“HAPPILY EVER AFTER?”
Week Four – “Hot And Bothered” Luke 16:22-31
One way we seem to deal with topics we find uncomfortable is to jokes about them or draw cartoons. Joking about your eternal destiny is not what I mean when I talk about living “Happily Ever After”.
I. Hell Is A Place Of Misery, Vv. 23-24
“And being in torment in hell……”
Jesus specifically mentioned the word “hell” fifteen times and He wasn’t joking when He talked about it. It appears in the Bible many more times than that. Here are a few examples of references to hell’s torment and torture:
everlasting fire – Matthew 18:8, 25:41 - everlasting punishment - Matthew 25:46everlasting chains - Jude 1:6 - everlasting destruction - 2Thessalonians 1:9eternal damnation - Mark 3:29 - eternal judgment - Hebrews 6:2 - eternal fire - Jude 1:7 - unquenchable fire - Matthew 3:12 - the fire that never shall be quenched - Mark 9:43, 44, 45, 46, 48 - fire unquenchable - Luke 3:17 - shame and everlasting contempt - Daniel 12:2 - mist of darkness is reserved for ever - 2 Peter 2:17 - the blackness of darkness for ever - Jude 1:13
weeping (Matthew 8:12), wailing (Matthew 13:42), gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50), darkness (Matthew 25:30), flames (Luke 16:24), burning (Isaiah 33:14), torments (Luke 16:23), everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)! Jesus says in Matthew 25:41, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Listen to how Bill Hybels described what Hell might feel like: (BAD DREAMS)
“The bottomless pit…conjures up dreamlike feelings of falling away -- falling, falling, falling. You’ve all had dreams like that; where when you woke your heart was beating because you were falling. Picture in your mind hanging over a precipice --- and God is hanging onto you --- and you’re hanging onto him.
“And you decide you don’t need him anymore. So you let go. But the moment you let go you know you made a mistake. You’re falling, and every moment you fall further and further away from the only source of help and truth and love --- and you realize you made a mistake and you can’t get back up --- and you fall further and faster and further and faster into spiritual oblivion --- and you know you’re going the wrong direction --- and you’d give anything to go back, but you can’t. And you fall, and you fall, and you fall, and you fall …
“How long? Forever. And all the while you’re falling you’re saying, ‘I’m further now; I’m further. I’m further from the only source of hope, truth, and love.’
“In hell there is never the bliss of annihilation. You’d give anything for annihilation, but it’s unavailable --- only the conscious continuation of emotional anguish, physical anguish, relational anguish, and spiritual anguish … forever.”
Dr. Maurice Rawlings is a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga, and his colleagues are constantly treating emergency patients, many of whom have had near-death experiences. A study of these cases by Dr. Rawlings was reported in Omni magazine. It is no longer unusual to hear about people who have almost died who speak of seeing a bright light, lush green meadows, rows of smiling relatives and experiencing a deep sense of peace. However, Dr. Rawlings gives additional information from his patients by interviewing them immediately following resuscitation while they are very much in touch with their experience.
Dr. Rawlings says that nearly fifty percent of the 300 people that he has interviewed have reported lakes of fire, devil-like figures and other sights reflecting the darkness of hell. Rawlings says that these people later change their story because they don’t want to admit where they’ve been, not even to their families. "Just listening to these patients has changed my whole life," claims Dr. Rawlings. "There is a life after death, and if I don’t know where I’m going, it’s not safe to die." Dr. Rawlings, a devout atheist, "considered all religion ’hocus-pocus’ and death nothing more than a painless extinction."
But something happened in the late ‘70’s that brought a dramatic change in the life of Dr. Rawlings! He was resuscitating a man, terrified and screaming. "Each time he regained heartbeat and respiration, the patient screamed, ’I am in hell!’ He was terrified and pleaded with me to help him. I was scared to death...Then I noticed a genuinely alarmed look on his face. He had a terrified look, worse than the expression seen in death! This patient had a grotesque grimace expressing sheer horror! His pupils were dilated, and he was perspiring and trembling--he looked as if his hair was ’on end.’ Then still another strange thing happened. He said, ’Don’t you understand? I am in hell...Don’t let me go back to hell!’...the man was serious, and it finally occurred to me that he was indeed in trouble. He was in a panic like I had never seen before."
Dr. Rawlings said no one who could have heard his screams and saw the look of terror on his face could doubt for a single minute that he was actually in a place called hell. He could be a disbeliever no more.
Having to face the reality of hell jolted him into seriously facing his own unbelief and began a spiritual search that led him to become a Christian.
Our Bible teaches us that Hell is a place of darkness. So you say, "Well, if Hell is a place of flame in the center of the earth, how can there be darkness?" Scientists have also figured that one out for us. As flame gets hotter, you have yellow flame, orange flame, then blue flame. Then beyond blue flame there is a green flame, and if gets much hotter than that, the flame becomes entirely clear and gives no color at all. So there is no light in Hell, because the flames are so hot they have no color and have no light. They are simply clear.
HELL IS A PLACE OF MISERY.
II. Hell Is A Place of Memory, V. 25
"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.”
REGRETS – Ever grieved over a lost opportunity? Imagine grieving forever…..
Ever made a bad decision and suffered the consequences of it? Imagine that forever.
REMORSE – Wishing you could undo what you’ve done and untangle your life.
Not only memories but cravings and addictions…… if he longed for water that much, imagine how much he would need a drink of alcohol or a drug fix……
HELL IS A PLACE OF MEMORIES
III. Hell Is A Place of Mourning, Vv. 27-31
These verses confirm what we already know – relationships are what make life meaningful and worthwhile. Of all the horrors of hell – and they are considerable – the worst torture will result from relationships that have been interrupted forever.
Jeff Strite, a pastor in Indiana, tells this story about his Dad.
My Dad was what was known as "a rounder." He was a man’s man. He was a hard worker, hard fighter, and a hard player of baseball and basketball. He was attractive to women and he loved to go out and dance.
Now, it’s not that dad was a stranger to church (when he first met mom, he kissed her behind the furnace in a church basement). He wasn’t unfriendly to church, it’s just that God held little interest for him. He didn’t need God to run his life.After he married mom, they settled down as married couples did. Mom, a deeply religious woman, never failed to go to church, but Dad always had work to do. And - well, church wasn’t all that important anyway. But after awhile, mom’s church going got to bother him. He accepted the idea that he might go to hell, but the idea of being there without the woman he loved troubled him.Dad finally decided to force mom to avoid church. He asked her if she would feel comfortable in heaven if he were in hell.
Now, Mom was the quiet type of Christian who didn’t try to force her faith down dad’s throat, but now she had the opportunity to address his need. He waited to see how she would respond?She thought for a couple of moments and then asked him: "Lowell, would you really feel comfortable if I were in hell with you?" The simplicity of her response led Dad to change his way of thinking and he turned his life over to Jesus. Why? Because hell wasn’t a comfortable concept to him especially when it came to someone he loved.
LET’S FACE IT – ONE OF THE REASONS WE LOOK FORWARD TO HEAVEN IS TO BE WITH GOD AND WITH JESUS BUT ALSO TO BE WITH FAMILY & OTHERS WE LOVE. THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING ETERNITY SEPARATED FROM THOSE WE LOVE IS UNBEARABLE TO US! BUT THAT IS WHAT HELL IS!
REJECTION – Denied access to Heaven and separated from God forever and separated from ones you love. No one likes the feeling of being left out…..
RIDICULE – Imagine Satan in your face mocking you and laughing at your foolishness. If he accuses you and tries to condemn you now – how do you think he will be then?
HELL IS A PLACE OF MOURNING!
Gene and Paulette Cranick, of South Fulton, Tennessee, lost their home after officers were ordered by bosses not to extinguish it.
Fire fighters only arrived when the flames spread to the property of a neighbor, who had paid the fee. However, they continued to refuse to help the Cranicks.
Later the same day, the couple's 44-year-old son was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, after allegedly punching the local fire chief.
Jeff Vowell, the city manager of South Fulton, said: "It's a regrettable situation any time something like this happens." Mr Vowell explained that there was no county-wide fire service and it was too expensive for the city's officers to serve surrounding rural areas like the Cranicks' as well.
Rural residents can gain access to the service by paying the annual fee. But "if they choose not to," Mr Vowell said, "we can't make them".
Mr Cranick said: "I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong." His wife said the couple had offered to pay the fire fighters whatever was necessary for them to extinguish the flames, but the officers refused.
However they do not blame the officers themselves, she said. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault." The Mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker, told local reporters: "We're very sorry their house burned."
However he too stood by the subscription policy, arguing that offering a pay-as-you-go service would mean upfront costs could not be met.
About three hours after the fire began, Mr. Cranick's son Timothy allegedly arrived at the South Fulton fire station demanding to see Mr. Wilds the fire chief.
It is alleged that when Mr. Wilds came forward and asked if he could help, Mr Cranick punched him. "He just cold-cocked him," Mr. Crocker reported.
Weird story isn’t it? You could say that it isn’t right and it isn’t fair, but it was the rule and it was understood and they ignored the rule. So, if they knew the rule and they ignored the rule and then the rule was enforced, whose fault was it that their house burned down?
In the same way, people say, “A loving God wouldn’t send people to Hell…….”
1) Anyone who goes to hell does so against the will of God…..
2) Anyone who goes to hell does so against the grace of God…..
HOW SHOULD I RESPOND TO THIS MESSAGE?
1) LIVE WITH ASSURANCE 2) LIVE WITH URGENCY