Luke 16: 22 -26
“Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the third session of Hell sermon series.
Up to the last session, we learned about the general structure of the Heaven and Hell and the Upper Grave.
I know some of you are eagerly waiting to hear about the reality of the Hell itself.
But before that, we need to have an understanding about Hell in the whole framework called the ‘human cultivation’.
The reason for preaching about Hell is not just to let you know about the fear of it.
It is for you to lead a true Christian life by knowing not only about the fearful punishments of Hell, but also about life after death, the way of salvation, and sins.
Above all, through these messages about Hell, we have to realize the justice and deep love of God who had to make Hell.
Some people have some misunderstanding about God’s justice. So, in this session, let me clarify some of the doubts that some people have about Hell. If you understand today’s message very well, you will be able to feel the abundant love of God in His justice.
I really hope that you will receive salvation and reach heavenly kingdom by the deep love of God.
I also hope that you will have a thorough understanding about justice and love so that you will be able to guide many dying souls to the kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, even among those who do not believe in God, there are some who believe in the existence of Heaven and Hell.
Also, some say, “If you just live a good life, then do you have to attend church? Isn’t it fair if good people go into Heaven?”
A person cannot enter the heavenly kingdom just by acknowledging the existence of Heaven and Hell or just by being good.
We can receive salvation and enter into heavenly kingdom only when we are forgiven of our sins by believing in Jesus Christ. The rich man in today’s passage also had some goodness in his heart.
Even while he was suffering from the flames of the Grave, he worried about his brothers.
Luke 16:27-28 says, “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
But because he did not live by the word of God, which at his time was according to the Law of Moses, he couldn’t receive salvation.
Today, some people have a question about the gospel asking why we can be saved and go into heavenly kingdom only when we believe in the Lord Jesus.
It’s because of the problem of sin. Heaven is such a holy and clean place that sinners cannot enter in there. The first part of Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death.
Therefore, if we do not solve this problem of sin, we will face death.
Here, ‘death’ is not only the physical death that we face on earth.
It refers to the death of the spirit, which is to suffer in Hell forever.
Even for those who think they are living good lives, it is impossible for them not to have some sin. It’s because all mankind has the original sin that is passed down from Adam and they also commit sins in various ways.
Then, to solve this problem of sin, receive salvation, and go into Heaven, what do we have to do?
Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Here, to confess Jesus as Lord is not just calling Him ‘Lord, Lord’ with lips.
The following from verse 10 says, “…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Only when we have the deed of obeying the word of God in the Bible and living a righteous life can we be acknowledged to have true faith and receive salvation.
If we truly believe in the heart, there will certainly be the deeds of living by the word of God that follow. Only when we believe in the heart and confess it with our lips can that confession be acknowledged as being true.
Likewise, the core of the gospel is that the only way to receive salvation and go into heavenly kingdom is Jesus Christ.
And some of you might have had one or more of the following questions when you listened to the gospel.
One question is concerning those who have never heard about the Lord and were never able to accept Him. What will happen to those people who lived before Jesus came on this earth, and what about those who lived after He came, but never heard about Him?
Also, what happens to the babies or children who died at such a young age that they couldn’t understand about the Lord?
In these cases, did they all go to Hell because they didn’t believe in the Lord? No, that’s not the case.
The God of justice also opened a way of salvation for souls in situations like these.
It is the salvation through one’s conscience known as the ‘Judgment of Conscience’.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has set eternity in men’s heart.
So, those who have good consciences seek God from their very natures even though they are not able to hear the gospel. They also believe in the life after death, though not clearly.
Also, Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Those who are good will naturally believe in the existence of God just by seeing all things in nature. They fear the heavens and try to live good and righteous lives.
Brothers and sisters, the apostle Paul communicated clearly with God, and he wrote about the Judgment of Conscience.
Romans 2:14-15 says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,”
It says that even the Gentiles who don’t have the Law can do the things of the Law by their consciences. It says, “…their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,”
If they do something that goes against their conscience, those who have good consciences will have qualms of conscience. They are accused by their own conscience.
Even without hearing the gospel, they have such a heart, and if they were to hear the gospel, would they not accept the Lord?
Therefore, God doesn’t just let them fall into Hell only because they do not know the Lord, but through the Judgment of Conscience He accepts them into the heavenly kingdom.
However, those who don’t have good consciences do not seek God even in the same situations and circumstances as above.
They just live in sins following their lusts and desires. Would they have believed if they had heard the gospel?
They wouldn’t have believed, and according to their evil hearts they go to Hell. Here, men cannot correctly judge who ought to be saved and who should not.
The latter part of 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Only the almighty God can see the inner heart of men and judge correctly.
Here, what we have to know is that those who didn’t believe, even though they did know about Jesus Christ, can never be saved by the judgment of conscience. It is clearly evident why they cannot be saved.
Those children of God who are saved first should preach the gospel to everyone, even those who seem to have no possibility of attaining salvation.
By preaching to them, they are receiving more chances to receive salvation. So, I hope we will feel the importance of preaching the gospel once again.
Now let us look into the process of receiving salvation through judgment of conscience in the Old Testament times and New Testament times.
First, in the Old Testament, before the Lord came to earth, how did the people receive salvation?
It can be categorized into two major groups. One group is the Israelites who are God’s elect, and the other is all the Gentiles.
After God let the sons of Israel escape from Egypt, He gave the Law through Moses. So, the Israelites in the Old Testament received salvation by keeping the Law.
But for those Gentiles who did not know about God or the Law, their salvation was decided by the conscience judgment.
These people’s souls stayed in the Upper Grave. But after Jesus took the cross, He went to the Upper Grave and preached the way of salvation to them.
As said in 1 Peter 3:19, “in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,” He preached the way of the cross.
So, those souls who were in the Upper Grave also received salvation through the blood of the Lord.
But there are also people who died without hearing the gospel in the New Testament times. How do they receive salvation?
The gospel was not spread to the whole world right after our Lord came to the earth.
There are also many people who couldn’t hear the gospel for many reasons.
Their salvation is also decided by the conscience judgment.
After they die, they stay in the Upper Grave for 3 days, and they learn about Jesus Christ there.
After accepting the Lord, they will be transferred to the waiting place in the Paradise.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, there are also those who cannot accept the Lord by their own will,such as little babies who die early. How do they receive salvation?
To understand this, let us consider the standards of salvation according to the age.
No matter how young a person is, judgment is inevitable. Everyone has to go to either Heaven or Hell after death.
Why is it so? The spirit of human beings is never extinguished, and it does not just disappear even after the death of physical body. Therefore, one has to go to either Heaven or Hell.
But in case of little children, the standard to decide the salvation is a little different from that of adults.
Little children do not have sufficient ability to discern between things.
It’s also very difficult for them to act by their own wills. So, first of all, I will explain about the salvation of the fetuses that die in their mother’s wombs.
Even after the fertilization of sperm and egg, the maturing fetus will not have a spirit until the age of 5 months.
The spirit comes into the body after 5 months, in the beginning of the 6th month.
For your information, even medically speaking, the hearing organs are completed after 5 months.
It is also after 5 months that they have eyelids and open their eyes. The wrinkles of the brain, which reflect the activity of brain function are also formed between the 5th and 6th months.
In the gospel of Luke chapter 1, we see a record about John the Baptist when he was 6 months old in the womb.
The Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth who was in her 6th month pregnancy with John the Baptist. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby ‘leaped in her womb’.
Though he was a baby in the womb, he had a spirit in him, and he reacted according to the works of the Holy Spirit.
If the baby dies before the 5th month is completed, that being before the spirit is given, it does not belong to either Heaven or Hell.
It’s just same as an animal that does not have a spirit.
When animals die, they don’t go to either Heaven or Hell but just disappear.
It is said in Ecclesiastes 3:21, “Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?”
Then some may think that it is not sin to abort a baby before the 5th month of pregnancy.
But what we have to remember is that the authority to control life solely belongs to God, whether the baby has the spirit or not.
Psalm 139:15-16 says, “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
God the Father knew you even before you were conceived.
Also, He also had all the good thoughts and plans for your future even to write on His book.
Thinking of these things, we men as creatures ought not dare to assume the control of any baby’s life.
If the parents abort the baby for their own benefit, or if we agree with doing it, it is to stand against God the Creator, the ruler of life.
Also, the baby in the womb is their own child.
There should never be such a pitiful situation.
In any case, the parents should leave the situation to God with faith and prayer, so that God can do His work.
In some cases believers do not receive blessings, but have only constant tests and trials even though they appear to be leading a faithful Christian life.
They then realize that they did something like this before and repent.
Then they experience the tests and trials going away.
This is the rules of the spiritual realm.
Also, if they follow their lust and pleasure in the living of an extravagant life and abort a baby, it is even more improper in the sight of God.
If you abort a baby who is 6 months or older, you will create a great wall of sin against God.
From the 6th month, the baby will have a spirit, so it is same as killing an adult human being.
Because of that, you will suffer from various kinds of tests and trials.
If you do not solve this problem and keep on building up more walls of sin, eventually you may even face consequences from which you cannot recover because of the accusations of Satan.
But there shouldn’t be anybody who is afraid and becomes disheartened hearing this.
Even if you have done something like this before, now you know the truth, so you can repent thoroughly and bear the fruit of repentance.
I urge you to repent with true heart before God including giving Him a peace offering with your very best to touch His heart. I hope you will stay in peace by breaking down the wall between God and you.
So then, what is the standard of salvation for the babies who are 6 months or older? I will continue to explain about it in the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when you listen to the messages about sins and justice, some of you may become fearful.
But the reason why God has established Justice and gave us the commandments is not for the purpose of judging us.
It is to guide us to the way of salvation by letting us know His will.
It is His love to prevent us from committing sins by knowing the truth and, if there is any sin committed before, to let us repent and break down the wall of sin.
Also, the God of justice tries to save us if there is the least bit of possibility for us to receive salvation. That is why He has also established the Judgment of Conscience.
For the street sweepers who clean the streets from early morning, the street lights are something very helpful for them. But the thieves do not like the streetlights.
Likewise, each person has different feelings about the justice of God that shines like the noonday sun.
When they see the justice of God, Those who tried to live by the will of God will feel the love of God.
But those who do not even try will feel the heaviness and be burdened by His justice.
I hope you will always dwell in the truth as if you are acting in front of God and feel the justice of God as His love.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will march forward to New Jerusalem, the place that is filled with the brilliant lights of Heaven.