God doesn’t send people to hell. He is not responsible for the actions of people, who are by nature deserving of wrath. An accurate statement would be: “The nature of love is the vulnerability of potential rejection. God is love, and he is willing to allow people the choice to reject him.”
God Loves Outsiders
Our True Treasure
Why We're Reluctant to Rescue Outsiders
Warming Cold Hearts
Forgiven Much, Loves Much
Jesus Came to Bring the Outsiders In
How are we doing Watermark? I love it. I love it. Friday was National Lollipop Day. Anybody know that? Celebrate it? I heard a "Yep." Awesome. I didn't, until I heard it on the radio. When my daughter was 4 years old, she loved lollipops more than any human being has ever loved anything. It was just this strange obsession. When she saw one from across the room or wherever we were, her eyes would get this big, she'd fixate on it. She would give her left arm for a lollipop.
On this particular day, I had taken my wife's car into the shop to get worked on and there at the counter was a bowl of lollipops. I thought about her. I love her. I just grabbed one for her. I thought, "Hey, I'm going to go home a hero. Walk in the door. Dad's home. Look what I have." I'm thinking that's how it is going to go.
I get in the car to drive home and I call my wife. I could just tell she is a little frustrated, a little irritated, a little exasperated. "What's wrong?" She says, "Oh, Presley's had a hard day today." "What do you mean? What did she do?" She just kind of walked me through how she had struggled throughout the day. She said, "You know, when you get home you're going to have to discipline her." Ugh.
Can we agree as parents one of the biggest challenges of parenting is discipline? Can I get an amen on that? Good. It's like trying to find the punishment to fit the crime. It's always a challenge. I walk in thinking I'm going to be a hero, and now the first thing I have to do is to discipline her.
I walk in and say, "Hey Presley, we need to talk. Can you go to your room?" She goes to her room. I walk in and say, "Babygirl, how was the day?" She just hangs her head in shame. She says, "Daddy, I didn't make good choices today." I said, "Well, why not?" You have choices, why not make good ones? What were you thinking? I said, "What did you do?" She just started listing it out, she had it in her head.
I think she was thinking, "Hey, maybe if I just come clean, it will be okay." She just tells me everything. One after the other. "I was mean to my brothers and sisters. I was disrespectful to mommy. I did this. I did this. I did this. I did this." I listened to all of it. Then I went in my pocket and I said, "Hey. I got you something today." Her eyes get this big and smile stretches across her face. She is thinking, "Hey, it's going to be a lesson on grace." I say, "But I can't give it to you now." I hate that.
She looks at me and she says, "Ahhhh! I can do whatever I want!" What just happened? They didn't teach me about this. What am I going to do? I'm going to call Todd. I have to call somebody, the elders, get them involved. I have the Gerasene demoniac over here, man. I don't know what's going on. I'm like, "Hey. Excuse me for a second." I'm just walking, thinking.
Because here is what's going through my mind. I have a suite of options at this point as far as discipline goes. I can go spanking. I can go old-school hand. Maybe a spoon. Borrow a paddle. I could take away privileges, like no desserts until 2021. We could do "I want to spend the rest of this year in your room or the corner." What do I do, right? What option am I going to go with?
Here is one that never even crossed my mind. As I'm thinking through the suite of options I have, here is one that didn't even dawn on me. I didn't think about it for one second, and that's this one: to go back in there and be like, "Hey, Presley. I've really enjoyed being your dad. It's been fun these four years together. Now they've come to an end. So if you'll walk with me to the front door, you're going to go this way. We'll stay here. Please don't visit. This is done."
It's funny because that's ridiculous, right? I would never do that. If I did, you would be like, "Man, we're not going to listen to that guy." I would lose all credibility with you right up front. That's a crazy idea that I would break fellowship with her. To say, "Hey, I never want to see you again. You go that way, I'm going to stay this way." I would never do that, right?
Here is the problem. I think a lot of us struggle with the idea of, "Is that what God does?" When you think about an eternal punishment and getting to a place of judgment and we think about this idea there is a place called heaven and a place called hell. Separation from God. It seems he sends people. That's what we think, right? He sends people to this place of judgment. We really wrestle with this idea. It's heavy.
Right now you're thinking about people who died and you don't know where they're at. You're thinking about people who are alive and you don't know where they stand with Jesus. It's a wrestling. It's hard. It's heavy. Even when you go to share your faith, this is one of the things, I think, that prevents us from talking about Jesus because we're going in with the good news and we think in the back of their minds they're thinking, "Oh, you think I'm going to hell, huh? You think I'm going to hell. That's why you're telling me this, right? Because you think I'm going to hell?"
That's heavy. It feels like so much judgment. We struggle. We wrestle with that idea. If you're wrestling with it, I'm glad you wrestle with it because to me it says you understand the weightiness of the matter. The heaviness, the severity of the topic. Because as I share the gospel with people, what I see is a movement toward apathy on this topic.
I used to, like 10 years ago, as I would share the gospel, I'd run into this, "Hey, I'm not going to worship a God who sends somebody to hell. I don't want anything to do with that God." More and more what I run into is, "Eh, I don't know. Who cares? I'm alive right now. Going to die one day. I don't know. Maybe the lights just go off. I don't know where you go. Heaven. Hell. Who can really know? You don't know. I don't know. I'm just not going to think about it right now."
The problem is we do know. The problem is God's Word that we've trusted in it tells us really clearly God loves people and he has provided a way to him through his son, Jesus Christ. When we reject that provision, we end up somewhere where there is nothing to remotely remind us of the goodness of God.
We're in this series The Outsiders where we're talking about Jesus' interaction with outsiders. We started in Luke, chapter 5, looking at the calling of Levi. How Jesus came to bring the outsiders in. Then we went to Luke, chapter 7, talking about warming our heart towards outsiders. Adam did a great job. Last week we looked at Luke, chapter 8, the Gerasene demoniac. How we're reluctant or why we're reluctant to rescue outsiders.
Today I want to be in Luke, chapter 16. It's what is at stake. It's why we must…why we must…give our lives to rescuing outsiders. It's a look into what is at stake. We're going to talk about today those left outside forever. To say it in other words, we're talking about the serious topic, the severe topic of hell. Hell. I thought about meeting outside today just so it would be a little more effective, But I won't do that to you.
As we move through Luke 16 and we're talking about hell we're going to look at what it is, who is there, and what we must do about it. Every week Jesus interacts with some outsiders. This week, the outsiders are the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the religious people. In Luke, chapter 15, Jesus is talking to some folks. He is having a conversation, and there are two groups of people there.
You have the sinners and the tax collectors. These are people with the reputation of sin. They have a sinful reputation. Then you have the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Don't think when I say teachers of the law, don't think attorney or lawyer. They were teachers of the Bible. They were ministers, teachers of the Old Testament law. These were the religious people, the professional Christians if you will.
Jesus, being a brilliant teacher, what he does is he starts telling stories. He puts them in the story. That's what he does. You have the Prodigal Son, the sinners and tax collectors, and the older brother, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. As they're hearing this, they're getting really frustrated. In fact, there are interruptions in the stories where it just says they are getting mad at Jesus.
Jesus starts teaching about money. He says, "You cannot serve both God and money." It says in Luke 16:14, "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus." Jesus says, "I know your heart, man. Everything on the outside… You're at church on Sunday. You look the part. You talk the Christian ways, but I know your heart and your heart is far from God. In fact, you love stuff more than you love God. You love money more than you love God. In fact, let me tell you guys a story. I'd like to tell you another story."
He goes, verse 19, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day." Right about now the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, they're looking down. "Purple and fine linen. You mean he dressed like us?" He is like, "Yeah. He dressed like you."
"At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores." You have two men, one is comfortable, living the life of luxury. One is a beggar outside his gate, covered in sores, a sad situation. His name, Lazarus, means the one God helped. "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side." So Lazarus dies.
Abraham's side is another name for paradise. This is the presence of God. This is heaven. Now, I don't want to confuse you, but heaven will ultimately be here on earth. This is a place where if you died today, you would go to where you have all the benefits of the final destination of heaven because you're in the presence of God. That's where Lazarus was.
"The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades…" So, in another place. "…where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'"
Let me say here, this is not the final destination of those who stand condemned. This is hades. It's a place where we wait for Jesus to throw Satan into the lake of fire. Whatever is coming in the future will be worse will only be worse than what we read today.
"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" The first question I want to ask from this text is…
1._ What is outside the goodness of God?_ What is hell, and what is there? He says, "Son, remember in your lifetime you received your good things while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony."
A. What is in hell? Nothing good. There is nothing good in hell. We need to know that and grasp that. There is no hell on earth because in the worst place on earth, the worst thing you could possibly imagine you'd experience on earth, you still sit under what is called common grace. That is, the remnant of God still exists in the worst situation. The sun still comes up, the rain comes on the just and the unjust.
We experience the common grace of God here on earth. In heaven, it's the fullness of the goodness of God. On earth, there are remnants of the goodness of God. In hell, there is nothing of the goodness of God. In hell, there is nothing good, not at all. Not one thing we could think of.
Some people are like, "Well, I'm going to go to hell and party with my friends." No, you won't. There is no beer in hell. There are no shots of Patrón in hell. There is nothing to numb your pain in hell. There is no laughter. There is no smiling. There is no Blue Bell. It would melt. It's hot there. There is nothing you can think of that would bring you any joy there. That's because there is nothing of God there. The only thing of God in hell is his wrath, his judgment at your sin.
This is important. I want you to get this. Hell is a subtraction. It's subtracting out the goodness of God. When you have light and you subtract light, you're left with darkness. When you have comfort and you subtract comfort, you're left with pain. Anything good in this world comes from God. It says that in the Word. "Everything good we receive comes from the father of heavenly lights." When you subtract out the father of heavenly lights, the goodness of God, you're left with only evil.
Let me illustrate this. If I have a banquet table up here of lots of amazing food, you look up here, you can smell it. It fills the room. You want to taste it. There are bright colors of fruits and vegetables, reds and yellows and greens. There are meats cooked to perfection, steak and filet, just the way you like it. Maybe a Thanksgiving feast, maybe it's a turkey, right in the middle, cooked to perfection. Your favorite side dishes surround the table. You look at it and your mouth begins to water. It's beautiful, full of life. Now if I was to take that food and suck out all of the nutrients, and anything beneficial, what would be left is rotting and decay.
Or let me say it in a different way, it's a little bit graphic, but we're talking about hell. Your body does this, right? When you eat food, your body sucks out the nutrients and anything beneficial and what are you left with? Waste. Excrement. You think, "Wow! Why would you say that? It's graphic." Because of what Jesus said.
When Jesus is talking about this place, he calls it Gehenna. Gehenna was a real place south of Jerusalem. It was a dump. The Valley of Hinnom. The kings of Judah would sacrifice children there, babies there, by fire. It was a place of rotting flesh. It's where those who couldn't afford a burial would be thrown out.
The worms and the maggots would feast on their flesh. It was a place where garbage was burned and all the waste and the feces of the city would go. Jesus says, "You know that place of stench and death and worms? It's worse than that. That's the closest I can get to describing what it is."
First, there is constant pain…forever. In verses 23, 24, and 25, it says a place of torment and agony and fire. It's painful, but it's not just painful, it's also fixed and eternal. The pain does not subside. It does not go away. You cannot numb it. "And besides all this [verse 26] , between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."
This is why this matters. Because pain is only bearable when there is hope. When you experience pain, you think, "Okay. There is a medication for that. I can take morphine or Advil or something to numb that. Or I'm going to sleep at some point. Or even death awaits me." You have a hope of remedy. There is no hope of that pain ever subsiding.
Now imagine the worst pain you've ever felt. I don't know what it is. The worst pain you have ever felt. A lot of you probably thought giving birth with no epidural, if that was you. You think about the height of that and you think about it staying there and never going away. The worst pain you felt staying there.
I've not given birth. Surprise, surprise. I have had a kidney stone. Several. I'm not going to tell you it's worse than giving birth. I'm smarter than that. What was so bad about the kidney stone is the pain was constant. I didn't know when it was going to go away. I couldn't see the end of it, but I did know it was going to go away. I could treat it with medication, so it's not the same.
What's the worst pain you've experienced? Maybe stubbing your toe. Full stride on the corner of the bed. Pinkie toe. Boom! Is it broken? You're doing that dance, and you want to say those words you can't say because God is watching. You know it hurts so bad, but you know it's going to go away. If you didn't, if it stayed that painful for the rest of your life, imagine.
Or maybe it's brain freeze. Some of you ate your Blue Bell a little too fast. Ahhhh! And it stays there. It's not going to go away. It's forever. Not a hundred years, not a hundred billion years. Not two hundred billion years. It's heavy, man. There is no sleep, no numbing, no hope of it going away. Forever.
Secondly, there is eternal regret. This is huge. Because what makes hell so horrific is an understanding of all you could have had in God and the choice to refuse it. Eternal regret. You may have heard of FOMO or the fear of missing out. Hell is eternal FOMO. This guy looks across and he sees. He is like, "I could have had…. Please go tell them." This makes hell terrible.
I went to Disney World when I was a child. I had never been outside of Texas and had never ridden on a roller coaster then had the opportunity to go to Florida, so I'm so excited. You can imagine. It was with the church, and we were going to take a bus there. We were taking a bus there. We get there and I'm in line to ride my first roller coaster. I'm so excited thinking about what a great time we're going to have over the next several days.
In that line, something went terribly wrong in my stomach. Have you ever had a cramp in your calf where it just closes up and you can't walk? That happened in my intestines. I fell over, literally, in pain. I'm there in Disney World in the fetal position in line for this roller coaster. They bring a gurney. True story. They come and put me on this gurney and they take me to an infirmary or hospital inside Disney World. Who knew they have one?
There I sat in this tremendous pain. The pain wasn't the worst part. It was they put me right beside a window. I could hear the laughter of all my friends, the joyful screams of them coming down the roller coasters, and I realized all I was going to miss out on because of this stupid cramp. It's a silly illustration for what awaits the eternity of those who reject God. It's painful. There is suffering. It's eternal. It's uncomfortable.
Thirdly, there is unsatisfied longing. You have a longing here that's only satisfied by an eternal God. It's a forever unsatisfied longing. Second Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 8 and 9. It's horrific, really terrifying. It says this, "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might..." Who is shut out? Who is left outside?
2._ Who is shut out?_ Who should be left outside? As we're talking about this horrific place, we all agree it's terrible. No one wants to be there. Who should be left there? Here is the direct answer up front: Everyone. You and me and everyone else. We all deserve to be there.
You say, "No, I don't. What did I do? Why do I have to go there?" Well, let's just take the past few minutes. Since you've been in a church building: Where have your thoughts gone? Who have you judged? "She is wearing that? I can't believe they're here. What's going on over there? Why would they get up in the middle?"
These things are running through your mind. Propositions of judgment. Situations you want to control, but you can't, but you try to. Then asking, "I wonder what they think of me? Do they like my dress? Did they like this shirt? Do they like what I'm wearing? I wonder what they're thinking of me." Self-obsession. Selfishness. Think about the things you've had. Responding in anger this morning. Being critical.
We deserve that. The reason we don't think we deserve that is, like I said up front, we think it's harsh that God would take us and set us outside. This, my friends, is where the illustration breaks down, because Presley started out inside, and none of us start out inside. What is reality is we start outside, and the Father is begging us in. "Please come in. Please come in. Please come in. I'll do anything to get you in. I'll allow my Son to die if you will just come in. Would you come in? I'll pay for your sins. Come in.
We're like, "I can do whatever I want. I don't have to go in there." He is like, "Please come in." Remember where he told this story. It's right after the Prodigal Son. The father sees the Prodigal Son, picks up his robe, runs to him, embraces him, brings him inside, throws a party for him. "I'm so glad you came back."
This is your God. He is begging you to come in. This is our false view of hell that God takes us and places us outside. No. God, your entire life since you were born, has been begging you to come inside and some of you say, "Nuh-uh." He says, "Okay. I have to shut the door now. But I want you inside." That's a right perspective. The Father calling you inside.
As you think about your issue with hell, consider this. All of us are okay with someone being there. That person who did that thing to you. They can go to…. Hitler. Hitler can be there. I'm fine with that. If I find out it's Satan and Hitler. Maybe a couple of other people. The pedophiles? They can go. That's fine. Rapists? Yep. Put them there. Murderers? Well, how many times? Yeah, those guys, yeah.
This is what we do with God. "Hey God, what are you doing? Why is there evil in the world? Why don't you deal with evil? Would you deal with all the evil? Hitler, the murderers, the rapists." Would you stop right here, though? Pornographers? Nah, not those guys. The greedy? No, no. Hitler. The materialistic? No, no, no. The rapists. The prideful, self-righteous? No, no, no. Murderers.
You want God to deal with evil. You just want him to stop in front of you and deal with all the other evil. What about your evil? Who is going to deal with your evil? This man, he is so delusional. He is so swept up in his sin. He is still giving orders in hell. "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." This is a picture of a man who is so swept up in his self-obsession, his seeking of comfort, he never sees his need for Jesus.
This, my friends, is why C. S. Lewis says hell is locked from the inside. That the only people who are there are the people who have refused to come in to the Father's beckoning. The people who have asked to be there. The people said, "I'm not, no. I'm not going to go your way." It's been well said there are those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "No. Thy will be done. You didn't want anything to do with me. For 76 years, I've been calling you in, but you've been so caught up in this world you wanted nothing to do with me. Even you played the game, but we both know it was a sham."
Maybe as you're out there sharing, you'll hear this, "Well, I just believe all roads eventually lead to God." You ever hear that? "Don't all roads eventually lead to God? I just think all roads, to each his own, everyone has their own beliefs. All roads will eventually lead to God." No. All roads eventually lead to hell, except one. That road was paved by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Because friend, especially if you're a father, especially if you have children, can I just present something to you for a moment? How ridiculous would it be that God would allow his Son to die for your sins if there was any other way for you to get him? Can we agree that was foolish? When you say all roads lead to him, you're saying, "God, you wasted the death of your Son. You didn't have to do that. I could have just been good. I could have just been good. Or I could have been good at some other religion. You let your Son die. That was foolish." He says, "No, I let my Son die for you because it's the only way you're going to get to me."
See, every sin has to be paid for. Either in hell or on the cross. Every single one of your sins will be paid for, in hell or on the cross. The only thing you can do in hell is pay for sins. The only people who don't go to hell are those whose sins have been paid for. That's it. Everyone else goes there to pay for their sins. But the ones who acknowledge, "God paid for my sins through his Son, Jesus Christ," go to God. God gave. "For God so loved the world that he gave…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
You read this and might be tempted to think Jesus is going after rich people. "Man, he just seems to have a problem with wealthy people." Jesus has no issue with rich people. He takes great issue with self-reliant people. People who rely on themselves, their abilities, their things, their stuff, their status. They don't need Jesus. That's what he is saying, "Hey, Pharisees, teachers of the law, you guys don't understand your need for me. You keep trying to do it on your own, collecting your stuff, your trinkets, your treasures. Filling your life with things to rely upon."
So many of us beg God, we pray for things that ultimately will distract us from him. We pray for the opportunities we might have so we don't need him. God says, "What you need to get into heaven is need." You have to realize your need. He is so gracious, though. I'm not adding this here, like, "He is so gracious. His grace is irresistible." He comes at you. He loves you.
I saw a picture of this recently. A really beautiful picture. It ministered to me. Don't read too much into this. It's just a story that ministered to me. We were visiting my parents back home. I'm from this small town. It's like cousin camp. My children and all their cousins come in. My mom has this itinerary of things to do for them. One of the things was a scavenger hunt.
We went on this scavenger hunt, but it was in a cemetery. Nothing says fun like a good scavenger hunt in a cemetery. They had a list of names of relatives who had passed away and they had to go find them in this old cemetery in this small town of about 150 people, and there are about 100 people in the cemetery. The kids are walking around, and right in the middle of the cemetery was this huge grave with this giant wrought iron fence around it. It was clearly distinct from all the other graves. Nothing around it except all the graves had come and swallowed in this fence.
My kids were like, "Who is that? Were they a king? Were they royalty? Who is that?" My mom tells us, "Well, 100 years ago, the church wouldn't let that person be buried in the cemetery. They had to be buried outside so there was a fence around it. The church didn't agree with them. They wanted to keep them outside 100 years ago."
I love this picture of God's grace that as the years passed by, it swallowed them and now they're right there in the middle, set apart. My kids, 100 years later are saying, "Are they a king? Is that royalty?" It just ministered to me that's what God does. He takes those we reject, those sitting outside our gates begging for food, covered in sores, and he makes them kings.
He makes them kings, man. That's what he does. He takes beggars and he makes them kings. We start outside and our whole life, God is begging us in. When we die, this opportunity comes to a close. Those left outside are only the ones who refuse to come in.
3._ How do outsiders become insiders?_ They respond to an invitation to come in to God's kingdom. "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
"But Abraham, let Lazarus go tell them." "It's too late, bud. It's too late. Let them listen to Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to God's Word, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The Bible they had then, the Moses and the prophets, if you will. They can listen to that. If they don't respond to that, they're not going to respond."
It's interesting that this guy, and you have to learn from this, his greatest regret in hell is he couldn't go back and tell his family not to come there. That's all he wants to do in this moment. "Please let someone go and tell them." "You could have told them when you were alive." In fact, the only evidence we have that this guy was not a believer from this text, is he didn't share the goodness of God when he was alive. He said, "But if somebody would raise from the dead, if Lazarus would raise from the dead, they would believe."
Interesting that Jesus did raise someone from the dead. In John, chapter 11, do you remember what his name was? It was Lazarus. That's not the someone he is talking about. This is a nod at the way someone does avoid hell, by believing Jesus rose from the dead. That he paid for your sins on the cross and you're here. You're like, "Well, I want a sign." You have a sign! It's an empty tomb. You have a sign. It's that there is no body in a tomb, right?
Paul writes about it. He says, "Hey, this man came back to life and over 500 people saw him, many of whom are still alive. Go ask them. They'll tell you. They saw him. He rose from the dead." "Well, I just wish I had a sign." What? You want someone coming back to life? Writing the best seller that has ever existed in the history of all books? In the history of books, year after year? What? You want them to reset the calendar? That he would maybe be born, let's say, 2,018 years ago? You want that kind of sign? What if you just believe the signs you had and you surrendered your life to that?
In sharing the gospel with this young man, he said, "I'm not going to believe in a God who sends someone to hell." He said, "Buddy, you're not going to win. That's what you're going to get down there and be like, 'I told you I wouldn't believe in you. I knew you'd send me here.'" That's foolish. He says, "You know what, there are some people who haven't heard." I said, "But you have heard."
"But what about those who haven't heard? See, I'm not going to respond to the gospel because some people haven't heard the gospel." I say, "Man, that logic breaks down so fast, young man. Let me tell you something. Where else are you going to apply that? There are some people who don't have homes, so I'm going to go homeless. There are people who don't have jobs, so I refuse my paycheck." What makes you think a logic that breaks down in our reality so fast applies to eternity?
"Well, what about those who haven't heard?" "What about you who has heard?" I don't know who has and hasn't heard, but I know you have now. This guy, he says, "Well, I just believe Jesus was just a man. I believe he was just a man."
"Let me ask you a question. How do you know about Jesus?"
"What do you mean, how do I know about Jesus?"
"How do you know about, like, Jesus Christ? How do you know about him?"
"Everybody knows about Jesus."
"Let's go back a few minutes ago when you said there were all these people who didn't know about Jesus. That's fine. Everybody knows about Jesus. How do they know about Jesus?"
"I don't know. The Bible. The Bible tells you."
"So you believe in Jesus, and your source is the Bible, but you know who the Bible says Jesus is? Why would you believe some of it and not all of it? The Bible says Jesus was the Son of God. God in the flesh. The Bible says Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one gets to the father except through him. Why do you get to pick and choose what you believe from the source you cite? Not to mention, Tacitus, not to mention Jocephus, Flavius, Jewish historians who also wrote about this character in history named Jesus. That book also says there is a heaven and a hell, and God made a way for you to get to him."
You say, "How can a good God send anyone to hell?" It's the wrong question. It's…how can a good, holy, righteous God allow any sinner into his presence? The answer is that good, gracious, holy, righteous God provided a way, and it cost him his Son. The suffering and the torture and the murder of his Son, all of your sins going on him, crushing him to death, but he is bigger than death. That's the God we worship. He is bigger than death.
In summary, hell is outside of God's goodness. Everyone should be left outside, but Jesus invited people inside. Now is our chance to invite people inside. Presley said, "I can do whatever I want." That doesn't even make sense. Why are you saying that? I just grabbed a trash can and put it in front of her. I said, "You see what that is?"
"Yeah, it's a trash can."
"It is a trash can and this is some goodness I have for you that I wanted to give to you, but because of what you've chosen, you lost that forever."
"Ahhhh! I can do whatever I want."
"Oh, man. Why would you say that? Let me show you something. You know what this is? This is the good stuff. This is top shelf. See's Candies Lollypops, okay. Really overpriced lollipops." This was a gift to me. You didn't know I had it, but I've been saving it for you. I was waiting for just the right time to invite you into a goodness you didn't even know existed. I have to tell you now because of what you've done, you've lost that forever."
This is what we have to understand. What makes hell so horrific is God is so amazing. What makes heaven so incredible is God is there. What makes hell so horrific is there is nothing there that remotely resembles God or any of his goodness. We can't imagine when you subtract God out of the equation the pure evil that you've never seen or witnessed that's left. God, the Father, is just inviting you into his goodness. "Would you share into my goodness with me?"
We have a choice. To come in or to stay outside. When you came in here, you received a lollipop. Some of you have eaten it, that's unfortunate. I want it to serve as a reminder to you. Put it somewhere where you'll trip over it, where you'll see it. It's just a reminder that as you leave, your opportunity is to invite others into the goodness of God. It's just that.
"What about hell?" What about the goodness of God I'm inviting you into? Hell is just you avoiding that goodness. It's just you rejecting that goodness. He wants you in. He sent me to tell you. That's why we're having this conversation. Would you come inside? Would you share in his goodness? Let me pray we would.
Father, we love you and we're grateful you give these convicting texts, these really convicting stories that cause us to reflect on our lives. Father, some of us, we just confess we're much more like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. We don't have the brokenness and the humility of the tax collector and the sinner who realize their need for you. We're going through life self-reliant.
Father, right now we come to the end of that and we say we need you. You are our living hope. You are the hope we cling to. We know there was a chasm between us and you crossed it through your son, Jesus Christ. You provided a way to you, paved in his blood. Father, as we sing and worship you now, would you stir that in our hearts. Please, God. In Jesus' name, amen.
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Like everyone else around you knew someone else and you were all alone? Take heart, Christ came to earth for the outsiders!