You can go to hell . . . but we don’t want you to! February 8, 2015

Hebrews 10:19-31 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 Mark 9:42-48

From my observation, we Christians are judged by this world for being judgmental. People say that we judge them. There is too much evidence of people walking into a church and being judged by someone in that church. This evidence seems to be everywhere and anywhere a church is open.

We Christians do have a problem with sneering at people wearing clothes that don’t look like ours. We Christians do have a problem with making faces at people when they walk through the door of the church. We Christians are known to whisper about and point at someone who is new to our crowd.

By our repetitive sneering, making faces, whispering, and pointing, we show one thing. We show that we do not know how to love. Even if we have been “Christian” for all of our life, we do not show love. We know that God loves us. Yet we find it difficult to love our neighbors as we love God. Our repetitive sneering, face-making, whispering, and pointing seems to show that we want people to go to hell.

However, there is much encouragement for us to show people that we don’t want them to go to hell. The first place we start is in the Bible.

A. Scripture helps us see how we can save some (1 Corinthians 9:16-31)
+++1. Paul is saying that he could claim a living from the gospel, but he doesn’t
+++2. Paul is laying hold of his obligation in the gospel
+++3. What is Paul’s obligation in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
+++4. Paul’s obligation is to save some
+++5. All the while, living his life so as not to disqualify himself from receiving the promise of the gospel – eternal life with Christ
+++6. Again this week we have heard from Jesus that it is possible to be thrown into hell. And this is done by our choice, not God’s choice. Yet, we who follow Christ do all we can so that other people are saved from hell. You can go to hell, but we don’t want you to go. We constrain ourselves so that you can see the good news of Jesus Christ. John Wesley said, “be our faith ever so strong, it will never save us from hell unless it now save us from all our unholy tempers; from pride, passion, impatience; for all arrogance of spirit, all haughtiness and overbearing; from wrath anger, bitterness; from discontent, murmuring, fretfulness, peevishness.” (Kenneth J. Collins, A Faithful Witness: John Wesley’s Homiletical Theology, (Wesley Heritage Press, Wilmore, Kentucky, 1993), p. 135) And if faith in Jesus Christ can save us from sin, death, and hell, then that same faith in Jesus Christ can save you from sin, death, and hell. The next place we find much encouragement for us to show people that we don’t want them to go to hell is our tradition.

B. Our Tradition tells us that other people can be included (Hebrews 10:19-31)
+++1. Church is about telling people what God has done through Jesus Christ
+++2. Church is a gathering of people who have learned that their sins are forgiven by Jesus’ death & resurrection
+++3. So we sing the joy we know in Jesus Christ (look at the hymns in today’s worship service)
+++4. We gather together as church to encourage one another to love and good deeds
+++5. We gather together as church to encourage one another to not fall away from God, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God
+++6. Again we from John Wesley, who wrote, “The teaching of hell functions as a constraint upon the ungodly, and as a means of preserving the faithful from sin.” (Thomas C. Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1994), p. 355)
+++7. Scripture tells us that God loves us and wants us to follow Jesus. These words were given so that we could escape hell. Tradition shows us that when we know forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we are saved from hell. Yes, you can go to hell, but we do not want you to go. You can know Christ, fall away from faith in Christ, and go to hell. So we encourage you to go to church. It is by gathering together, singing and praising God that we find encouragement to love as Jesus loves us. Even if we start to fall away from faith in Christ, God is calling us back to him through the church. Here we find our third encouragement for living our faith so other people can escape hell.

C. Our Experience reminds us of the joy of being included in the church
+++1. Somebody told us about Jesus Christ, because they had found life in Jesus
+++2. It is wonderful to be there when someone professes faith in Christ, it even reminds us of the joy of our salvation!
+++3. We have experienced Jesus’ call to control our own lives (Mark 9) so that we can entire the kingdom of God – – so we respond positively to Jesus
+++4. We have found that loving God for his giving of Jesus involves us loving other people. The best way to learn to love other people is to be part of the church. Being church means that love God for snatching us from hell and loving other people so they and we together don’t get thrown into hell. You can go to hell, but the church does not you to go to hell. Our final encouragement explains why we love you.

D. Our Reason for loving people is so that they don’t go to hell
+++1. The good news of Jesus Christ was written so that we could know God’s love
+++2. Our believing the good news of Jesus Christ is how we escape hell
+++3. Since we know of God’s love and we are escaping hell, we want you to know God’s love and how to escape hell.
+++4. We demonstrate our faith in the good news of Jesus Christ by loving you
+++5. By our loving you, the good news of Jesus Christ can be believed by you. And then you too can escape hell
+++6. John Wesley preached so that the people could escape the wrath to come. What is the wrath to come? It is God setting us in hell for we would not believe that Jesus died to set us free from our sins. John Wesley went were the people were. He loved them enough to tell them about Jesus Christ. And they heard and believed in Jesus Christ!

How then shall we let people around us know of our love for God? We need not stay in the building! We need to go where the people are so they can experience our love and God’s love for them.

What can we do? We can take a road trip. Let’s gather on a Saturday morning. As we gather, let us bring a lunch for ourselves and a lunch or two for someone else. We will ride down to the nearest trailer park. We will tell them we come from this church. We will give them a lunch. We will do this at every trailer in the park. Then next month we will go back and do it again. We will keep going until they know the love of God and our love for them. For we want them to know that we do not want to go to hell. We want the people around us come to church. We want the people around us to have faith in Jesus Christ.

So, what say you? You can go to hell, but we don’t want you to go to hell. Your faith in Jesus is best when it is lived as you love your neighbors. Will you join me as we take lunch to our neighbors in the trailer parks?

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