Avoiding Hell

June 14, 2020

David Sorn

The problem will avoiding the topic of hell is that every time we avoid it, less people actually avoid hell.

Avoiding Hell

June 14, 2020

David Sorn

The problem will avoiding the topic of hell is that every time we avoid it, less people actually avoid hell.



We are going back to the Book of Luke this morning, and we are in Luke chapter 16 if you want to grab your Bibles.

We’re going to actually skip over verses 16-18 as we’ve taught on both of those passages before…including the very intense one in verse 18.

You can find that message on our website or app in our “Happily Even After” marriage series.

Speaking of intense or hard subjects, Jesus is teaching, once again today, on the subject of hell.

Parents, just a heads up on this…this message is probably fine for most kids, but if you’ve never ever talked about the subject before…this may be a lot for kids hearing it for the first time.

I’ve pointed this out to you probably 10 times already, and I’ll point it out another 10 times before we’re done with Luke…

Jesus very plainly, and very often, speaks about heaven and hell.

He speaks about speaks about sin, and judgement, and eternal reward and eternal punishment.

I’ve yet to see this Jesus who plays with puppies and only gives hugs that the average American seems to have in mind when they think of Jesus.

I was reading Timothy Keller this week, and he pointed out, “People say all the time, ‘I just can’t believe in a God of love and also the doctrine of hell. I don’t think a smart, religious person would believe in that”

But Keller says, “But you know who can believe in both of those things? Jesus! The smartest and most influential religious teacher in the world…even according to non-believers.”

“Jesus believed in a God of amazing love and the doctrine of Hell.”

So if Jesus could see those two coexisting, perhaps we should at least consider it ☺


So, let’s jump into our passage…and then we’ll unpack it

(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. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, 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.’”

It’s worth pointing out that one of the interesting things about this parable is that it’s the ONLY one of Jesus’ parable in which a character has a Proper Name…Lazarus…the poor man.

That’s caused some to even speculate that it may be a real story, not a parable.

Because usually the characters in parables are addressed simply by “the man,” “the woman,” a father, farmer, etc.

In addition, the meaning of Lazarus’ name is significant.

His name means, “God is my help…my salvation”

But the rich man, in contrast is just called “the rich man”

Lazarus’ identity was found in trusting in God

The rich man found his identity in…being rich.


And that brings me to the first application of our passage for the day.

I want to look at 3 ways we avoid the doctrine of hell.

This is not an exhaustive list.

This might not even be a list of the 3 most common or 3 more important ways.

It’s merely a list of 3 ways we end up avoiding the doctrine of hell, as it is clearly taught in this passage in Luke 16.

3 Ways We Avoid The Doctrine of Hell

#1: We are distracted by our pursuit of comfort

Like the rich man, who found his identity in being rich…so many of us live for comfort…not for eternal things.

And that pursuit of comfort on earth oughta be something that scares us awake in this passage.

Notice that this rich man had everything on earth.

He had the best clothes…

Lived in a gated community or home

Had servants

And we’re told that he lived in LUXURY every day.

But here’s the thing…with the exception of having servants, all of us probably live in more luxury and comfort than that rich man did 2,000 years ago…he didn’t even a toilet…let alone a fridge, a car, Netflix, you name it.

This ought to make you nervous.

Too many of us are numb to our wealth, because unlike most of the rest of the world, you can point to someone next door, or a few miles from you with a much larger house or a much nicer car.

And so we rarely consider ourselves as wealthy

And that’s dangerous…because the rich man enjoyed the comforts of his wealth so much, that he apparently, didn’t think much of Spiritual things.

Which is why Jesus teaches often about the dangers of wealth.

Not that wealth is inherently bad…but if not handled well, it certainly can be dangerous distraction and idol for your soul.

And now that this man is in hell, he wishes he would have lived differently.

That he would have believed in God for salvation.

In fact, He’s begging that someone can be sent back to warn his 5 brothers about hell.

Which is ironic, because the rich man has become the beggar

And again, I’m not trying to make a dichotomy here that says being rich means you’re going to hell. That’s not true.

I’m just trying to point out that if you are chasing riches and comfort, you usually don’t have any extra to room to chase after God.

That’s often what an idol is.

It’s a replacement for God.

And so this passage ought to cause us to ask: “How much of my life is spent on seeking more comfort?”

And for many of you, I think if you took a really hard look at your life…comfort is the goal.

You work really hard to go to college…or maybe even graduate school?


Or you work really hard at your job

So you can get promoted.


Or you save up and save up?


What’s at the end of all of these?


We want more money.


Just so you can say you have it?

Or you can feel secure?

Sure, for some.

But for many, it’s about comfort.

If you can make $50,000 a year…or $70,000…or $100,000

THEN you can get a bigger house…a nicer house…a more modern looking house

Next year, if you get a raise…

You can get a boat, a deck, a new grill…

A nicer fridge…a renovated living room…a better car…

And if you got that…then what?

What would you feel?


You’d feel more comfort.

You wouldn’t have to feel inadequate because of your small house or old car, or ugly living room.

If you really think about it, it’s quite disheartening how much effort we put in to feeling comfortable.

Many literally go into debt, they spend money that they don’t have, just so they can feel COMFORTABLE.

And for what?

To feel some measure of comfort for our short time on earth?

But is that the point of your life? To seek comfort above all things?

No, comfort is not your goal.

Being in a relationship with God and giving glory to God…is your goal.

If you haven’t trusted in Christ for salvation, you won’t feel any comfort for all of eternity.


For some of us, there’s another way we avoid the doctrine of hell

3 Ways We Avoid The Doctrine of Hell

#1: We are distracted by our pursuit of comfort

#2: We think people need more signs

We feel like there should be more evidence before we talk more about hell.

Do you ever feel this way?

Like, “God, if heaven and hell are real, shouldn’t it be more obvious to people?”

That’s a good question.

The rich man felt that way once he was in hell.

He says, “Father Abraham (who is the famous father of the Jewish nation in the OT) send someone back from the dead to warn them!”

In other words, people need more evidence if they’re going to go to heaven and avoid hell.

And what does Abraham say to the formerly rich man?

(Luke 16:29) – NIV

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

In other words, the evidence from the Word of God…is enough.

Romans 1 takes it a step further and basically says, “Just walk outside at look at God’s creation, the stars, the universe…” and that’s enough.

We don’t need more signs.

Even with more signs, our wicked and sinful hearts would just deny them anyway

Abraham says exactly this:

(Luke 16:31) – NIV

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.’”

What’s interesting about this story, is there is another man (different person, but same name…Lazarus), who DOES come back from the dead in John chapter 11

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead after he has already been dead for 4 days.

And we’re told that when the Chief Priests find out Lazarus is back alive, they make plans…to kill him!

Not…make plans to hear about heaven…or to hear his testimony as evidence

No, they make plans to kill him and eliminate the evidence.

This is the state of the sinful heart we have.

The sinful heart will always cry for more evidence.

God may completely transform an unbeliever’s spouse into a brand new person…one who’s passionate for Christ and brimming with love, and the unbeliever will say, “It’s just a phase or an act”

God may heal an unbeliever’s family member of cancer, and the unbeliever will say, “I’m sure the doctor just had it wrong in the first place”

The irony of Abraham’s statement about of “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” is deep.

Because of course, even JESUS Himself rose from the dead…and many did not believe.

They just asked for more evidence…

Which is often just a way of rationalizing yourself out of surrendering to God

No, the Word of God is enough.

And God will give life when it’s in His will

(John 5:21) – NIV

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.

And so share the Gospel with people.

People don’t need another sign.

God’s Word is powerful and active…and it is enough

People need to know that if they don’t have Christ, they will not be saved.

And if they are not saved, they will be in hell.

You want to know the one thing that scares me more than almost anything else?

It’s that someone would get to the horrible place called hell…and will think, “That David Sorn…I KNOW that he had to know about this place…about Jesus too…and he never told me”

May no one EVER say that of you. EVER.

Hudson Taylor, the great 19th century missionary to China once led a Buddhist leader to Christ in China.

The man had been long seeking truth by studying Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, but there was no rest for his soul until he heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Eagerly he began testifying to the Buddhists of the peace he found!

One day, shortly after his conversion, he asked Hudson Taylor how long the English had known about Jesus?

Had they just found out recently?

When he was told that the English had had known Jesus for centuries, he was shocked.

He replied, “For hundreds of years you have had these glad tidings and only now have come to preach it to us? My father sought after the truth for more than 20 years, and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner!”

The problem will avoiding the topic of hell is that every time we avoid it, less people actually avoid hell.

People need to hear the truth that Jesus, in his love, came to earth to SAVE us.


There’s a third way that we avoid the doctrine of hell that God wants us to see in this passage

Again, this is far from an exhaustive list…

But merely a list of application from what we see in THIS Bible passage.

3 Ways We Avoid The Doctrine of Hell

#1: We are distracted by our pursuit of comfort

#2: We think people need more signs

#3: We minimize hell

If I just straight up asked you:

Do you believe hell exists?

You’d say, “Yes.”

And, if you are a believer in Jesus, and I asked you, “Who is in hell?”

You’d say, “Those who reject the Gospel. Those who do not believe Jesus died for them.”

But the reality is…we don’t live as if that is true.

There’s a disconnect.

If you truly lived like that was true, surely you would tell way more people about Jesus, right?

But you say, “yes, I understand that, but I do believe it’s true!”

And one of the ways, we get ourselves to sleep at night…and live with the disconnection between what we say we believe and how we live…

…is by minimizing hell.

Some do that with theology you can’t find in Scripture by saying, “Oh, I bet it’s not actually painful…just a place without God…or I bet it doesn’t go on forever”

Others do it by just talking about it as a place for those who deserve to be there while forgetting they deserve to be there too.

Ravi Zacharias (who just went to heaven to be with Jesus) once quoted Robert Dale as saying, “The only man I can ever listen to preaching on hell is DL Moody, because I have never heard him talk of it without breaking down and weeping.”

But most of us don’t want to let our hearts and minds go there.

So A LOT of us…just try not to think about it

Most churches try very hard to not even talk about it

Which blows my mind considering how much time Jesus spent on it

But remember, the problem with avoiding the topic of hell is that every time we avoid it, less people actually avoid hell.

We must not minimize this!

Make no mistake

The rich man is in torment…he is agony

He’s begging for someone to just dip the tip of their finger in water to cool his tongue off!

There is no purgatory…no place where you go after death to be purified of your sin so you can eventually cross into heaven

That’s a false doctrine for 2 reasons

For ONE, Jesus’ death is 100% sufficient for you. It purifies ALL of you, not PART of you. God see’s the righteousness of Christ on you, not half of it.

And SECONDLY, This passage teaches that a great chasm exists, so no one may ever cross from hell to heaven (or vice versa)

We’re told that even though this man considered himself a Jew (Abraham was his ancestor), that wasn’t enough to save him

And just because you go to church or your parents are Christians, that won’t be enough to save you.

You must put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus who died on the cross for your sins

Jesus who loved you so much that He died in your place

So that, through your faith, you could go to heaven.

If you’ve never put your faith in Him, I encourage you to do so today…

I pray that God uses this message to lead you to Jesus, today.

Let me pray for that.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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