Summary: A look at the balance between grace and justice.




INTRODUCTION: A. A five-year-old boy was visiting his grandmother. She allowed him to go out to

the backyard to play by himself. Every so often, she’d open the back door and check

on him.

One of those times, she heard him talking to himself. She listened in and heard

him use the word “hell.” She was kind of taken back and called to her grandson.

When he came into the house, grandmother was angry and scolded him, “Matthew, we

don’t use that word. Who did you hear say that?”

The little boy replied, “Preacher Rick.” That was her preacher’s name but she

couldn’t remember him preaching on hell anytime she’d taken her grandson to church

with her. So she asked, “When did he say that?” Matthew said, “At the wedding

yesterday. He said, ‘In sickness and in hell…’”

1. I hope that doesn’t describe your marriage this morning

2. Hell really isn’t humorous

--People make a lot of jokes about it but I think that’s because it’s such a serious


3. Most of you have probably seen the famous sculpture called “The Thinker” by

Auguste Rodin. It depicts a man sitting in serious contemplation.

a. What you probably don’t know is that the statue was originally created in 1880 as

part of a larger work by the artist called “The Gates of Hell”

--an ornamental door for a proposed Palace of Decorative Arts

b. What is “The Thinker” thinking about?

--According to the artist, “The Thinker” is sitting in mute amazement as he

contemplates lost people in hell

c. I think it would do us some good to talk about the subject of hell this morning

B. Several weeks ago, we looked at the question, “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?”

1. In that message we talked about the concept of “fighting words”

--That some subjects are so inflammatory that they produce a gut reaction to fight


2. Like the subject of Jesus being the only way to God, the subject of hell tends to be

“fighting words” in our culture

3. About three years ago, there was an incident in Texas.

-- It seems that an argument over who was going to heaven and who was going to

hell ended with one man shooting another to death. Johnny Joslin, age 20, was

allegedly shot by Clayton Frank Stoker, 21.

The two had spent Saturday night with two other men bar-hopping in Fort

Worth. The four men were sitting at a table outside a trailer park after their night

on the town and started arguing about religion. The talk became heated when the

subject turned to who would go to heaven and who would go to hell.

Stoker said he would settle the argument and went into a house and returned

with a shotgun, which he loaded and placed in his mouth. Joslin then took the gun

out of Stokers mouth, saying, “If you have to shoot somebody, shoot me.”’ The

shotgun went off, hitting Joslin in the chest and killing him.

4. A fairly recent Harris poll found that while 89% of Americans believe in heaven,

only 73% believe in hell.

--However, that figure is misleading, since people differ in how they define “hell.”

a. When defined as an actual location—a place of actual torment where people will

be sent—only three in ten adults (31%) believe in hell.

b. Most Americans believe that Satan is merely a symbol for evil.

--Only 27% strongly believe that Satan is real.

C. Rev. 20:10-15 – “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of

burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be

tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and

him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no

place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne,

and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The

dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The

sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that

were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then

death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second

death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown

into the lake of fire.”

--The issue of hell certain produces strong sentiments

1. However, liking or disliking the concept of hell is not the real issue

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