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Sermons

God and judgement or How can a loving God send people to hell? [Sermon Notes]

StNicholas Goulburn

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God and judgement
or
How can a loving God send people to hell?
Sermon Notes From Sermon
Presented By The Reverend Ross Hathway
On The 28th Of May, 2017

Psalm 145:17-20 & Luke 16:19-31

Introduction: Sarah Irving Stonebraker, article “How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus”.
This morning: Judgement implies hell. New atheists don’t like this.
A quick scan of references:
19 references to Hell or Hades in New Testament.
60-70 texts warning directly of the judgement of God in the future.
Dozens of others indirectly refer to the judgement of God in the future.
Psalm 145. Righteousness of God: loving to those who call on him and honour/fear him.
Luke 16. Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus.

(a)  There is continuous existence after death.
(b) 
There is the reality and torment of Hades. 
(The abode of the unsaved dead between death and judgement).
(c) 
There are no second chances after death.
(d) 
The impossibility of the dead communicating with the living.

Context is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
God is just, impartial and sees all.
He is discerning about the condition of the human heart.

The rich man is sent to hell to eternal torment.
The poor man goes to be with Abraham.
At the time of Christ this was the same as saying he was with God eternally, because Abraham was the Father of the faithful people in the history of ‘Old Testament’.

Illustration: The concepts of heaven and hell are increasingly alien to our postmodern world.
Nowadays, the idea of God’s judgement and being lost and condemned, forever is too much for people.

Illustration: Furore of Margaret Court in the newspapers in May.
To make absolute a truth claim is an affront for a lot of people.
If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask a fish.
We need to be become convinced ourselves about what the Bible says, if we are ever going to have conviction in our lives about God’s judgement.

The Bible’s Outline
Sin is slavery.
Idolatry is slavery.
Sin is not just about breaking rules.
It is making something besides God our ultimate value and worth.
Often it is the misuse of good things God has made.
Substitute Gods are relentless enslaving us mentally and spiritually even to hell if we let them.
It can be an idea, our business our career, our art, even our family.
It can be our house and the fittings.
Bunnings can be.
We try to find salvation through worshipping things that end up deceiving, controlling and ultimately destroying us.

CS Lewis in the Great Divorce.
People stubbornly choose hell.
In fact, they are enslaved because they freely choose to be.
They would rather have their freedom (as they define it) than salvation.
Genesis 3:4-5 Adam and Eve: the serpent’s delusional lie, is that if they did as God said they would lose their human greatness.
But, their choice actually ruined their greatness.
Hell is as Lewis says: the greatest monument to human freedom.
THE SUMUP. Sin is slavery.

Hell is less exclusive than so called tolerance.
What do you say to the person who says I don’t think God would send a person to hell for holding the wrong belief?
The majority of thinking out there is that we develop a good record and show it to God and he owes us.
The Gospel says God gives us Jesus / salvation, then we offer ourselves to him (for example, Mark 8, Romans 12 etc).
In other words, to say a good person not just Christians can find God is to say that good works are enough to find God. (Ephesians 2:8)
You can believe that faith in Christ is not necessary or you can believe that we are saved by Grace, but you can’t believe in both at once.
So to say that good people can find God and that bad people can’t is really quite exclusive.

The Bible, say that people who know they aren’t good enough can find God, and the people who think they are good do not find God.
So, non-Christians who believe their moral efforts help them reach God are excluded.

So, both approaches to God are exclusive, but the Gospel is way less exclusive.
It says it doesn’t matter what you have done, or who you are.
It doesn’t matter if you have been at the gates of hell you are so bad, the Gates of heaven are wide open, you can be welcomed fully and instantly in Christ.
THE SUMUP. Hell is less exclusive.

No Love without wrath.
How do you reply when people say that their God is too loving to exclude people one for their sin?
Answer: What about the cross?
Didn’t it cost God agony?
They reply that it was not necessary.

Great irony here. People want to make God more loving but in doing so they make him less loving.
They end up with a sentimental God who is just passive, benign, like what people see Buddha as.
You end up with nice feelings and ethics but it is not the love of the God of the Bible.
There is no joyful self-abandonment, no humble boldness, and no constant sense of wonder.
No Love so amazing so divine that it demands my soul my life my all.
Christianity: The essence of salvation is knowing a person.
As with knowing any person there is repenting and weeping and rejoicing and encountering.
The Gospel calls us into wildly passionate intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Infinitely better than being mastered by idols.
That is the core of true salvation.

A wrath-less God cannot be a loving God.
The God of the Bible is fiercely passionate about people.
He doesn’t just shake his head in dismay and just let foolishness pass like we might do if we were a relative stranger or when reading the newspaper.

Anger isn’t the opposite of love.
Hate is the opposite of love and the final form of hatred is indifference.
Illustration:. How the Nazi hierarchy viewed the Jews.
A parent who loves their child hates in them the traits of lying, drunkenness and being a traitor.
If we as imperfect as we are can feel that way about our flawed children,
How does God feel in his moral perfection?
God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer of sin, which is eating the insides of the human race, that he loves with his whole being.

Conclusion.
It is because of the doctrine of judgement and hell that Jesus’ proclamation of grace and love are so astounding.
If we dismiss hell we automatically depersonalize and degrade the necessity of the cross.
Yes, God will judge.
Challenging. The text tells us that human being are slaves to sin.

Are we listening?
And I think that’s why the rich man’s brothers would not have listened if Lazarus had been permitted to go and tell them.