WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO HEAVEN
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
12 MARCH 1995
BY Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Since God has given us a free will, we are free to choose any way of life we want.
God has even given us the free will to reject Him.
He has even given us an alternative to heaven.
If we don't want to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are free to do so.
If we don't want to believe Jesus when He told us, "no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6), that's okay, too; for Jesus also gave us an alternative to heaven.
We're free to hate anyone and everyone, if we want.
We can even hate God.
We don't have to believe any of this love stuff the Bible throws at us.
We are free to do whatever we want.
We have an alternative to heaven.
We are free to be part of the majority, to go along with the crowd; for most of the people in this world have chosen the alternative to heaven.
Even though many of these people may claim to believe, their lifestyle says otherwise.
And with so many people there, one might think that it will be all fun and games, or at least that they would be among many friends.
But that's not quite what the alternative to heaven holds in store for those who choose it.
In Romans 12:20-21, we are told something of the condition of the alternative to heaven that can be experienced here upon the earth.
20. "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."
21. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Now, before we look closely at these verses, let's look at what we are told in Proverbs 25:21-22, for while similar, it has a slightly different twist to its meaning.
21. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22. For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
If we look at these passages spiritually, from the perspective of a believer who has chosen heaven, and not the alternative, then it would stand to reason that our enemies are also the enemies of God.
Nevertheless, we are being told to still treat them with kindness upon this earth.
But at the same time we are being told that our kindness will heap burning coals upon their heads.
Now, I've been kind to evil people, and I have never seen flames break out upon their heads, have you?
So, the Bible must also be speaking spiritually about the fire and burning coals.
These are the coals of conviction that remind the evil person of the things they do against the will of God.
The reward we receive for obeying God in this way must also be spiritual, for as we overcome evil with good we show the way to heaven, which is our reward.
But, for a moment, let's keep in mind these burning coals of conviction, as we look at Revelation 20:11-15:
11. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
All of these people chose the alternative to heaven.
Just as we can surmise that there were not real burning coals upon the heads of evil people that were treated well, so also may the lake of fire be of a spiritual nature:
A fire that does not consume, as we know fire does, but an inner burning that continues to convict and haunt the souls of those who choose to be there; a conviction and haunting that goes on every moment, both day and night, for all eternity; an ever-present reminder of all the evil deeds they did in their lifetime, with no peace.
That's what the greedy rich man experienced for not treating people in need with kindness, for he chose the alternative to heaven (Luke 16:24):
24. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'
And still thinking spiritually, listen to what James tells us in 3:5-6 about the tongue and fire, and that alternative to heaven:
5. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
[Just as the rich man obviously did.]
Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6. And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
Yes. If you haven't guessed already, hell is the alternative to heaven, and we have been given the free will to go there, if we choose to do so.
It is a place that will burn with everlasting conviction upon those who choose to go there.
There is also another aspect to this alternative to heaven that so many people are rushing to experience.
It's expressed in something that Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 8:11-12.
11. "And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;
12. but the sons of the kingdom
[Those who ought rightfully to have chosen heaven, for they were children of the promise, but chose the alternative.]
[And the same is true for those who have been exposed to Jesus Christ, for they,]
shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Listen also to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:13 and 25:30:
13. "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
30. "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Being bound signifies being unable to move.
Being bound means that in this alternative to heaven, no one any longer has a free will.
Their fate is sealed.
They are alone in this outer darkness, in agony, and with no peace; being convicted every moment of their evil deeds, with no longer a chance to repent and get another chance to start over.
But that's the place they chose to be.
Just remember that the alternative to heaven is real hell!
Listen now to the tongue of one who turned from evil and chose heaven (Psalm 27:1-6):
1. The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
2. When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
3. Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
4. One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to meditate in His temple.
5. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
6. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me;
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
When I think of the joy of being in the presence of the Lord, it is hard to understand why so many people choose the alternative.
And while you still remain here upon this earth, live your life as if you were already in heaven, even if the whole world chooses the alternative.
It's hell not to go to heaven!
Your Comments are welcome
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