Looking for a truly scary story this Halloween? Here’s one that’s got thrills and chills galore. It may not scare you to death, but it may just scare you to life. The ending depends on you. Find out why in this message. (Recorded November 1, 1998)
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“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 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.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
“In hell, 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.’
“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 fixed, 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 father’s house, 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.’”
1. The Reality of Hell
My first encounter with the reality of hell
What Jesus said about hell
- There is fire in hell (Matthew 5:22)
- Hell is more painful than cutting off your hand (Mark 9:43-49)
- Hell is worse than dying (Matthew 10:28)
What others say about the coming destruction
- Cataclysmic Ending
2. What Are You Waiting For?
Many go to hell, but few find the way to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14)
Waiting for a miracle? (Luke 16:19-31)
One day the door will be shut forever (Luke 13:23-28)
3. Choose Your Own Ending
You can choose life or death (Romans 6:23)
What kind of people ought you be? (2 Peter 3:9-14)
Thank you for warning us of the coming destruction.
Thank you for providing a way out through faith in Christ.
And Lord, we recommit our lives to you right now.
In Jesus’ name,
I am glad you are with me tonight. I am going to talk about a subject I do not usually touch on. Tonight, since it is Halloween week, I want to talk about a truly scary story. I want to talk about hell. I want to give you a very clear picture of what hell is like, from my perspective as well as from what the Bible says and what Jesus says. I think it could very well scare you to life. This is not just a message that will scare you to death, but I believe that it can actually have eternal consequences and it could scare you right to life with Jesus forever in Heaven. So I want you to may close attention to what I say tonight. Just hear what God has to speak to you as well.
There is a message note section on your screen and if you will read that passage right now. I am going to play a song, so that you can read and hear from God what Jesus described hell is like. You will read in a passage of Luke 16:19-31. You will read about a man that went to hell and another that went to heaven, and the difference between those two places. So I want you to just take a few moments and read that story while I play a song. Then we will come back in a few minutes and talk about it. Thanks; I hope you will join me for this topic tonight about hell.
I was just thinking about a joke I heard. It was about a man who died and went to heaven and he stood before St. Peter at the pearly gates. St. Peter asked him, “Why should I let you into heaven?” The man said, “Well, I helped a lot of sick people. They were sick and I managed a healthcare organization. I determined their time in the hospital. So that was my job. And I just helped a lot of sick people.” St. Peter looked at him and he thought about it for a minute and he said, “Hmmm, well ok you can come in, but you can only stay three days.”
The Reality of Hell
Well thankfully, heaven is not like that. But unfortunately hell is not like that either. Once you make your choice, whether to follow Jesus Christ or not, you are going to be in heaven forever or you are going to be in hell forever. And frankly, I do not know a lot about hell, but I know enough that I do not want to go there.
I first encountered hell, at least the reality of it, eleven years ago. I was sitting in an auditorium and I was hearing a man describe how Jesus came into the world. He explained that God had sent Jesus for a very specific reason. That throughout the whole Bible, men had been turning away from God and every time they turned away, God was grieved in His heart. He said that some day He was going to have to destroy the world and punish all men for this. But He said, “I will send my Son to make a way out for them. And anyone who believes in Him can have eternal life.”
Jesus is going to come again another day and bring that ultimate destruction. It (the Bible) says that there will be a day when it will be too late to make that decision. Those who had not made that decision for Jesus Christ would be sent to hell for the deeds that they have done. I decided that night that I knew enough at that point that I did not want to go to hell. I repented of my sins and I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my Savior and it changed my life the very next day. Everything in my life changed. I had a whole new perspective on my life and it has been the same for many, many thousands of people who have made a similar decision. So that was my first encounter with hell. The reality hit me that there really was a hell and the great joy hit me that there really is a heaven as well.
You do not have to take my word for it – you can take God’s word for it. Here is what Jesus says about hell. Many people admire Jesus and respect Him as a great teacher. They believe what He says about heaven because they are very eager to go there. But some people do not believe what He said about hell. Yet, Jesus talked about a very real hell. Here are three things that he says about hell:
1. In the book of Matthew 5:22 He describes hell as being a place of fire. In fact an unquenchable fire, where the fire never goes out. He warns people not to kill others or even be angry with them. Or they will be (this is His quote) “in the danger of the fire of hell.” Also in Mark, the place of hell is where the fire never goes out. Where it is not quenched.
2. Hell is more painful than cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye. In Mark 9:43-49. He says, “If your hand causes you to sin, it would be better to cut it off than to be sent to hell.” Having sinned with that hand He would rather you cut it off that sinful hand rather than being sent to hell with your whole body. In the same way he says, if you eye looks lustfully at someone, it would be better to pluck your eye out and go to heaven maimed than it would be to go with your whole body to hell. So in that passage, I get out it, that hell is more painful than cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye.
3. Jesus said that hell was worse than losing your whole life. Matthew 10:28. It is worse than dying itself. Many people are afraid of death. Many people who have the assurance of salvation; they know what is going to happen after death. They are still afraid of the process of dying. What is going to kill them? Is it going to be a car accident, some painful trauma, or a disease that is going to take their life? People are actually afraid of the process of dying. Well, Jesus says this. “Do not be afraid of Satan, the one who can kill the body but who cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Imagine if dying is more pleasant than hell, it must be a pretty scary place. Not a place I would want to go to.
For instance the book of Revelation speaks about the destruction of the earth. That there is going to be a great fire that comes down from heaven. In fact, in nine of the chapters of Revelations, (almost half of the chapters) it talks about fire coming from heaven and destroying parts of the earth, people’s bodies as well as the entire earth itself. So almost half of the book of Revelation, which describes the things to come, talks about this fire that is going to destroy the whole earth.
If you do not believe that, you can look at what scientists say. A few years ago when I was doing technology research I read a book that was talking about technologies of the future. This book was written by an atheist, a secular man, who didn’t believe in God, didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. In the book he went on to describe how he laughed at people who believed in the Bible and what the Bible says. Yet, do you know what he said about the destruction of the world and how it would eventually end?
It was interesting to me because he described in the beginning of the book how the world was formed. He said, ” I do not believe the Bible at all, that is all a bunch of baloney, it does not make any sense.” He mocked people. Here he said that we all evolved from amoebae that grew in some water that was around. So we all evolved from this water like substance and then out of that the whole earth and everything else came. Well, it’s interesting that the Bible says the exact same thing. Not describing evolution, but describing the water that starts the whole process of the earth. The earth was covered with water.
Then, he got to the end of the book, and he described what was going to happen at the end of the earth, as we know it. He said at the end the sun would simply go out. I started reading that and I said, “Oh, he must believe that we are going to freeze to death if the sun goes out. That directly contradicts what the Bible says.” But NO, he went on to describe that if the sun goes out that it would actually turn into a super nova, it would explode, like all stars do when they go out. When that exploding sun hits the earth it would consume the earth in a great ball of fire. So here, even this man who is an atheist, who does not believe in the Bible, says the earth started with water and its going to end in fire. Exactly what the Bible says!
So you can take my word for it, take the scientists word for it, or take Jesus’ word for it – THE WORLD WILL END IN A GREAT BALL OF FIRE. He wants us to escape from the flame. Tonight, I pray that you will make the decision that you too would escape from the flame.
What Are You Waiting For?
What are you waiting on in making a decision for Jesus Christ? Here are a couple of things straight from the Bible. Even though there is a difference between heaven and hell, many people will go the route to hell. Only a few people will choose the route to life or heaven. You have to wonder why that would be. Only few people find the path. I believe that only a few people are seeking God and that is why it will be this way. But God does not want anyone to perish. That is why He sent His Son into the world.
In fact, in was like an Agatha Christi novel when I heard it. It was one of the BEST endings to a story that could not even be conceived by man. The end of the world, is actually a double ending. There are two comings of Jesus Christ.
The first coming, GOD SAID I AM going to destroy the world, I AM going to do this thing. I AM so grieved at what man has done that I AM going to destroy them. But first, I AM going to make a way for them to escape. I AM going to send Jesus Christ down, my Son, down to the earth to warn people and to die as a sacrifice for their sins. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will have a chance to go and be with Me in heaven forever. Anyone that does not believe in Jesus Christ does not believe that He is the one that I sent, then they will simply get the punishment for the sins that they had coming anyway. I, God, have provided an escape route, for people who want to escape the coming destruction. Then His Son was raised from the dead, raised to the right hand of God.
Here comes the double ending: He sends Jesus back again into the world to destroy the earth, like He promised He would do. Just before He does, He will pull His people out, and they will escape from the flames, before the whole earth goes up in a ball of fire.
Are you waiting for some more information? Do you need a miracle to believe in Jesus? Maybe you need someone to come back from the dead to tell you exactly what hell is like. Well, that’s exactly the passage I told you to read earlier. Let us take a look at it now, Luke 16:19-31. It describes two men. One was a rich man and one was a servant (Lazarus) of the rich man. Follow what happens in verses 23-31.
In hell, where he the rich man 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.”
So all he wanted was Lazarus the servant to come and dip his finger in water and to touch his tongue with it – hell was so tortuous; the fire was so hot.
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 fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
So heaven and hell are very separate places and you CANNOT go back and forth between the two. You don’t get three days in one to make your decision. You don’t get three days in the other to make your decision. YOU MAKE YOUR DECISION HERE ON EARTH. Then you are sent to one or the other and there is a great chasm between the two. You will not be able to cross it later.
He answered, (this is the rich man), “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 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; (basically they have the Old Testament, the scriptures) 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.”
Basically, Jesus was saying that we have all the facts to make the decision right now. You know whether you have sinned or not. You know the sins you have done cannot be paid for by any amount of money you give. They cannot be paid for; they cannot be made up for in any way that you could think of. In fact, the only way that they could be made up for is for someone to die. That someone was Jesus Christ. He died for you and for those sins. He made it very clear on the cross that it was finished – it was done. All you have to do is believe in Him and those sins would be paid for, that debt would be paid, and you could be free to come to heaven. That is what you need to do if you have not made that decision.
You do not need anymore convincing. You know that you are sinful. We all know it – we have all seen it. Yet, we still wait for a miracle. We wish that someone would come back from the dead. But let me tell you this passage in Luke 13:23-28, this is the one that tipped me over the edge as well. When I heard this passage I said, “OK, I need to make my decision today.”
It says that Jesus will return and He will take His people and when the door is closed people will be standing outside, knocking and pleading to open the door. But He will answer, “I don’t know you or where you come from.” So this door will be closed, people will see Jesus, it says that everyone will see Jesus when He comes back next time. Everyone will see Him coming in the cloud. And I can tell you that many people will be running after Jesus, saying, “JESUS! We believe you now! PLEASE TAKE US WITH YOU!” But then Jesus, in His own words, say, “It will be too late, the door will be shut, and you will be outside banging and screaming saying ‘Let me in’.”
Just like the people in the days of Noah, when God destroyed the earth the first time with the flood. They were banging and screaming on the doors of the Ark, but it was too late to open the door. They had already made their decision. Even if they made no decision, they had made a decision. You cannot sit on the fence on this one. YOU ARE EITHER FOR JESUS CHRIST OR YOU ARE AGAINST HIM. You cannot be in the middle. I want to urge you to make that decision – TO BE FOR JESUS CHRIST. Once you make that decision, you need to be for Jesus Christ for the rest of your life. This is a matter of being for Jesus Christ in everything you do and in every aspect of your life.
Choose Your Own Ending
The nice part about this story, that truly scary story, that I’m telling you tonight, is that it has an interactive element to it. That means that you can choose your own ending to the story. You can choose life or you can choose death. Romans 6:23 puts it like this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus Our Lord.” So you can choose the wages of your sin, which is the penalty of your sin, and that is death. Or you can choose eternal life that is, choosing to receive the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, Our Lord. I URGE YOU TO CHOOSE LIFE! CHOOSE LIFE!
We are going to pray in a few minutes when we come back. I am just going to sing a song to the Lord. I want you to think about that, I want you to think about a passage from 2Peter as well. And if you already made that decision there is a powerful passage that says that we need to be very careful how we live our lives once we have made that decision. God will come back, the world will be destroyed, and that is going to impact how we live.
Look at this (before we go to a song and then we are going to come back and pray) in 2Peter 3:9-14:
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Peter believed in hell. Jesus believed in hell. John believed in hell. I believe in hell. I pray that you too will believe in hell and you would choose heaven. Here is what he says to believers,
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
Let me read that again:
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.”
We are going to pray after this song and I want to tell you a short story about the city called Nagasaki. That God’s destruction is worse than any destruction that we can imagine. Come back with me in a minute. I just want to sing a song that says, “Glorify Thy name God, glorify Your name in all the earth.” I just pray that His would be glorified tonight and throughout the world until He comes again.
What Happens when God Chooses to Destroy Something?
The story I want to share with you is that God’s destruction is imminent. It is coming, and it is going to be more total then anything we’ve ever imagined. I read in the paper that there is a city called Nagasaki in Japan. And after Hiroshima was bombed back in World War II, that ended that war, they also bombed a city called Nagasaki. People estimated that it would be centuries before either of those cities would ever be inhabited again. It would be centuries before anything grew again, because of the radiation levels and because everything else that had happened, because of this destruction power of the atomic bomb.
Yet, that has only been fifty years ago. Do you know what remains in Nagasaki; do you know that if you went there and saw the landscapes, do you know what you would see? You would see trees, buildings and houses. It has all been built back up; its been rebuilt. The flowers have grown. The trees have grown. In fact the only reminder that there was every a bomb is in the city of Nagasaki is in the center of a Central Park, it is just a memorial to the bomb – where the bomb had dropped at that spot. But otherwise things have grown back.
In fact, volcanic eruptions do not cause the destruction that we are talking about. When a volcano erupts it actually provides a nice rich soil for things to grow. When Mount St. Helens erupted they were concerned that things would never grow back again. Yet, everything grew back in a few years, things started sprouting again. In fact, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful paradises of the earth and all it is a bunch of volcanoes that have been erupting over the years. So even a volcanic eruption does not match what God is going to do.
Here is what happens when God sets His mind to destroy something. He said He was going to destroy the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, this was four thousand years ago, because of the wickedness of the people. In fact, He was quite willing to spare it even if there were ten righteous people in the city. But, he could not find ten righteous people. So He had to destroy the city and when He destroyed it, He said nothing would ever grow here again and no man would ever live here again. And four thousand years later do you know what you see when you go to that spot on the earth – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It’s a desert, it is dry, there is no growth, nothing on it whatsoever!
God, when He chooses to destroy something, He does it totally and completely. And that is what He is going to do at the end of the world. There will be nothing left of it whatsoever. There will be no reverse; there will be second generation of the planet earth. There will only be a total destruction. God has promised us that will happen.
So the question is – How ought we to live our lives, with this imminent destruction in mind? I beg you, as well as Peter begged you, TO LIVE YOUR LIVES HOLY, BLAMELESS AND RIGHTEOUS. REPENT OF YOUR SINS AND CONTINUE TO WALK WITH GOD.
Let’s pray that we would be able to that:
Lord, I thank you that you loved us so much, that you were willing to send Jesus to warn us of the coming destruction. That you did not want anyone to perish but that you said, “I am going to provide a way of escape for anyone who wants it, for anyone who believes in my Son.” Thank you Lord for that warning, thank you for sending Jesus to die as a sacrifice for our sins, so we would not have to.
God, if there is anyone out there listening right now. Listening to this broadcast, now or months later even, as it is recorded, years later – I pray that they would make that decision right now to believe in Your Son, Jesus. That they would not want to be like one outside the door banging, knocking, and screaming to get in. And Jesus says, “I am sorry I never knew you.” Because it would be true. If you do not have fellowship with Jesus, He never did know you. He never fellowshipped with you because you never invited Him in. I ask you now to invite Him in. He is knocking at your door right now, saying please I am trying to give you another chance – repent of your sins and believe in me and we will walk together forever. If you want to do that, just tell the Lord you are sorry for your sins, that you believe in His Son Jesus and that you want to be in heaven forever. I pray that it would scare you right to life.
Now, for people who have already made that decision, I want to pray for you now – that you would be able to walk holy, upright and blameless.
Lord, I just pray that you would help the people watching, that you would help me and Lana right here Lord, you would help our kids, you would help other people’s kids to live holy and blameless before you. To live their lives in a way that is fully aware of the imminent destruction of the earth. Lord, I do not know how soon that is, but You in Your own words said it was soon. I imagine that means SOON! I just want to be pure and blameless before You when that day comes. I just ask that You would keep me holy, convict me of sin that would help me to understand how I can live a better life for You. Help me to know how to follow You. Help the people that are watching to do the same thing Lord.
God, we sure do love You. We sure do glorify Your name throughout the earth. We just thank You for providing a way of escape from this truly scary story. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.
I hope tonight has been a blessing for you. If you want to talk further, we have a chat room here at The Ranch and you can just go to the area that says Talk to Someone and there will be someone there. I will be there and there will be a couple of other people there to talk with you and pray with you further, if you would like further follow up.
Also, throughout the week, you can E-mail me on the contact form. We will be glad to pray with you and send a note back to you or you can find us on the ICQ as well. That is also on the page, how to download the software and to get to that.
I am so glad that you are able to watch this broadcast and I pray that you will join me next week as well when we are going to be talking about “The Fear of the Lord” and really how that is the beginning of wisdom. So if you need wisdom in your life, if you need answers to questions, we are going to talk about how you can enter into that relationship with God so you can get the answers from Him that you need to life’s toughest questions.
Thanks for joining me at The Ranch! Have a great day or great night and we will see you next week.