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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Gloom and Doom

Skip Heitzig - Gloom and Doom

Skip Heitzig - Gloom and Doom
Skip Heitzig - Gloom and Doom
TOPICS: Fight for the House

Good morning. Does that make you want to put boxing gloves on? Yeah. Not me, any of you do that, box, fight? Wow, good. Don't mess. Would you turn in your Bibles please to the book of Jude this morning? Listen, as we're getting started, I just want to underscore an announcement that was given. It's a very interesting time culturally. We've been called at 100%, you can open at 100%. But society is still sort of just waking up. I think we're at 50%. We're in the green, I think, now societally. So as we are emerging from this, the challenge we find is a church is we used to have a huge volunteer base a lot of servants, like the work on Bible Island, and now we don't.

And so what that means is parents who want to bring their children and check them in to Bible Island can't as readily, because we just don't have a people who will serve in that capacity. So if you have been itching to get involved and to serve beyond just attending, that would be a good place. We just want to put a pitch in for Bible Island. That's at this campus, our Santa Fe campus as well as, not that I expect you in here to go to Santa Fe and do that, but you might, it's a nice drive, or our West Side campus.

Anyway, we're always looking for help. Before COVID, we had hundreds of volunteers, and they're just not around as much anymore. So anyway, if that's something you all feel comfortable of doing, we'd applaud it. All right? So the book of Jude, you'll notice the title this morning. It is such a welcoming title, isn't it? Gloom and Doom, most preachers would not deliberately use that title, especially of themselves. Nobody likes to be called a doom and gloom type of a person. We think of somebody who's a pessimist, a downer, joyless, even filled with despair.

When people talk about doom and gloom preachers, they usually roll their eyes. It's very, very negative, yeah, those guys. It's always seen as a put-down. I guess my question is, where are such preachers today? I haven't heard lately of many preachers who will speak about judgment, speak about a final hell that the Bible talks about. Rarely do I hear that talked about.

There's not much gloom preaching that I hear, not that I'm advocating that. But what I do hear, whether it's on radio or TV, a lot of is how to be successful, I hear sermons on that, how to be the best version of yourself, how to make your dreams come true, how to be a prosperous type of person. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't like preaching on the subjects that are in front of us all the time.

And Jude is a short book, so we're not going to be doing this long. But when it's plainly presented in the biblical text, I am not going to skip over it. If it's uncomfortable for me, so be it. If it's uncomfortable for you, so be it. It's in the biblical text. And here's what I discovered about this week's passage. Those two words, gloom and doom, perfectly describe the subject matter in the little paragraph beginning in verse 12 down to verse 15. In four verses, Jude reminds us of the danger that apostates are to the church. That's the gloom. They bring the gloom. And then, after that, he speaks about the future judgment that those false teachers will incur. That's the doom. So the false teachers bring the gloom. God's going to bring to them the doom.

So let's look at that. I think you'll readily see that as we go through these verses. Verse 12, "These", speaking of these apostates, "these are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water carried about by the winds, late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots, raging waves of the sea foaming up their own shame, wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." That's pretty gloomy. That's the gloom. Now the doom, "Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with 10,000 of his saints to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.'"

Can you see how it easily falls into two parts? He talks, first of all, about the gloom that these people bring, and he describes them using natural phenomena, and then the doom of the future. So it's divided into present and future, or as I put it in the outline, the current jeopardy, that's the gloom, and then the coming judgment, that's the doom. But here's the thing, neither one of these subjects, gloom or doom, are even acknowledged by the unbelieving world, by the modern mind. The modern mind set does not even acknowledge this as being valid or true. Hell is not politically correct, and never has been. This is the age of tolerance. This is the age of acceptance. And for some people, hell is a theological embarrassment, even to some evangelicals.

And there are no false teachers, because we live in a postmodern world where no one can be absolutely sure of anything. So for somebody to stand and say, this is right, that is wrong, this is true, that is false is to the modern mind an illusion, because truth is not objective, it is purely subjective. That's the modern mindset. In such an environment, discernment is not welcome. To have discernment and say, actually, I hear what y'all saying in our culture, but this is right and that is wrong, this is true and that is false, that kind of discernment is not welcome. And yet, Jude provides that discernment in spades. We have seen that so far. This is a very hard-hitting book.

Now, what we uncover here, beginning in verse 12, are some word pictures. Jude is giving us many parables to illustrate spiritual truths. It's like he scours the sky, and the land, and the sea, and compares false teachers to five natural phenomena. Why does he do that? He wants to show his readers just how dangerous these people are. These people who have still embedded themselves within the church body, these are like a cancer to the body of Christ.

Now, as we are getting into this, I'm just imagining that, for some of you, this is the first time you've been back to church for like a year. So you're thinking, man, yeah, I'm going to go back to church. I really need to come back to church. I got to be encouraged, built up, strengthened, and then this sermon. It's like, oh great, gloom and doom. I want you to look at it differently, if that is what you come in with. I want you to think about it this way. God loves you so much that he wants to warn you of these things. God loves you and cares for you so much that he is willing to tell you truth. And one of the most loving things you can ever do is tell people the truth. And He does that.

So we're going to begin with the current jeopardy. And what I want to show you in these verses are five reasons that these people that Jude is talking about, five reasons they are so dangerous. And look at how they're described. They're worrisome spots, they're waterless clouds, worthless trees, wild waves, wandering stars. Let's begin with the first. There are worrisome spots, for he says in verse 12, "These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves." This speaks of their defiling nature. Ever get a spot on your shirt, or your blouse, or your dress?

You say, I'm going to pull out the white shirt this weekend, honey. I've been waiting for a special occasion to wear this white shirt. Then you have a cup of coffee or you eat spaghetti, and you get a spot on it. And then you say, we say, when that happens, every time I wear this shirt, that happens. Every time I wear something white, it seems to attract it. This is why I wore black today. When you get a spot on a piece of fabric like a white blouse or shirt, the rest of it is clean. It all looks good, but you don't go out in public thinking, well, the rest of it looks good, it's this one spot, because when you're out in public, what do they look at? The spot, right. Even though there's so much other material that's still intact around, nobody, all the focus, all the attention is on the spot.

I think that's, partly, here, the idea is that these people embedded in the church that Jude is writing about are drawing attention away from the main thing and onto themselves, like the spot. Verse 12 says, they are spots in your feast "while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves." They're making it all about them. Now, a note about the love feast, the love feast was an early church way of doing church. It was a very common church service. 2,000 years ago, early Christians would get together, and basically, the order of service was a time of worship, instruction in the Word, then we take the elements together of the Lord's Supper, then we have a potluck.

People would bring food, because many people in the community were poor, and those who had food or were wealthy and could cook even more would bring food to these love feasts, and everybody could eat of them. The problem is these things started getting abused. So you can, on your own, read 1 Corinthians 11 sometime where Paul says, you know, your love feasts are out of control. One person comes drunk. Another person comes and gobbles the food before anybody else can get it.

And so eventually, what happened, history tells us, is the love feast as a church service went out of form, was out of vogue, just got washed off the scene because of the abuse that happened within them. Now, the second mark here after worrisome spots are waterless clouds. He says in the next sentence, "They are clouds without water carried about by the winds." I think that speaks of their false promise. They promise you stuff, but they don't produce anything. Clouds promise rain. When you see a cloud bank come in, it portends refreshment. It's going to rain. It's good for the crops, good for the grass.

One of the great things I love about New Mexico Summers are the clouds that roll through, the big puffy cumulus clouds. And you're hoping that it's just going to have this rain burst. We love that. I love that. What I don't love is when the clouds come carried by the wind, and it blows in all the dust, and then there's no water. They're promising me something, but they're not making good. They're not delivering on the promise.

In Proverbs 25:14, we're told, "Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain." False teachers are like big puffy clouds, all vapor, no water; all bluster, no benefit. I've always loved the story of the church service, the country church service where the preacher came to church ill-prepared for his sermon, didn't study that week very much.

And he tried to make up for his lack of preparation by pounding the pulpit, yelling, moving around a lot, holding his Bible up so people went, yeah, yeah, like a pep rally, but not really much substance. So after the service, some of the people were really excited about that, and they were getting together in groups and talking about it. And some even said the preacher really preached up a storm. Well, they asked one of the older church members, an elderly Native American man, what he thought of the sermon, and he gave six words. He said, high wind, big thunder, no rain. It's all bluster, but no benefit. It's all cloud. It's no rain. That's the idea there, waterless clouds.

Third is the description of worthless trees. Now, get this, "late autumn trees", verse 12, "late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots." You can't get any more fruitless than that. This speaks of their barren profession. Now, the autumn time is the last opportunity for harvest. It's before the winter comes, before the hard freeze. So you really want to have a good autumn harvest, because if not, you might face starvation in the coming months. But it's interesting that the text describes them as being not just dead, but what? Twice dead, how does that work? It's sort of like Princess Bride. He's not dead, he's mostly dead, not all dead, but mostly dead. Isn't dead dead?

So what does it mean to be twice dead how can you be twice dead. I think what he means is these are trees that are fruitless and trees that are rootless. Because they're not connected to the ground, there's no life-giving coming into them. Therefore, there's nothing going out of them. They don't produce any fruit because of the root system. They're pulled up by the roots.

Now, this happens to be the opposite of the description of the godly man or woman spoken about in Psalm 1. They're planted by the rivers of water, who has fruit given in its season, and whatever he does shall prosper. This is the opposite of that. And from a distance, I suppose these trees look like any other trees. You're coming up to a grove and you go, oh, there's a tree. And then you get closer and go, there's no fruit on it.

And then you look and go, well, because it's been pulled up by the roots. But it's just still sitting here. So people can be like that. They can look the part, sound spiritual, sound very sincere about their belief system, and yet be dead. Jesus said, "Every plant which my Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." Do you know how many people sit in lifeless, dead religious systems? So many, and let's narrow it down. Do you know how many people sit in lifeless dead churches? Well, it's a church building, and they sing songs, and they get together, and they do stuff. They mean well and they're very sincere. Yeah, but where's the life?

I found a website. This is the Center for Contemplative Spirituality. And they say, quote, "We come from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds, and we each seek to enrich our journey through spiritual practice and study of the world's great spiritual traditions." Oh, it sounds so noble, so positive. "We desire to draw closer to the loving Spirit", so generic, "the loving Spirit, which pervades all creation and which inspires our compassion for all beings." In other words, we're taking what we like from that religion, and what we like from that system, and what we like from there, putting it all together. Even though they all contradict each other, we just kind of like that they make us feel good, and you're OK and I'm OK.

Problem is they're dead. There's no life. There's no life change. There's no capacity for transformation. So they're worrisome spots, waterless clouds, worthless trees. He goes on. They're wild waves, verse 13, "raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame." This speaks of their destructive nature. If you spend any time on an ocean at all, you learn to respect it. Oh, you love it. You enjoy the sound. You enjoy the smell, the sights, but if you spend much time on the ocean, you learn to respect because of the power that can be there. I love the ocean. I grew up going a lot to the ocean. I grew up surfing. I love waves.

I love formed waves. I love waves, when you see them build, and then they build more, and then they come to a crest, and then they break, and then they form a line on one side or the other, and you know that's a right break or a left break, and it's great for surfing. Formed waves are great. Storm waves are not so great. Now, I can't be sure, but I'm guessing that, when Jude wrote this as a description, he had in his mind a passage from the book of Isaiah. 57 verse 20 says, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked.'"

If you go to the beach after a storm, the health department in the state of California tells you don't go in the water for about two days. And that's because the storm has churned up human pollution. You go to the beach, you'll find hypodermic needles being washed ashore. You'll find trash. You'll find flotsam, jetsam, all that stuff that is out there. And the water is toxic.

So the idea is these people stir stuff up. They stir up the mud. They stir up the filth. They stir up the debris. Formed waves are productive. Storm waves are destructive. So they're worrisome spots, waterless clouds, worthless trees, wild waves. There's a final fifth description in verse 13, they're wandering stars. He says this, "wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever."

Here's the interesting thing about this description, stars don't wander. Stars are on a fixed orbit. So fixed are the orbits of stars that the ancients would navigate by them. You could look at a winter sky or a summer sky, and you knew where constellations were, and you could go in different directions on land or sea based upon your reading of the stars.

But there is a phenomenon that we call a shooting star. It's not actually a star as much as it's a piece of debris, or space dust, or even a meteor. And when it gets close to our atmosphere, it burns up and it shows as a bright spot, a streak across the sky. And whenever somebody sees a shooting star, what do they say? Help me out. What do they say? Make a wish.

You see it. You go, phfoom, and what do you say? Ooh, ah, right? Am I right? Do I have this wrong? This is what I do. I don't know about you. When I see a shooting star, I go, wow. I say wow, or ooh, or ah, or awesome. But how long does it last? It's over now. It just happened. It's over. And you have to have your eyes up to even see it. And then, after that, nothing, because it's, they're reserved for them, the blackness of darkness forever.

Now, I think where he's going with this. Many a teacher, there's been many a bright star that has come to a pulpit that has ended up a burnout. Like fireworks, some people go, wow, whoa, ooh, ah. Did you hear that? I've never heard that before. Well, maybe you never heard it because it's actually not in the Bible. Some dude just made it up.

And you got the oohs and the ahs going, but, so? If you try to navigate by a fallen star, you'd be dead or lost. Compare that to Daniel 12. Daniel 12, "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Now, those are fixed stars. That's what you want to be like, not a shooting star, not a firework, woo, but just stay shining. Let people navigate by your life.

Now, before we move on to the next, so that was the gloom. Now we get the doom. Before we get there, let me ask this question, because this is pressing. How does this happen? For those of us who are Bible believers, we love Jesus, we follow Jesus, we're disciples, we're all in, we're so happy for the Gospel, we've been so transformed and given new life, we don't understand anybody who's tasted that could ever walk away from that. How does that happen?

Well, I could give you about 30 different reasons the Bible has for why that happens. I've discovered about that many. I won't do that. We don't have time. But I want to give you a few. Here's a few reasons why this can happen, number one, persecution. People just do not want to pay the price to follow Jesus, especially publicly. Popularity is just too important to them. What people think about them is just way too important to them.

So Jesus gave a parable about a sower sowing seed, and these are different hearts of people who listened to the message. Jesus said, when persecution or tribulation arises because of the Word, they fall away, they stumble. So to follow Jesus would be bad for my business. If I actually made a big public deal about Jesus, it could hurt my business. It could hurt my status in the community. It could hurt my Instagram profile. Persecution is one reason.

Another reason is mixed devotion. Some people come within our ranks, but they're fence-sitters. They kind of like, I'm attracted to the Jesus who forgives me for my sins, and gives me joy, puts a smile on my face, gives me purpose and meaning, but there's a lot of fun stuff to do in this world. There's a lot of cool fun awesome sins I still want to get involved in, so I kind of want this, but I kind of want that, because the world's cool.

But you know John said, love not the world, neither the things that are in this world. Whoever loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Jesus in that same parable said, "The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." That is, that plant becomes unfruitful.

Did you know the Paul the apostle actually had a minister, a colleague who apostatized, who walked away, who detracted, who fell away? His name was Demas. And when Paul writes about Demas, 2 Timothy 4, one sentence, he says, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world." How'd you like to have your name in the Bible like that forever?

Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world. Some are just so earthbound, they're just after this momentary comfort, there's real no real draw to Jesus, and spirituality, and discipleship. So persecution, mixed emotions, another reason it can happen is because it's hard. It's just plain hard to follow Jesus for some, probably for all of us, at one point. Jesus's teaching is hard.

Am I accurate about this? You have ever read something, I do, where I go, that's hard. I got to teach that? I got to live that? That's hard. You know that, when people heard Jesus in John chapter 6, He gave a sermon? And it wasn't how to have your best life now or how to be prosperous. It was a pretty hard message.

And they said in John chapter 6, "This is a hard saying. Who can hear it?" And then we were told, from that day forward, many of His disciples turned back and followed Him no more. The demands were too hard. They were too hard for the rich young ruler. They were too hard for Judas Iscariot, because it's hard.

Another reason that people apostatize is because, you might not like this when I say it, but I'll explain it, because they're not paying attention. I know I sound like your teacher, right? Class, you're not paying attention. But you can fall away because you're not really grabbing a hold of the truth. You're not paying attention. The approach is a superficial approach.

Hebrews chapter 2, Paul the Apostle, whoever wrote Hebrews, said, "Therefore, give the more earnest heed to the things you have heard", listen, "lest at any time we drift away from them." Another reason it can happen is laziness. Hebrews chapter 10, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but do it all the more as you see the day approaching."

Some people just aren't interested in coming to church. They want to distance themselves from it. They don't want the influence of people around them, an accountability kind of influence in their lives. And that's just a few reasons. There's any number of reasons. The Bible has many more. I'll give you a quick rundown, Satan's devices, and unbelieving heart, a hardened heart, rebellion, bitterness, immorality, disrespect of leadership, not mixing God's promises with faith. That's just a sampling of about those 30 or so reasons the Bible gives.

In fact, let me make this statement, because I believe it to be true in summing this point up. The majority of those people who are exposed to the Gospel will turn away from it. The majority of those exposed to the Gospel will turn away from it. If you think of the parable of the sower and the seed, have you ever looked at that just in terms of percentages, mathematics?

Of all the people that heard the truth in that parable, only 25% bore any kind of fruit, and a very small percentage of that bore what Jesus called 100-fold fruit. No wonder that Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. Narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life, and very few enter therein", very few, not most, not a lot, few.

No wonder Jesus said, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord,'" and He will say, "Depart from Me." You will not enter the Kingdom. So great subject matter, that's the gloom. Now let's move on to the doom.

Verse 14, don't worry, it's going to end encouraging, "Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men, also saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with 10,000 of the saints to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they've committed an ungodly way", as we noted on our first message in Jude, he likes this word a lot, "and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

OK, we've got to get something out of the way. We've got to address this. Jude mentions Enoch. Enoch you remember from Genesis chapter 5. He was a good guy. He's a godly guy. It says, Enoch walked with God. If you want something on your tombstone, that's a good thing. He walked with God. But scholars note that Jude is quoting from a source that is not a biblical source. They're quoting from first Enoch, a non-biblical book, an apocryphal book, some even believe a pseudepigraphical book, meaning it was a book with somebody's name on it, but written by somebody else.

But he's quoting from it, and that bothers some people. How can he quote something that's not from the Bible? Well, I do it all the time. I will say, I read a Gallup poll this week, the Gallup poll said this, or here's an article from the Albuquerque Journal. And I'll quote it. And believe me, I'm not saying the Albuquerque Journal is the inspired word of God, far from it.

Or I'll quote a website or what a preacher said, and what I'm doing is quoting a secular source, or a believing source, but not a biblical source, to simply buttress a point. And so probably that is what Jude is doing. And by the way, Paul the apostle did this. When Paul the apostle stood before Athens and preached in Acts 17, did you know that he quoted secular sources? Did you know the Paul the apostle quoted from pagan poets to the men of Athens?

He pulls this out. Listen to this and see if you remember this. He said, for in Him, we live, and move, and have our being. You ever read that in Acts 17? Paul is quoting a sixth century BC Cretan poet by the name of Epimenides who said that, who wrote that. And then Paul said to the men of Athens, for we also are His offspring. That is a quote directly from a third century BC poet named Aratus of Soli. And when Aratus said, we also are his offspring, he was referring to Zeus.

So Paul pulls that for the men of Athens because he is making a point about the sovereign God, about Yahweh. So I think Jude is doing that here. And so that's a side. Let's get back to the point. Jude said, and here's the quote, "Behold, the Lord comes with 10,000 of his saints to execute judgment on all." Perhaps, when Enoch said this, he was referring to the coming judgment of the flood, because he lived right before the flood. And the judgment that God poured out on the Earth in his day was the flood.

But what Jude is saying is the final application of this prophecy will be in the end times when Jesus returns. So here's the point Jude is making. You can have all these false teachers and apostates spouting this off, and embedding themselves in the congregation, and leading people astray, but what I want you to know, Jude would say, is God will always have the last word. God always has the final word. He gets, as God, the right to make the decisive choice about their future. And in their case, this case, it is judgment.

Now, you can see what a crafty preacher I am, because I said that we have two points to the sermon when, if you look at your outline, there's actually 10. So I divided it into five reasons why these people are dangerous, that's the gloom, and then five features of the coming judgment, that's the doom. But I'm going to go through these very quickly.

Something about this judgment, first of all, it will be personal. The coming judgment is personal. Notice it says, behold, the Lord comes. God himself will judge the world. He won't delegate this to the judgment committee. It won't be judgment by proxy. He'll do it. It'll be personal.

Now, do you mind if I gave you a quick thumbnail rundown, maybe a one-minute summation of the future judgment in a nutshell? Can I do that really quick? OK, so here's how it's going to roll down. Here's how it's going to come down.

First of all, it's going to begin, the future judgment is going to begin on Earth with a seven-year tribulation period, called by biblical authors the worst period of time in human history, described in the Book of Revelation chapters 6 through 16 as judgments that are seals, trumpets, and bowls, cataclysms that happen on the Earth that will culminate in a battle called the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16 and Revelation 19, when Jesus comes back.

When Jesus comes back, at the end of that, He's going to set up His Kingdom that will be a 1,000-year reign of Christ on the Earth, during which time Satan will be bound. At the end of that 1,000 years, Satan gets released, there will be one final rebellion that, for some reason, God allows, and then Satan and his minions, his followers will be cast into the lake of fire forever.

After that will come what's called the great white throne judgment where all unbelievers stand before God to get the final sentence. So the first phase of the judgment is firstly. The second phase of the judgment is heavenly. That's the nutshell theology of future judgment. So it's going to be personal.

A second thing to note, it's going to be coalitional. Let me do this for you. Notice it says, the Lord comes with 10,000 of His saints. So yeah, He's the one that's going to do it, but he's going to allow others to be witnesses and even help Him carry it out, because He's coming with 10,000 of his saints. I have a question for you. Who are the saints He's coming with?

Who are they? OK, I hear the church. I hear us. Any other guesses? Angels, did I hear angels? So here's the answer, I don't know. It's either us or it's angels, or both. So He's coming back with us, Revelation 19, He's coming back with us. Also, Colossians 3:4 says, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we will appear with Him in glory."

So it could be us, but it could also be angels, because when Jesus spoke about the future judgment, He said, and the angels are going to be there to help administer that. That's Matthew 24, Matthew 25. And this in Matthew 13, "Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of the Kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire."

So that fits with this text. So it's either us, or the angels, or both. So that's why I said, I don't know. But it will be coalitional. The third thing to notice, it will be universal, because notice, it says to execute judgment on all. Nobody gets a pass. No one believer escapes. Every unbeliever, everyone who has said no to God will face this.

Another important facet, and this is important, it will be equitable. It'll be fair. It'll be fair, because we are told this, "to execute judgment on all to convict all who are ungodly." A better translation, a better word than convict is convince. He will come and convince those that He is about to judge of the fairness of it. There'll be none of this, that's not fair. There'll be none of that, not going to work on judgment day. God will convince them this is right. This is fair.

It's an interesting court scene that is described for us, the Last Judgment, because it's going to be not like an earthly court. There's no debate about guilt. It's not like, wait a minute, I object, none of that. There'll be a prosecution, but no defense. There will be a judge. There will not be a jury. There'll be a sentence, but no appeal. There will be punishment, but no parole.

And the entire procedure will be absolutely fair and right, because the Bible says, when God judges, the anthems of Heaven will be this, just and true are your judgments, or righteous and true or your judgments. That's right. And they'll be fair, because God is presiding over them.

See, God has a couple of attributes that no human judge has. God is omnipresent. He's everywhere at the same time in all places. So that means God is the best eyewitness of every sin ever committed by every person. He's also omniscient. He knows everything, so He just didn't know what happened, He knows motive. So it will be fair.

And you should know this, in Revelation, when God judges at the great white throne, it says the books are opened. The books are open. In other words, God has a very complete, replete, detailed inventory of a person's life. The books are opened. And I can't prove this, but maybe in those books is a record of every time that person had an opportunity to give their lives to Christ, every time they heard the Gospel and said, no, I'll pass. That's brought up, and that's brought up.

It will be equitable. And finally, and we close with this, this is the hardest one, it will be eternal. The end of verse 13, "for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for a week." I'm sorry, for a decade. No, I hate to tell you that, but the word there is forever.

You say, well, I have problems with that. Join the crowd. It's not easy to hear this, forever. But I got to tell you this, if hell is not forever, then Heaven is not forever. If hell is not eternal, then Heaven is not eternal. If hell is not everlasting, then Heaven is not everlasting, because when Jesus described in one sentence in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25, when He discussed hell and Heaven, punishment and glory, He used the same word, everlasting, everlasting; eternal, eternal.

So if hell is not eternal, then neither is Heaven. OK, so gloom and doom, I want you to walk away with two things. Number one, just two little thoughts as we close, we don't judge you here. No matter who you are, we welcome you here. We want you to hear truth. We want you to be exposed to the Gospel. We want you to hear what the Bible says.

We don't judge you. That's not our role. God will judge you and God will judge me. I'm not going to stand before you a judgment. I'll stand before God. You will not stand before me. You will stand before God. So God will be the judge. We don't judge you here. We welcome you.

Number two, I want you to know this, hear this, judgment is not God's happy place. I don't want you to think of the great white throne judgment, and God's waiting for that. The day comes like, hot dog, I've been waiting to judge people for a long time. He hates it. He will do it, but he doesn't want to do it. You know how I know that? It says He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. That's the heart of God. He didn't want that.

God said, "I have no", this is Ezekiel 33, "I have no pleasure", says the Lord, "in the death of the wicked." And then He says to his people, "turn, turn, for why will you die?" Did you know that hell was not prepared for "people? When Jesus spoke about hell, He said it is everlasting fire, that's eternal, everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Hell was not made for people. God didn't want to do it. I know you're thinking, well, then why does He do it? Because God is pro-choice when it comes to eternal matters. God will honor a person's choice. A person says, I don't want to, I don't want God in my life. I don't want God control in me. I don't want to have to hang out with God forever. You don't have to. He won't make you.

GK Chesterton said, "Hell is God's great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice." God lets people choose. He will honor your choice. So the gloom that brings the doom is something you don't have to be a part of. I love what James said, mercy triumphs over judgment. God loves to show mercy. God loves to pour favor and loves to forgive.

When somebody says, God, forgive me, He goes, yes. I get to let that person go to Heaven forever and escape damnation forever. I love that. That's what He wants. Now, remember I said that some people turned away from Jesus because they, said this is too hard, this is too hard, and many that day followed Him no more?

Jesus, after that happened, turned to his 12 disciples and said, will you also leave? And Peter said, where else would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. I want to ask you that question. If you're thinking about, I'm done now, I'm done with church now, I'm done with God, I'm done with Jesus, where are you going to go? Where else are you going to go for forgiveness? Where else are you going to go for hope, and peace, and meaning in life, and Heaven?

Well, I'm, just want to quit. Where else are you going to go? Don't go. Hang in there. Let Him protect you. Let Him preserve you. Let Him work with you. Lean hard into him. And if you are teetering, come back to him. Let's pray:

Father, thank You for an opportunity to hear a very difficult message. But thank You for the opportunity nonetheless, because it shows us that you've included this as a part of holy writ to warn those You love, to tell the truth to people who, because of our sinful nature there's any number of reasons why a person could decide just to go back, to go away, to apostatize, whatever word, but not to follow. We understand Your heart through this. You love mercy. You love grace. You don't want judgment to happen. You will do it because You must. You are holy. You are perfect. It's part of that justice of God. We get that. But how relieved we are to follow a God who loves to forgive people. And I pray for anyone who has not yet come to the cross that they would do it today. If you're with us this morning, give your life to Him. Do it now. Just say to Him, here I am. Here's my life. I give myself to You. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus. I believe that he died for me. I believe He shed His blood for my sin. I believe that. I believe Jesus rose and is alive. And just help me, Lord. Fill me. Help me to live for You, in Jesus's name, amen.

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