Jack Graham - Where Will You Spend Eternity?
Most people today believe in the afterlife, so when I ask this question, and the message is a question, "Where will you spend eternity", I want to draw you in today to the Scripture because the Bible definitely tells us that what we decide today regarding Christ and our future with Him determines our eternal destiny. Your decision determines your destiny. Jesus said there are two roads: one is wide and broad and it leads to destruction, and then He said, there's a narrow road and few are on that road, but it leads to the kingdom, it leads to eternal life.
And there's no question, when you read your Bible, that the Scripture tells us there are two destinies. If you know and follow the Lamb as we met those last week in Revelation 14 who followed the Lamb wherever He goes. If you follow Jesus, if you believe and receive the Lord Jesus into your life then you will be with Him in heaven forever. If you do not believe, if you reject this good news, this grace of God, the free gift of eternal life, then your destiny is in the place called hell.
One of the most well known verses in all of the Bible, one of the most beloved verses in all the Bible is John 3:16. And John 3:16 says it clearly: "For God so loved the world". Start there, For God so loved you. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish". There's the potential, there's the possibility of perishing and perishing eternally. But when you "believe in Him you will not perish, but have eternal life". So there you see it, side by side: those who are perishing and those who are not perishing, those who have eternal life.
I know this: every day we all live closer to eternity. And if you die in your sins, without Christ, then you are facing a future and a fate that is sealed forever because there are no second chances in the life to come. We golfers like to take mulligans, that's a do-over. "Give me that shot one more time". But there are no mulligans in the afterlife. We must all give an account. Hebrews 9, verse 27 says, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment". Jesus said in Matthew chapter 25, verse 46: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment and the righteous (that is those who are righteous in Christ) unto eternal life". So the destiny of the dead, those who die in the Lord or die in their sins is totally different. Heaven is for real. But hell is also for real.
Look in your scriptures, in the Word of God, beginning in verse 9: "And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he shall also drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength (undiluted) into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, worshipers of the beast and its image, and who have received the mark of his name'". Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Verse 13, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on'. 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" So there you have it. Side by side in the Scripture, certainly here in the Revelation, those who know and follow Christ, they're blessed because they're forever with Him in heaven. And those who follow the dragon, Satan, and his beast, the antichrist, this speaks of future events. We've already introduced to you to the antichrist in the days during the Tribulation in which many will follow after him. But even before the beast is on the scene, many are following the way of the beast, and therefore, they don't know Christ and they've taken the mark of the antichrist.
There's a spirit of antichrist in the world today, and many are on that trek of following the antichrist. Well, fact is, people are selective in their belief about God and the afterlife. For example, we hear things like this today: "Well I believe in a god of love, but I don't believe in a god who would judge anybody. I believe in a god who made heaven but I don't believe in a god who could make hell". "Oh, I believe in Jesus but I don't believe in judgment". Did you know that Jesus Himself, the most loving person who ever walked on planet earth, the One who laid down His life on a cross for you and rose again on the third day, He talked about hell more than anybody in the Bible. He spoke about this judgment. Why? Because He loves people. He doesn't want you to go to hell. We get all emotional about a subject like this!
Well, we don't need to think just emotionally about this kind of subject, we need to think biblically! Not what does the culture say? Or not what do my emotions say? But what does God say? One thing we know about eternity is that every one of us are going into eternity. When God breathed life into you, you became a living soul, and you can never cease to exist. You don't die like an animal dies. You don't become extinct. You are an eternal being made by God! That's why your soul is so valuable and precious to God! Matthew 16:26, "What should it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul"? We are made by God and for God! And that's what life is about. And this physical life is preparation for eternal life! This life is a test! It's a test as to where you will spend eternity.
Now, life expectancy is up. People are living into their eighties now regularly, into their nineties and many of you in this room, especially some of you younger people are going to live into your hundreds. The advance of medicine and medicines and all the rest means that we're going to be living longer. But, of course, no matter how long you live, it doesn't compare to eternity. The fact is your life may be cut short. You may not live a long life. Most people expect, you know, to come down to the end and just kind of call their family in and say goodbye and close their eyes and fall asleep. But it doesn't happen that way all the time. Your life could end just like that. The fact is three people die every second. One thousand one-three people just died.
The Bible says, Amos 4:12, "Prepare to meet your God"! Don't think that the only thing you have to do to go to heaven is die. It's not the only thing you have to do to get to heaven is die! Everybody dies; not everybody goes to heaven. We've already established that. Speaks here in verses 10 and following, of "the wine of God's wrath". Look at it again. Just take a deep breath and look at these words again. Verse 10: "the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength" In other words, undiluted. "the cup of His anger". Now this is the holy anger of God. This is not human anger. This is not God having a tantrum and throwing a fit. This is the holy wrath of God that burns against sin.
The Bible says, Psalms 7:11, "God is angry with the wicked every day". The justice of God. Everyone wants justice in life. Everyone wants a world that is ruled by justice in social justice is one of the big issues of our culture and of our country right now. We all want justice! Well, God is a God of justice and therefore, He judges sin and sinful people. And then He says in verse 10 "these will be tormented with fire and brimstone or sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb". Underscore in your Bible that phrase "in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb".
This is what's going to be the hell of hell. That all of this suffering and this separation is going to take place in the face of the One who gave His life for you! You will see the opportunity that you've been given and know that you turned from the Lamb, the Savior; that you did not believe in God, and now in hell forever and ever and ever! You will live with the thought, you will live with the reality that you'll never know or experience His love or His presence. It's all in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb. The devil doesn't rule hell.
You may think, "Well, the devil's down there. He's got a throne and he's got the fire and he's got the pitchfork and he's ruling hell". No, the devil, he's destined for hell. The devil will, as we'll see in the Revelation is going to hell, but hell is not a place where Satan is ruling and all his gang gets together to have, oh, I don't know, a helluva time. And I'm not cursing when I say that. It's no joke to be hell. You can mock hell, the devil, judgment all you want but there's no fun and games in a Christ-less grave. It's torment and these illustrations, these images here. You say, "Is this real? Is there really fire in hell? Is there really smoke in hell? Is there really brimstone in hell"?
Well, let me remind you that if you're looking at a portrait. Let's say you're looking at the portrait of a beautiful sunset, and you just, it's so beautiful; it's gorgeous. It just takes you in. The reality of a sunset, the real sunset is more vivid, more real than the painting, than the illustration, than the visual. So whatever the fire, the brimstone, the hell, another description of hell in the Bible is gehenna. Jesus used this word. It refers to a garbage dump outside the city of Jerusalem. It's still there. When we go to Israel, when we pass around Mount Zion, you look there and you see the place that was called gehenna. It was a place where false gods were at one place, at one time worshiped and then ultimately it became the town garbage heap.
So when Jesus spoke of that place of garbage where lives are thrown away, where the worm never dies and the fire never ends! All of these are pictures and portraits of a place beyond human imagination. Get the picture? The cup of His anger, the full-strength, undiluted, bitter, strong torment, fire, misery, brimstone, lake of fire, burning! Wow! Matthew 25:41, "Everlasting fire", Jesus said, "prepared for the devil and his angels". Not prepared for you. Heaven is prepared for you if you will trust in Christ. And if you die and go to hell, listen to me, it will be over the crucified body of Jesus Christ, because He loves you so much that He took the full weight of the wrath. When Jesus was on the cross He said, Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"? And in that moment divine wrath, judgment, hell was poured out on Jesus! And He took in a finite moment of time the infinite wrath of a holy God and judgment that comes to all of those who turn away from the cross, who die in their sins!
So God never intended for you to go to hell. Look again at verse 13: "And then I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" Hell is eternal, but heaven is eternal! "'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" Yes, heaven is real; thank God for that! And what are the people in heaven doing? Many of us have loved ones in heaven right now. I do and you do. And if you know Jesus you're going to heaven so you may be thinking, "Okay, what am I going to do in heaven forever"? You don't even know what to do on a rainy day! So eternity is a really, really, really, really, really, really, really long time! "So what am I going to do"? "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord".
Notice, they die in the Lord. You either die in the Lord or die out of the Lord. I'm planning on dying in the Lord! And therefore, "Blessed are they who die in the Lord". That word blessed, makarios, it's a beautiful word. Jesus used it in the Beatitudes to describe the fullness of the kingdom of God, and He used this word blessed to describe it, and it means completely fulfilled and satisfied. Happy! Happy doesn't say a miniscule part of it, but just put the word happy in there. It means eternally happy. Blessed! And so in heaven we are what? We are rejoicing, we are rejoicing! No wonder the psalmist said in Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints".
There's nothing precious about death on this side. Death is a usurper, death is a thief, death brings suffering and pain. Death is an enemy! But in Christ, precious. How can that be? "Blessed". How can that be? Because the promise is that our loved ones who are there in Christ, and we ourselves, when we are there, we will be celebrating and worshiping and praising God. Our lives will be filled with this extreme, exciting joy. Have you ever had one of those moments in your life that you just hoped would never end? You think about the best moment of your life and realize that in eternity it's going to be like that forever and ever and ever. No more night, no more pain, no more suffering, no more heartache. No wonder there's rejoicing because there's no more tears. He's going to wipe away every tear from our eyes.
There will be no more pain, no more heartbreak! All the things that separate us from our loved ones and our friends. No more, no more, no more night. Some of you might be in a very dark place in your life right now. Sometimes it gets so dark and depressing in people's lives that they want to take their lives. The mind can get sick like the body can get sick. And it's dark, and it's night. You're a believer but you're suffering, your struggling. Hang on, hold on, hope on. It's going to get better. And especially when we all get to heaven it's going to be beautiful and wonderful and you will rejoice again! Don't give up now or then in heaven. Well, they're rejoicing, but also they are resting. It says, in verse 13, "they are resting from their labors".
Now we're talking about Tribulation saints here. People that have been through Tribulation. They've come to faith in Christ, they've been saved, but there's persecution, there's a lot of pain. They're living for Christ in the worst generation in history and it's hard and the work, and so to hear those words, "Blessed (happy) are they who die in the Lord for they will rest from their labors". What a promise that is to rest from the hard labor. Life can be hard, right? I mean, life is not always easy. Life can be hard for you right now. You're going through a tough time in your life. Some of you are sick and you're suffering. And there's pain and there's pressure. But in heaven you will rest. No more sleepless nights. No more fatigue and endless days, but resting.
You know when it says rest from your labors it doesn't mean that you're just going to sit on a cloud and, you know, pluck a harp and waste eternity away. No, the Bible says that the saints of God, God's children will serve Him day and night. There's going to be plenty to do in heaven. 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eyes have not seen or ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him". Frankly there's more in the Bible about hell than about heaven because heaven is so indescribable! Paul said, Philippians 1:21-23, "To live is Christ, to die is gain". He said, "I have a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better". He even described the time when he went there and came back.
Some of us believe that it was when he was stoned at Lystra and left for dead. He might have had one of those near death experiences. And he saw the third heaven he tells us in the book of Corinthians, and he said, 2 Corinthians 12:4, "I saw things there not lawful to speak". All these people coming back and telling you about heaven. Paul said, "You know, I've been there and I'm not supposed to tell you what I saw". Paul knew that if we knew everything that there was to know about heaven, we wouldn't be careful crossing the street out here today. I mean, there's a veil, right? But when the veil is removed and when heaven is reality, face to face with Christ, that's going to be rest from our labors.
Can you imagine serving Christ and never getting tired? You know, sometimes we get tired in the work. I've been doing this a while, now. I can honestly say I've never gotten tired of the work. Sometimes I've gotten tired in the work of Christ. But in heaven we never grow weary, we never grow tired! We're never walking around with that dull fatigue! It's beautiful! Every day is a great day! Here's something you won't hear in heaven. "Have a great day"! It's always a great day in heaven! Always! Resting. And then rewarded. "Their works do follow them". We'll talk more about that in a future message in Revelation at the marriage supper of the Lamb and the judgment seat of Christ where we will be given rewards for our faithful labor in Christ. Works don't get us to heaven, but works follow us to heaven.
See the difference? You don't go to heaven because you have worked your way or earned your way there. It's all by grace and faith. But when you believe, then you live for Christ and "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works". And our works follow us to heaven, many times long after we're gone. That's why the judgment seat of Christ doesn't happen till the end of the age, because your legacy, your life will live on and on in your children, your children's children, and on and on and on. It will take an eternity to measure the impact and the influence of your life today! Your work in Jesus' name.