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So You're Dead Now What - Week 2

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So anyway, when I was a kid, I went to this neighborhood Vacation Bible School. It was in someone's back yard, and we had a great time all week. I was a little kid. I ate the cookie, drank the Kool-Aid, had all sorts of Vacation Bible School fun, and on the last day, they sat us down in this driveway, and I never will forget. All the little kids, we sat Indian style. They put us in a little circle, and one of the grownups asked us. They said, "How many of you know for sure, close your eyes and don't look around, how many you know for sure that if you died you would go to Heaven?" And I thought to myself, "There's no way that you can know for sure. I mean, nobody can now that for sure," and so they said, "If you don't know for sure, raise your hand", and so we had our eyes closed, and evidently, I was the only kid that didn't know for sure, because when I raised my hand, I was the only kid that they grabbed and took behind the garage. And two grown-ups looked down at me, a little kid, and they said, "If you don't accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you're going to go to Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell ..." That's what it sounded like when they said it to me, and I know they were well-intentioned, but when they said that I would go to Hell, it scared the you-know-what out of me as a little kid. And I just panicked, and I shook free, and I ran as fast as I could, eight houses down, back to my house, came in, hid in the closet, and cried my little eight-year-old eyes out. "God, please don't send me to Hell." I used to pray as a little kid, "Don't send me to Hell. Don't send me to Hell." I, I'd pray before I'd go to sleep, "Don't send me ..." Sometimes, I'd be praying and I would fall asleep praying, and I'd wake up the next day panicked, because I forgot to say ten-four, over and out, amen. And so, I thought if I didn't sign out and I died in my sleep, because we prayed that horrible prayer. We teach our kids, "If I should die before I wake," ahhh, you know, and, and ... so what I did is, I, I gave God extra amen's. During the day, I'd just say, "God, amen, amen, amen, amen," and I'm like, "If I fall asleep and forget to sign off, could You credit one of those extra amen's to my account," because I was so-o-o-o afraid of going to Hell. So, what we are going to talk about today is a very challenging, very uncomfortable subject, Hell. I didn't wake up today and go, "Oh, ho, baby. I can't wait to go by Hell. Oh, oh, oh ... It's going to be fun." It is a very difficult subject. In fact, according to my research this week, I found that 74% of people in our country believe in Heaven. Basically, three out of four people believe in Heaven, but according to this research, only four in ten people in our country believe in Hell. Seventy-five percent, 74% Heaven, 40% Hell; so basically, it shows our cafeteria version of Christianity, "I'll take the good stuff that I like in the Bible, but I am going to reject the more painful stuff. In fact, I would argue, based on my observation, that the percentage of people who really believe and really understand Hell is much, much lower. In fact, I would argue that many of you really don't believe, or really don't understand what Hell is like. In fact, there was a young girl who was about to get married to a guy, and she realized through conversation, he didn't believe in Heaven and he didn't believe in Hell. And so it kind of wigged her out. She's like, "I don't know what to do," so she talked to her mom and she said, "Mom, you know he's a great guy and I love him, but he doesn't believe in Heaven. He doesn't believe in Hell. What shall we do?" And my mom said, "I think we can work this out. I think between the two of us, we can convince him that both places are very real. When you get married," the mother said, "You convince him that Heaven is real, and I'll take care of convincing him that Hell is a real place." In fact, if I were the devil, one of my top priorities would be to try to convince you that Hell is not real. If I were the devil, one of my biggest plans, strategic attacks, would be to convince people that Hell is not a real place, or at the very, very least not to take Hell seriously. Because, if I could convince you that Hell is not real or it is not that bad, then two things would happen. Number one, unbelievers around the world would reject Christ easily, with no fear of God whatsoever, which honestly, happens every day, doesn't it? And number two, if I can convince you that Hell is not real, or convince you not to take it seriously, then you would be incredibly unmotivated to share your faith in Christ with other people; which, most people who call themselves believers really don't share their faith that often - leading to my argument that most of you don't believe or understand Hell. So, let's talk about it. A very complicated subject, there are a lot of things that are not real clear in scripture. There's a lot of ways we could go on our study. We are going to try to stay relatively high and get kind of a broad view of what the Bible says about Hell. So, let's start with the most basic and, probably, the most common question that people ask, and that is, "Why does Hell exist?" You know, and truthfully, it's kind of tough. You know, why would God, a loving God, allow a place, create a place like Hell in the first place? When you ask that, let me just say this. What it does is, it really shows some flaw in our understanding. It shows that we do not understand the holiness of God, and we don't understand the horror of sin. Let's talk about two Biblical reasons why Hell exists. The first one, if you are taking notes, is this. Hell exists for God to deal righteously with Satan. Hell exists for God to deal righteously with Satan and the demons. You see, a lot of people think that Satan is the ruler of Hell. They've got this picture, "Okay, if you die and you go to Hell, there's the devil. He's got his little, his little ear things. He's got his tail. He's got his pitchfork, and he's like, 'Ah, ha, ha, welcome to Hell [laughing]. Why are you here?' Okay, country music lovers, you go that way. Cat lovers, you know, you, you ... just joke ..." But, they think that he's like the, the ruler of the kingdom of Hell, but that's not the case. In fact, partially, the reason Hell exists is to punish him. The words of Jesus, Matthew 25:41. Jesus said, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for," whom? It's prepared for "the devil and his, his angels," which that, that's what we know as the demons. So, one of the reasons that Hell exists is a place for God to deal righteously with our spiritual enemy, the prince of darkness. Second reason that Hell exists is for God to deal righteously with unbelievers, and here is what scripture says very plainly. II Thessalonians 1:8-9 tells us that, "He will punish those who do not," what? Would you, all of our campuses, say it aloud, "Who do not know God and do not," what else? "And do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." Now, how will they be punished? Scripture says, "They will be punished with," what? "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and they will be shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." Very difficult stuff, but let, let's read a little bit more in scripture, and what we will do in most of the rest of our time is, we are going to look at a story that Jesus told. It had two main characters. The story is found in Luke 16, let's start in verse 19 and we'll meet the first player in this story. Scripture says, "There was a," what? The first character we will meet is, "There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and he lived in luxury every day." Press the pause button. Let's stop there and talk about this guy. Scripture says there was a rich guy. Now, we need to understand, he wasn't just regular rich. If you read this verse in the original Greek language, you are going to discover he was mega, mega rich. There, there's a phrase that said, "He lived in luxury every day." In the original language, this phrase could be very easily translated to say, "He ate the finest of fine foods every day," and the language implies it's like the best and most expensive food around. For example, if you think of your favorite most expensive restaurant, maybe the one you might go to every few years on your anniversary, or the place you might go on your birthday when someone else is buying, because it's so expensive, but you love it. This is what he ate every day. Not once a year, but every day. Scripture said that he was dressed in purple and fine linens. Now, just to wear any piece of clothing that was purple made you off-the-charts rich, because it had to be infused with a dye, and it was incredibly rare for anyone to have enough money to wear something that was purple. That was, that represented royalty. Also, he had this fine linen that was very expensive, so some people believe that a single outfit that he had could have very easily, more than fed one person for an entire year. Just an outfit, one outfit was worth enough that had he not bought one day's outfit, he could have easily fed someone for an entire year. So, we are talking lifestyles of the rich and famous, MTV's, the Crib ... I mean, this guy, he is, he's loaded. Okay? Let's meet the second character. We will find him in verse twenty. Scripture says, "At his gate was laid a," what? Scripture says, "A, a beggar named Lazarus". We got a rich guy and we've got a poor beggar, and poor Lazarus was covered with sores. So you got sores all over his body, and he was "longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table." Just give me the scraps. The Bible says, "Even the dogs came and licked his sores," which, admittedly, is entirely gross. Right? But the dog was, I mean, it was relieving the pain. Notice, there were no cats anywhere close helping out at all, only the dogs, helping prove my theology that dogs are good and cats are of the devil. But anyway, so, now, what do we know about the rich guys in this time? If you were way up there rich, this is what you'd do after you'd eat. Since you didn't have silverware, you'd eat fine food with, with your hands, and then your hands would be dirty. And if you were really rich, you'd actually take a loaf of bread, and you would use the bread to scrub the food off your hands, like this. And you'd take the other hand, and what happened is, the filthy crumbs would then fall onto the table or into a bowl, and your servant would come and take the filthy crumbs and then generously throw the filthy crumbs out to the dogs, or if there was a beggar, he would get the filthy crumbs. So, we know this rich guy wasn't a bad guy, probably a guy much like you or much like me, a decent guy, didn't have the beggar arrested. He didn't have him kicked off his property. He was generous enough to let him get the filthy leftovers, but he obviously did not know Christ, because he wasn't living out the Gospel. Because, like many of us, when you compare us with people in the rest of the world, he lived in luxury when there were people very close by in very great need, and he did absolutely nothing about it. What happened to these two men, the rich man and the poor man, when they died? Pick up the story in verse 22, "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side." So, the beggar goes to Abraham's side. Most people believe this is a place called Paradise. You remember when Jesus was on the cross. He said to one of the sinner, "You repented. You will be with me in Paradise." He was at Abraham's side. He was at a good place, but the rich man wasn't so lucky. Scripture says, "The rich man also died and he was buried." Verse 23 tells us where he was. Scripture says, where was he? He was, "In Hell," the Bible says, "where he was in torment". Now, the Greek word translated as Hell, here, is the word Hades. It's the word Hades, and we read in scripture later on that death and Hades will eventually be thrown into what is called the limpur, Greek for the, be thrown into the lake of fire. So apparently, this is a horrible place, and after the judgment, it will be thrown into the ultimate and eternal punishment called the lake of fire. So, here he was in Hell and he was in torment, and he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So, we've got the rich guy. He is in torment. If you read the whole story, there's this big chasm that he can't cross, they can't cross, the poor guy is on the other side. He's doing great, and the rich guy's over here, and he's utterly miserable. Verse 24, "So he calls out to him, 'Father Abraham, please, please, please." He's begging, "have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in," what? "I'm in, I'm in agony in this fire.' So obviously, we can't feel the emotion just by reading this, but you can just imagine what it's like. "Please, for the sake of God, just one finger in water. Dip it on my tongue, because I am, I am hurting like I can't describe." What do we know about Hell? We don't know a lot, but if you are taking notes, we know that Hell is a place of unspeakable suffering. It is a place of unspeakable suffering. Just a couple of different verses from the New Testament that will give us a little bit of insight. Matthew 5:29, the words of Jesus, and Jesus said this. He said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away, because it's better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be," what? "To be thrown into Hell." Now, it's easy just to read through that quickly and not really pause and think about it. Jesus said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, just, just gouge it out. Put your finger, and I want you to imagine doing this. You know, just dig it and just rip that puppy out. Okay? We're talking about eye juice dropping, you know, eye guts, whatever, blood rolling down your face. Just rip that out and throw it away, because that would be better than being punished for your sins. If that's not enough, He said, cut, "If your right arm causes you to sin, cut that off. Take a, take a saw and just saw it off, because that'd be nothing compared to your whole life being thrown into Hell." Okay? There's another verse that's found in Revelation 14:10-11, and this was an angel speaking about those who would worship the beast, and he said, "Those who worship the beast will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb." Verse 11, "And the smoke of their torment rises." What does scriptures say? "For ever and ever." The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, and there will be what? The Bible says, "There will be," you guys, all of our campuses, work with me. "There will be," what? "There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, for anyone who receives the mark in his name." What, what does the Bible say about Hell? It is called a fiery furnace. It's called a place of burning sulfur. It says in Hell there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It's a place described as the outer darkness. You see a lot of people say, "Well, if I am gong to go to Hell, at least there will be a lot of company there. You know. I'll hang out with my buddies. We'll drink some beer. We'll play some poker." Huh, uh, okay? There will be complete and total separation, isolation from God and from other people. In fact, how do you punish the worst of criminals? What do you do if you really want to punish them? You put them in solitary confinement. You isolate them, because that is just utter torture. So you can imagine this, physical pain. "Just give me a drop that lasts forever and ever and ever, and the louder and longer your scream for relief, the more you realize that there's not anybody ever coming. I know it's difficult and it's harsh, but this is very real, the way scripture describes this place. In fact, there is, there is a word or a place that is compared to or used to represent what Hell is like. I want to introduce you to that word. If you haven't heard it before, it's the word Gehenna. It's a word that's used in eleven different verses, thirteen different times in scripture, and it comes from the Valley of Hinnom, which was a place in the Old Testament that became known as Gehenna, and it means the place of everlasting punishment. Now, the Valley of Hinnom, this was a place, it was a big place where this fire always burned, and what happened is, there was some people who worshipped a false god known as Molech. He was the fire god, and let me tell you how you had to worship this false god. You were required to take your firstborn son, take your firstborn son and offer him to this false god by sacrificing your son in the fire. That's what you had to do. This place, the Valley of Hinnom, became known as Gehenna, which was a real place south of Jerusalem that became a huge garbage dump. And it was a place where the fire constantly burned. It never went out. People would take the bodies of dead criminals and throw them in this fire. They would take the bodies of dead animals and throw them in this fire. And they would take all of the garbage from the city and throw it in this fire, and the fire, it would be so much, it would never, ever burn out. Whenever the wind would shift and move toward the city, the smell was so horrible, it was said that often people wouldn't want to come out of their dwelling places, because it, it, it smelled just horrible. Gehenna, this place, where the fire never burns out, is compared to what Hell will be like. The rich guy was in a place of torment, a place the Bible calls Hades. He realized, as much as he begged, he was not going to get out. So all of a sudden, when he recognized he was there, his strategy drastically changed. Watch what he says in verse 27. He says to Father Abraham, he says, "I what," what did he say? He said, "I, I beg," and I want you to feel the emotion that would be behind this. "I, I am pleading, begging, throwing myself at your mercy. I'll do anything. I beg you, Father, send Lazarus, the poor guy, back to my father's house, for I have got five brothers." And you can just say, hear it, "I love these guys. I don't want them here." And he says, "Let Lazarus warn them so that they will not also come to this," what? "This, this horrible place of torment." What do we know about this rich guy? He believed in Hell. He was there. His life, at that moment, reflected a very sincere belief in Hell, and most of ours does not. It doesn't. It doesn't, because if we really believed in the rewards of Heaven that we talked about last week, and the reality of Hell, if we really believed, if we really believed, not just hear, but hear, then I don't know about you, but my life would be dramatically different. That's hard to admit, but if I'm really, really honest, man, that is just the gut level truth. If I, if I really believed right here, man, my life would look dramatically different than it does. So, what, what do we see this story? I've pulled out four lessons that we can learn from the other side. The first one is this. We need to acknowledge, the rich man was fully conscience. In Hades, he was fully conscience. His memory was active. He was aware of the pain. He wasn't in some kind of soul sleep. He wasn't just, "Oh, this isn't ..." He was conscience, and he was hurting. Second is that his eternal destiny was irrevocable to be fixed. He couldn't buy his way out. He couldn't beg his way out. He couldn't work his way out. It was done. His eternal destiny was settled on earth, and on the other side, there, there was not way out. The third thing, and, and I am drawing this as my conclusion is, he knew what he was experiencing was just. Notice, he complained about the pain, but he never complained about the injustice. He didn't say, "This isn't fair! Nobody told me!" He complained about the pain, but he never complained about the injustice. And then, the fourth thing that we see from this guy is this. He pleaded for someone to help his loved ones know Jesus. "Somebody, please." You see, this guy really believed, and really understand the reality and the horror of Hell, and I would say that most of us don't. Most of us don't. Think, think of it this way. If, if I were Satan, I would try to convince you that it's not that big of a deal, because if I could, two things would happen. Number one, people around the world would easily reject Christ with no fear of God whatsoever. What do we see now, all of the time? We see that happening, don't we? I mean, think about it. All over the world, it's nothing to take God's name in vain, nothing at all. You pay good money every day to go be entertained by people who take God's name in vain, and you don't think anything of it, taking the name of Jesus in vain. I mean, the name of Jesus has become a curse word, and many of you use it regularly. People around the world, no fear of God, whatsoever. People, who call themselves believers, read this. "Screw it. I'm not doing that. Forget, I mean, Yeah, I want Jesus to save me, but I don't want to do that." Believers are typically less generous than non-believers. How can anyone reconcile that? Three percent of those who call themselves Christians in our country tithe. Three percent. Three percent. Ninety-seven percent say, "I, I, I don't want to do that." There, there's no real sense of Biblical stewardship that we are responsible to help people who are in need. I mean, you look at, you look at our lives. I look at my life, and I go, "There is just too much worldliness." I mean, I try not to be, and then I'm, I'm not for like thirty minutes. I slip back into this, this, this sickening worldliness. Sickening. Sickening. And I know that my treasure is supposed to be in Heaven, but if you looked at my life, you would say, "Well, it looks like it is on earth," and I know that is true for a lot of you. I know it is true. Second, if I was the devil and could convince you that, that, that Hell's not a big deal, you wouldn't share your faith. And those of you who are Christians, most of you don't. You don't. Some of you, you've got a mom or a dad who's not a believer, or a brother or a sister, or a son or a daughter, or a best friend or someone that you work with, or someone you see every week at the gym, or someone you went to school with, and you haven't prayed for them in over a year, not even praying for them. You haven't talked to them about the love of Jesus, or really show it, because you don't look much different than people who don't believe Jesus. In fact, some of them look better than you, which is why I would say that most of us really don't believe, and I am going to put myself right there in the middle of them, because I tell you that I believe here, but if I really believed here, then my life would look dramatically different. And it must. It's got to. I, I can't I don't want to lead a church that just is self-centered. I, I, I don't want to do it for the next twenty, thirty years. I just beg some of you to step across the line and say, "We're going to die to ourselves and live for Christ." I'd plead with you, because everything else is going to burn up in the end. Plead with you. Charles Peace was a, a big criminal, murderer, who finally got convicted for his crimes in the 1800s in England, and the day he was scheduled to be hanged, he was visited by a chaplain, who went through the typical chaplain spill, which is, you know, "You need to know Jesus, and you know, you go to Heaven. If you don't, you go to Hell," and the chaplain was going through this deal, and Charles Peace, who was moments away from dying said, "Excuse me. Do you believe that?" And the chaplain was like, "Well, uh, yeah, I think so." And, he was like, "Wait. Wait. You're telling me that I'll go to Hell, and Hell is a real ... Do you, do you really believe in Hell?" And the chaplain said, "Well, well, I think so," and I want to read you, and I put this in your notes for you, what Charles Peace said. I think this is profound. He said, "Sir, I do not share your faith, but if I did, if I believe what you say you believe, then although England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and the breadth of it on hand and knee, and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal Hell of which you speak. If I believed in this place as you say, my life would reflect it." Let me tell you, you want me to tell you what freaks you out? Freaks me out? As I read and studied this this week? When I read about who Jesus was warning about Hell in the New Testament, when I read about who Jesus was warning about Hell, let me tell you who he wasn't talking to. He didn't talk to the tax collectors, who were known as the worst sinners. He didn't talk to the drunks, didn't talk to the prostitutes. Do you know who Jesus talked to? The religious folks, the Pharisees. That's who He warned. Those who claimed faith, but didn't live it, and that is very sobering to me. Either we believe it, or we don't, and if we do, our lives should be dramatically different. "Oh, God, I pray that You would move us all deeply. God, for those who know You, I pray that we would be stirred deeply, and for those who don't, I pray that we would be drawn near, and that today we would meet You." All of our campuses today, some of you, you are going to recognize right now that you're probably not taking this whole deal seriously. That you look at your life and it, it appears to be more earthly than more Heavenly, that your priorities are really not those of eternal ones, that most of what you do would probably burn up in the end, anyway. And you say, like I would, "God, have mercy on me. Forgive me, and give me an eternal prospective." If that's you today at all of our campuses, would you just humbly and repentably lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up. Ah, praise God for you taking this seriously. Those of you who would say, "You know what? I've got friends or people that I love that are far from God, and I want to pray for them today. I want to make a difference in their lives." Would you lift up your hands right now? Just all over, all of the campuses. "God, I pray, first for those who may be like me, maybe recognize that there is more to this life than what I am living, and God, we ask that You would help us to set our minds on things above, that You would give us a true eternal perspective. And God, that when we really, really believe in the rewards of Heaven and the horrors of Hell, God, that our lives would be different. And God, we pray for those that You've put around us, who are far from You. We pray that Your Holy Spirit would draw them close to You. We pray that You would put people in their lives that could be an example and show them the love of Jesus. We pray, God, that You would use us. God, give us those divine opportunities to reach out, not just in word, but also in actions, to show the very real and life-changing love of Your Son, Jesus. And God, for those who are far from You right now, may You draw them close." All of our campuses, as you pray today, some of you, you are going to recognize, "You know what? I mean, just being, being in church is kind of an unusual deal for you. And you might look at your life and say, "I, I have not been close to God, but for some reason, I am feeling drawn to Him right now." Let me tell you what that is. That is the Spirit of God, and He is working in you. That is what He is doing. And what He wants more than anything else is to show you His love. God loves you and He does not want anyone to go to Hell. He, scripture says he is patient, and He wants everyone to come to repentance. He wants you to come to a knowledge of His goodness. He is reaching out to you. He sent His Son, Jesus, who, who became sin for us on a cross and died, and rose again so that anyone, and that includes you, who calls out on His name will be saved, will be forgiven, will be eternally changed. There are those of you, that's why you are here. That's why He brought you here today. You can sense it. Today is your moment. There are others of you, you, uh, you might have been around the church quite a bit, but you're recognizing you may have a little more head knowledge than you do heart knowledge, that your life doesn't reflect the love of the Gospel in any real and tangible way. And today, you may come to the reality of the point, "I need to fully surrender to Him. Jesus, Jesus, take my whole life. Not just a kind of pseudo, consumeristic Christianity, but a full-blown, die-to-myself, follow You, a fully devoted disciple of Jesus. Would You forgive me. Would You change me?" Those of you who would say, "You know, I'm far from Him today. I want to be near. Take me. Take me. I surrender. I give it all to You." As you do, your life will never, ever be the same. At all of our campuses, those of you who say, "Yes, I surrender to You. Make me new. Forgive me of my sins. Jesus, be first in every way." All of our locations, that's you today, lift your hands right now and just say, "Yes, I surrender to Him." Just lift them up, and I just want to meet you eye-to-eye. Back here in the middle section. Right back there, ma'am, and right back here in this section, sir. Both of you together, praise God for you guys. Others of you saying, "That's, that's my prayer". Right over there, sweetheart. Thank you so much. Other ... let me just meet you eye-to-eye right back here in this back section. Others of you, right over here, ma'am. Right back over there in this middle section. Others of you, as you call on His name. "Jesus, transform me. Save me. I surrender to You. Be the Lord of my life." Others of you today saying, "That's my prayer." Let's pray with those around you, while you just pray aloud as the family of God. All of our voices together. "Heavenly Father, save me from my sins. Forgive me and make me brand new. Jesus, be the Lord of my life in every way. Fill me with Your Spirit, so I could follow You. May my treasures be in Heaven, and not on earth. Thank you for new life, now take all of mine. It's Yours forever. In Jesus' name I pray." All of our campuses, would you explode with worship? Would you honor God? Would you tell Him that you love Him? Would you welcome those today, who found life in Christ?

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Duration: 34 minutes and 29 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jun 29, 2010

SYDNW Week 2

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