Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Let me make a serious preface by saying this morning is not going to be a TYPICAL Sunday at Renovation Church.
Lots of times we joke around here, and I tell embarrassing stories of myself and we all laugh.
But today is going to be one of the more intense messages we’ve ever done.
So if you’re visiting today, I’m excited for you to be here, but it’s a different kind of Sunday, so I guess grab your seat belt, buckle up, and let’s get started. J
IF YOU CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN…YOU’D.:
We are finishing a series this morning called “FUTURE YOU.”
Here’s the concept: What if the “Future You” could come back from the future, and talk to you today? What would they say?
Two weeks ago, we did, what if they could come back from 5 years into the future (2017, and talk to you today, what would they say?)
Last week, we did, what if the future you, from 2062, could come back? What would they say?
And this week, we’re doing, what if the Future You could come back from 500 Years from now: 2512. What would they say?
Now, let’s point out the obvious, in 2512, we’re all gonna be dead. Like, really dead.
Unless somebody finds the fountain of youth, or the greatest scientific discovery of all time is made, or we all freeze ourselves before we die, and they bring us back in 2512.
Which, if they unfroze me, and they didn’t have teleporting yet, I’d tell them to freeze me right back up
But barring a freak of nature discovery, we’re gonna be dead.
But thankfully, the Bible tells us that there’s life after death.
And it tells us that those who follow Jesus will spend eternity in a place called Heaven.
The Bible tells us that there God sits on his throne and the angels bless the name of God without ceasing…
It also tells us more on what it will be like:
(Revelation 21:4) – NIV
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:22-25) – NIV
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
It’s this incredible place where we get to spend forever with God, with loved ones who have passed on, and we finally get to experience fullness of JOY.
The Psalms tell us that better is ONE day in HIS courts than a THOUSAND days elsewhere.
Your first day on heaven, is gonna be better than all the days of your life combined on earth.
And can you imagine, if after you had been there 450 years or so…knowing SO much about what true life is…true goodness is…
If you could come back and talk to yourself here on earth in 2012
What would you say??
Hard to imagine, right? But I’d imagine that you PLEAD with yourself to get closer to God NOW here on earth.
Let me break this down: I became a Christian when I was 18, and if I could go back and talk to myself, say at 14, the beginning of high school…I would PLEAD with myself to follow God now.
Don’t waste time with out Him. He’s so good, and nothing else you try will compare.
And I imagine, if you could come back from heaven after 450 years, you would plead with yourself like that, but 100-fold.
Because now you would know of God’s goodness, and love, and mercy SO WELL, and nothing else even comes close.
You would be down on your knees begging yourself to follow Him more closely, to give every inch of your life to Him now, and draw as close to Him as possible.
Wouldn’t that be exactly what you would say?
Then why shouldn’t you heed those words exactly…today?
You can, that’s the choice before you. That’s why this FUTURE YOU concept is so important
Follow God with all your heart. Everything you have.
He is so good and nothing else is ever going to remotely compare!
THE RICH MAN & LAZARUS
But if you didn’t go to heaven, but to hell, what would you say?
Maybe some of you are like, I know I’m going to heaven, so that’s irrelevant.
If you know for sure, that’s fine, but hear me out on this anyway.
What if you could be in hell for a long time, and could actually go back and talk to yourself or to someone else?
Did you know the Bible actually has a story about this?!?
Let me read it to you.
Jesus is going to tell a parable (which is kind of like an allegory)
(Luke 16:19-31) – NIV
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side (explain). The rich man also died and was buried.23 In Hades (explain), where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 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.’ 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.26 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.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “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.’”
Here’s this rich man, who ignored God and ignored others in need in his time on earth, and is sent to hell after he dies.
He arrogantly, from hell, still treats Lazarus like a lower-class servant, and asks that Abraham send him to cool his tongue.
But he is told that THAT can not happen. There is a great chasm (an uncrossable gulf) in between.
It’s impossible for people to go from heaven to hell or vice versa.
By the way, this is why we know there is no such thing as purgatory.
People don’t go to hell to be punished, and then get out eventually.
But the rich man pleads that they send Lazarus back from the dead to speak to his brothers.
It’s kind of like a Future You proposal in a way.
What if you could come back from the afterlife? Wow!
What if Lazarus came back and talked to the brothers?
But Abraham says, “Even if someone comes back from the dead, that doesn’t mean they’ll be convinced.
Which is a statement from deeper meaning.
Because it’s Jesus who’s telling the parable.
And in just a little while, HE is going to rise from the dead…and still, some people aren’t going to be convinced.
PICTURE OF HELL IN THE BIBLE
But what if 500 years from now, you had been in hell for 450 years? And you could come back and talk to yourself today?
What in the world would you say?
Would you be like the rich man?
“Would you try and not just talk to yourself and beg yourself to follow Christ now, would you try and see everyone you could to warn them?
But wait, let’s back up.
See, hell is THE most offensive doctrine in Christianity.
As time has gone on, and our culture has gotten more postmodern and post-Christian, Christians barely speak about hell anymore.
Because it sounds terrible!
And we don’t want to offend anyone or look weird or arrogant or judgmental.
So we don’t talk about it.
And the less we talk about it, the less we know about it.
But heaven and hell are talked about all the time in the Bible.
See, this seems like a really offensive message to give.
I’ll just be real…it does.
But it’s ALL over the Bible.
Just take a quick read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and you might be shocked how much Jesus talks about heaven AND hell.
Not too mention, it’s a CORE (and I mean CORE) part of our faith.
We say ALL THE TIME that we are broken people, and on our own can’t save ourselves.
But Jesus, came to die for our sins, and He Saved us and offered us eternal life in heaven! WOO HOO.
That is CORE…CORE…CORE Christianity.
But the full picture of that is that: “He saved us….from what?!?”
But we always leave that small detail out.
“Yea! He saved us! We’re saved!”
From what? From hell.
“And I think that our efforts to state that core part of Christianity without mentioning hell are quite unhelpful.
We’re not helping anyone by keeping the doctrine of hell from people.
The best we can ever help people is to share the full revelation of God in His Word.
Listen, it is NEVER (and I mean NEVER) going to work out better, if we edit the Bible ourselves, and expect to get BETTER results.
That’s never going to work.
We’ve got to tell the full truth if we expect to see radical change in this country.
And the full truth is this. Eternity in heaven is real. And so is eternity in hell.
The Bible speaks of it often. Let’s look at what it actually says about it:
We’re told that not only will humans be there, but also the devil and his fallen angels (demons)
(Matthew 25:41) - NIV
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
It’s also described as a place of weeping, or darkness, and of gnashing of teeth
We see this when Jesus speaks of it in many of his parables. So often we think of Jesus as smiling, and dancing in rainbows and playing with puppies… But that’s often not the case.
Look at the parable of the net:
(Matthew 13:47-50) – NIV
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
(2 Peter 2:17) - NIV
17These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
Another way hell is described is a place of exclusion from the presence of the Lord
(2 Thessalonians 1:9) - NIV
9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
Other verses say this as well, but the main thought is that no matter what it looks like…God won’t be present in any way.
The other description of hell (which in fact has already been mentioned in some of our verses) is that it seems to last forever
This is a hard one to stomach, but here’s what the Bible says
(Mark 9:43) - NIV
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out
Again, this is stuff that we just plain don’t like to hear, which is part of why we almost never talk about it.
But the Bible does talk about it, and that forces us to have to talk about it.
If people are going there, we have to talk about it
If YOU could potentially be going there, the greatest SIN I could ever commit would be to NOT tell you about it.
WHY HELL EXISTS AND WHY PEOPLE GO THERE
But can you imagine if you were there?
None of us probably even want to imagine it, right?
The descriptions sound horrible. Just utterly horrible.
But what if you had been there for 450 years….and you could come back?
What would you say?
If you think that you would plead with yourself to follow God after being in heaven for 450 years, how much more so would you plead with yourself if you had been in hell?!?
But let me point out another thing that you’re maybe thinking…
“It just all sounds so cruel.”
Many of us ask: Why in the world would a LOVING GOD send people to hell? That doesn’t sound very loving!
It’s that question alone that has forced so many people and even Christians to walk away from the doctrine of hell…despite that fact that it’s all over the Bible.
But here’s the thing about love: “Love always allows a choice”
God loves us. But he does not force his love on us.
If he forced his love on us, that would be assault.
He allows us to decide.
And in the midst of that, he encourages our response, he woos us, pursues, urges us, but he does not force us
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Men who hate divine mercy shall not have it forced upon them.”
C.S. Lewis wrote one of the greatest books of all time on this topic. It’s called the “Great Divorce” and highly recommend you read it.
God is not going force anyone anywhere.
And people who don’t want to surrender to His Kingship, will be given the choice not to
But, generally, people of this world assume that hell is just for murderers, etc.
Yet, that’s not what Christianity says.
Christianity says that you can be the most sinful person ever, and still possibly go to heaven. If you surrender, and accept forgiveness. God is THAT forgiving!
And in reality, the greatest sin is not murder, rape, or kidnapping. It’s to deny your maker’s rescue.
Imagine you’re lost at sea. You’ve been lost for days. Without food, without help, without hope.
And THEN…Someone comes to rescue you!
But you refuse it! You say, “I can figure this out on my own!!!”
That’s really a picture of what many humans do with God
And there really is not a sin more severe in nature.
See, God is SO in love with you…and wants SO badly for you to be with Him, that he sent his own Son Jesus to rescue you (and in the process, he had to be brutally murdered, crucified to do it)
And yet we say, “Nah…no thanks…I can figure this out on my own!!!”
C.S. Lewis once said, “Sin… is the human being saying to God throughout life, “Leave me alone.” Hell is God saying, “You may have your wish”
People who don’t want God to control their life here on earth, don’t want him to later either.
And God is not going to force people to go to heaven.
HAVE A PLAN
But do you know where you’re going?
Because I can guarantee you that the FUTURE YOU, no matter if you came from heaven or hell, would tell you to make sure of that right away.
Because you are going to die someday. You can’t avoid it.
And an eternity in one of those two places is certain.
Yet, so often, even though that’s SO true…so many of us kind of put it off.
It reminds me of this story.
In 1981 there was a young man who got stranded in the Alaskan wilderness.
He had himself flown into the desolate north country to photograph the natural beauty and mysteries of the tundra.
He had his photo equipment, 500 rolls of film, several firearms, and 1400 pounds of provisions.
That’s a lot of STUFF! Except he forgot one thing.
He never planned his departure.
He wrote in his journal that he figured he’d just figure it out eventually and find a way out, and honestly, just didn’t think much about it because he was focused on his photography project
He waited and waited, but no one came
After 7 months, he died in a nameless valley 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks.
An investigation revealed that he had carefully mapped out his adventure, but made no provision to be flown out of the area.
And when we hear that, we think, “What an idiot! HE didn’t plan his way out!”
But for many people in our culture, we haven’t planned our way out.
Eternity is coming, and we’re not ready.
Again, this sounds like intense, crazy stuff.
But it’s real.
It’s going to happen.
It’s stuff we need to talk about.
You’re going to die. And eternity will come.
Sometimes we simplify the eternity equation and we just say, “People go to Hell for their unbelief.”
But more accurately, it’s this: We were all supposed to go to hell (all fall short of the glory of God).
But Jesus, came to RESCUE us. Redeem us! Buy us back!
So don’t look at hell so much as something stubborn people go to.
No, we were all supposed to go there.
Because there isn’t a single person alive that just “deserves” to sit in the presence of a Holy, Perfect, and Almighty God for all of eternity.
What we deserve for our sins of rebellion against God is justice…punishment…it’s hell.
It sounds crazy doesn’t it?
But yet almost every American believes in it if they really think about it.
Are you okay if Osama Bin Laden or Hitler isn’t shown justice?
If God’s like, “Oh, you killed 6 million Jews…that’s not a big deal. There’s no justice for that.”
Hardly anyone is.
See, we believe in God being a God of justice…except when it comes to ourselves.
But we too…fall short of the Glory of God the Bible says.
ON OUR OWN…we fall short.
So God IS Just. But He’s also incredibly in love…with YOU.
SO He sent His Son Jesus….while you were out lost at sea…not making it on your own…because of his great love for you…He sent his Son Jesus…on a rescue mission!
And Jesus died on a cross…WHY?...to take the punishment…the justice…we deserved.
He died…in our place!
This is what Christianity is all about.
Jesus…is so in love with you…that He died for you.
And he wants to have a relationship with you…change your life…and SAVE YOU from hell, so He can be with you for all of eternity!
Well, how do you do that?!?
Here’s the offer. Jesus tells us himself in John. Look at HIS words.
(John 5:24) – NIV
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
If you believe he died for you, you will have eternal life in heaven with Him.
But not just to believe (and say, “oh yeah sure, I’m sure it happened…I believe)
NO. To believe IT! And to become a FOLLOWER of Jesus Christ.
That’s what it is!
And I want to give you that opportunity to accept the great gift of knowing for sure you have eternal life in heaven by becoming a FOLLOWER of Jesus!
Here’s what we’re going to do.
Let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to follow Jesus today, and believe that He died on the cross for you…I want to give you the opportunity to tell Him that you believe.
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9 that if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts, we will be saved
& when we do that…cross the line of faith (death to life)…We are saved.
And for some of you in this room. Now is the TIME. Right now
Maybe you’ve even been here all month and have heard this.
I plead w/ you this morning. Be courageous today. Make a decision to believe and follow Christ!
Let’s make it official TODAY.
Have you accepted the rescue of Jesus Christ or are you just trying to paddle to heaven on your own?
If you want to believe and start following Jesus…(you want to make him your leader & forgiver), If that’s you…I want you to stand up where you are right now. Right now.
Let’s make it official
I’ll give you a moment.
If you are standing, would you pray this prayer with me…
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…and the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me.
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
And that I have fallen short
But God, I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God, I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
Thank you God. Amen.
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
Let me thank Him and pray.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do just 1 thing for me
At the end of the service, I need you to head to the back of the room, and we’re going to give you a gift to help you get started in your relationship with Christ. So awesome!
Won’t take you long at all, but it’s important that you have direction in where to go next.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.
APRIL 29, 2012