HEAVEN AND HELL
INTRO: There are two eternal destinations. They are described in vv. 34 & 41 of the text I have read. They are not here described by their best known names, but there they are for all to read. Of course, we know that Jesus is referring to heaven and hell. From Rom 6:23 we learn that "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life..." Once again, the best known names are not in the text, but the reference is unmistakably to heaven and hell. While it may be true that there is much information we would like to have about these eternal destinations, the information we are given in scripture is critical to our decision making. It really does matter what you believe about heaven and hell!
I. THERE REALLY IS LIFE BEYOND THIS EARTHLY EXISTENCE
A. If not, heaven and hell are "non issues"
B. Scripture confirms that there is assuredly life beyond this one
1. Jude 1:14,15 - even of "old" there was this belief
2. Eccl 12:14 - Solomon certainly believed in an "after life"
3. Mt 22:29-32 - notice how Jesus confirmed this to Sadducees
4. Heb 9:27 - New Testament writers had no doubts
C. This truth, of course, makes heaven and hell very real issues!
1. a "life plan" needs to be made in view of the reality
2. but the usual tradition is that many make plans for just about every eventuality ... except for this one
II. THERE REALLY ISHELL
A. It is not just a fictional place of which literature makes much
1. true, literature (ancient and somewhat recent) does speak of hell
2. and those descriptions can be very graphic - horrific
3. but as horrific as they may be, they really do not do justice to its horrors
B. Jesus believed in and spoke of hell
1. Mt 5:29,30 - perhaps this is hyperbole, but Jesus knows the horrors
2. Mt 10:28 - "fear" might keep some from confessing their faith ... but "fear" of men should be of no concern ... the real "fear" should be of God Whose judgment would be eternally fatal upon the unprofessing
3. if I believe in the credibility of Jesus, how can I reject belief in hell?
C. How hell is described in scripture?
1. Mt 25:30 - a place of "outer darkness" - "weeping and gnashing of teeth"
2. Rev 20:15 - a "lake of fire"
3. Rev 21:8 - "fire and brimstone"- "the second death"
D. Who will go there?
1. from two passages just quoted: Rev 20:15 & Rev 21:8
2. Col 2:12,13 - those who are dead in their sins - unforgiven
3. Mt 25:30 - "the unprofitable servant" ... the disciple who is not actively serving the Master!
III. THERE REALLY IS HEAVEN
A. It is not just a "pie in the sky" hope or dream
1. "we read of place that's called heaven"
2. indeed, the New Testament, over and again, refers to heaven
B. Our confidence in the reality of heaven rests in scriptural evidence
1. Mt 6:19-21 - as Jesus begins His ministry on earth, heaven affirmed
2. Col 1:3-5 - apostles affirmed our hope is in heaven (not on earth!)
3. 1 Pet 1:3,4 - "...reserved in heaven for you" - the apostles lived and died in the firm belief of a heavenly home
C. Some descriptive thoughts?
1. Mt 25:21 - a place of "the joy of thy lord"
2. Heb 10:34 - a place of "a better and an enduring substance"
3. Rev 14:13 - a place of "rest from their labors"
4. 1 Thes 4:17 - a place where we will "ever be with the Lord"
D. Who will be going there?
1. Phil 3:20,21 - citizens of the kingdom of heaven
2. so, the question which needs to be answered is how does one become a "kingdom citizen"?
3. from all we can learn from the New Testament the answer is: believe in Jesus as the Son of God, repent of past sins, confess ones belief, be baptized for the remission of sin and into the body of Christ
4. 2 Tim 4:6-8 - kingdom citizens must be faithful in their citizenship throughout their lives
CLOSE: So, my friends, where are you going? What is your eternal destination? Because there is life after death, you must give careful thought to these questions. You see, it really does matter what you believe about heaven and hell ... and what you do about your belief.
Cecil A. Hutson
5 March 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)