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3 Who Won’t & 1 Who Will

Matthew 18:8-9

 

 

The queen’s death this week took social media by storm.  Our world has long been captivated by Camelot.  Millions follow closely all the details of the royals and so many people just love the dramatic elements--from the castle weddings to the divorces to the sibling rivalry.  And now his highness the adulterer has ascended to take the throne.

 

One of the subtopics trending online was whether Elizabeth is now in heaven or not.  And everyone has an opinion and evidence they put forth.  What is most interesting to me is not the conclusions that were drawn, but rather the evidence cited. 

 

Almost everyone who said she is now in heaven listed her good deeds as the reason.  Several pointed out that she prayed.  Many spoke of her love for others and devotion to her country.  One chimed in that everyone goes to heaven, and that includes the queen.  A few people pointed out that Billy Graham spoke positively about her.  My favorite:  the double rainbow which appeared over the castle settles it all!

 

Almost everyone who said she is now in hell cited decisions she made which negatively affected people in the empire, or even judgments she made concerning family members.  A lot of those came across as just jealous that they themselves aren’t royalty.

 

My opinion?  That doesn’t matter, first of all.  Secondly, it’s a little late for all this concern.  Truth is, she spoke a lot of Christ, and the cross, and faith, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she were saved.  I can also dig up concerns about the Church of England’s teachings and some quotes of the queen that sound like salvation by works, rather than grace.  It’s not for me to decide.

 

So here’s my real opinion on the whole matter:  It’s so revealing that almost no one making their points about her spoke of the gospel and what God says is the way of salvation.  It was all about her, and not about her beliefs.  Christ is almost never mentioned.  The gospel wasn’t a part of the conversation.

 

We aren’t here today to talk about the queen.  We’re here for Jesus.  We’re here to preach His Word!

 

[read text]

 

Three out of four people here won’t be in heaven.  And when I say ‘here’ I mean here in our text.  But wait a minute; the people in our text represent all people everywhere, so I suppose there’s truth in this for us in ‘here’ today.  In today’s verses you only have a 1 in 4 chance of being the right person and truly being saved.  The odds are against you today.  Most of the world is lost, revealing to be one of the other 3 people.  Make sure today that you are positive that you are ‘the one!’

 

In the parable of the sower, 3 out of 4 gospel seeds didn’t make it.

Jesus said the way to hell is broad, and most go there, and that few inherit eternal life.

And His next parable of the wheat and tares applies to the church, with Christ pointing out that many in the room whom we would say are saved just look like it outwardly, and are not.

 

3 important statements:

 

“God has no grandchildren, only children

“To be 99% sure is 100% unacceptable”

“The only thing longer than life is eternity

 

Take that first statement—

        Studies show that if your parents never had kids, neither will you!  In other words, just because your parents were Christians doesn’t mean you are...no spiritual genes were passed along to you when you were born...you must be born again!  If you’ve never been born then you’re not here...and if you’ve not been born again, then you’re not saved!

 

Here’s a command to obey—

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.

 Philippians 2:12
...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

 

Do you know that you know that you are saved?  Have you ever nailed it down 100%?  If Jesus were to ask you, “Why should I let you into heaven?” what would you say?  With fear and trembling you’d try to work it out, and word it just right.  So, how about it?  Examine yourself right now before God examines you on that day.  Be honest today, because He will be ‘just’ on that day!  The question is not ‘if’ you are saved, but ‘how’ you are saved.  What are you trusting in?

 

We’re going to spiritualize our text now, but only in ways well warranted by many other scriptures. 

 

v. 8-9       “Offend” = cause to stumble, fall short, or fall into a trap...to trip up.

 

Don’t allow anything to trip you up and push you over the edge into hell, for it is a literal fire that never ceases [everlasting].  Mark 9 calls it a fire that never will be quenched, and then it says ‘where their worm dieth not’.

 

“Worm” is a metaphor.  Worms thrive on the remaining life found in dying flesh.  The point?  These worms never starve, because YOU never die all the way.  I believe the Bible, and the Bible says hell is real, final, and fatal.  It is forever, you are conscious, tormented, it is dark, you are alone but you hear the wailing of others, and worst of all it is hopeless.  There’s no way out on that day, but there is on this one!

 

Ill.—I need a volunteer and a knife!  The Bible says that if your hand was sending you to hell it should be nothing to you to cut it off, or your foot, or pluck out your eye!

 

I see in our text 3 people who won’t be in heaven, they’ll be in hell:

 

1.     The Person of Profession [Hand offends them]

 

This person is depending on good works they do [with their hands].  But should they?

Matthew 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Or sometimes the person of profession is one who just raises that hand to profess to be saved.  They have profession of salvation but not possession of it. 

 

“I’ve always been saved”  “I was raised in a Christian home”  “My momma always said I was a Christian”  “If anyone is saved, I am!”

 

Again, God has no grandchildren.  You cannot depend on your upbringing to get you into heaven.

 

Many false professions exist today.  Are you one of them?  You aren’t saved by:

Walking the aisle, making a public profession at the front, raising your hand in a service, being baptized, going to church, being confirmed or sprinkled.  And you aren’t saved because you ‘just feel it’ either!

 

Ill.—what if I told my wife I didn’t feel married anymore?  She could say, look at my finger, do you see this diamond?  I’d say, no, give me a magnifying glass, ok, yes, I see it!

        Our marriage is a fact, not a feeling.  We’re going on 30 years now until this illustration...now it’s grinding to a swift halt!

 

Feelings come and feelings go...feelings are deceiving.  Last week I had a feeling of power from deep within me.  Was it boldness?  Was I about to conquer the world?  No!  It was a milkshake and a pound of cheese fries from midnight the night before!  And it was a powerful feeling!

 

Salvation cannot be worked for with your hands, you can’t raise your hand and profess it, or feel it.  This kind of person should cut off their hand of profession before it offends them, pushing them into hell!

 

2.     Person of Pride [Foot offends them]

 

This person stands on a foundation of pride, and it’s poor footing.  They aren’t sure if they are saved or not, and don’t want to humble themselves to make sure. 

 

“Pride is a foundation which gets lower and lower with each layer you pour on.”

 

Proverbs 29:23
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

That’s how it was for my pastor’s wife when I was a kid.  Yes, jaws hit the floor when she walked the aisle, but oh the respect everyone had for her on that day.  Pride would have brought her low [hell] but honor upheld her...it’s such a respectable thing to do, to make sure!

 

I preached this message 25 years ago and 7 people got saved, including an 80 year old man everyone would have thought was saved, and our assistant pastor’s teenage daughter too.  The point is, your salvation is not about others and what they think, it’s between you and God.  I don’t care if Billy Graham signed my Bible…I have to know I’m saved!

 

Yes, to swallow your pride and get saved today would hurt at first, like cutting off a foot perhaps, but cut it off you must, lest it be what drop kicks you into hell from your head to your feet!

 

“To be 99% sure is 100% unacceptable”

        For you’d be taking a chance of going 100% to hell for 100% of eternity!

I John 5 says these things are written that ye may know!

 

3.     Person of Passions [eye offends them]

 

This person loves the world.  It’s all they see in life.

1 John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

It’s ok to have loved the world at one time, but once you are saved you become the bride of Christ, and should never return to your ‘old flame’.

 

However, some lost people in honesty would say, I still love the world, and don’t want to leave it.  I respect that.  It’s an honest answer.  It’s better than some professing Christians who just consider their salvation as ‘fire insurance’, but have never truly repented and given their heart to Christ and been born again from above.

 

They are like my high school friend Mike who said, “I’m having too much fun...there’s too much to give up if I got saved.”  But Mike was a fool, and died in a motorcycle accident about a week after he said those words!  Today in hell he wishes he would have plucked that eye of passions out and seen something invisible...

2 Corinthians 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.

“The only thing longer than life is eternity”

 

So, we’ve seen three people who won’t be in heaven, who’s the one who will be?

 

  • The Person of Price*

v. 3  This one understands the true cost of redemption.  They are willing to pay a small price by coming forward today and doing business with God, and they will be assured of a great and valuable possession as a result.

 

And they also realize the real price is not theirs to pay, but was paid for them in full on Calvary’s cross where Jesus hung and died for them.

 

If the price for heaven were an eye, hand, or foot we would gladly give it.  But Jesus had His eye on YOU that day 2000 years ago.  And He gave His hands and His feet and everything in between.

 

He did the work for you...you person of profession.

He suffered the ultimate humbling for you...you person of pride.

He demonstrated eternal love for you...you person of passions.

 

Jesus is the real King. [of kings!]

 

Whatever is keeping you back from being saved...cut if off!

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