Preaching on hell is not something I like to do, but every so often I need to. You see, to love people is to warn people, especially when their next step could be their last.
The following is Part 3 of a 3-Part series of controversial posts first published in Sept. of 2013. I hope this one’s a blessing.
I know that the title may come as a shock to many of you, but don’t be too shocked, at least not yet. I have been talking about men and women flirting over the last couple of days, but as I told you, there was a method to my madness.
You might be saying, “And if you say God is a flirt, then you are truly mad, you crazy fool!” But please, hear me (or read me) out. “Flirting” might not be the best word, but what about “wooing”? If not a flirting God, surely He woos us all the time.
Now, just in case you think I am crazy, let me share with you one of my favorite verses from one of my favorite books in the Bible, Hosea.
“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” – Hosea 11:4 KJV
With metaphor God explains to the prophet Hosea how He has gone the extra mile to win over His people’s love. That, after all, is the message portrayed by Hosea’s pursuit of Gomer (that’s his wife’s name) as she runs from lover to lover. God would much rather win our love than divorce (judge) us.
When I think of the first part of that verse, the words “cords of a man” become “heart strings.” In other words, in order to win our affections, God is doing everything He can to “pull our strings,” or at least the emotional strings of our hearts. Cool, huh?
As with the last two posts, I’d like to consider some ways in which God might “flirt” with us. In other words, God might be wooing you if…
Do I need to go on? Is He pulling the strings of your heart? Will you respond to His advances?
He does love you!
On June 15, 2011, I preached a short message from Isaiah 57:15 entitled, “Three R’s and Revival.”
Later, I read through the chapter again on my iPhone, this time in the NET version:
“For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: “I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.” – Isaiah 57:15 NET
My eyes filled up with tears! The Holy One is not too good to sit down with the humiliated and discouraged! Hallelujah!
News Flash! God is humble!
Of course He is! Just look at what He did! Jesus became flesh (John 1:14) and walked in our shoes. He allowed Himself to be humiliated and beaten, even crucified, although He had every reason to look down on us, being God (Phil. 2:6-7). The “High and Lofty One” became the “meek and lowly” (Matt. 11:29).
There is no pride in God!
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” – Isaiah 57:15 KJV
There are three “R’s” that I see in Isaiah 57:15… Reign, Realm, and Residence.
Earlier, in chapter 6, Isaiah said he “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up…” The “high and lofty” One is none other than a King. And not just any king, this is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. The same description is found in Revelation 4. In verse 2, John saw a throne “set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.” Who was the One that sat on the the throne? Evidently the same Person who was seen by Isaiah, because in both accounts the angels were crying out “Holy, holy, holy...”
God is not a man-made idol or idea formed in the human mind – He is “high and lofty.” He is “exalted” above every other creature, whether in heaven or in earth. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11 KJV).
Because He is king, there remains only two options with regards to His reign: you are either His subject, or you are His enemy. God does not operate like earthly kings and nations. We have allies; but not God. His kingdom demands total loyalty (every knee shall bow). Serving another king is not a good thing at all, for it will only result in His judgment. No king is greater than He. To serve another is to live in rebellion.
God is the One that “inhabiteth (inhabits) eternity.” This is His realm. His influence reaches not only across all known and unknown areas of the universe, but across time immortal!
It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British realm. All over the world there were colonies under the control of the throne of England. But even more impressive than that, God’s realm isn’t limited to the present rising and setting of the sun, it is in ETERNITY.
It is important to note something here. I am not opposed to reading different translations, but a good example of when a new translation misses the mark is changing the word “inhabiteth” to “rules/lives forever.” Of course it is true that God lives and rules forever; however, there is more to it than that. The word “inhabit” touches upon His eternally sovereign omnipresence. God/Jesus is not just king over the here and now, or the future, but over the past, present, and future at the same time! He inhabits eternity! There is nothing in the realm of time, no matter where it is, that is out of His scope of authority.
Stop and think about this, folks. Think about the practical application of the above statement. Let’s just say you need $100 tomorrow to pay a bill. Or, it could be $1 million, a billion – doesn’t matter. You could go to an earthly king and ask for help, but the king would be limited to the time frame in which you needed the money, the amount that he had, and the limitations of his realm. Not God.
I have seen money come in for a need that was desperate. God provided what was needed. But, when you look at the sequence of events, God started answering that prayer long before it was ever prayed – decades before! God is not limited by time, space, or anything. His realm covers it all. When George Mueller prayed for milk (for his orphanage), do you not think that God had already put in place the neccessary sequence of events to make that milk wagon drop a wheel? It is not even out of line to think that He went back to when the tree was planted that provided the wood for the wagon.
God not only lives in the “holy place,” but He dwells with lowly man. His name is Emmanuel – God with us. But notice this, He only dwells with the humble, the contrite, the broken-hearted, the cast down, the weary, the needy (“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6). Even though He could choose to stay in His high and holy place, far above the heavens (as most men would do, given the opportunity), He makes His bed right on the floor with the lowliest, shivering beggar.
Of all people, God should be the one who looks down His nose at us. He is the “lofty” One upon the throne. We are the helpless sinners. How ironic is it that the only ones who will not open the door of their hearts are the prideful? Pride closes the door to the King.
He said “I dwell” in order “to revive.” It is the presence of the God who cares; the God who understands where we are; the God who makes His home with the “discouraged” and the “humiliated” that brings revival. Oh, to live without hope, without compassion, without a tender touch from a caring hand, brings death. But to have a King step down from His lofty position in the heavenlies, from the eternal, to a lowly place in time – that revives the heart.
The gulf that separated me from Christ, my Lord
It was so vast, the crossing I could never ford
From where I was to His domain, it seemed so far
I cried “Dear Lord, I cannot come to where You are”
He came to me, He came to me
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me
That’s why He died on Calvary
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me
He Came to Me – by Squire Parsons
Don’t let pride shut the door to your heart when the King of Kings seeks to dwell with you.
This weekend I asked if you, my friends, would pray for me. I asked that you would pray because I was going to be preaching on a very difficult subject, the subject of Hell.
Well, I believe you did. Thank you.
Not many people preach about Hell anymore. Aside from the occasional street preacher, few pastors, especially television jet-hoppers, even dare suggest such a place. Most focus on your “best life now,” or ask for multiple “seeds of faith” so they can travel the world and you can reap a “harvest.”
However, I preached about Hell. I preached that Hell is a real, horrible place where those who reject Christ as Saviour will spend eternity in torment. Is that popular? Uh, no! (I could have said “hell no” but that would have been too easy)
Unfortunately, it’s not just the unbelievers who mock the idea, but much of the Christian world now scoffs at the idea of a literal place of torment where the lost will dwell. Even Jesus said it is a real place, so how is that even possible?
But, believe me, preaching on Hell is not easy. It’s depressing, draining, and haunting. That’s why I appreciate those who prayed.
So, for those of you who’d like, I am attaching the audio of the sermon I preached Sunday morning. The title of the message is “Why Hell?”
I really can’t say that I hope you “enjoy” it, but I do hope something in it will challenge you live out your faith with more urgency.
Many people argue over whether or not the rapture will happen any time soon, if at all. They argue over when the “end of the world” will come, if it all. However, whatever you believe about end-time prophecy, Jesus said that it is appointed unto man once to die…the end of this world is coming for all of us, sooner or later.
Are you prepared? Are you ready? Do you need a reason to share your faith with others sooner than later?
My last post – the one about not having excuses not to go to church – certainly stirred up some comments, didn’t it? When you have the time, why not peruse them for some additional pondering material.
This post, being written as I am recovering from a 24+ hour stomach virus, may prove to be even more comment stimulating.
By the way, did you know one can lose 7 pounds in just 24 hours?
The following is the outline I took to with me to the pulpit Sunday morning. It starts off with some arguments against the “once-saved-always-saved” position. The next part lists six basic arguments in favor of the eternal security of the believer.
Of course, this is only an outline, not the sermon. But just looking at the outline, what are your thoughts?
Arguments Against “Once Saved, Always Saved”
Arguments FOR “Eternal Security”
Click on the link below to listen to the audio. As you might be able to tell by the opening remarks, I believe it was a sermon we needed, but the devil was opposing. Nevertheless, hearts were encouraged.
Last night, as I was driving home, I took the above picture. To be nice I edited out the name of the church, along with the pastor’s name.
The first time I saw the sign it didn’t take long for me to realize something was wrong. Everything was spelled correctly (at least I think so), but the message of the sign was incorrect.
The problem with this sign is that someone misapplied the truth that something is only as valuable as what another will pay. For example, I have an old chunk of wood in my garage. For all practical purposes it is worthless. However, should someone offer me $500 for it, the piece of wood’s value just increased dramatically. But if I could never get even $.25 for the wood, it’s really not worth much at all.
Yet, when it comes to people – living souls – our value is intrinsic; we were made by God in the image of God…God doesn’t make junk. Therefore, it is because we are already of immense value that God sent His Son to pay the price for our redemption upon the cross of Calvary.
The price that God paid for us does not make us valuable; it confirms our value to Him.
Should we accept the message on this church’s sign, we must then assume that those who are lost without Christ are of little or no value. However, thanks be to God this is not true!
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” – Matthew 13:44-46 KJV
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20 KJV
Our value preceded the price paid, and that is why there was only One who could afford the sacrifice it took to redeem us.
Someone needs to read this. Is it YOU?
What would you die for? What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.
The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? Then you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Foolish, frankly.
Even more than concrete items, some value their pride more than life. They are willing to fight to the death, or kill others when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be thought of wrongly. So many have yet to learn that what people think of them does not determine the reality of who they are.
From the perspective of family, I would say that most believe life is worth risking life. If my loved ones were in danger, then it would be natural to put my life on the line. Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society is very fickled when it comes to how it determines the value of one life; one life is not always as valuable as another, especially when convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.
I would die for my children, but many kill their own children before birth. It seems to me that values gold more consistently than life itself.
What about beliefs? Are you willing to die for what you believe? Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s ok. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance.
A martyr is one who will die for what they believe, rather than deny it. Is your faith worth dying for? If not, then how much do you really believe?
But here’s one more question…How much is YOUR life worth?
Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, correct? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you. Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own.
Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s. Your worth against theirs.
Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange. That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?
On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV
That would make you of incalculable worth! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilts and failures as His own, and paying the death penalty for sin on your behalf.
For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV
That makes Jesus incredibly unique! How many others have done what He has for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse. Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person. But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc? Jesus did.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV
What is your life worth? Well, it was worth the Messiah suffering the most excruciating death Rome could conceive. It was worth the Prince of Peace being shredded by a “cat of nine tails.” It was worth God becoming flesh so that we could know Him. If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?
If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.
Your life is worth it.