Hell – with Heaven on your mind?
No matter how you approach the subject, Hell is an awful thought. The Bible shows that Hell is a place where there is eternal torment and pain in unquenchable flames. Hell is a place of terrible memories and horrible thirst. Hell is a place of eternal separation from everything of beauty that resides in this world. Hell is a place of eternal separation from the presence of God. Hell is a place prepared for the devil and his angels, but all those who reject Jesus as their Saviour will go there for all eternity. Hell would be a horrible place to spend eternity.
I can only think of one thing worse than going to Hell; and that would be to go to Hell with Heaven on your mind. You ask: Could that really happen? Yes – The Bible gives us several vivid examples of this phenomenon. Consider the following people and their rejection of the Saviour.
· Judas Iscariot – He kissed the gates of Heaven and went to Hell – Matt. 26:49.
· Felix – He looked into salvation, but he wanted to wait to a more convenient time – Acts 24:25.
· Herod Agrippa – He stepped up to the very door of Heaven and turned away – Acts 26:28.
· Festus – He heard the claims of the Gospel and called them the ravings of a mad man – Acts 26:24.
As far as we know, every one of these men died and went to Hell. But, every one of those men went to Hell with Heaven on his mind!
The very same thing takes place in today’s Gospel. A young man comes to Jesus, hears the way of salvation, and he turns away to leave as lost as he came. As far as we know, we are left to assume that this young man went to Hell with Heaven on his mind.
The same thing continues to happen all around us. People come in and out of our churches. They hear the Gospel message; they are challenged to repent of their sins and to turn to Jesus for salvation; but many leave the church just like they came in. They leave lost and still on their way to Hell. If they do not repent of their sins, they will eventually die and go to Hell. When they do, they will go to Hell with Heaven on their mind.
I want to take a fresh look at this familiar passage today. I want to preach on The Man Who Went To Hell With Heaven On His Mind. Notice some facts about this man. I want you to see His Status; His Search and His Sorrow.
Notice first then – HIS STATUS
He Had Privilege – All three Gospel writers tell us that this man was rich. Matthew also tells us that he was young, Matt. 19:22. He lived a life of privilege. The world was his! Anything he wanted was well within his reach.
Then He Had Position – Luke tells us that this man was a “ruler”, Luke 18:18. This probably means that he was an influential leader in the local synagogue.
He also Had Prestige – According to all the information we have about this man, it appears that he was very moral, v. 20. He lived a good life. People all over that region probably looked up to this young, rich, moral, religious leader.
From every outward appearance, this young man was riding high on the pinnacle of success. He was everything a mother or father could want their child to be. If you looked at his life, you might think that he had it all. But, appearances are deceiving!
In spite of everything he had going for him, this young man had one great big skeleton in his closet! He had much, but with his much, he had an itch he could not scratch!
I recon that he had found that his youth left him unsatisfied. His money had left him feeling unfulfilled. His morality, his clean living and his religious activity had not been able to satisfy the deepest longing of his soul. His swift climb up the rungs of success and the social ladder had failed to give him what he wanted most: peace with God. Maybe there are people listening me today in the same shape as this young man. From every outward appearance, you have it made. Life has been good to you. You have money. Maybe you have climbed up the social ladder a little ways. Maybe your name is well known and you are well thought of in the community. Maybe you are a good person, who has lived a clean, moral life. Maybe you are a church member, a leader, a teacher, and everyone thinks
your life is complete.
But, in spite of all you have, there is still something missing in your life. You know you have what it takes to live, but you also know that you are unprepared to die. You have everything you want and need materially, but you do not have spiritual peace with God. Everything looks good on the outside, but the insides are all messed up. That is a terrible way to live, but it is an even more horrible way to die!
Consider next what the Gospel says about HIS SEARCH
I see His Concern – This guy has a lot going for him, but he knows that he is missing the most important thing of all: a relationship with Almighty God. Yet he sees his need and he desires to do something about it.
· He came “running” to Jesus, this shows us that he senses the urgency of his need.
· He “kneeled” before Jesus; this shows us that he understands that there is something special about Jesus.
· He comes while Jesus is in “the way”. That means that Jesus is in the middle of the road when this fellow comes and bows down before Him. This shows us that he is not ashamed to admit that he has a spiritual need.
· He came pondering the issues of eternity. He wants to know how he might “inherit eternal life”.
He knows a lot of things, but he is forced to admit that he does not know the way to Heaven! He comes to Jesus with thoughts of Heaven on his mind.
You don’t find many people nowadays who are thinking about eternity! Most people are so wrapped up in themselves and their lives that they have no time for thoughts of God, Heaven, Hell, or where they will be after they die!
We live in the midst of one of the most sophisticated and intellectually advanced cultures the world has ever known, yet people still do not know the answer to the most basic and important question of all. People do not know how to be saved. Man can split atoms, put men on the moon, harness the power of the sun, wind and rain, but he does not know how to get to Heaven! And the most tragic fact is, that most people don’t even care to know. At least this young man was concerned about his soul. Are you? … You should be!
For death is coming to us all, and maybe One day soon you will leave this world forever. When you do, you will go to either Heaven or you will go to Hell. The place you go when you die will be determined by what you do with Jesus while you live!
If you have never accepted him as your sin bearer and saviour – you need to consider where you will go when you die!
Then I see His Confusion – Let’s give this young man his due!
He is concerned about the right issue, in the presence of the right Person, He comes at the right time, and he came in the right way, This man gets a lot of things right in his encounter with the Lord. But, it is the things he gets wrong that causes him
all his trouble.
· He thinks that salvation can be earned – He is looking for a “performance” orientated salvation. He wants to have a hand in it. He wants to be involved. He wants to get his salvation like he has gotten everything else in his life: he wants to earn it for himself.
· He thinks salvation is a reward – He seems to think that if he can just do just enough good things, then God will give him eternal life as a reward. Salvation is not a reward for faithful service; it is the free gift of God’s grace!
We could never do enough to reach a place where God would reward us with salvation. Many believe that they have to “do” something to be saved. Be it, join a church, get baptized, teach Sunday School, become a preacher, give a tenth of all they earn, become a moral person and stop sinning… and the list could go on forever!
Yet the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that salvation is never about “Performance”, Eph. 2:8-9; & Titus 3:5. Salvation, through Jesus Christ, is not about what we “Do”. Jesus said “It is finished!” He did it all and there is nothing you and I can do to add to it, or to get it on our own. Salvation has never been about what we can do, but it has always been about what Jesus has done! The Philippian Jailer had the same questions for Paul and Silas in Acts 16:30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer to him was that there was nothing more to do but to believe, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you‘ll be saved”, said Paul – Acts 16:31! Nothing has changed!
If you want to be saved, you must rest in “Done!”
and forget about “Do!”
Then notice if you will, His Challenge – When Jesus hears what this man believes about salvation, Jesus challenges him in two specific areas. First of all, he was challenged Concerning The Character Of The Saviour – The man had called Jesus “Good Master”. Jesus reminds the man that “there is none good but one, that is, God.” When Jesus makes this statement He is catching this young man out. Does he believe that Jesus is a good man, or does he believe that Jesus is Saviour? Obviously, this man considered Jesus to be merely a great teacher.
Before anyone can be saved they must come to a correct understanding of Who Jesus Christ is. He is not just a good moral man; a teacher sent to show us the way. No! He is far more than that! He is God in the flesh! He is not a way-shower; He is the Way. He is not a true dispenser; He is the Truth. He does not point out the path to life; but He Himself is the Life! (John 14:6) Do you know Who Jesus is? He isn’t just another stop on the scenic road to Heaven. He is the only hope you have for Heaven!,
Then he was challenged Concerning The Condition Of His Soul – When Jesus gives this young man a list of commands, it isn’t to imply that salvation comes by keeping the Law. Jesus is trying to get this man to see that he is a sinner. Jesus is attempting to get him to be honest about his spiritual condition.
Apparently, this young man believed that salvation was just something else he could add to his resume. Jesus wants him to see that he is a sinner and as a sinner he has no ground upon which to stand before the throne of a Holy God.
Jesus wants him to see that regardless of what he may possess materially, he is morally and spiritually bankrupt.
This is where most people are today. They take an external, superficial inventory of their lives and think they are alright. They say, “I don’t beat my wife. I don’t abuse my children. I don’t play around. I don’t get drunk. I provide for my family.
I am a pretty good person. And, after all, compared to some people, I am not that bad!”
Do you know what’s wrong with that? The problem with people and their relationship with God is not about what they are outwardly; it’s what they are inwardly! The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart! Man is a sinner, Rom. 3:23. He can clean up the outside all he wants to, but he is still a sinner! You can wash a pig, perfume him and put a ribbon around his neck and he looks clean. But, you turn him loose and he’ll head straight to the muck. Why? He is a pig and that is what pigs do! You can take a corpse and comb its hair, put makeup on it, perfume it and it looks pretty good, but it will still rot and decay. Why? It is dead, and that what corpses do!
A sinner may turn over a new leaf and look good outwardly.
He may be a moral, clean, hard working person, but he is still
a sinner at heart and he needs a Saviour. This is what Jesus wanted this young man to know and that is what He wants
you to know as well.
Then I see the challenge of His Confession – This man responds to the Lord’s challenge by telling Jesus that he has kept all
of those commandments since his youth. And, he probably had! Jesus didn’t rebuke him for his claim. But there is something
else that we need to consider. It may be that Jesus only mentioned the commandments that the young man had kept. Perhaps the Lord did not mention the ones he had broken. If you will notice, all the commandments listed in verse 19 deal with man’s relationship to man. It may be that this man was right with his fellowman, but he would never be right with God until he had placed his trust and hope in Jesus Christ. By the way, neither will you! You can be moral, religious and decent. You can treat others with dignity, respect and tender care. But, none of that will make you right with God. To be right with God, you must come to Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus. 1 Tim. 2:5.
Finally let us consider HIS SORROW
When Jesus hears his response, the Lord reaches out to this young man. He tells him in very clear terms how to be saved.
Notice The Lord’s Compassion – We are told that Jesus “loved him”. In spite of his sins and in spite of his improper understanding of the things of God, Jesus loves this man. He loves you too! He loved you so much that He gave Himself on the cross to save you from your sins. He loves you so much that He will not turn you away if you will come to Him by faith. No one in this world may care if you live or die, but the Saviour cares and He calls you to come to Him for salvation and to come today.
Notice too, The Lord’s Confrontation – Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter. This fellow had a lot going for him. But, Jesus saw things as they really were. Jesus knew that he still “lacked one thing.” This man needs to get rid of the gods he already has before he can receive the true and living God.
His gods were his wealth and his self.
He is told to sell what he has and give it all away.
This will guarantee him riches in Heaven. By these acts, he will demonstrate that he had no other gods before the Lord; and he will be reaching out to his fellow man. Thus, he will be working toward keeping all ten of the commandments, not just a convenient few.
By the way, you will never come to Jesus and you will never be saved until you come to where you are willing to lay everything down for Him. He may let you keep your stuff. He may not ask you to give it all away. But, He does demand that we relinquish our grip on all we have and are. Until we do, we will never be saved! You may have a lot going for you too, but if you lack Jesus, you are still lost!
Then notice The Lord’s Call – Next, Jesus calls this man to die to himself and totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is saying, “Turn your back on self effort and trust me and you will be saved.” The verb phrases “take up the cross” and “follow me” are both in a tense that suggests a “once for all” action.
Have you trusted Jesus for your soul’s salvation? Have you willingly released your grip on everything else and reached out to Him by faith? That’s His demand! Anything less will not save the soul. Jesus is calling us to make a once for all commitment to follow him by faith. Have you done that?
Is He your Saviour? If He isn’t – He can be; Just ask him!
This man was looking for an easy fix. He wanted salvation, but he wanted it on his terms. He wanted to keep all the things he had. He wanted to add Jesus to his life, but Jesus wants to
BE OUR LIFE!
When he heard the Lord’s demands he was “sad”. The Greek word used means “to be under a cloud.” We are also told that he
was “grieved”. This word means “to be thrown into sorrow.”
Really, this man was broken hearted. He came to Jesus with Heaven on his mind, but he walked away with Hell as his destination! It did not have to be that way! But that’s how it turned out. You see, in that one moment of time, this rich, young man made two heartbreaking decisions.
· He Made An Earthly Decision – He chose his possessions over Jesus! He loved his things more than he wanted to be saved.
Jesus will allow you to make the same choice. It may not be money. It may be pleasure, some sin, your family, your independence, etc. If you want it, He will let you keep it!
But, ask yourself this question: “Is it really worth more than
· He Made An Eternal Decision – I recon that one day, this man’s youth faded and was gone. He retired from his honourable position down at the synagogue. Finally, the years overtook him and even his vast wealth couldn’t prolong the inevitable, – and he died. When he did, he found out that his religion and his moral lifestyle were not enough. When he died, he found himself in eternity lost forever, because he had walked away from the only hope he had ever had: Jesus Christ.
What you do with Jesus in this life, will determine what He will do with you in the next! Has He called you to follow Him? It is decision time, what will you do? Don’t go to Hell with Heaven on your mind!
In the words of our closing hymn now come to Jesus today, you don’t have to be all cleaned up before you come, come just as you are, but don’t delay, come today. God Bless you. Amen.
(Sorry but we are unable to include this lovely hymn because of copyright issues)