I told you that I don’t believe that fear is our best motivator.
I believe it is Joy.
We do things that make us happy.
No one sins out of a sense of duty.
No one wakes up in the morning and says “I really don’t want to sin to day, but I guess I have to” … no…we sin because we want to.
Same thing with righteous acts…we do them because we want to…they bring us joy!…and certainly a deeper and more abiding joy and any satisfaction we might get from sinning.
That’s why Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year”.
By and large, everyone is living out in some way what Jesus said when he said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.
it brings joy!
Joy is a powerful motivator.
Thankfulness, gratitude…those come from joy, and in heaven, there will be fullness of joy, which means there will be abundant thankfulness and abundant gratitude, and I think those are the best motivators…not fear.
But even as I say that, I recognize that it is difficult to be thankful for something…to truly appreciate something if you don’t have a clear picture of the alternative.
So, as we are in a series on Heaven, our blessed hoe, it is prudent that we consider Heaven’s opposite....Hell.
I have some statistics for you.
As of 2014, Pew research identified that only 58% of adults in America believe in a Hell of some kind.
Now, their ideas were kind of all over the place as what what Hell was actually like.
Some said it was just a state of “non-existence”, others said it was just being absent from the presence of God.
Some believed in an actual place of real torment, and the list goes on.
Another interesting fact is that of the people who said they do believe in Hell, only 46% of them actually read their bibles at least once per week.
Which tells me that though they SAY they believe in Hell, they surely don’t ACT like thy do.
Even more interesting is that 72% of adults in America believe in Heaven…and about 2/3 of them think they are going there when they die.
The rest just don’t know.
I don’t know about you, but those numbers amaze me…especially given what Jesus said about the few that will find the path to life.
Few there be that find it.
So, I would say that many of the 2/3 of Americans who believe they’re going to heaven, are deceived or delusional.
Many will say “lord lord” but they never really knew him.
You would be amazed at the number of self-professing Christians who also believe in re-incarnation, or that you can communicate with the dead.
The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way out of Hell.
and I worded it that way for a reason… the only way OUT of Hell because Hell is exactly where we are going if we aren’t radically transformed by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
Hell is our DEFAULT Destination.
That’s what’s loaded in the GPS co-ordinates of our lives from the get go.
Without a Divine Course Correction, we are headed straight for destruction.
Listen to what God has to say about the matter.
I’ve got a lot of text, and I’m going to burn through it so bear with me.
then he repeats himself.
Anytime God says something more than ONCE…you better pay extra special super duper attention.
And gain in the New Testament.
Moved by the God, theHoly Spirit to write these words, the Apostle Paul to say in Romans 3:10-12
So everyone is guilty of SIN…EVERYONE EVERY PERSON.
And all sin is utterly damning before God
In Habakkuk, the prophet is addressing his grievances toward God.
Basically, he’s calling out to God for justice, and he is basing that on God’s on attributes of holiness.
He has noticed that it seems like in this life that the crooked and wicked are the ones that seem to get ahead, and he calls out to God, appealing to his holiness and he says God, you are too pure to even look upon evil…you are too righteous to even tolerate sin…why are these people getting away with this?
What the prophet fails to see here is that they won’t ultimately get away with it.
There will be a day of judgement and and an eternal destruction for the wicked.
Those and ONLY THOSE who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ by the Grace of God will be able to enter into the New Jerusalem…which is heaven.
Everyone else…absent that work of grace mixed with faith is bound for Hell.
Death and fire forever
Death and Fire and Punishment forever....this is our default destination.
Because we are all guilty…all sinners…all unrighteous.
Hell is where we will be if we have not put our hope and our joy in Jesus Christ.
42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed,
How do the living enter into life?
He’s talking about the afterlife…passing from THIS life through death, and into LIFE…the resurrection of the dead.
Remember from last week…everyone is resurrected in the last day…every soul who has ever lived on this earth.
From those who lived for over 100 years to the ones that didn’t live long enough to even draw their first breath.
From those who lived righteous, Godly, Seriously joyful lives, to those who lived wicked, perverse, utterly evil lives, and everyone in between.
Everyone will be raised from the grave in the last day....some are raised to life…some to death and destruction.
And Jesus is saying here that it is better for you to be raised into life crippled…maimed…than it is to have use of your whole body but still go to hell.
it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell,
and how does he define hell?
into the fire that never shall be quenched:
so hell is never ending … always burning … for ever and ever fire.
but that’s not all
44 Where …that’s in Hell… where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
an undying worm, and an unquenched fire....this is a fire that burns hot and never lets up.
You know, you light a camp fire, and eventually, it burns out and begins to smolder.
This is not a smolder…this is a roaring, blazing, white-hot inferno…unquenched fire.
Jesus emphasizes this point by using the same language…the same description 3 times in the same conversation…one right after another.
In verse 43 he said it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
and again in verse 45
45 ... it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
and again in verse 47
47 ... it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Well, brother Jeff, “Is it really a literal fire or is it just figurative language?”
- would it matter?
If my flesh is literally on fire, it will cause me great, unimaginable pain and torment.
If my flesh isn’t literally on fire, but it feels like it is on fire…same great unimaginable pain and torment.
So even if … and i’m not saying it is .... i’m just answering those who would try to downplay the language and say, “Yeah, but it’s not a literal fire…it’s just figurative language”.
Well…if that is indeed the case, the figurative language is bad enough to make me know that I don’t want to experience THAT.
I remember the images on September 11, 2001 when evil men flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
There were people who were trapped in the floors above the fires…the heat was so unbearable that the only escape they could find was to jump out of the window over 100 stories up which they knew would end in certain death.
The windows don’t open that high up…they’re not designed to open.
So to get out, they would have had to break the window first.
This is calculated.
I just want you to see the picture.
At least 200 people died that day from jumping out of the windows…making the choice that falling 100 floors to their deaths was better … more relief…more bearable than the suffocating heat they were currently feeling…and better than the agonizing pain that awaited them of actually … literally being on fire.
See they weren’t on fire YET…and it was so bad that they chose a less painful…quicker way to die.
They couldn’t stand the thought of that kind of suffering.
You won’t get that choice in Hell.
The fire is unquenched.
And look at the language about the worm.
The worm does not die.
This is vivid.
You’ve got to wrap your mind around this.
We need to look at Isaiah 66:22-24 because Jesus is quoting Isaiah when he gives this description of Hell