Spiritual Warfare 5 Heaven Or Hell
Heaven … or Hell?
Every person who dies will go to either heaven or hell.
Listen to a story in the Bible that demonstrates this truth:
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 hell, 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 fixed, 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 father's house, 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.'" (NIV)
This story demonstrates great hope and a secure future for those who are in Christ.
This story also shows that there is no hope for those outside of Christ.
In this message, I would like to present the hope of eternal like that those who are "in Christ" have at the time of their death; and the horror of eternal damnation -- eternal separation from God -- for those outside of Christ.
It is said that the Bible is the most optimistic book there is, and the most pessimistic.
For those who are Christians, it is optimistic.
Revelation 14:13: "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in
the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will
follow them." (NIV)
¨ Along with Acts 22:17, only place in Scripture that the H.S. speaks directly.
¨ Their blessedness consists in "rest" from the onslaught of the dragon and his beasts during the Great Tribulation, and the assurance that their toils for Christ's name will not be in vain but will be remembered by the Lord Himself after their death (Heb. 6:10; cf. 1 Tim. 5:24-25).
¨ Therefore, it is speaking strictly in regards to tribulation saints, and emphasizes the martyr's future, but can also be applied to all believers.
¨ For this sermon, we will apply this verse in the broad context for all believers.
"I heard a voice from heaven"
Information given is of utmost importance: solemnly communicated by a voice from heaven; and the apostle is commanded to write what is said.
"Blessed are the dead," or, "happy are the dead."
They are happy in two respects:
1. They do not see the evil that shall come upon the world, and are exempted from any further sufferings.
2. They actually and conscientiously enjoy happiness in a state of blessedness.
"Who die in the Lord"
These are the only glorious dead.
They die, not in the field of battle of man,
But they die in the cause of God, as part of God's family.
They die under God's approval. They died, saved by the blood of Jesus.
And they die to live and reign with God forever and ever.
"From Now On"
Aparti: From this time; now; immediately.
As soon as the souls of the just depart from this life, they ascended immediately to heaven.
"Yes, says the Spirit"
The Holy Spirit confirms the declaration from heaven, and assigns the reasons of it.
"They will rest from their labors"
"Rest" does not mean that life will be characterized by idleness and inactivity.
(1) "Rest" in Biblical language carries the idea of satisfaction in labor or joy in
They no longer toil with that which is irksome or tiresome (under the curse).
(2) Rest implies freedom from all that is evil.
There will be no temptation or hindrance by Satan.
There will be freedom from the outward cares and sorrows of life and from the vexation and
perplexities of earthly matters.
There will be no more tribulation and distress.
"For their deeds will follow them."
Their good works, sufferings, etc., are represented as so many companions escorting them on their way to the kingdom of God.
They have laid up treasure in heaven.
When a believer dies, he or she will immediately be in heaven with the Lord.
Intermediate State: Before all our taken from this earth.
What is the intermediate state like?
Scripture indicates that there will be fellowship with other believers. (Luke 16:22)
Revelation speaks of multitudes praising God together (7:9; 19:6).
There is no hunger, thirst, and no tears.
There is no hot, beating sun.
The Lamb is their shepherd.
They are led to the springs of the water of life.
Believers at death are perfected in holiness (Hebrews 12:23).
The soul of the believer enters a much higher plane of existence.
What about the unsaved?
What will it be like when they die?
When God's plans for this earth are done, there will be The Great White Throne Judgment
Revelation 20:11-15: "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (NIV)
This judgment will include every unsaved person who has ever lived except the beast & the false
prophet. (Rev. 20:10)
Only the regenerate -- those who are God's -- will not be part of this experience.
Every human being will be brought before the Creator, his or her life is reviewed -- based on works
(Rev. 12, 13; Rom. 2:5-8), and his or her eternal destiny is decreed.
God has a perfect record of every thought, word, and deed of every human being.
Nothing is forgotten.
An absolute, final, ultimate, immutable sentence is passed.
The sentence is executed immediately after the judgment.
Eccl. 12:14--"Because God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether
it is good or evil."
Romans 2:16 --"On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men
through Christ Jesus."
Matthew 12:36--"Every careless [idle, useless, evil] word that men shall speak, they shall render
account for it in the day of judgment."
The text indicates that no one will be exonerated through his works.
Nothing less than 100% obedience will be required. (Galatians 2:16; 3:10)
No one will measure up to God's holy standard.
Only those written in the Lamb's Book of Life are saved.
These are those who are accepted on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness.
For those who did not receive Christ here on earth, eternal punishment is their destiny.
The Biblical speaks with certainty of eternal punishment
Matthew 5:22 --"Whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the hell of fire".
Matthew 5:29 --"It is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole
body to be thrown into hell".
Matthew 25:41 --"Then He will say to those on His left, `Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the
eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
Matthew 25:46 --"And these will go away into eternal punishment".
Jesus has more to say about eternal punishment that any other biblical figure.
Jesus makes explicit and repeated statements of the awful wrath of God which the wicked will one
day experience (John 5:28, 29; Luke 12:9, 10; Mark 9:43-48; John 8:21).
To issue and execute such a sentence is obviously God's sole right.
God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
God is the Great Judge!
It is important that we observe what He reveals rather than what men reason.
For instance, some scholars believe in annialation -- that Mankind will be punished for a certain length of time, and then cease to exist.
A number of passages teach unequivocally the endless sufferings of the wicked.
Revelation 14:11--"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest
day and night."
Let me go to the word of god to describe hell:
A place of Consciousness (Luke 16:23, 24)
Eternal Separation from loved ones who are believers (Luke 13:28)
The Torment of Memory in Hell (Luke 16:27, 28)
Vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8--"rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them
that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.")
The worm that never dies (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48)
Shame, everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2)
Without the Slightest Hope of Release (Matthew 25:46, Hebrews 6:2)
The fire which is not quenched, or the eternal fire (Isaiah 66:24; Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:43-48;
Matthew 18:8; 25:41; Heb. 10:26-27)
Gehenna, or the fire of Gehenna (Matthew 5:22-30; 10:28; 18:9)
Perdition -- or Destruction (Philippians 3:19; Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Revelation 11:18)
The Furnace of Fire (Matthew 13:41-50)
The place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42; 50; 22:13)
These expressions suggest the bitterness of remorse and hopeless self-condemnation.
Eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46; Jude 7)
A place of Darkness (Matthew 22:13; 8:12; Jude 6, 13)
2 Peter 2:17--"For whom the black darkness has been reserved."
Figures like "outer darkness" suggest the "terrible isolation of the lost, and their eternal separation from the gracious fellowship of God."
The Wrath to Come (Luke 3:7; Romans 2:5, 8, 9; 5:9)
Exclusion (cast out) (Luke 13:25, 28)
Revelation 22:15 -- "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the
murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." (NIV)
A place of Torment (Revelation 14:11, 20:10)
Eternal Destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:7)
Eternal Judgment (Hebrews 6:2)
Hell is forever & ever & ever & ever!
Illustration: It would to be better to be given a sentence of a billion years for each sin committed,
than for an individual facing an eternity that never ends in hell.
There is a finality about hell which will never end.
Damnation or Condemnation (2 Peter 2:3; Jude 4)
Denial (Matthew 10:33--"But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My
Father who is in heaven;" Matthew 7:23--"And I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart
from Me, you who practice lawlessness;'" 2 Timothy 2:12--"If we deny Him, He will also deny
Anathema, cursed (Matthew 25:41)
Retribution (2 Corinthians 11:15--"whose end shall be according to their works;" Colossians 3:25;
2 Timothy 4:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7--"for after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you . . . ."; Revelation 18:6; 22:12)
Woe (Matthew 11:21; 23:13; 26:24; Luke 17:1-2)
Privation (Matthew 25:29--"From him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away."
Scattered like dust (Matthew 21:44)
Fire and Brimstone (Revelation 14:10)
The Lake of Fire, the Lake that Burns (Revelation 19:20; 20:15)
The Second Death (Revelation 20:14; 21:8; 2:11)
In the end, sin reaps a dreadful harvest.
Scripture makes it plain "that unbelief is catastrophic".
How can a loving God throw people into hell?
God is not only loving, but just; and if His justice demands eternal punishment for Mankind's sins,
think of the awesome holiness, purity and justness that demands such a severe punishment!
Our hearts should grieve that people are going to hell.
Hell is a real place and real people go there.
Long ago in England, there was the worst kind of criminal. He had broken the laws so severely that the judge sentenced him to death by hanging. He was not killed right away, however, so that he would have time to think about all the evil he had done.
When Charlie Peace finally was to be hanged, he was led by a minister who walked in front of him reading Scripture. He read about heaven and hell— that heaven would be glorious and joyful and that hell would be a bottomless pit, engulfed with flames, where men tasted death, but never died. Upon hearing this, Charlie grabbed the minister and said, “What was that you said? Do you mean to tell me that Charlie Peace will befalling, but never reach the bottom? Do you mean that Charlie Peace will be burning, but never be consumed? Do you mean that Charlie Peace will feel the icy fingers of death on his neck, but never die?”
The minister, shocked, said, “Well, yes, that is what is taught.” Peace replied, “If I believed what you say you believe, you could scatter broken glass from one side of England to the other and make me crawl on my hands and knees, leaving a trail of blood wherever I went; and if it would save one person from what you just described to me, I’d say to myself ‘Charlie Peace, your life has been worth it. ‘ “
Hell is a real place with real consequences and real people go there.
Hence, life is very pessimistic for those who don't know Christ, for there is no hope.
Remember, God loves us and provides a way to escape eternal damnation.
A person once said that individuals will only go to hell if they choose to.
For the believer, life is optimistic because there is hope …
Because, heaven is also a real place and God's people will truly live with Him.
Let's Look At The Eternal State of Righteousness
First of all, there will be a New Heavens and a New Earth
Isaiah 65:17--"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not
be remembered or come to mind."
Revelation 21:1 --"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth
passed away, and there is no longer any sea."
The creation will be set free (Romans 8:19-23).
Christ's work includes the redemption of the entire creation from the effects of sin.
There is a discontinuity between the present universe and the new universe.
Everything sinful and imperfect will be removed.
There will be a perfect knowledge of God, a perfect enjoyment of Him, and perfect service.
God will create a new heaven and a new earth so fascinating in its splendor and so satisfying to
man that there will be no desire for the former.
Heaven will involve the positives of earthly life and the removal of the negatives.
Life in eternity will liberate us from all loss, all deprivation.
On earth, value depends on scarcity.
In heaven, value resides in abundance.
Whatever experience we enjoy in heaven will be magnified, not by the fact that others are
deprived of it, but by the fact that others enjoy it, too.
The resurrection body will not be constructed and equipped to match the conditions of the space-
time dimensions from which eternity will release us.
Illustration: To try to make a caterpillar imagine its future life is a useful, if fanciful, way of
pinpointing the difficulty men and women have in picturing life in resurrection bodies.
The highest reward in heaven is the presence of God.
The most blissful experiences of earthly life give Christians fragmentary glimpses of what the
joys of heaven will be like.
The whole character of heaven is essentially determined by the fact that it is God's home.
Evidence of his touch is here no longer fragmentary; awareness of his presence is here no longer
The supreme joy of heaven is the vision of God himself.
Whatever form your most moving earthly experiences of beauty have taken, they were foretastes
Wherever you have found lovingkindness in human hands and human eyes and human words,
you were confronting Christ's personality operative in God's creatures.
There is a continuity between the present world and the new universe (Gen. 1 & 2; Matt. 5:5; Acts
3: 19-21; Rom. 8:20-21).
"New" in Revelation 21:1 is kainos -- means "new" in quality, not time.
The old is not annihilated, but renewed, purified, refined.
The melting of the earth will give it a new form, but it will be the same earth.
As our bodies will be the same but glorified, so the new heavens and the new earth will be the
same but wondrously renewed.
There will be a continuation of man's knowledge and dominion over nature.
The Holy City
In Revelation 21:1-22:5 we have the most extensive revelation of the eternal home of the redeemed
anywhere in Scripture.
This passage refers to the final, eternal state, not to the intermediate state or to the millennium.
It is after the final consummation.
There will be no change in this state whatever.
There will be no tears, crying, mourning or death (21:4).
There will be no cause for grief, no suffering.
The curse with the pain and toil which result is now lifted.
There will be nothing which displeases God, nothing which will need to be punished, nothing
which could serve as a temptation.
The old Adam is forever done away with.
There will be no more war, hatred or violence.
There is no temple.
Saints worship God directly.
There will not be the distance between ourselves and God which we experience as sinners.
There is no night or darkness.
Characteristics of the City.
Jesus said He was going to the Father to prepare a place for us. If it only took Him six days to create the whole earth, and He's been working on the heaven for 2,000 years, imagine how glorious it will be!
Heaven and earth will become one (21:1-3).
We shall no longer live by faith (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).
There will be an eternal display of God's purpose to redeem from sin and to sanctify wholly.
We shall be able to manifest God's glory fully.
There will be a display of God's glory in perfection.
God's glory filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35).
We shall behold the glory of Christ (John 17:24).
The city will experience the radiance of uncreated light dispensed by and through the Lamb.
There will be no need for a sun, because God will light up heaven.(Isaiah 24:23).
Illustration: Moses' face was so bright when he came down from the mountain that his brethren
could not look upon it. -- On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus shone with a great light.
There will be a river of life.
The verse probably means that there will be a river on one side and the avenue on the other.
God will satisfy fully the deepest longings and cravings He has put within the human soul.
There will be uninterrupted communion and fellowship between God and man.
This is why we were created -- to fellowship with God.
Heaven will be eternal!
Illustration: A Sunday School Teacher of mine once said, "For each grain of sand in all the
beaches and sand dunes in the world, and say, a 10,000 years is represented by each grain of still;
still, that is only the beginning of eternity!
Heaven is a real place.
The stakes of life are high, as the consequences are eternal.
How do you view life?
Do you honor God with your life, and love Him?
Are you an optimist, or a pessimist? -- Is the glass half empty or half full?
Will you accept His Grace?
If you are outside of God's grace, you still have hope, because God's grace is still in effect for you.
He loves you and desires you to come to Him.
Jesus has come to earth and died for your sins, so that your sins are forgiven and you can have an
eternal destiny with Him.
If you are not a Christian, won't you come to Him now?