes from living in a world that is sin-fallen, others say it is a product of our salvation. Personally I believe it to be a yearning of our God-given soul to return to its place of origin.
B. Whatever the cause, the fact remains that the desire to be in a place and condition of peace and joy is an inherent part of each of us. Some people may live in denial and or open rebellion to it, but the facts remain the same.
C. As God’s people we know of such a place, a place Jesus calls Paradise, Heaven, My Father’s Home. This is where God lives, a perfect place filled with His glory and His majesty. Throughout the New Testament heaven is portrayed as a place of peace, perfection, joy, and praise where God will wipe away all our tears and there will be no more sorrow, or pain.
1. It is the place where we, the saved, will live in the very presence of God, seeing Him as He is, and basking in the radiant glow of His love. Jesus made us that promise in John 14 when He said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come back and take you to be with me for eternity."
2. II Corinthians 5:1, "We have a building from God, a house not make with hands, eternal in the heavens."
3. Revelation 21:2, "The New Jerusalem"
D. This is what the saved have to look forward to. This is the eternity that man finds at the end of the straight and narrow path. But, there is another place, a place called Hell.
A. The word Jesus uses to describe this place is "Gehenna." To His original audience it referred to the Valley of Hinnom, a place just South of Jerusalem where the city dumped its garbage, household waste and dead animals. It was their incinerator, to use a modern term, and it burned continuously and the wind carried the stench for miles.
1. When you think about it, this is a fitting image for the place where the wicked and the sinful would be sent. Every foul, unclean, nasty thing was sent to Gehenna in the 1st Century, and so it is with the eternal place we call Hell.
2. Yet, in spite of the Biblical fact of Hell, it might surprise you to know that more people believe in Heaven than they do Hell. Why? Well, maybe it is because modern day theology has made the preaching about Hell unpopular, or not politically correct.
3. Maybe it is because some feel that Hell is not possible because God is an all-loving God and would not send people to a such a place because He loves them too much.