Summary: This sermon is a part of our "What We Believe" series and looks at heaven and hell through their highlights, and then what it's going to take to be saved.
What We Believe
The Reality of Heaven and Hell
Nineteenth century agnostic Thomas Huxley was rushing to catch a train in Dublin. He climbed aboard a horse drawn carriage and said, “Hurry, I’m almost late ... drive fast.” The driver set off at a furious pace and Huxley sat back and closed his eyes. After a while Huxley opened his eyes and glanced out the window to notice that they were going in the wrong direction. Realizing he hadn’t told the driver where to take him he said, “Do you know where you’re going?” The driver replied “No your honor, but I am driving very fast.”
This is the reality we are living in today. Life is lived at a fast pace, and is full of activities, but it is a life lived without direction. And whether or not people know it, they are all headed somewhere in the end. And that end is either heaven or hell, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.
In a survey over a decade ago they found that most Americans believe in life after death, and in a heaven and a hell, but not everyone was clear on their ultimate destination.
And so with little if any thought about their eternal destiny, people live life to its fullest without thinking about where they’re ultimately headed, that is, until it’s too late.
Seeing that death is the inevitable end of this life here on earth, and there is an afterlife, shouldn’t that be one of the things, if not the major thing, we should be certain about?
The Bible says that it has been appointed by God that each person die only once, and then they are to face His judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
What God is saying is that we only have one shot at this life, so we better get it right. The only problem is that everyone is making up their own definitions of not only what heaven and hell are like, but also what it takes to get to either one.
They think it’s about what a person does, whether they are good or bad, or what religion they belong to, are the determining factors. What they are doing is becoming judge and jury as to those who are worthy, which they believe they are, and those who are guilty, which is always someone else.
But since God is the judge, it is ultimately His judgment we will face. So, what does God say?
The Bible, or God’s word says there is no one who is righteous enough and does not sin (Romans 3:10), and that the wages of sin is death (Roman 6:23a). But God doesn’t leave us in limbo to try to make it to heaven on our own. He goes on to give us the way saying, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
And because it is a gift, it cannot be earned or worked for; it only comes through faith in Jesus Christ and in God’s wondrous grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
How are we to express this faith so we can say heaven is our home? “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
This is the determining factor.
In the Bible there is no doubt about the reality of heaven and hell. For those who deny Jesus Christ and so do not get their lives right with God by being reconciled to Him, hell is their destiny, and it doesn’t matter whether they believe in it or not!
But for those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and live their lives by faith in Him, the promise of God is that our eternal destiny is heaven in the presence of a God.
D.L. Moody, evangelist and pastor, said of heaven, “We talk about heaven being so far away. It is within speaking distance to those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people”
And of the existence of hell and of our need to talk about it, Billy Graham said, “If there was more hell in the pulpit, there would be less hell in the pews.”
While I could spend at least several messages on both heaven and hell, what I would like to do in our time together is to look at what I want to call their highlights.
When I think of highlights, I go to the basketball I see on T.V. The games are played in four quarters, 12 minutes each, for a total of 48 minutes. But I usually don’t watch the entire game, but I do look at the highlights the next day.
These highlights are usually 15 seconds in length and they show at least two or three. These highlights basically tells the outcome and why. And so you watch about a minute of action, and this explains the full 48 minutes of play.