"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
Lord Jesus Christ, at your death you
descended into the hellish wrath of the Father for our transgressions, and you
were raised from the dead on the 3rd day for our justification: Show
us clearly why this subject of hell, which you revealed in detail profits us;
so that we may gain deep, unending advantage. Amen.
The truth about Hell, as revealed in the
Holy Scriptures – and most often from the lips of Jesus – is intended to be enduringly
advantageous for Christians and to advance our growth. Now you might be asking
“Mike, how can that be? It’s such a frightening subject. How can it be for my
maturation?” Good question and one that we should ask about most everything
Scripture teaches. The answer to that question will be obvious with some
topics, and not so obvious with others. This topic may be one where it’s not so
clear. That’s the reason for this particular sermon. The truth about Hell, for
the believer, should be extraordinarily helpful by inspiring at least three
1. Greater Godliness. In this passage
we have just read, who was Christ talking to? Our Lord was talking to his followers. And why did he mention Hell
to them? He mentioned it in relation to motivating them to seriously deal with sin. As Jesus says elsewhere, it’s by
our fruits that we’re known. The one who has been freely saved and joyfully rescued
from Hell by the costly love of God, is the person who seeks to avoid
everything that will defile and deface that unending love of God (v.
8-9). Truly, God’s people persevere by the eternal decree and election of God,
but we persevere in grace-fueled repentance
and we persist and push-forward in faith-filled
obedience. Westminster Shorter Catechism 89: “How is the word made effectual
to salvation? The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the
preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners,
and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto
salvation.” And our third membership vow we have all made to God: “Do
you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy
Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?” John Owen put it this way once: “Make
killing sin your daily work; be always at it while you live; do not cease one
day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
Killing sin is the birthmark
of your royal re-birth. No matter how long you or I may have been professing
Christians, the evidence (not our confidence, but the evidence) that you have
been rescued freely from hell is in the way you deal with personal sin. To aggressively
deal with sin shows that, by God’s empowering, loving, liberating help, you have
escaped hell and damnation, and have already begun to be filled with Heaven! To
put it another way, you don’t try to tackle your sin to get God to rescue you
from hell; but because God has already freely saved you from hell, you want to
live your new destiny: you want to live heaven!
2. Greater Love for Christ.The fact of hell exposes the everlasting,
never-ending destiny of a person who is condemned as guilty in his rebellious
sin. But then, you think on what God has generously done for you in His Son
Jesus Christ, and you say: “Ah and this Jesus came to rescue me – ME! Of all people!
– from such a ghastly demise that I justly and fairly deserved! Oh, what a
great salvation; O what an extensive deliverance, O what a heroic rescue this
Jesus has done! And what did I do? I was running from Him, I was avoiding Him and
yet He pursued me and kept me from plunging headlong into this damnable
destiny!!!!” And the result? Greater Love for Christ: Luke 7:43-50 – he
who has been forgiven much loves much. Therefore, the truth about hell will
bring a true child of God to her knees, moving her to wonder and gratitude.
Deliverance from hell arouses a new and refreshing adoration for him who loved
you and gave himself for you. Every time we say this in the Apostles’ Creed,
“he descended into hell” realize we are saying, he has descended into the hell
of God’s damnation that we deserved! But not only do you see what he has saved
you from, you begin to grasp what he has saved you for – to draw you into the
ultimate, imperishable, unending fellowship of the living, personal community
of the Trinity – which is opened up to us by Christ’s death and resurrection.
Therefore, it spawns an increasing desire for Christ’s Church, for the Word, Sacraments,
Prayer, fellowship with the body of Christ, so that you can commune and
fellowship with Christ.
3. Greater Desire to spread this
rescue around, to draw people out of their doom and into this life! What more can I say here? That is the
point of Psalm 117 which called us into worship this evening. The goal of Psalm
67 we responsively prayed a few minutes ago! This is the Christ-inspired desire
behind Paul’s reason for preaching the Gospel: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each
one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or
evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. ( . . . )
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We
implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians
5.10-11a, 20). Therefore, the reality of hell and God’s delivering his people
thru Jesus from hell should move us to reach out in multiple ways: (1) Be enthusiastically
supporting our missionaries with prayer and finances, short-term mission trips,
missionary care-packages, etc. (2) Be earnestly sustaining the work of this
congregation; (a) with daily prayers…; (b) by bringing unbelieving friends and
family here, jumping in to our VBS this summer, etc. As our HPC Vision
statement says: ‘That God will use the people of Heritage Presbyterian Church
actively to reach out to unbelievers with the gospel; doing so as he transforms
us all into the image of Christ. That our people will be warm, caring, and
welcoming to all”; (c) to committed tithing so John and I can give our time to
this cause – and by the way, thank you for your substantial care for us, and
the recent increase; so that we can continue to buy good Sunday School material,
obtain good books and booklets to give out, etc. (3) By being here every Sunday
you possibly can (a) as a testimony to the world and your neighbors that this
Christ-committed-ness, this Church-thing is of number-one priority; (b) to pour
out our hearts as priests in concert – for the salvation of the world, for the
salvation of our friends and for the salvation of our families; (c) to lift up
your hands and hearts and voices in resounding, joyful thanksgiving for “the
deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a
mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love Leading onward,
leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above” (Trinity Hymn 535)!
Therefore, rejoice and give thanks for
what you have been saved from,
celebrate the goodness of God because of what you have been saved for, and go forth gossiping and
gabbing the Gospel!
When I was 20 years old, I was stationed in a Muslim country for two years. During that time I read the Quran (in an English translation from Oxford), interacted with Muslim acquaintances, and saw Islam lived out in it's communal context. Therefore I was excited when my mother gave me a copy of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus". With bazillions of reviews already plastered on the various sites and venues, mine will be short and succinct.
Nabeel Qureshi has woven together a very personal and personable volume written to give "an insider's perspective into a Muslim heart," as well as equip readers "with facts and knowledge, showing the strength of the case for the gospel contrasted with the case for Islam," while chronicling his own inner struggles, sacrifices and doubts when grappling with the Christian faith. The style of writing is autobi…
"When evil looms and darkness falls And tragedy is breaking When all that's good seems overturned By God I'm not forsaken For though I fall or wander far I'm not too far for saving And when my Shepherd seeks and finds How can I keep from singing" (229)?
So cantillates Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, mother, wife, writer, musician and abuse survivor, in her new 240 page hardback "Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse". This volume is the tale of her terrors and troubles at the hands of an abusive father, and it is far, far more. It is truly a story of life after abuse, abundant life found only in the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An easy to read book, it is ideally suited for those who have been traumatized and those who long to help the trampled! "I am not my abuser. I have a choice. I aspire to heal and grow by God's grace" (82).
It's a memoir, a series of journal entries telling a very human set of stories in a very friendly, personable way. It's not fully polished, but it's real, sometimes raw, and always forthright and frank! Holly Rench, Executive Director and co-founder of The Welcome Mission, has penned a touching series of real-life exploits, escapades, agonies and adversities of the women she has been involved with for over twelve years in this 231 page softback "At Home: The Incredible Story of The Welcome Mission".
Rench unravels the tangled lives of several of her and Marcus's "adopted" adult children describing their destructive pasts and how many of them, through love and hospitality, have moved further up and further on. But the tales are also filled with pitfalls and potholes that will jar the reader's suspension system's and rattle any self-righteous lug-nuts s…