15 Jul 7/15/18 “3 Things Jesus Said About Hell”
Theology on Fire Part 18
The message this morning is “Three Things Jesus Said about Hell.” Three Things Jesus Said about Hell—I changed the title three times, so that’s why this slide is a little bit different. I isolated just three things. The series we’re in is “Theology on Fire.” God’s Word, theology, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I think this is part 18 or so.
Also, before I forget, I want to encourage you—we have a new podcast that Luke and I are doing. It’s on ShaneIdleman.com, and we’re talking about everything from politics to contemporary worship to the Spirit-filled life to the gifts of the Spirit. There it is—Idleman Unplugged. The webmaster who put our website together came up with that title, not me. But I think it’s kind of catchy. Unplugged means we’re just having a discussion, freely, about very controversial things in some cases: singleness, marriage, divorce. You can subscribe to that, and it’ll come to you automatically. Again, on ShaneIdleman.com, and that’s one way we’re staying connected and answering a lot of the questions that come in on email.
So let’s talk about this subject of hell. I will just tell you up front that it’s a very difficult subject. I think for most of us it is, correct? It’s the thing that gives Christianity, supposedly, a bad name, and people joke about it. I’ve seen on atheists’ sites where they’ll have Jesus knocking at a door saying, “Let Me in.”
And the person says, “Why?”
Jesus says, “So I can save you.”
The person says, “Save me from what?”
And Jesus says, “From Me.”
You know, it’s just making fun of this concept of hell, and the problem I think is we can’t in our minds fully understand it, fully understand how this could come about, how this could take place. I’m hoping Scripture will shed a little bit of light on it for some of us. I did want to let you know up front that it’s a hard topic. It’s a topic that should make us feel a little bit uncomfortable. It should be a difficult one because those who approach this subject nonchalantly kind of concern me. It’s almost like they smile [and say], “Well, it’s God’s good pleasure to send people to hell. Ha ha ha.”
Well, really, how would you feel if that was you? See, there’s no compassion there. There’s no “the heart of Jesus,” where you would just see Jesus weeping, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” and people weeping over the condition of lost souls. And the closer you get to Christ, the more this will challenge you, the more compassion you will feel.
When I was living in the world, I didn’t care too much about hell. Oh yeah, ok, whatever. But when I came back to Jesus and realized how close I was—so close my clothes still smell like smoke—and you realize that this is a heavy doctrine. And the reason we can’t avoid it is because it’s clearly taught in the Bible. Instead of all these different Scriptures, Old Testament, New, Gehenna, Sheol, different things, I just isolate to three things that Jesus said about hell.
Fifteen years ago, a research group discover that 64 percent of Americans expect to go to heaven. So, 64 percent of what you see out there expects to go to heaven. And 1 percent thinks they might go to hell. Fifteen years ago—I think that might have shifted by now, right? The reason is—and this could take a while, but I’m going to get right to the point—most people think that they are good. Because what do we like to do? We like to compare. Compare to Bill down the street who gets drunk and yells at his wife. Compared to Adolf Hitler, I’m a saint. Compared to, “Well, you should see my cousin Mike. Oh, my Lord, and he’s just…” So we compare ourselves. What the Bible does, though, is compares us with Jesus Christ. And we see that even our good works, even our good works, are filthy rags in the sight of God. Why? Because often even our good works are done with wrong motives. Look at what I’m doing. Look at me—self-promotion.
Once we realize that the Bible teaches that no one is good—no, not one—that are doing good things will never get us to the level of where God needs us or wants us or desires us to be. God said, “Because of sin, there’s this great gulf that you’ll never, never be able to fellowship with Me, so what I’m going to do is send My Son to pay that price, to pay the full penalty of sin, so now you can have fellowship with Me, and you can know Me.”
The shed blood of Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice—His sacrifice covers our sin. So because He was good enough, now I can stand before God in Christ’s righteousness. That’s what theologians call imputed righteousness. We take on the righteousness of Christ. That might change your worship if you can get a glimpse of that. That might change the way you view God and church if you can get a glimpse of what Jesus did for you.
So that’s what we understand. But many people don’t think that way. They base goodness on others. Well, I don’t cheat on this. I don’t lie all the time. I’m pretty good. God doesn’t look at any of that. He looks at did you accept the sacrifice that paid the price on your behalf? That’s it. End of story. Now it makes sense when Jesus said, “I am the only way. I am the only truth. I am the only life.” The only way—there’s no other way. There are no backup plans, there’s no plan B. It’s the narrow road that leads to eternal life. In light of Scripture, that makes perfect sense. In light of how the world thinks, that makes no sense because everybody basically thinks they’re good.
Have you ever watched The Way of the Master? Those guys who interview people on the street? Everybody thinks they’re good—until he breaks down the Ten Commandments, of course, and shows them that they’ve fallen in pretty much all areas. I believe it’s a trick of the enemy or it’s our own deceitfulness in our minds to think that we are basically good.
Now on the flip side, I also think that we need to remember that we are created—you are created, remind your children that they are created—in God’s image. There’s a high value on life. And that relationship, that image, has been marred, it’s been damaged, it’s been broken. And how much more do we need Christ to restore that?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who I would recommend reading any of his books and theological books (we differ on a few different things in eschatology and things) but he said this, he gave this example: If I were to go home, and a person says, “Hey, while you were out, I paid a bill for you.” “Ok, well…” I wouldn’t get excited until I knew what he paid—if he says, “It was a $15 gas bill,” or “I just paid off your entire house mortgage.” There’s going to be a different reaction, isn’t there? Why? Because the value of what was paid determines my response.
Same thing with this topic. People have to know the other side of the coin. That’s why those who just talk about heaven but not hell can actually hurt people because they don’t understand the gravity of what Jesus did. I mean, heaven’s going to taste pretty good after you see the other side. It’s going to make sense once we see that our debt has been paid.
And a lot of times we have backup plans in this area as well. I’m talking mainly as unbelievers. Do you have any backup plans? I do sometimes. They go like this. “I will start saving money when I’m older.” Is that a backup plan for young adults? I would rarely save money until—“Oh, I’d better start doing this”—later in my life. Here’s my favorite. “I will change my diet when it’s time to get serious.” When the doctor says, “Hey, wake up. This is happening.” Or a disease comes in. Then we go to the backup plan. Unfortunately, most people say this too: “I will turn to God after I have fun.” And it’s realizing that I’m either on the highway to hell or on the highway to holiness. Those the two highways. Those are the two choices.
So here are the three things Jesus said about hell. I think He might know a little bit more than we do. I think He’s the ultimate authority, right? Not our friends down the street who got a Bible degree online. Not some of these pastors who are actually liberal pastors who are leading countless people astray saying that there is no hell, that gay marriage is fine, don’t worry, God hates Trump too. You know, it’s that whole kind of pulse in our culture that wants to remove everything that is difficult and embrace everything that is not of God. It’s the wrong spirit.
Now of course, I’m not endorsing our president. I don’t follow a lot of what he does. But it seems to be all tied in there, and I don’t know why. Everything that God is trying to do with talking about the difficult things with hell, with sin. Now we say, “This is a sin,” and the world says, “No, it’s not,” and we get into this battle.
So, let’s just get right to the point. A lot of this you can find at Tim Keller’s website. He talked about this topic. I’m going to quote a few things.
1. Jesus said that hell exists.
Did you know that Jesus said hell exists? He mentions hell more than any other biblical author, more than actually all the Bible authors put together. If you take all the Bible authors who spoke about hell, Jesus spoke about it more than all of them put together. Out of 1,870 verses recording the words of our Lord Jesus, 13 percent of those are about judgment and hell. So 13 percent of everything that Jesus said is about this topic.
He mentions the “eternal fire and punishment” as the final destiny of the angels and human beings who have rejected God (Matt. 25:41, 46). He says that those who give into sin will be in the danger of hell fire, of the “fires of hell” (Matt. 5:22; 18:8–9). And it’s interesting “giving into”—and I think this is where we can do damage to people, we can hurt people sometimes, is we either don’t preach about hell or we make it so narrow, we condemn people who are struggling. What He says, what Paul says, is “giving into it”—is it a practice? Is it a lifestyle, saying, “Yes, I’m a liar. I don’t care about it. I’m going to continue lying.”
“Yes, I love my drunkenness. I’m going to continue in it. I don’t care what God’s Word says.”
“Yes, I love my sexual immorality. I’m going to continue in it. I don’t care what God’s Word says.”
See, that’s practicing it. That’s continuing in it. A lot different than the person that says, “Shane, I love God, and I’m struggling in this area. I need help. I hate my sin.” Oh see, you hate the sin. You’re caught. That’s different than a person that’s like a pig, wallowing in the mud who loves their sin. So the Bible always emphasizes, if you’re giving into it, if you’re practicing it. The word Jesus uses for “hell” is gehenna. You’ve probably heard that if you’ve studied your Bible. There’s Old Testament references of a different word, but the primary word He’s using is gehenna.
And some of you know it was a dump outside the city of Jerusalem. They didn’t have waste management back then. You’d just pull out your trash can every what? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—whatever day it is—you’d just pull it out, and they’d come and get it. They didn’t have that. Their trash had to be put out past the city, even dead bodies, where worm does not die. He’s talking about the maggots.
It’s a very hard illustration—a very needed illustration. It’s gehenna. You see that dump, you see where their worm does not die, where the flesh is being burned, the smoke is never going out, the fire is never not burning—do you see that? That’s what is going to be where you’re at if you reject Christ.
The word He uses is gehenna, and in Mark 9:43, Jesus speaks of a person going to this place, again, where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” I’m going to quote Tim Keller here: “Jesus is referring to the maggots that live in the corpses on the garbage heap. When all the flesh is consumed, the maggots die. Jesus is saying, however, that the spiritual decomposition of hell never ends, and that is why ‘their worm does not die.’”
In this framework is something called annihilation. You’ve probably heard of it. People like John Stott and some famous Christians have embraced this. There are people still today I know of, friends of mine, who embrace annihilation, or they’ll embrace different forms of hell not being eternal, being temporal. It’s a temporary spot. There are a couple different reasons. Just so you know upfront, I don’t embrace that. Looking at Scripture, to me, it’s eternal there.
However, when you look at the heart of God, the mercy of God, the love of God, and to punish, say, an eighteen-year-old who wrecked his car, drinking, rebelling against God, and then to punish him for eternity, doesn’t seem to go with the heart, the character, the nature of God—is their thought process. So before you throw them out and say, “Oh, how could you?” and they would look at this word eternity, not meaning eternally. It would mean a temporary state where the person is punished, and after that they are annihilated, they cease to exist. It’s called annihilation. There have been some Christians who have embraced it. Jehovah Witnesses, I believe, embrace this, and some other denominations.
But just a straightforward reading of Scripture, again, in my opinion, I find that it is eternal. It’s an ongoing thing. The reason I believe is because we are eternal beings. We are there from eternity, and we are eternal—meaning, we don’t stop existing, we continue existing.
Don’t worry, it’s going to be a hard service today. I’ve already had a lot of little gremlins getting in my way this morning. It’s spiritual warfare.
And if we are eternal, then it would be eternal. If we’re not, then it won’t be eternal. There’s different dialogues on that. You can read discussions if you want, but I don’t see that, number one. Number two is that I don’t want to find out. “Well, it’s probably just temporary, then I’ll vanish.” You really want to find that out? You really want to go there? Because I don’t want to go there.
And you can tell people this, and they’ll often say, “I can’t believe your God. Look at hell, this concept of hell. I don’t understand it. How can this God?…It’s child sacrifice.” And they start going off on you. And you know what I end up saying? I don’t want to go to hell over a mystery. I don’t understand everything there is about God, but I’m not going to reject Him. I’m not going to fight against Him. I’m not going to mock Him. I’m going to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I’m going to bow my knee to the Creator of heaven and earth and say, “God, Your ways are above my ways. You’re much higher than I am. I don’t understand it, but I’m not going to reject You or blaspheme You. I’m going to follow You with all of my heart.”
So don’t go to hell over a mystery. Don’t be upset at God over a mystery. Why did He take my child? Why did He take my life early, it looks like, with my health failing? Why? Why? Why? And now I’m miserable and upset at God. No, that’s not God’s fault. It’s sinful, fallen man. Job had the audacity to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” and that should be your mentality. “Lord, though You kill me, though You slay me, though You take everything from me, I will trust You until the day I die. I will glorify You. I will raise You up. I will thank You. I will worship You, God, because You are worthy of our praises!” That’s the Christian walk. That’s the Christian life. And all these people who are disgruntled and angry about God are doing nothing but hurting themselves.
Same thing with hell. Don’t go to hell over a mystery. Don’t. Don’t challenge God’s authority. And you walk them through it: “Let’s just say He created You. Let’s just say He put Saturn in its place. He told the Pacific and the Atlantic, ‘Here, no further.’ You’d better wake up and listen to that Creator. How dare you challenge Him. How dare you think you’re going to stand on the day of judgment and question Him. You won’t question anything. You’ll be on your face weeping. You can’t question almighty God.”
Oh, Lord. It broke my heart. Twenty years ago, I was telling this person this, and he said, “I can’t believe that about God. When I get to heaven, I’ve got a lot of questions for Him. I’m going to demand an answer.” And I said, “You will never get that answer. You won’t demand anything. When a holy, righteous God is in your presence, you might just evaporate. You think you’re going to sit there in composure and question God?” God said, “Job, will you question Me? Where you there when I formed the earth and hung the heavens? Were you there? How dare you question Me.” The same thing applies today. How dare we question Him and His authority.
So here’s the conclusion. Are you ready for the conclusion? I’m quoting Tim Keller here: “If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.”
Three things Jesus said? We can just leave with one. I’m off early—what do you guys think? Do we need more?
Well, let’s look at the second thing. This is a hard one too.
2. Jesus said to fear hell.
Fear is the opposite of indifference. So many people are living as if it doesn’t matter. They’re indifferent. They say, “Eh, I don’t care. I’ll handle that when it comes up.” Or “I’ll cross that bridge when I have to.” Indifferent. But Jesus says, “No, you fear hell.” He said, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Jesus said it, not Shane Idleman.
Jesus said, “Fear him who can cast both body and soul in hell.” The problem is we secure our homes but not our hearts. Would you say that 99 percent of the entire world is worried about terrorism, is worried about their homes being broken into, is worried about what man can do? Those same people could care less about what God can do. Jesus said, “No, be careful. Don’t worry about man who can kill your body. That’s nothing. Worry about Him who can kill both body and soul and cast it into hell.” That’s who we need to fear.
But see, this is good fear. Did you know there’s good fear? There’s good fear. I want my kids to fear rattlesnakes. You hear that “tisssssss? Oh, walk away, back off! Back off! Don’t grab that exposed 12,000-volt electrical line that just got hit by a car. Don’t go by it. Don’t go near it because when it resets in ten minutes, it’s going to blow you ten feet in the air, and you’re going to die. Fear electricity. Fear gas. Fear propane. Fear rattlesnakes. Fear can be a good thing. Fear driving on the wrong side of the road. Fear texting while driving. Fear often changes our behavior to save us from ourselves. Fear is a good thing, a very good thing.
Matthew 25: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory.” See, He is coming again. He is coming again. When He comes, “and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand but the goats on the left” (vv. 31–33).
So, interesting fact here. The right hand of God, right hand of authority, the position of power. It’s often on the right side. Jesus sits on the right side of God. The right, good sheep. But guess who He puts on the left? The goats. And it’s a dividing point there. There will be a judgment. There will be a division.
And “[He will say to those on the left], ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 41).
Now, I don’t know about you, but this is a wake-up call, especially if I’m on the wrong side. If I’m sitting on the left side, I’m not going to like this message. This is not going to get a lot of likes on Facebook. This isn’t going to make it on Christian television. Joel Osteen wouldn’t even look at this type of sermon outline. Right? It’s not going to go anywhere because man doesn’t want to fear God. It’s not popular, but it’s powerful. It’s not going to increase your ratings or your popularity. My God, Churches and Christians and leaders have to stop being popular and have to start asking, “Am I pleasing God? I want to be popular with God. I want to be known in hell. I want them to say, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, and that guy up in Leona Valley I know, but you I don’t know.” You can’t cast out the demonic realm because I don’t know you. You don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Fear Him. Fear God.”
I was at Barnes and Noble many years ago, and I saw a book, and I still cringe over the title. It was written to young adults. Very inappropriate, not good, leading many young adults astray. It said, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” How deceived. No, they won’t serve beer in hell, but they do serve misery. They do serve depression. They do serve darkness. Don’t play around with this topic. You’re going to tell the Creator of heaven and earth what to do? Fear God. If I get any more passionate, I’m going to lose my voice. My Lord.
We’re so fearful of the government, aren’t we? Remember that time when everyone was out of ammunition? They’re not making bullets anymore. They’re not going to be selling AR-15s anymore. The fear factor was unbelievable. I just sat there with my jaw dropped. I understand—I like to buy some rounds, ok. But that’s what you’re going to fear? That’s your hope?
3. (And probably the most important.) Jesus said going to hell is a choice.
Did you know that? It’s a choice. And here’s what people need to understand. They say, “Why would God send…” He doesn’t send; the person makes a choice. “I don’t want to spend time with Jesus and God the Father. I want to spend time with my father, the devil.” Ok, go to the home you choose. What parent do you want to live with (even though they’re not coequals)? Who do you want to live with? The person chooses.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him”—what?—”should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16–17).
Isn’t this interesting? Jesus didn’t come to condemn. He didn’t come to condemn anyone. This is a big mystery, even His disciples even thought, “Bring down fire!” Jesus said, “I’m not here to condemn. I’m here to save the world. Condemnation comes by rejecting what I’m about to do.”
So God says, “I’m sending My Son—no condemnation. He’s going to pay the price for condemnation. Believe in My Son. Here’s your ‘get of our hell’ free card. Believe, believe, believe. He’s not coming to condemn. But, oh, be careful! When He comes back.” Right? You heard me say in Bakersfield the lamb is turning into a lion. He’s coming back taking vengeance. He’s coming back. No army can stand, no nuclear arsenal. He’ll just whisper, and things will explode. He’ll just say, “Enough!” and the world will be redesigned. It’s that powerful. That’s Christ. That’s who we worship.
Jesus said, “I didn’t even come into the world to condemn it. I came to save it.” “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
Here’s the hard truth. I believe we’re condemned already. Cute little five-year-old Johnny, as he’s growing up, and you look at this child who is already under the condemnation of hell. There’s condemnation already on his life. He’s condemned. How is that fair? Again, I’m not going to hell over a mystery. I’m not questioning all of God. I don’t understand everything.
I’m really not concerned with what I don’t understand. What I’m concerned with is what I do understand. That’s what concerns me. I understand these truths. I understand that there is a decision that must be made. So the person is already condemned. It’s like a dead man walking. You know what that is, right? Dead man walking. They’re walking to their execution. They are already condemned. It says they’re condemned already. Jesus says, “Hey, by the way,” taps on the shoulder, “Here’s your pardon. Here’s your pardon.” The person says, “I don’t want that pardon. I’m going to continue my death walk.” And they reject that offer.
What about the person who’s never heard the name of Jesus—no missionaries reached this person? I know that God is better than me. He’s wiser than me. Go online and listen to all the Muslims coming to Christ and faith through dreams and visions and different things. God doesn’t need a missionary. He’ll use them, but He doesn’t need them. He just needs a willing heart, a broken heart, that’s saying, “Lord, I want to know who You are,” and God will visit that person.
What’s the conclusion? The conclusion of point three is this. The gospel is always a priority. The gospel is always a priority. Show me one Scripture where it’s not a priority. It’s always a priority, and it’s always urgent. Show me another Scripture that says, “Tomorrow is the day of salvation. Think about it tonight.”
Isn’t that funny? God doesn’t say, “Think about it.” We do.
“Hey, before I buy that car, I’m going to think about it.”
“Before I make an offer on that house, I’m going to think about it.”
“Before I make that decision, I’m going to think about it.”
“Let me think things through.”
God doesn’t do that. He’s certain. It’s always urgency. Make the decision today. That’s why I love that verse when Jesus was in the temple, and He began to preach, and He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.” Upon Me. What’s the first thing? To preach the good news to the poor in spirit, to bring the gospel to them. The priority, the urgency.
Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly [the faint-hearted; the spineless, the God-rejectors], the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Wow, you can see why this isn’t read very often. Today’s reading from the pulpit will be from Revelation 21:8. But see, if God wrote it and God said it and God wants people to know about it, we can’t avoid these things just because they’re difficult. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids growing up believing in some cosmic ball of love, some genie in a bottle that where you pray to, you get your every wish. I want them to fear God, fear who He is.
But notice how it said, “Do you practice these things?” And again, I already clarified that. Do you practice these things? So, if you struggle with lying. I’ve had people say, “Man, Shane, I looked at my horoscope. I know I shouldn’t have. I’ve felt drawn back into that, and I know it’s wrong. I hate that I did that.” See, you’re not practicing that. Not a good idea, but there’s a difference between practicing it and struggling with it. Paul actually said, “Those who practice different sexual sins, those who are drunkards and liars and thieves and covetous, they will not inherit the kingdom of God because their lifestyle is rejecting God.”
Here’s a good point. It shouldn’t be “How close can I get to the edge and still go to heaven?”; it should be “How close can I get to Christ?” The person who says, “How much sin can I get away with?”—I want them to examine their heart. Have you truly been saved? A true believer with the Holy Spirit in them is not going to say, “How close can I play on this fence before I’ll fall into hell? I like playing on this fence.” If you like it, there’s a problem there. It’s not how close can I get; it’s how far away do I want to get from it and draw to Christ. The real passion of your heart shows you where you heart is at. If you enjoy sin more than God, you might be on the broad road to destruction.
Let me break this down a little bit. It’s not a long sermon, but I’m going to finish with a few points. Basically, in my opinion, hell is God leaving the person alone, cast into outer darkness. God is holy; those who dwell with Him must be holy, set apart. God cannot dwell—He inhabits the praises of His people—with sin, so there’s a gulf. Hell is the person being left alone with themselves, without God.
And this really woke me up this week. I said, “Wait a minute. Eternity with myself?” Eternity with myself? There’s one person I’m more worried about than the Accuser. I’m more worried about this person than the Adversary, the Antichrist, Beelzebub, the Devil, the Deceiver, the Destroyer, Lucifer, the Thief, and the Wicked One. Do you know who I’m more worried about? What’s in. Shane Idleman without the Spirit of God. It brings chills down my spine. To be left with myself for eternity. The weeping, the gnashing of teeth. That’s what the pictures paint. God says, “I can’t dwell with you.”
So this outer darkness, with me, without the Spirit of God? Let that sink in. That’s heavy. C. S. Lewis brought up an interesting question. He said, “In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’” If you don’t believe in hell, what are you asking God to do? Are you asking Him to just wipe out past sins? Are you asking Him to do this at any cost? Are you asking Him to just give you a fresh start, smooth out every difficulty, and offering miraculous help? Is that what you’re asking God to do?
Well, guess what? He has already done it on Calvary! What you’re asking Him to do has already been done. All you have to do is submit and repent and obey the gospel. That’s why the call goes out: “Repent!” The cry goes out to repent. The virgins say, “Repent! Be ready for the bridegroom.” Are you ready for the Bridegroom? There’s no plan B. There’s no second chance. It’s been paid. It’s been finished. That’s the wonderful thing Jesus said on the cross. He said, “It is finished.” It’s already been done.
Because people say, “Yes, I think God should just wipe away my sin. I think I should just be allowed entrance into heaven.” The price has been paid. That ticket is here. You just have to register. You have to pay the correct price. Accept Christ’s sacrifice. Remember, hell has no exit signs. That was the first title [of this message]. Hell has no exit signs. But you can exit now. He who believes in Him, in Christ, is not condemned. He who believes in Christ is not condemned.
At this point I want to remind you of the flow of the service. The worship team is going to come up in just a minute. I knew this was going to be a heavy message. I didn’t want to go real long on it. I want to just get our hearts right. But remember the flow of the service. Remember what I talked about. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t let your mind go into what you have to do later. If anyone is busy, I know what busy is. If anybody’s got things to do, I know what that is. But pray for your friends, for your family members. Pray for those who don’t know Christ. Pray for them. Because I believe heaven can hear, and heaven answers. I believe God can orchestrate situations. I believe He can bring people into other people’s lives.
Hear my heart here. God doesn’t always play fair, according to what we think is fair. He’s not in heaven going, “Well, I hope that person chooses Me someday.” But if you pulled down heaven, if you fast, and you pray, and you say, “God, would you do something?” He’ll say, “Is that my son, my daughter, crying? Do they need My help? Oh yeah, I can flip that car and save that person, and now they’re going to think of Me. I can take everything away from them so now they’ll bow to Me and confess Me as Lord and Savior. I can allow their body to get sick, so they turn to me, and then miraculously heal them. I can do that. I can put things in the favor of convicting that heart.”
So let’s not be in a hurry. When was the last time we waited on God and prayed for others? Look at your prayer list? Is it embarrassing sometimes? Mine is. It’s all about me. And maybe my kids and wife and family. It’s right there, <nice packaging?> on my prayer list. Where’s all the lost souls who are going to spend eternity separated from God? I believe God hears the prayers of His people. I believe that’s why I’m here today. I believe that’s why many of you are here as well. You know you’ve had praying moms and dads. Not as many dads, isn’t that sad? So let’s change that this morning as well.
Let me close. Again, I remind you of the flow of service. Brant’s going to continue. Whatever the atmosphere is, we’re not in a hurry. It might flow into the second. It might stop way beforehand. We don’t know. We just know we need to seek God.
Charles Peace was condemned to death row in the United States. (You might have heard this story before.) As is the practice there, the clergyman led a condemned man to his execution reading the Prayer Book liturgy. As he was reciting it word for word he mentioned the word “hell.” Charles Peace tapped him on the shoulder and said: “Sir, do you mind me asking a question? Do you believe what you’re reading?” The man said: “Of course I believe what I’m reading.” He said: “If I believed what you believe, I would crawl on my hands and knees to the four corners of the world across broken glass to warn people of such an eternity.”
The early church had the view of hell in its rearview mirror. It knew. It knew of this reality. It preached this reality. Look at the book of Acts. They walked in the power of the Holy Spirit and the fear of the Lord. Look at the early sermons. Can you imagine Peter? “Oh, guys, it’s ok. Just encouraging, think positive thoughts. And God’s in all of us. Go team.” His first sermon, he’s been a Christian, I don’t know how long—a week, just walks out of the upper room, maybe days?—and he said, “You put Christ on the cross. You stiff-necked people. You put Christ on the cross. You put the Son of Glory on the cross in open shame!” And they cried out, “What must we do to be saved?” What did he say? “Repent! Repent and believe in the gospel and be baptized.” Repent, believe in the heart, and be baptized—an outer expression of an inward change of the heart. He preached repentance.
Sometimes we have to go back to those difficult truths. People need to be woken up out of spiritual darkness. That’s why the message is so heavy.
You’ve seen it before. I’ve brought it up here before, and I was tempted again. But I have what is the biggest they make—a 25-lb. sledgehammer. You try using that for ten minutes, hitting concrete. My daughter has a little pink hammer. I had to break up a ten-by-ten section of concrete. You think I brought the pink hammer? This is going to take a while. I said, “Shane, go get the you-know-what.” And, here it comes…boom! Boom!
See, sometimes you need to hear the booms of hell, the powers of darkness that need to be defeated. You need to be hit by the sledgehammer before you wake up. You need the power of God to ignite your heart and feel the flames of hell reaching up, so you reach up to heaven and cry out, “Christ, I need You.” Many people don’t reach out to Christ because they don’t understand the darkness of eternity. Sometimes you’ve got to bring out the sledgehammer and crush the hardness of the human heart. Sometimes America needs to hear that judgment is coming, that the judgment hand of God will fall upon a nation, upon a people that reject Him, that mock Him, that do not fear Him, that blaspheme Him, that call good evil and evil good. Sometimes you’ve got to bring out the sledgehammer and say, “Here it comes! Watch out!” and you crush the hardness and the prideful and the arrogant heart.
Alright, now the service is going to get good. I feel it now. My goodness. You’ve got to wake us up sometimes, don’t you? “Is not My word like a fire?” God says. There’s nothing stronger than fire. “Is not My word like a hammer—that does what?—that breaks a rock in pieces.” The Supreme Court needs to hear this message. Senators, Congress, Washington, you need to hear this message. My God, Sacramento. Governor Jerry Brown, you need to hear about the judgment of God, the fear of God, the wrath of God, not in arrogance but in boldness, in brokenness, in love, saying, “I love God’s word. I fear God.” And you need to turn from the judgment that is to come.