Summary: From the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, 5 of the many things which we see in hell--that needs to be found in the church
THINGS FOUND IN HELL, WHICH BELONG IN THE CHURCH
* Let’s talk for a time tonight about 2 very important institutions. One is a place for people and the other is a people for a place. One offers life, joy, and peace, while the other offers punishment, pain, and death. One is called the church and the other is called hell, Hades, or Gehenna.
* What do you think of when you hear the word “Church?” Most think of a brick building or some place you “go to”. Yet, in point of fact the church is a group of baptized believers, joining together to fulfill God’s mission and ministry given to them. Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” So it is fair to say that the Church of the Lord Jesus was conceived, designed, instituted, and empowered by Christ himself to impact this world. Yet, the Church’s impact in the American culture is seemingly less and less as days goes by. Why is this? The answer to this question evokes many questions;
o Why are many Churches not having a more profound impact on this culture?
o Why do building sit empty and/or congregations dwindle?
o Why is there so much strife in the church?
o What has changed the church?
o Where has the power gone?
* One pastor was rather disappointed with the lack of spiritual and numerical growth in the church he was attempting to lead. So he asked the Chairman of the Deacon body, “What is wrong with this church? Is it ignorance or apathy?” Sadly the man responded, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
* It seems like when we crack open and look inside the church in America today, as a general rule, we discover some things which don’t belong. We can find strife driven by pride, or selfishness, or self-centeredness, satisfaction, or even unconcern for others. From a Bible point of view the picture is ungodly and ugly. I submit this is not what Jesus died for. To look inside the modern day church is to see some things which do not belong and then to look into hell is to see some things which better fit inside the church.
* Tonight turn with me to Luke 16 and let’s read a familiar story. It is called the Rich man and Lazarus. This story (not a parable) displays for us several items or characteristics which belong in the church. (Read TEXT)
* Hollywood, for most, conjures up images of “movies”, “rich people”, and/or “unbridled immorality”. The barrage of immoral and ungodliness from the movie capital of the world seems to have no end. Yet, every now & then, in their ignorance, Hollywood gives us a profound picture of a spiritual truth.
* For instance, in one of the “Indiana Jones” movies, we can see a clear picture of faith as Harrison Ford leaps toward a cavern. A bridge does not appear UNTIL he jumps. This is faith like the first century church displayed.
* In the same way Hollywood teaches us so does this display of hell.
1. FIRE – The rich man said, “I am in agony, torment, or intense pain in the fire.” Fire has a way of being uncontrollable. James compares the tongue to a fire and intimates it uncontrollable. Fire spreads at will and can be seen as unstoppable. The wildfires of California are a prime example.
* The fires of hell are tormenting, suffering, and punishing fires. These fires are destructive in nature and never go out! They destroy hope, they destroy happiness, they destroy comfort, and they even destroy peace.
* I submit that fire is needed in the church, but it is a different kind of fire. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit which runs wild in our hearts. This fire melts the cold heart, causes stiff-necked Christians to relax and respond, and fire is the evidence of having a “spirit-filled” church. Honestly, how do we think we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts when we are cold from the inside out? Take an ice cube, bore a hole in it, stick a candle in it, and see what happens. The ice cube melts. Why? Because of the candle.
* In the small town sat a small church building with a few “faithful” saints attending. All the members attempted to get Joe to “come to church”. Joe was the town atheist and would have no part of it. One day the church building caught on fire and Joe was seen running toward the building. One of the more “spiritual” members said, “Joe, I’ve never seen you run toward the church before.” Joe’s response, “I’ve never seen the church on fire before.”