INTERVIEW WITH THE DEVIL
September 1, 2013
The reality of hell is frightening. Its existence is evidence that there is evil in our world. It also serves as a reminder that there are serious consequences for our decisions. But hell can serve another key role in our lives as well.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young shows us that there are some powerful lessons we can from the most depressing and desolate place there is. And when we take these lessons from hell, we can actually discover the most out of life on earth!
Welcome to Fellowship Church. How are you doing? Pardon me, I’m gonna have just a little bit of espresso. You know I’ve had this espresso cup, I think I’ve had this thing for like 15 years. I love it. It has espresso on it too. I did a series one time called Espresso Yourself. You remember that? Anybody remember that series? A few. Pardon me, I’m gonna take just a little sip of espresso because I’m tired. Really tired. You guys tired? No, OK, well I am. Mmmm! It’s not expresso, it’s espresso. Did you know that? For years I said, “I want some expresso.” No, espresso. Say it with me, espresso. Yeah. Mmmm. Speaking of coffee, the best coffee in the world is in Miami. Let me tell you why. You guys ever go to Four-bucks? Starbucks. I mean I love Starbucks but every time you’re there you’re gonna spend four or five bucks. In Miami you go to walk up, it’s like 50 cents! 50 cent! And the coffee is like a dessert. It has this milk and the sugar and they use Bustelo or, what’s the other coffee they use there? Café Bustelo.. something else. But it’s good! Oh, it’s whoo-yeah! I don’t know why I started talking about coffee.
Let me welcome all of our campuses today. We’re one church in many, many different locations. There’s the red light on the camera. What’s up? All of our locations in Columbia, South Carolina, Midtown Miami, South Miami, Plano, Downtown Dallas, right here in gorgeous Grapevine, Keller/Southlake, Fort Worth, soon to be London, England, and next week, University Park, Dallas. Yeah. OK, now I feel good. I can feel the espresso pulsating through my veins. We’re ready. You ready? You ready to talk about something?
We’re gonna talk about something really unique today. How many people in here like to watch reality television? That’s the rave these days, reality television. Anybody like Duck Dynasty? Real Housewives? Oh, you’re lying to me. Honey BooBoo? We love reality stuff. The mantra of our day is ‘let’s keep it real.’ We like to keep it real. I’ve had the opportunity to do some reading about reality television. In fact, we have several staff members how have been a part of some of the major reality shows and they’ve told me something, and I’ve learned that reality isn’t that real. A lot of the stuff we see on television is contrived. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s set up. I know that’s a shocker but reality isn’t that real. Could it be that we on one hand say we like reality but on the other we’re really hesitant to be truly real?
Whenever you think about someone who kept it real, and who keeps it real, I think one has to think about Jesus. Because Jesus talked about life in a real and raw fashion. One of the biggest perversions of modern Christianity is that the Lord can only be understood by his grace and mercy. We like to put these cool little sweet scripture verses on coffee mugs or over our kitchen sink. God is love. This is a place of grace, and all the warm and fuzzy scripture verses. But we don’t like to put verses, for example, like when Jesus said, “Many will say to me (when they die), ‘Lord, Lord, I did this and I did that in your name,’ and I will say, ‘Depart from me. I never knew you.’” I’ve never seen that verse on a coffee mug or over someone’s sink. I mean, that’s a pretty hard saying of Jesus. So on one hand, yeah, we want to talk about the reality of grace and mercy but we don’t want to talk about the fact that God a holy God, he’s a righteous God, and that he is a God who gives us a free will. And because we have a free will there is a Heaven and because we have a free will there is a Hell.
We love to talk about Heaven. Heaven is an amazing place. I think one of the reasons that we don’t know more about Heaven is the fact that if we knew more about it, we would be taking our lives to get there! That’s how awesome it is! So we don’t know everything about Heaven. We know just enough.
Then when it talks about Hell, when the Bible talks about Hell, we know just enough to scare the Hell out of it. Because Jesus talked a lot about Hell and we don’t really talk about Hell. We’ve streamlined Heaven and air-conditioned Hell. Hell is not really a popular subject. Yeah, we like to say it in our vocabulary. Hell, yes. What in the Hell are you thinking? Well, Hell, I don’t know. Rarely does someone say, what in the Heaven are you doing? Heaven. We don’t say that. Heaven, yes! No, we don’t say that. It’s all about Hell.
The Bible says something that is stunning, and when you think about it, it’s so right. God has set eternity in our hearts. All of us have a longing for the hereafter, have you ever thought about that? For the ever after. Read children’s books. “… and they lived happily ever after.” We’re made for a happily ever after. Oh, I like a movie with a good ending, don’t you? We’re made for that.
Why do we think about the other side? Why are we so infatuated with living forever and ever and ever? Because life, I believe, is like the first lap around the track. It’s just the introduction of this book that lasts forever and ever and ever. And forever is a long, long time. So what we do on this side of the grave determines where we will spend eternity. Jesus, I’ll say it again, talked a lot about Heaven but he even talked more about Hell. Jesus talked about Hell more than he talked about prayer. I’m talking about Jesus!
So I though today we would do something kind of paradoxical. I thought we would spend some time, and I want to spend some time uploading some stuff from Hell, learning from Hell. Maybe some lessons from Hell, like a giant app session from Hell. What can we learn from Hell?
Now I know many of you are like, “Well, I don’t even believe in Hell.” Well, it doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not. Jesus talked about it a lot. He said it’s a real place. And we’re gonna talk about the reality of Hell. Say it with me, the reality of Hell. It’s not just smoke and mirrors, it’s not just a façade, it’s not just some word that sounds ferocious. Jesus said, and the Bible said, it’s a place. It is a place. And it’s a place because we have a freedom of choice. I’ll say it. God does not hurl anybody to Hell. Whenever you hear someone say, “Well, I don’t want to hear about a God who slam dunks people to Hell.” When someone tells that they’re advertising their ignorance.
Hell, primarily, was not designed for humans. If you go to Hell you will go as an intruder. Hell was designed for the devil and the demons. I’ll say it again. Hell was not designed for human habitation. Hell was designed for the devil and the demons. However, when we choose to sin, we’re all natural born sinners. We understand that there was a war that went on back in the Heavenlies. Lucifer, who is now Satan, tried to usurp God, to kick God off the throne, and take the throne. It didn’t work. He was tossed out of Heaven, went to earth, a third of the angels went with him. Some were thrown into Hell, the others now are the realm of the demonic. The devil came in, tempted man, man dropped the ball. Man sinned. We, thus, have this sin nature from Adam and Eve. Thus we’re separated and alienated from God because of our sin. No one taught you or me how to sin, we just know how to do it. Sin separates us from God. So one bad move, one impure thought, one cross word, we’re separated from God.
God, though, did something. God sent Jesus Christ to live a sinless life, die a sacrificial death, to rise again. Thereby, giving us the opportunity to put Jesus on the throne of our lives. I said this last week. It’s like driving a car. You know they have that seat memory, a lot of cars? You push buttons <seat sound effects), and you get it just right just for you. Well when you try to sit in a seat that’s not been <sound effects> just right for you, I mean, it’s hard to even drive the car. That’s what I’m like if I try to drive the car when Lisa has her seat memory just for her. I can’t really drive it. Because she drives with the steering wheel like up here. Well, that’s precisely what happens when you try to run the show, when I try to run the show. We’re not made to run the show.
The throne is not designed for you or for me, it’s designed for Jesus. We have these throne issues and once we give Jesus the throne, the tissue of the issue is Lordship, and then we discover what life is all about. That’s what happens.
The reason our planet is so screwed up, the reason everything is broken, government is broken, cars are broken, seats in cars are broken, families are broken, marriages are broke, everywhere you turn nothing works. Nothing works! Why is that? Ultimately, sin. We chose to rebel against God. When I’m born, when you’re born, we’re born with a reservation in Hell.
But here’s the good news. One we give the throne of our lives to Jesus the reservation in Hell is canceled and we have a reservation in Heaven forever and ever. That’d be a great place to clap. That’s cool, that’s cool. So I don’t deserve what God did for me through Jesus, but I’ve gotta look, I’ve gotta take a hard look at Hell. But here’s what Jesus talked about. Jesus kinda lifted the veil over Hell and he said, OK, here is the 4-1-1 on Hell.
We need to understand in Luke 16, Jesus told the story about Hell. A rich guy, this guy was banking, a high roller, then another guy who had leprosy. His best friends were the dogs – it’s kinda gross, but this is keeping it real – who licked the sores on this guy’s body. So the poor guy, Lazarus, went to Heaven and the rich guy, the high roller, went to Hell. And Jesus talks about the conversation from Heaven and Hell, from Hell to Heaven, and talks about the reality of Hell. BUT! Before we talk about the reality of Hell, let me say this, we have to understand the context of this text. Because a verse, a text, out of context can become a pretext.
Jesus had just told the story in Luke 15 of three things that were lost and once they were found it was like, whooo, man! A par-tay <bass rap sound effect> went on when those things that were lost were found. A lost sheep <baaa!> a lost coin, and a lost son. When they were found… party time. Par-tay time. Jesus also was on his way to the cross when he told this story about Heaven and Hell. He was on his way to die on the cross for your sins and mine, to rise again, thereby giving us an opportunity to give the throne of our lives to Jesus. So that’s the context.
See, here’s the danger about taking Scripture verses out of context. I know the Bible pretty well. I’ve done my master’s work, some doctrinal work, and I could give you some Scriptures right now to tell everybody in this room, “Guess what, it’s God’s will for you to become a squillionnaire.” I said it, and you’d be like, “I didn’t know that! You mean God wants me to be rich?” “He sure does. I’ll give you the Scripture verses.”
Here’s the problem: those verses would be out of context. A text out of context is a pretext. That’s not God’s will, for everybody to be rich. No. Obviously God blesses some people financially, we know that. It’s not a sin to be rich but for everybody to be rich? Are you kidding me? But sometimes you look around and you’re like,
“Man, I like that! That guy’s telling me/that girl’s telling me that I can be rich and, wow, I’m gonna go for that!” It’s out of context. I could also do this. I could say, “It’s God’s purpose for everyone here to be healed. If you’re not healed you are swimming against the current of what God wants you to do and where God wants you to be. Everybody should be healed. And I will give you these verses and everybody should be healed. And if you’re not healed I’m telling you something is messed up in your life! You need your miracle!” It sounds good. You’ll sell some books, pack out some stadiums, but it’s out of context. It’s not God’s will for everyone to be healed.
Think about the Apostle Paul. He had a thorn in the flesh. Three times he prayed “God, heal me, heal me, heal me.” Didn’t happen. Everybody dies. I just checked the states before I walked out. One out of one dies. If it was God’s will for everyone to be healed we would never die. What?
Or I could do something else. I can go, “OK, I will take some text out of context. Everybody should sell everything they have and go to the mission field. Jesus didn’t have much and he told the rich young ruler to sell everything and it’s God’s plan for you, my friend, to go to the mission field. If you’re not you’re being disobedient to god. There are books out there that are very popular, idealistic. Problem: Text out of context is a pretext. When did Jesus ever ask someone to sell everything? One time, the rich young ruler. One time. He met all these people and never asked them to do it. Where in the Bible does it say that everybody should go into the mission field? It doesn’t. Our mission field is right where we live.
Now, he challenges some people to go to the mission field but I always want to say, why should I fly over one mission field to get to another one?
Anyway, let me get back to the story. I don’t want to be too convicting here. So, Jesus talked about Heaven and Hell, what’s why we’re here, right? Heaven and Hell. He told the story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man, he had everything going. He was a high-roller. He was like a righteous, cool guy. Knew just enough religion to be dangerous, like a lot of people in our culture today who have just enough Christianity not to catch the real disease. He kinda knew the verbiage, kinda knew the Scriptures a little bit but never really did anything about it.
Lazarus, on the other hand, had a relationship with God. So, Jesus tells the story. Lazarus dies first and quickly, in a nanosecond, he’s in Heaven right by Father Abraham. (By the way, Abraham, if he lived today, would be a multibillionaire. He is one of the fathers of the faith.) He’s with Abraham and then obviously it didn’t get this high-roller’s attention that Lazarus died so the high-roller dies. He goes to Hell. So he’s in Hell, in torment. And he discovers the reality of Hell.
Death is the great equalizer, isn’t it? Everyone dies. When we die we’re gonna spend eternity in one of two places. But now let’s pick up this conversation between Heaven and Hell. Luke 16:23. Again, let’s talk about the reality of Hell. Hell is a real place. Well how do you know? Let’s check it out. Here’s what Jesus said. “In Hell (that’s where the high-roller is) when he was in torment he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.” Once again, the context. Jesus is going to his death. He’s talking about death. He’s talking about eternity. He saw, he SAW Lazarus, this man of faith who was poor on planet earth. Now, of course, he’s in Heaven, he saw him from Hell. A vision. Isn’t it interesting? We can get vision, we can learn vision from people in Hell. That’s something I can upload, the reality of Hell. The people in Hell here can see the people in Heaven. Can you imagine your spouse being in Heaven and you’re in Hell. Can you imagine seeing that? Can you imagine seeing your kids in Heaven yet you in Hell are seeing them forever and ever and ever? Can you imagine seeing people that you know in your life who are in Heaven, yet you have chosen Hell? Because Hell is a choice. God doesn’t force anyone there. It’s God’s plan for all of us to go to Heaven but when he made you and me he made us with the freedom of choice. Love, true love, is all about choice. So he made a place, Hell, where he is not. And Hell is a place, Jesus said, of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is a forever feeling of regret and remorse. People in Hell have vision. Do you have vision? Do you have vision for eternity? Because you’ve never locked eyes with someone who is not gonna live forever. And this rich man saw his entire life before his eyes. He saw every opportunity he had to make a faith decision, yet he tabled it. He stiff-armed it.
We have thousands upon thousands of people who are at Fellowship Church right now at our many different campuses, and statistics would show (I don’t say this to scare you), statistics would show that some of you will spend eternity in Hell. In Hell there’s no Alzheimer’s disease. In Hell there’s no dementia. In Hell you will remember every word that I have uttered today. Because I’m gonna give you an opportunity to become a follower of Christ. I’m gonna give you an opportunity in a little while to give the throne of your life to Jesus. But I know some of you will not make the decision. I know it. I don’t like to say it but I know it. And as you go to Hell you will go as an intruder, but you will remember the words of this sermon better than I can remember them. You will remember every time someone tried to share the good news of Jesus with you. You will remember every time someone maybe handed you a pamphlet or pointed you to maybe a Bible study or whatever. You’ll remember when you said, “No, no. I will keep God at a distance.” And basically at the end of your life we get a greater measure of what we desired on planet earth. If you kept God at a distance, you stiff-armed him, you did the Heisman with God on earth, you’ll get a greater measure of that in eternity. It’s a place called Hell.
“Well, Ed, I don’t mind going to Hell because I can party with my friends in Hell!” Hey, even if your friends are there you won’t know it! It’s a place of isolation, loneliness, darkness. Hell is a place you can do anything and everything you’ve always wanted to do… alone. Alone. Real people go to Hell. It was one of Christ’s main subjects that he talked about, the reality of Hell.
So not only did this man see his life before his eyes, he also saw people. People that he was close to, in Heaven. Can you imagine that feeling? Hell was a place of choice. The reality of Hell. That’s something we can upload. That should motivate every believer here. Hell is real. I mean, this is real.
Another thing that we can upload, the agony of it. The discomfort of it. It’s funny, when you go to a doctor. If a doctor says, “This will be a little bit uncomfortable.” You know what that means? AAAAHHHH!!! You have to just grit your teeth for a little bit. That means it’s gonna be so intense you might faint. Well, the agony of hell…
“So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham (this is from Hell to Heaven now), have pity on me (it’s all about me). Send Lazarus (old Lazarus, leprosy-ridden Lazarus) to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. Because I’m in agony (there’s the word again) in this fire.’”
I don’t know everything about this but obviously we will have these spiritual bodies that will have senses. There you have a finger and a tongue and wow. What can we learn from this? There’s agony, there’s discomfort. Hell is uncomfortable. What can we learn from this? As a believer we should be uncomfortable. We should always live as a follower of Christ with a low level of discomfort. We want to be comforted by Christ but uncomfortable for him.
We want Fellowship Church to be comfortably uncomfortable. Comfortable for those who are seeking, who are kicking tires and testing the waters, uncomfortable for those of us who are followers of Christ. Why should we be uncomfortable? Be we realize hell is real and it’s agony. It’s a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Gnashing of teeth.
It’s like, this is kind of a weak example, but you’re playing golf. You’re on the 18th green and if you sink the putt, you win! AAAahhh!! I pushed it to the right! That’s gnashing of teeth. Mmmm! Gnashing of teeth.
“Oh, I know, man. I think I got all of those answers right on the exam.” You get the exam back… what?!? I missed four!?? Mmm-hhmmm… I knew…” Gnashing of teeth. Well that’s just a little gnashing of teeth. It’s the forever feeling that you had an opportunity to know Christ, to give him the throne of your life, but you didn’t do it.
There’s weeping in Hell. When was the last time, I’m talking to followers of Christ, that you shed tears over your neighbor? That you shed tears over family members? That you shed tears over people here that show up each and every week who are facing Hell? When was the last time?
Hell is a place that has tears. Hell is a place of prayer. This guy is praying. Sometimes I think it’s so important for those of us who are followers of Christ to pray but pray in a unique way. Pray for every person you see. Now and then just take a day and pray for every person you see. Every person you pass, every person you lock eyes with. The person at the club, the person in the workout room, the person in the coffee shop, the person walking down the street of your neighborhood, the person in your apartment complex. Just a couple of days ago I was doing this exercise and I was outside having lunch and I saw this couple just cruise past me and they were pushing the baby stroller. And the baby just kinda looked up at me. And I thought, I’m gonna pray for him! “Lord, I pray when he’s old enough that he becomes a follower of you.” What would happen as you’re walking into school tomorrow if you just prayed for everyone you saw? The teacher, the principal, the coach, your friends, that bully. What would happen? What would happen, you’re driving down the freeway and you see people on billboards or people on … everybody you see, prayer. Because the stakes are sky high. We’re talking about eternity here. Heaven or Hell.
At Fellowship Church we want to populate Heaven and depopulate Hell. That’s what we’re about. Jesus said when he began his ministry he talked about what? Reaching people. Right before he ascended after his death, burial, and resurrection, what did he say? Reach people! Not to sin but to bring as many people as possible to a faith in Jesus Christ. The agony of Hell. It’s real, it’s horrendous.
Also, the concern of Hell. The concern. There’s a concern in Hell. What does the rich guy go now? He’s like, “All right, send Lazarus back, Abraham, from the dead. Send him back from Heaven and let him warn my five brothers who are not really righteous. They don’t really follow the Lord. At least he can warn them.” Oh now he’s becoming an evangelist. A hell of an evangelist. Theologically speaking, Biblically speaking. And I hope this message scares the Hell out of some of you. I really do. It should. It should. And you should respond with a heavenly choice, and that’s a little while, though.
Luke 16:27-28, “I beg you father, send Lazarus to my father’s house where I have five brothers. He can warn them so they will not come to this place of torment.” What do you think people in Hell are thinking about you and me, and especially those here who are not followers of Christ? What do you think the people in Hell are thinking about of those here who are still sitting on the throne of their lives, trying to drive this thing? What do you think they’re thinking? What do you think they’re praying? What do you think their attitude is about eternity?
“Yeah, but I’ve got some doubt.” They’re like, “You’re gonna let a little bit of doubt?…”
“Yeah, but I took this biology course and this professor seemed to be really smart.” You think they’re worried about that?
“Well, I’m just not sure…” What do you think they’re thinking? What are they praying? They’re praying for you. Make this choice. Like those of us who are believers are praying for you. We’re in the same boat but many here have made the decision to give the throne of their lives to Jesus. My reservations in that hellacious hotel were canceled years ago. I have reservations now in Heaven. Many people here do. How about you?
“I beg you. Send Lazarus to my father’s house. I have five brothers.” Man, now, he’s really, really into reaching out. You know, at Fellowship we’re into reaching out. We really are. I sometimes wonder. You know, I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades. It’s amazing. It’s something you’re called to. I call church work brutiful. There is a beautiful side to it. I have court-side seats and a backstage pass to life change like no one. It’s awesome. You have to be called to it, to do. I’m just talking about me, what I do. Also it is brutal. Absolutely brutal. The disappointment, the betrayal, the spiritual warfare, the attack, there’s nothing like it. Talk to anybody who’s a pastor and if they open up they’ll tell you that.
So I think, man, why do I do what I do? I could be doing something else. I have to spend 20 hours a week just studying for these messages. You know, it cost millions and millions and millions of dollars just for technology. Millions! I don’t even want to know how much it costs. These cameras, the air conditioning, the parking. Have you ever thought about that? The security we have, police, our camp at Allaso, a thousand acres in East Texas. Forty million dollars we spent. That’s a lot of money. Wow. New campus in London? You think that just happened? We just bought a church in Keller/Southlake for about $5 million. We didn’t have the money. It’s not paid for yet. How about this new campus we’re opening in University Park? What do you think it costs to rent that theatre? You think you just go, OK, here. Here you go. Go ahead. Buying a building in downtown Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth? You think this just happens? Man, why do I do this? There’s a lot of stuff I can do. Man, I’ve written 14 books. I could travel around and just write books and probably get a good bit of money just for speaking. I could do that. Why am I doing this, man?
Is there a Hell?
Wait a minute. Did you hear me? Is there a Hell? Why do we write children’s curriculum? Why do we build web sites to market the curriculum around the world? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Why do we have Allaso Ranch? Why do we have a camp? Why did we step out on faith and build something that’s not even paid for yet? Is there a Hell? Why do I do what I do? Why do I preach sermons? Why do I pray? Why do I step back and go, “God, it’s too hard. I’m not perfect. Who am I to stand up and speak?” Is there a Hell? I said is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell?!?
If there is, let’s go for it. Let’s leverage our time like we’ve never leveraged it before. Let’s leverage our abilities. You see, here’s what’s so jacked up about some of you. You’ve got all these abilities. You’re gonna waste your life and bust Hell wide open. You know why? You’re gonna just sit there on your blessed ass-surance and you’re gonna try to run your life and do your life your way. You’re gonna try to use your gifts just for you, just like the rich man did, and you’re gonna bust Hell wide open. AC/DC said it, brilliant song, a theological song, you’re on a Highway to Hell. Real catchy song, isn’t it? Highway to Hell. That’s what Satan does. It’s not rough, it’s not four-wheeling. Highway to Hell? Just put it on cruise control, man. But many of you will never discover the gifts that you have naturally, in a supernatural way, because you’re never gonna put Jesus on the throne.
How about your resources? You’ll never know why you have money, ever, until you put Jesus on the throne of your resources. I don’t care how much money you have. Whatever it is. And here’s our problem. We worry about, “Oh, how much do you make? How much do you make? How much are you worth?” I get that. That’s not the right question. That’s not the right question. The question is, how much do you give? But really you’re not giving, you’re just releasing it back to God. You’ll never understand money, never. It’s not gonna happen. I don’t care who you’re talking to, accountants, money managers, blah-blah-blah. You’ll never understand until Jesus sits on the throne, and then you’ll go, OK. I mean, who gave you the ability to make money? You think you’re that smart? Ha! And for that matter, God’s gonna do what he wants to do over the next 10-20 years at Fellowship Church, he’s gonna bless some of you with so much stuff and the reason is, it’s not for you. It’s to build his church. Unbelievable what can happen. See? It’s the concern of Hell. We can learn from Hell. Hell, yes, we can!
But there’s another aspect that I want you to see, just very, very briefly. Look at the growth of Hell. Hell’s growing. I have a friend of mine who regularly looks at the obituary column. And he told me that and I’m like,
“Man, that’s weird. What are you doing looking at that? That’s morbid?” He goes,
“I do it regularly as a discipline because I asked myself, A) as a Christian have I done all I can to keep that person out of Hell? And secondly, I ask myself, has our church done all it can do to keep those people out of Hell?” The growth of Hell. Hell is growing.
Luke 13:24, “Make every effort (Jesus said this) to enter through the narrow gate because many (say it with me)… many….” Scariest thing, man.
“Let’s talk about grace and mercy. Let’s talk about forgiveness. Well my God wouldn’t hurl people down. Hey, hey, you know…” We have this uncanny ability to modernize and politically correct God. God is God. And again, he’s a God of grace, don’t get me wrong. He’s a God of mercy, something you don’t deserve. But also he’s a God who gives us a choice. And with the choice we choose either to love him or not. And if we say no, to Hell we go.
Luke 13:25, “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door you’ll stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us,’ but he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you came from.’”
Have you ever bought something and had buyer’s remorse? I have. Well in Hell, a lot of people will have invitation remorse. You’ll see all of those opportunities you had to give the throne of your life to Christ but didn’t do it.
Hell is reality, seen too late.
Let me ask you a question. Let me keep it real. This is not reality television. Are you going to Heaven or are you going to Hell? It’s your choice. Heaven or Hell is a place of choice. But seriously, do you know that your reservations in Hell have been canceled, and because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and because you’ve given him the throne of your life, do you know you have reservations in Heaven? Because what’s so funny about this story is a rich man wanted Lazarus to come back from the grave and warn his brothers. Because this rich man thought, “Man, if a guy comes back from the grave and warns somebody, oh they’re definitely gonna get it right.” Well here Jesus, a little bit later, he dies. He rises again and people still reject him. So this rich man had everything he needed to have to make the decision and he said no. He had the law, he had the prophets, he had… he said no. So is it gonna be yes or no for you? I mean, I don’t like saying this. I don’t like to get into this but I have to because it’s the total package of Scripture. It’s the full counsel of God.
But let’s talk about reality. Three things you can do to secure Heaven, to give the throne of your life to Jesus. Three things, A-B-C. Say it with me. A-B-C.
A – Admit what God already knows, that you’re a sinner. That you’ve messed up. You’ve said things you regret. You’ve thought things that you’re ashamed of, and you’ve sinned. God’s perfect, you’re not. You’ve fallen short, so have I. A-admit it.
B-Believe. “Yeah but I don’t… I’m not 100%…” Well, you’re never gonna be 100%! Because if you were 100% there’s no faith, that’s certainty. And it’s all about faith. We’re saved by grace through… faith. Faith. I mean, you’ve tried everything else. You’re not gonna try this? But see, right now the devil is coming in and he’s planting all these doubts and he’s like, “Oh you took that course or you saw that special on the Discovery Channel or you read one book or you heard this atheist lecture…” Really? I mean, you’re not gonna roll the dice with Jesus? Obviously the other stuff ain’t working. Look at our screwed up world. I mean, that stuff ain’t working. So you mean you’re not gonna try this? Jesus said if you have the faith of a mustard seed, a tiny little seed, that’s all you need. You had faith just to walk in and plant your blessed assurance in one of our seats here or in one of our many campuses. How’d you know the seat was gonna hold you up? By faith. Driving home in traffic, cars flying by 50 mph, four or five feet away from you going the opposite direction… by faith. You telling me, “I don’t have faith.” What? That’s a lot of faith there. Believe.
I admit to you, God I’ve messed up. I believe that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and rise again and C – I commit my life to you. Jesus, you take the seat. I understand it is made for you, not me. Oh it’s cruising now, man. Yeah, it’s gonna be tough. We’re gonna have some difficult times but look who I’ve got driving it! I’ve got the one who designed it, who made it, and man, we are going crazy! A-B-C. A-B-C. Admit. Believe. Commit.
I want every person to bow their head with me. Every person at all of our environments. No one moving or stirring, this is a holy time, a special time. This is a time when we’re talking about eternity. And it’s really hard to even wrap our little pea brains around it but I’m telling you this. I know this. Forever is a long, long time, and forever starts right here, because I believe many of you, many of you, if you were to die today would face a Christ-less eternity. You’ve been distancing yourself from God. And God will simply say at the end of your life, “You know what? You kept your distance on planet earth, you’ll have distance for eternity. See, because of our freedom of choice we have an option. And I pray, I beg you, pray a prayer that I prayed years ago, a prayer that many of us prayed. A-B-C prayer. Just say it, just say it. I’m gonna pray it and you say it after me. Even if you’ve said it before, you say it. Do you need to say it again? Nope. It just takes one time. But you’ll give people around you who have never said it, just some courage to articulate these words. Just say this prayer with me.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]