Very often people will ask the question,
“So, what happens after I die?”
Everybody wants to know the answer to that question.
What happens after I die?
And last week we spoke on ‘The reality of Heaven.’
The Bible tells us that everything you see is temporary.
And what you don’t see is what’s going to last.
The eternal realities are things you don’t see.
The things you see right now are all temporary.
If they’re material or physical they’re not going to last.
Your body is not going to last.
This building is not going to last.
The trees and even mountains erode.
Everything that’s material fades away.
But the things that are going to last are things we can’t see.
We can’t see God, we can’t see the angels, we can’t see God’s Holy Spirit, we can’t see Heaven.
The Bible says those things are going to last forever.
“Our bodies are gradually decaying and becoming weaker. [Anybody want to give a testimony on that?]
But our spirits inside of us are growing stronger each day.
These little troubles that we face here on earth are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all of our troubles seem like nothing. [Now listen to this]
The things that are seen don’t last forever but the things that are not seen are eternal.
That’s why we keep our minds on the things that we cannot see. [That’s why I’m calling this series eternal realities.]
Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. [Some of us have big tents.]
But when these tents are destroyed God will give us each a new place to live and our new bodies and homes are in heaven and they will last forever.
These physical tents that we now live in right now are heavy burdens and we groan not just because we want to leave these bodies that are going to die but because we want to exchange them for bodies that will never die.
God is the one who makes all of this possible and He has given us His Spirit to make certain that He will do it. So always be cheerful. As long as we are in these earthly bodies we are away from the Lord. So we live by faith and not by what we see. [I can’t see God. I can’t see heaven. I can’t see angels. I can’t see all the spiritual realities so he says we live by faith not by what we see.]
We’d rather leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord [In other words in heaven] but whether we’re with the Lord or whether we’re away from Him we still try our best to please Him. After all Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-10, CEV)
The point that Paul is making here in 2 Corinthians is that spiritual realities are more real than physical realities.
That these are the things that are going to last forever and we need to focus on those things.
“Right now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim reflection of reality. But one day we shall see reality face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, AMP)
REALITIES OF LIFE
1. God made you to love you and He wants you to learn to love Him back.
You were made by God and you were made for God.
Until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense.
Because it’s all about God and it’s all for His glory.
You were created as an object of God’s love.
If God hadn’t wanted to love you He wouldn’t have made you.
There has never been a person made that God doesn’t love.
And not only does He love you, He’s given you the capacity to learn to love Him back, to get to know Him back.
The Bible says all the great commandments is summarized “Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Those are the two first great commandments.
It’s all about love.
That’s the first reality of life.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. And with unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
2. You were made to last forever.
One day your heart’s going to stop and that’s going to be the end of your body but it’s certainly not going to be the end of you.
The Bible says that you and I, as human beings, were created in the image of God which means God put in us eternity.
“He has planted eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
That’s why no matter how good things are on this planet there’s still a longing in you and at some point in your life you go,
There’s got to be more than this.
And the truth is there is more.
You’re going to spend far more time on the other side of death than on this side.
On this side you get sixty, eighty, a hundred years.
On the other side of death, you get trillions and trillions and trillions of years.
This is the warm up act, the preschool, the first lap around the racetrack.
But the real life is going to go on in eternity.
Life is preparation for eternity.
You were made to last forever.
And He put eternity in your heart.
3. God has prepared two eternal places: heaven and hell.
Heaven is real and hell is real. They are literal places.
Notice what the Bible says, “Jesus said, [God] will say to those on His left ‘Depart from Me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
Satan’s angels are called demons.
Satan rebelled against God.
Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels.
It wasn’t originally intended for human beings.
Did you get that?
Jesus said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you. It’s called heaven. But hell was prepared for the devil and his angels.”
If I choose to rebel against God – just like Satan did – and I choose to reject God and I choose hell!
4. You will get to choose where you’ll spend eternity.
It’s your choice.
This is the same kind of choice that God gave to Israel in the Old Testament.
Back in the book of Deuteronomy, God says this to the people of Israel, “Today, I’m giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse…”
In Deuteronomy 30:15, 19 the Bible says, “See! I have set before you today life and good or death and evil.”
The Bible says “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
The Bible says, “They will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous will go into eternal life.”
5. There is no second chance after you die.
There is no Reincarnation. There is no Limbo. There is no Purgatory.
Friends, this is so important.
What we’re talking about today is your eternal destiny.
I want everybody to be absolutely certain that when you go out you know without a shadow of a doubt you’re going to heaven.
I would like to answer today four very important questions about Hell:
I. Why does hell exist?
II. What is it like?
III. How do I avoid it?
IV. What do I do once I know all of this?
I. WHY DOES HELL EXIST?
There are two fundamental reasons.
1. Because sin and evil exist.
There are some people that want to deny the existence of evil.
They think that actually the world is full of people and we’re basically good.
That human beings are fundamentally by nature unselfish, always kind, always good, and always thinking about others.
I want to say to you, have you turned on your television lately?
Have you picked up a newspaper?
Do you listen to the radio?
Our world is filled with broken relationships, broken promises, rape, abuse, murder, child molestation, all kinds of evil, terrorism, people who strap bombs onto themselves.
The world is filled with evil.
It’s all around you.
Fundamentally the Bible teaches that by nature we are all selfish.
You think about your more than anybody else.
You’re not naturally thinking, “What’s best for other people?
What’s best for the world?
What does God want me to do?”
You’re thinking, “What do I want to do?
What would I like to do?”
What was true in Noah’s day is still true today.
“The Lord observed the extent of people’s wickedness and He saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. And He [that’s God] was sorry that He had ever made them [He was sorry He had made the human race] and it broke His heart.” (Genesis 8:5-6)
God looked down on the world in Noah’s day and He goes, what a mess they’ve made of this!
What they do to themselves.
What they do to each other.
What they do to the planet that I gave them.
God’s heart is broken today!
When God looks at all the things that are done in the world that are wrong and bad and evil it breaks God’s heart.
When people say to me, “Where is God when people get molested and people are abused and people are betrayed and where is God with the rape and the murder and the world’s terrorism and crime and all?
I’ll tell you what He’s doing.
You say, “Why doesn’t He just stop it.”
God could eliminate all the evil in the world – by just getting rid of all of us.
Where do you think evil comes from?
It comes from our poor choices.
God gave us a free will.
That is our greatest gift.
It’s also our worst curse.
Because we don’t always make wise choices.
While God gave us this free ability to choose right or wrong, good or bad, evil or righteousness – He gives us this choice because we’re created in His image.
We often choose the wrong thing.
As a result people get hurt – intentionally and unintentionally.
God could take away all the sin, all the suffering, all the sickness and all the evil in the world with a snap.
All He has to do is take away our free will.
Why does God give us a free will?
I’ll tell you why.
Because He wanted you to choose to love Him not be forced to love Him.
It’s not real love if you’re forced to do it.
Love is only love if you can choose not to love.
God gives you the free choice.
You don’t have to love God.
You don’t have to trust God.
You don’t have to obey God.
You don’t have to follow in His ways.
You don’t have to fulfill the purpose He created for you.
You can make your life a total mess.
Why did God do that?
Because He wants us to choose to love Him. He wants us to choose to do right.
God wanted a family that would live with Him forever and He wanted to produce a race of tested individuals who voluntarily choose to love and do the right thing.
That can’t be possible unless we’re allowed to do the wrong thing.
So it is our greatest blessing and our greatest curse.
And it still breaks God’s heart today when we hurt ourselves, when we hurt other people, when we hurt the planet that He’s put us on.
2. Because God is holy and just.
He is holy – that means He is perfect.
He cannot sin Himself.
And He’s just – that means He believes in justice.
He settles the score.
He always does the right thing.
The Bible says that one day God is going to balance the books.
God is going to bring justice to the world.
God is going to right the wrongs.
And He’s going to even the odds.
And He’s going to balance the books.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not but have you noticed that life is unfair?
And I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not but people get away with all kinds of bad stuff on earth.
In fact, people get away with murder on earth.
Life is not fair. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not but bad things often happen to good people.
And good things often happen to bad people.
And people who cheat and steal and lie and rob their entire lives often become enormously successful and they get away, literally, with murder.
While other people who try to do the right thing and live the right way, things don’t work out in their lives all the time.
Life is not fair.
“I would have despaired if I hadn’t believed in the goodness of God.” (Psalms 27:13)
If I didn’t believe that one day God’s going to settle the score, that God is just and He’s going to tip the scales and He’s going to even it all out and there will be repayment and justice, it just wouldn’t be right.
Solomon talks about this.
“I thought about the things that are done in the world, a world where some people have power and others have to suffer under them. I’ve seen the wicked buried and in their graves. But on the way back from the cemetery, people praised them in the very city where they did their evil. Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough. A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and still live. That’s just not right.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9-12)
What would it be like if Stalin and Mao and Hitler who killed millions of people showed up in heaven.
There would be something wrong with heaven.
The Bible says this:
“For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the nations fairly and with truth.”
And by the way, He’s the only one who can judge fairly because He’s impartial.
“…God is a righteous God and He will bring suffering on those who make you suffer. And He’ll give relief to you who suffer as well. He will do this when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven to punish those who reject God who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)
Notice the last phrase – “separated from the presence of the Lord.”
That’s the number one characteristic of hell.
Separated from the presence of the Lord.
People don’t realize how bad that is because we have the Lord’s presence here.
Here on earth, even when I reject God, He shows me grace.
I can be going out here totally ignoring God and I get all kinds of gifts from God because everything you have in your life is a gift from God.
The air you breathe – that’s a gift from God.
The water you drink – that’s a gift from God.
Your heart beating – that’s a gift from God. Everything you have in your life is a gift of God’s grace.
So even people who don’t know the Lord experience God’s grace every single day of their life.
Your health is a gift from God.
Your brain is a gift from God.
The weather is a gift from God.
So we don’t know what it means to live without God’s grace.
Because everything God does in your life He does because He loves you and He’s showing you grace at that moment.
Why does hell exist?
Because sin and evil exist and because God is holy and just.
II. WHAT IS HELL LIKE?
It’s really hard to explain because we don’t have the human experience to explain it.
It’s kind of like trying to explain the Internet to an ant.
Jesus actually talked more about hell than He did about heaven.
Sometime you hear these guys preaching on hell on television – the hell fire and brimstone – and they’re yelling and they’re sweating.
When you listen to them you kind of think they want people to go there.
What’s with that?
I don’t want anybody to go to hell.
And God certainly doesn’t want anybody to go to hell.
Jesus doesn’t want anybody to go to hell.
That’s why He died on the cross.
That’s how much He considered it important.
So this is not something that you’re happy about.
But what is hell like?
The Bible describes it as a place of torment.
The Bible says that “In darkness they will cry out and grit their teeth in pain.”
But do you know what the worst part is?
Hell is total separation from God.
That’s the worst thing about it.
It means I’m totally apart from God’s love, totally apart from God’s grace.
Total separation from God.
“If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be separated from God- and lost forever.” (1 Corinthians 16:22)
Here it is.
If I go through my entire life saying, “I don’t want God in my life on earth.”
If I don’t want God in my life on earth, why would I want to spend eternity with Him?
Why would I change my mind?
Why would I say I want to live without God on earth but I want to live with God in heaven?
That doesn’t make sense.
God says, “You get to choose. You want to live with Me or live without Me.”
Wherever you choose on earth is where you choose in heaven or hell.
What is hell like?
Think about this.
If it’s total separation from God, then it’s the exact opposite of everything God is.
We know that “God is love.”
That is His nature. God is love.
What would it be to live without God completely?
It means no love.
The Bible says, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear.”
The opposite of love is fear.
You know what it means to live without love in your life?
It means you’re scared to death all the time.
It means you’re lonely all the time.
One of the big myths about hell is that in hell it’s just going to be a big party for all the people who like to party.
Friends, no one will see anybody else in hell.
It’s total separation from God and everybody else.
There are no relationships in hell.
There are no friends in hell.
It’s total loneliness.
And by the way, there’s another myth that Satan is going to be in charge of hell.
Satan is on earth right now, killing, stealing and destroying.
In Hell he’s not going to be in charge of it like another kingdom.
He’s going to be punished.
Nobody else is going to see him, he’s not going to see anybody else.
God is love.
So there’s no love there.
God is light.
So hell is complete darkness.
God is good.
So there’s absolutely nothing good in hell.
God is life.
So that means it’ll be eternal death.
God is gracious.
That means there’s no place of grace there.
Friends, you don’t want to choose hell.
And I hope after today you will never again say to anybody, “Go to hell!”
I don’t want anybody to go to hell.
No matter how much they hurt me.
I hope you’ll never again tell a joke on hell because it’s no joke.
I beg you to accept the good news of Jesus Christ!
III. HOW DO I SETTLE MY ETERNAL DESTINY?
So how do I avoid hell?
Is there a way for me to absolutely know for certain I’m going to heaven?
Here’s the good news.
You can absolutely, confidently, know that you’re going to heaven.
“I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know with settled and absolute knowledge that you already have life. Yes, eternal life.” (1 John 5:13, AMP)
If you go out to the mall today and you ask somebody, “Where are you going when you die?” and they say, “I hope I’m going to heaven.”
Friends, hope is not enough.
It’s too important.
It’s too important to not know for certain.
Only a fool would go all trough life unprepared for what we know is inevitable – death.
A recent statistic shows that the mortality rate in the world is one hundred percent!
We are all going to die!
Only a fool would go all the way through life going, “Yeah, I know I need to decide this but I’ll put it off… I’ll put it off… I’ll put it off…”
Friend, you don’t know if you’re going to drop dead tomorrow.
Why would you put off something that you know is inevitable and could come at any time?
You need to settle this today.
Everyone can be sure of going to Heaven.
Because God has paid for everything possible for your ticket.
It’s already been paid for by Jesus Christ.
Your ticket to heaven is in Jesus Christ.
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
That’s about as clear as you can get.
Friends, this is why Christmas and Easter are so important.
If Jesus hadn’t come at Christmas.
And if He hadn’t died on the cross and then come back to life three days later on Easter, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
We would all be hopeless.
There would be no hope for us.
Heaven’s perfect and we’re not.
But God came up with a plan.
And it was a plan that somebody would die for all my sins and all your sins.
He would do it Himself so that we by His grace could go to heaven.
The cross is the answer to our problem.
“At one time you were separated from God. You were His enemies in your minds, and the evil things you did were against God. But now God has made you His friends again. He did this through Christ’s death in the body when He died on the cross so that He might bring you into God’s presence. as people who are holy, with no wrong, nothing of which God can judge you.” (Colossians 2:21-22)
The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Let me summarize what that verse teaches in four words. A, B, C, D.
And again listen as if your life depends on it, because it does.
This is how you walk through the door named Jesus to get into heaven, A, B, C, D.
A – Admit I Need a Savior to Get to Heaven
B – I Believe Jesus died for me.
Believe means more than head knowledge. It means I trust in, I rely on, I surrender to, I commit myself to.
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
C – I Commit myself completely to Him.
I say “Lord I want to do Your plan for my life. I want to do the purpose You put me here on earth to do. Not my purpose. I’m going to go, not my way anymore. I’m going to go Jesus’ way. I’m going to go God’s way. I’m going to go the way God created me to go. I commit myself to You.”
That commitment, you need to do it publicly.
You need to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ.
How about if I said to my wife, “Honey, I’m committed to you. So let’s get married but let’s don’t tell anybody about it.”
What kind of commitment would that be?
She’s say, “Hey, buster! Are you ashamed of me? You won’t tell anybody about me? If you won’t tell anybody about me then you aren’t really committed to me.”
A private commitment is no commitment at all.
You’ve got to make it public.
So I stood up one day in public and I said, “I do,” in front of a bunch of people.
And I wear a ring everywhere I go. This says, “Ladies, don’t even think about it.”
I wear this ring because I’m proud of my wife and I love her and I am committed to my wife. Till death do us part.
What is the wedding ring of the Christian life?
There are two ways:
– JOINING THE CHURCH
That’s your coming out party.
It’s your saying, “I’m coming out of the closet. I’m committed to Christ.”
Being baptized and joining a church doesn’t make you a believer.
It shows that you are.
It’s the wedding ring.
This ring doesn’t make me married.
It just shows that I am.
Jesus said this, “If anyone acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before My Father which is in heaven. But if anyone denies Me here on earth, I will deny that person before My Father in heaven.”
What does it mean to get baptized?
It means that I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ.
What does joining a church mean?
It means saying, “I’m not ashamed to say I’m a part of the body of Christ.”
D – I depend on God’s promise.
When I depend on God’s promise, what is the promise?
That “Whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
IV. WHAT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY?
“If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to warn them about changing their ways, then they will die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their deaths.” (Ezekiel 33:8 , NLT)
“Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? It’s what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15, NLT)