The following is the text of a message I will be sharing today in our home church group. I will try to post these messages from time to time for the benefit of any who are hungry for Jesus.
I would like us to imagine what it would be like to spend one hour outside of the presence of God. Consider as many aspects of what this would mean as you possibly can. Consider the harmony of the earth and the creation, outer space and gravity. Think of how the earth moves around the sun and gives us day and night and seasons of each year. Consider the typical fear found in the heart of the animal kingdom at the sight of mankind. Consider the dealings of mankind, one with another, one man with another man. Think about how these events might be different if our Lord pulled away His presence for just one hour. To consider some of these points let us look at some passages from the scriptures:
Genesis 1:1-18 God takes this dark void and creates something that follows rules and has order!
Exodus 14:10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
– What would have happened to Israel? Pharaoh would have consumed them!
2 Samuel 22:7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
– What if God was not there to answer David’s cry? What if the feeling of hopelessness took over his heart? The thought of an empty cry where no-one hears is an awful thought!
Jonah 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
– What about Jonah? What if God left for the final hour of his life in the belly of that fish?
Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
– What if there was no answer for one hour as Jesus walked among the demon possessed and the sick and needy? No answer to prayer, and no deliverance for the lost! They just continue in their miserable conditions as they had for years. If that happened today, the disciples would be saying these poor souls didn’t have enough faith! Is that really the problem, or has God’s presence been lacking?
– Now these are times of distress. Is God to be sought and required only in times of need and distress? That was the heart of the unbelieving Israelites who came out of Egypt only to desire a return to Egypt. If we seek the Lord only in time of trouble, then we are a people in trouble.
Hebrews 3:10-19 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
– Without the presence of God we would have no Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we would have no direction, no Word from God, no protection and ultimately no hope! How would we worship and fellowship together? What would it be like if God was not there for the hour of singing. No God during an hour of preaching? Would it be just fine with you or would you recognize something terrible is missing? Ultimately when God is not there, neither is there hope.
– How many times did God in His mercy save your life from certain death? How many chances have you already had? How quickly they are forgotten, and how quickly the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ is forgotten:
Psalm 14:1-4 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
What about hell? Lets now take away the thought of one hour and consider this word ‘eternity’! This place called hell can never reach capacity! There is always enough room for more if need be. But what about the presence of God in this place called hell?
Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
– If there is no hope for the godless on this earth while they remain without Christ, how much more the godless in hell?
Luke 16:24-31 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
– There is one opportunity for repentance, as the rich man found out. His hope was lost and his memory was fresh about it. He even had good thoughts to have family saved from that place. Alas too late. Interestingly you never read a word of repentance from those who are in hell. Is it because they know that it will not help them? Is it because their hearts have become like stone? Are they looking for what they can get out of it only? Will heaven be filled with people who have come to Christ through the thought of what the cross can do for them? Isn’t that still originating from self? Isn’t that humanism? The idea that I go through life looking for what ultimately makes me happy. What about what makes God happy? What about the thought of doing those things that bring the Glory to Jesus that He deserves? What about the sense of the guilt of the sin we contributed to put Christ on that cross? Is hell big enough to fit the majority of mankind since the love of the most is waxing cold?
Isaiah 5:11-16 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled: But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
All the pride and lovers of self will be brought into such a place. There will be no end. This is called eternity. Consider the verse:
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
– Imagine a fire that will never be put out. A punishment that is worth losing parts of your body just to avoid. A place of unimaginable hatred and evil, a place where there is:
Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
– Imagine having a terrible pain in your eyes from a few grains of sand. There is always the hope that with a little water and flushing that the sand will come out and the pain will cease. But not so in hell. In this place there is no rest forever. The pain and the torment will not end. This is not just one hour, this is forever!
Consider the judgment right at this very moment for Judas Iscariot:
Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
– How unimaginable must his torment be at this very moment. Does Judas hear us right now? Does he remember what his life was all about? In hell there is a memory.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
– Oh how desperately terrible one hour would be without God. Jesus can tell us what it is like since He had to go through it on the cross. He had to experience this because of your sin and because of my sin. Shall we continue to sin that His Grace may abound?
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
– There is eternity waiting for everyone. The question is what kind of an eternity waits you?
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Can any of us see heaven or hell right now? Has God shown you what eternity really is all about? What the costs of each decision on this earth will cost us?
2 Corinthian 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
– Have you sensed the desperation of this choice? Have you understood that you don’t have the amount of time you think you have to make this choice? Did Phil Baker know he was living his last day when he was driving his truck with his two cousins? Did Job’s children know it was to be their last birthday party! Did President Kennedy know it was to be his last drive in front of his nation? The biggest deception of eternity is that it creeps up and takes it victims by surprise! Oh the terrible thought that a sinner was taken by surprise into the fires of hell where there are no second chances. There is no rest for ever! Think of parents, relatives, souls that are living in sin and yes thinking that Grace will abound to them and I assure you it will not! Does this not capture your heart? Does this not bring you to the cliffs of insanity? Just the thought of all these and will you join them? Oh my dear friends, delay no longer. Let the reality of eternity be set before your eyes and never let it out of your sight. What will you do to flee eternal death? What will you do to help others flee this eternity in hell fire? This time without end in suffering and anguish? Flee the cliffs of insanity and lay hold of the rock of prayer, and there you will get direction. Only wait no longer, but walk circumspectly:
Ephesians 5:14-17 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
– Yes and all who end up in hell have justly done so. They have rejected the counsel of God and shunned the cross of Jesus Christ. They have loved sin and rejected the truth. I would conclude with the intercession of Abraham on Sodom and Gomorrah for Lot’s sake:
Genesis 18:24-26 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
– Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Yes and He always does do right, and no-one shall stand before Him to spare you from the judgment, except for the One whom the Father has given to be the Saviour of all who should follow His life.