THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 9-28-03
LESSON TITLE: FINAL THINGS: "THE REALITY OF HELL"
Welcome to the Living Word program on this wondrous Lord's Day. What a privilege it is to have you with us today, as we together give this time to God. I know that we will all be encouraged and uplifted by our time together this morning. So, let's give our best to God so that He may be pleased with our offering. Furthermore, let's do all things according to His will - so that our worship will be received by Him in a good and perfect way. Now, let's approach His throne in prayer!
Isn't it hard to keep from sinning in this life? Especially when we have so many temptations and snares on all sides which can cause us to turn away from or forget God. The good news is, God is there and will help us to endure these trials. In fact, as His faithful followers He will also provide for us a way of escape, so that we may flee these temptations before sinning. So this morning, let's sing a song that teaches us this very important Biblical lesson. The name of the song, "Yield Not To Temptation!"
(SONG # 1)
How often do we find ourselves in the "getting back at others" business? I know this is tough and it is something we are all faced with, but the reality is we often are not good at turning the other cheek or in doing good to those who do back against us.
However, as Christians we have got to learn to leave the final judging and vengeance to the Lord. In fact, the Bible has always made this clear to the followers of God. In Isaiah 35:4-5, this great prophet records, "Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.' Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." You see the judging and vengeance is to be left up to God who knows all things and who has all power.
On the other hand he mentions some blessings we have when we let God do the condemning. The verse said "He will save us." You see, when we obey God He will not only be there for us and help us but He will reward us in the end. God came to do good and to help those who need help. This is further evidenced in verse 5 which we read, where he said, "the blind shall see and the deaf shall hear!" God truly is a lover a mankind and wants to help those who will hear and obey His Will.
Finally, look at what the Hebrew writer said in chapter 10, verse 30 of that book. There God is recorded as saying, " 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The LORD will judge His people.'" Again this New Testament writer confirms for us that fact that God will handle those who disobey Him and do evil towards others on this earth. Now let me ask you, "Do you think that people are more afraid of what you can do or what God can do to them?" Well that is exactly why the writer goes on to say in verse 31 of the same passage. There we read, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." So let's leave the ultimate correction and discipline in this life and the next to God, the One who truly can make the best decisions and execute the best punishments and rewards. Are you letting God handle the vengeance surrounding your life?
After our next song together, I will be leading our lesson thoughts of the day. This morning we will be considering the next lesson in our series entitled, "Final Things." Our specific lesson of the day will deal with, "The Reality of Hell?" So, please stay with us for this important study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second song of the morning. Won't you join in with the congregation as we sing the hymn, "Wonderful Words of Life."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for staying with us this morning as we now have a chance to go to God's Word and continue our discussion on final things. We began a good series, I believe, last week in looking at really some questions that most of us have about what will happen to us after we die? What will happen to us when the Lord comes again? So last week, we began to try to look at some of these concepts where obviously we established that all of us do live. We all have existence. We all breathe and we all at some point will die as the Bible tells us. Just as we live, we will die. Every man that's born into this world, according to the plan of God, also will someday die and leave this world.
In relationship to that though we saw last week some beautiful passages there in the book of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and other places where it talks about how that they shouldn't worry about those who die before the Lord comes because certainly they will also be rose from the grave. They will come forth in the day that the Lord comes again, when He judges the world, when every knee will bow, when every tongue will confess.
You might remember that a few verses we referred to last week showed us clearly about the concept of judgment. Jesus in His own words there in Mark chapter 13 and verse 32 said, "But that day and that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the son, but only the Father." You see here Jesus was trying to say, "Look, even I don't know. No one knows that hour except the Father when I will come again." Even in the verses there following that in verse 35 He goes on to say, "Because of this, watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, in the evening, at the midnight, at the crowing of the rooster or even in the morning, lest coming suddenly He finds you asleep and what I say to you, I say to all, watch." Here we find the Bible saying to never find yourself sleepy or not ready or not prepared. Why? Because God is coming someday. So whether tomorrow I die or am killed in some way, I must be ready because that will determine what I have done in my life. Or whether it is the Lord that comes tomorrow, I always must be ready because I don't know when that time will be. I don't know. "He will come," as it says, "as a thief in the night," the writer explained to us there in later scriptures. He will come as one as if we don't know that He is coming.
Paul deals with the same thing over in the book of Corinthians. In fact, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 we see more about the idea of when the Lord comes again and the angels are there and the trumpet is sounding. We read there in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians around verse 51. He says, "Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we will all be changed." In fact he says, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet for the ones," it says here, "who are dead will raise incorruptible and we who are alive shall be changed." Why? In verse 53, "For this corruptible, the physical must put on incorruptible and this mortal must put on immortality." Here we have Paul helping us to explain maybe another intricate part of the after death experience when there God will not only bring forth those from the grave in a new changed form, the image, the image of God more in a spiritual sense preparing ourselves physically not of this world, but in a more physical way for heaven and the reward that we will receive. But then he says that "even those who are alive, we will all be changed when the Lord comes from the air," as we read in the book of Thessalonians and He's there with His angels and the dead come forward. Everyone in their forms will be changed." Why? Because this physical body will be destroyed. This physical body will be no more. It's something that we will no longer need. And why? Because all things that are corruptible or fleshly certainly are not about the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us "the kingdom of God is not made of flesh and blood. It's not made of physical. It's not made with hands. It's spiritual, just as God is a spirit," John 4:24.
Another verse that helps us with this is the concept of 2 Peter chapter 3. In verse 10 it begins to talk about the day of the Lord. There as we mentioned earlier coming as a thief in the night. It says, "When the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements with fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of person ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness." He says here, "You need to be good now. Be ready now." Why? Because when the Lord comes again, everything we see is going to be destroyed. The earth and the heavens. Not heaven itself as we think about the concept of an eternal existence, but the concept of the heavens, the moons and the stars, all those things that God created there in the beginning. Those things will be destroyed because there will be no need for them anymore. The physical existence of man will cease and man will be a spiritual being like its God to live eternally with God.
Notice also in verse 12 as it says there, "Look therefore, and hasten the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be," he says again, "dissolved being on fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat."
Then he goes on in verse 13 to say, "Because the promise of the new heavens and the new earth will transpire or come to pass." So again, these things we know or we read about are all clear and show us the things that will take place. We looked also at the story of the rich man and Lazarus about how even those asleep or those who had just died really again go through an intermediate stage it seems between the final judgment and death where there Lazarus was already receiving some type of comfort and a peace but yet already the rich man according to the way he had lived, according to his works, according to the things that he had done and said, as the Bible once again tells us, he had really judged himself by his life and therefore was being tormented in flames so much so that he simply wanted a drop of water for his tongue.
So as we have seen all of these things come to pass, then we begin to ask the question, well when this judgment takes place, what will come from it? What is it that we will find from it? Well the interesting thing is that many in the world today, many religious people, as well as those outside of God, really reject the concept that even any kind of hell exists at all. But at the same time, it's interesting that most who are surveyed in different surveys consider that probably 3/4 will go to heaven. If you say, "Will you go to heaven or hell?" Most people say, "I'd go to heaven." Most people seem to at least have an eternal good existence. But really the sad thing is another 40-50% of those who are asked really don't believe much in a true heaven concept or a true hell concept. What is it the Bible says about these things? Are they real or are they really just a figment of the imagination of the writers of the Bible or was God just somehow trying to maybe provoke us to do good things or promote us to do a good thing? Or was God maybe lying to us or telling us a half truth which would put some great questions on what God does and how He works if this be the case. What is it that the Bible says though? The Bible throughout shows us clearly that there is a place that is good, heaven, a place of eternal existence where we will never die. Our spiritual, godly bodies will never die. We will live forever. That's exciting to think that we are all immortal and that we will never die.
But at the same time it's not very exciting to think that same immortal body could be in eternal torment or pain or an existence that would be a continuous suffering forever and ever without end. Now the Bible again shows us this clearly. In fact, in the book of 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 1, Peter there talks about a place known as a place of destruction. What was he talking about? Was he deceiving us? Was he confused? A man inspired of God. Again in 2 Peter chapter 2 again a few verses down, verse 3, he talks of "a place where there will be eternal damnation." Again, my question would be, "What is that place that he's talking about?" Again, in the same book, 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 17 further down in the same passage, he talks about "a place of eternal darkness where there is no light and will never be any light." What is this place that is being spoken about? If there is no such place, what are the writers of the Bible talking about? What is it that Jesus talked about when He talked about hell? We're going to look at a few verses in just a moment when He talks about an eternal damnation, an eternal hell. What were they talking about? Is God a liar? Has God given us this book, but yet we can't count on it because He lies to us or He tells us things even though they're not real? Well I would certainly hope not. If this be the case, we all need to find something better to do and someone else to look to and someone else to follow. The truth is that God does not lie! The book of Titus tells us that God does not lie and that when God has said it, it is true. His promises are true. And as well as His promises are true, those things that show us that He will either reward us or punish us, the punishment has to be true. Our God does not lie.
I want you to look at a few places with me that will help us further to prove this. One of the most familiar verses probably on earth from scripture is John 3:16. Isn't it interesting there when it talks about "how that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." What on earth is God talking about if heaven and hell do not exist? What's He talking about when He says that those who are good will receive a good reward, eternal reward, but then those who do not will perish? You see, there has to be something that is bad as perish. Many of you, as well as myself, we have to discipline our children. There has to be good rewards and bad rewards for those things that they do. When they do good things, there are good rewards. When they do bad things, they have to be disciplined in order to make them correct those things. What would be different about God? What would be different in the fact that He says, "Just as I have made a good heavenly home for those who are good and faithful, then I have had to make a place of destruction for those who reject me." In fact, doesn't that make good sense? Wouldn't that be what He is talking about there, a place of punishment?
I want you to look also at some of the gospels with me, and how that Jesus Himself talked about the fact of this place referred to as hell. One place is in Mark chapter 10. We looked in Mark earlier in our lesson. But in Mark chapter 10, in verse 28, God tells us there one reference to this concept of hell. The verse there says that "we as Christians, we as followers are those who have been told by the son, that is the son of God, the one who is in heaven, that truly we are those who must understand that there is a destruction as well as there is a reward." Let me correct that, Matthew chapter 10 and verse 28, because there it says, "And do not fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul, but rather," he says, "fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and the body, and notice specifically in hell." He talks here about not worrying about the people of this earth because they can only harm you physically, but even if they kill you, like they killed the prophets and many of the apostles and disciples, don't worry about them. Why? Because God has the ability to not just destroy the physical but also to cast your physical and the soul, the essence of man, the mind of man into hell. So again, what's God talking about? What's Jesus talking about here?
In Matthew 22 again, you'll notice a clear and important story there about the servants, the servants who are really told to do a thing by the master, but then in verse 13 those servants were condemned. They were not invited to the wedding feast. They were kept out because the door was locked. It was too late. What was this place that they were left in darkness in?
Again in Matthew 25, there's a place spoken of there about how "we should help those who are in prison and those who are hungry and need some type of a clothing. Whatever it might be, whenever we do good to others," it says there, "then it's as if we're doing good to God."
But if you'll notice as we go down even further there and it talks about even the talents and talks about this and that, at the end of the passages there in chapter 25, it's clear in verse 45 that it says, "Then He will answer them saying, 'Assuredly I say to you that as much as you do not do it to one of the least of these, you do not do it to me and these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'" The question I ask is "What is this everlasting punishment?" If these things are not right, if these things are not so, what is it God was talking about? What is it the apostles, the writers of the Bible, the prophets, what is it they were referring to?
You know if there was one person I might could ask today, or you might could ask, "Is it real?" I might would ask the rich man. I think the story there again in Luke chapter 16 it was clear that he was tormented, that he was in agony. It was clear that he believed in a God that he had rejected while on the earth and he believed in that God because he saw the punishment that was now his after living a life of those things contrary to the Will of God.
The encouragement that we have to learn today is the reality is that if we believe in God, if we believe the Bible is His Word, the Bible clearly and distinctively proves that there is a hell. You can't believe in God without believing that there is a hell because the same God who gave us the Word and who says that we are what we are and what we should be is the same God who says, "As there is a heaven, there is a hell."
So I encourage you to know and to use that as the great Solomon said, "To fear God and to keep His commandments." Use that as a good and a godly fear, a way to promote us to be good and righteous people knowing about heaven which we'll talk about next week and that great reward that is ours if we simply do what God has asked us to do. You see the great thing today is that we can know that although there is a hell, the reality is there is a hell according to God's Word. Even though that is true, we don't have to go there. We don't have to worry about it because we can follow God and we can obey His commands and when we obey the commands of God, we know that He will reward us and that He will give us the promises and blessings of this life and the reward of eternal life. Are you willing to serve your God and to do those things that you'll receive the promise in the end?
(SONG # 3 - "Will Your Anchor Hold!")
Thanks for putting God first and choosing to be with us this morning. I hope you have benefited from our time together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God.
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May we all use the reality of Hell in a positive way, so that we will do more or what God wants and prepare ourselves for His coming. Are you ready to meet your God?