[Lesson 97: Hell] [Table of Contents] [Lesson 99: What Do You Think about Jesus? (#1)]
Peace be with you, listening friends. We greet you in the name of God, the Lord of peace, who wants everyone to understand and submit to the way of righteousness that He has established, and have true peace with Him forever. We are happy to be able to return today to present your program The Way of Righteousness.
In our last lesson, we contemplated hell, the place where punishment never ceases. Hell is a horrible place, created for Satan and his angels. It is where everyone who neglects the way of salvation which God has established must go, forever separated from God! That is what the Holy Scripture declares, saying: "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire!" (Rev. 20:15)
Surely, hell is the most horrible subject that man can contemplate. However, today, we plan to look at one of the most wonderful subjects that the spirit of man can contemplate, the subject of heaven, also called Paradise.
People have a great variety of ideas concerning Paradise, and what a person must do to enter it. For example, those who belong to eastern religions believe that there are many heavens (paradises) with varying degrees of pleasure and that where each person goes depends on his works. Others think that a person must first pass through hell and after he has paid his debt of sin, he will be transferred to Paradise. Still others think that Paradise is a place that God has reserved for those who are faithful in their religious duties and that it is a place where folks eat, drink, and pursue pleasure. Man certainly has many ideas about Paradise and how to get there. However, our concern today is not with what people think about Paradise, but with what God says about it in His holy Word!
The place of Paradise has many names in the Scriptures of the Prophets. It is called Heaven; the throne of God; the presence of God; the house of God; the dwelling place of God the Holy One; the Holy City; the City of the Living God; the heavenly Jerusalem; the home of the holy angels and the Lamb; the presence of the Lord Jesus and His great glory; and the home of God's people, who have their names written in heaven. The Lord Jesus called Paradise, "My Father's house," because that was where He was before He was born on earth.
In summary, Paradise is the dwelling place of God. As we have seen, God is everywhere; nevertheless there is a specific place that is holy, radiant, and beautiful, far beyond the stars, where God dwells in His glory. That place is where the Son of the Most High, Jesus, sits on His throne, at the right hand of the Almighty, waiting until He returns to the world to judge it and to renew it. Also, Paradise is where thousands and thousands of angels surround the throne, together with the great multitude of people that God has redeemed for Himself through the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the end of the book of the Gospel, in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation, God gave John, His apostle, a vision to show him the Holy City of Paradise, which the Lord has made for those who have their names written in the book of eternal life. Listen to what the Scripture says about the City of Paradise.
(Rev. 21) 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City… 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates…
16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide… 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone… 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. 22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (the Lord Jesus) are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light… 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there… 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
(Rev. 22) 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month… 3No longer will there be any curse [or death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4)]. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Thus did God show John the Holy City, which He is preparing for those who choose His way of Salvation. In the time that we have left today, let us think about what God says in His Word concerning the way that leads to Paradise. How can we be sure that we will go to Paradise and not go to hell?
Can you remember what the Messiah, Jesus, said to His disciples concerning the house of God and the way which leads there? He said to them:
(John 14) 1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going… 6I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to [God] the Father except through me.
That is what Jesus the Messiah said. He Himself is The Way. Whoever does not come by the Son of the Most High, that is, the holy Redeemer, will never enter the holy presence of God! Never! That is what the Scripture declares when it says:
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…" (1 Tim. 2:5,6)
The Mediator, Jesus Christ, who came forth from God, is the Way of Salvation that leads to Paradise. In order to bring sinners to God, Christ was born into the world, lived a holy life upon earth, shed His blood as the Perfect Sacrifice for sin, and then rose from the dead on the third day. No one comes to God except through Him. Do you believe that? Do you see that Jesus the Messiah is the only Way that brings sinners into the presence of God? Perhaps we can illustrate it with a little story.
A certain man lived in a small village far away in the bush. He belonged to a tribe of people who did not wear clothes. They only wore something like a belt around their loins. This man had a piece of land which he farmed, but someone more powerful than he came and stole his land so that he had nowhere left to farm. No one would help him to reclaim his land because he had no means of paying them.
One day he got the idea to go to the capital city to see the President, the ruler of the land, and ask him to help him, because he had heard that the Ruler was a just and compassionate man. Thus he got up and walked and walked and walked until he came to the big city and to the presidential palace. Oh, what a big and beautiful house! When he arrived at the gate of the house, and attempted to enter with his filthiness and nakedness, a guard said to him: "Hey you! What are you trying to do?!" He replied, "I want to see the President." The guard said to him, "Ha! Do you suppose that anyone can just enter here as they please? Look at you! Don't you know that you cannot come in here naked and dirty? Get away from here, man, or I'll throw you in prison!"
Thus, the poor fellow turned and went away, but he was not discouraged. He went and begged from morning to afternoon. Then he bought some inexpensive clothes, bathed himself, dressed and went back to the Ruler's palace. Upon arriving back at the gate, the guard said to him, "You are wearing clothes, but the clothes are not good enough to allow you to come before the Ruler of the land. And even if your clothes were good enough, you couldn't enter, because you must have special permission to enter the Ruler's house. You have no right to enter! Now go!"
At this, the man became discouraged, saying, "What's the use? After all the trouble I've gone through, I still can't get near the Ruler of the land!" His hope gone, he sat at the side of the road in great dismay. However, while all this was happening, the Ruler of the land saw him. The Ruler's eldest son was there also. The Ruler said to his son, "Go and find out what that fellow wants." When the Ruler's son came up to the man, he squatted down and said to him, "Sir, can I help you with something? What has brought you here and why are you so upset?" The man said to him, "I want to see the Ruler of the land, but it is impossible. All my efforts have been in vain!"
The young man said to him, "I am the son of the Ruler of the land, and my father sent me out here to help you. Follow me." Thus, he accompanied him to the gate of the presidential palace. When they came up to the guard who had previously prevented the poor man from entering, the guard saluted them with great respect as they walked through the gate and into the court of the palace. The son gave the poor man a beautiful robe to wear, and together they entered the presidential palace. Thus, the man was able to enter the presidential palace and see the Ruler of the land, because of the help and authority of the Ruler's son.
Friends, that is how it is with those who want to enter Paradise, the palace of the King of kings. God, the Ruler of the Universe is high and holy. We cannot just enter His glorious presence in any sort of way! Our own efforts can never gain us access into His presence. We are all like that poor man who attempted to enter the presence of the President by his own feeble efforts. The Scripture says: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isa. 64:6) Paradise is a holy place, and "nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful!" (Rev. 21:27) No one can get us into that holy place except the Holy One who came from there! That holy Person is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of the Most High, the Lamb of God, who came from Paradise, died as a sacrifice to take away sin, rose from the dead and returned to Paradise!
So then, who can enter Paradise? Only those who have been cleansed through faith in Jesus the Redeemer and in the blood that He shed. Only those will enter Paradise! That is what the Scripture declares when it says:
"There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." (Rom. 3:22-25) "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:9-13)
You who are listening today, do you know that you have eternal life? Are you sure that you will enter Paradise and rejoice in the presence of God forever? Have you believed on the Name of the Son of God? Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?
Think carefully about what we have read today, because God wants to give you insight into all of this.…
God bless you as consider this thrilling verse from His holy Word:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him!" (1 Cor. 2:9)