Have you ever run a stop sign or a red light? Whoo. I’m glad I’m not the only one. There are times when I am distracted or talking or just plain let my mind wander, and the next thing you know, Sonya is yelling at me to stop. Sometimes I do stop; other times, it’s just too late, but by the grace of God, every time that has happened, there have been no other cars coming my way. But sooner or later, I know that the likelihood is that I’m not going to be that blessed and bad things could happen. Did you realize that God gives us warnings when we are traveling down the wrong road?
In Matthew 7:13, 14, Jesus tells us that in this life, there are two roads that we can travel. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Right now, you and I are either on the road to Heaven, or we are on the road to Hell. There is no middle ground because Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 (NKJV), “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”
If you are traveling the broad way, the road that leads to Hell, there are several things that you need to be aware of. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus tells us that Hell is a place of everlasting fire. Do you realize what that means? It means that the fire never dies out. This is no ordinary fire because even though the fire burns forever, Hell is a place of total darkness (Matthew 8:12). Then in Mark 9:44, Jesus said that hell is a place where “their worm never dies.” The word worm was used in the OT and in Jesus’ day to refer to apostates – those who had turned their backs on God, so that means while the fire never dies, it also never consumes so that the torment is unending for those who go there. And those who are traveling the broad way will go there unless they turn to Jesus in repentance and belief. There is something else you need to be aware of. In Luke 16, Jesus tells us that Hell is a place from which there is no escape. You remember, in my previous blog, I mentioned this passage about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue and for someone to go warn his brothers. But Father Abraham reminded him in Luke 16:26 (NKJV), “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.”
Do you know what that means? After death, there are no second chances, there is no purgatory, and there is no probation. Hell is a place of never-ending torment from which there is no escape.
Many people will say that if God were truly loving, He would never send a single person to suffer that kind of torment. And they would be right. God doesn’t send a single person to hell. In fact, the Bible says that hell was prepared for Satan and his demonic hordes. And Jesus reminds us that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him (the Son) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:17-18). So every human being that winds up in hell does so of their own choosing, but know this: God loves you so much that He has put down stop signs all along the way to keep you from winding up in that horrible place. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Any person who goes to Hell, goes there against God’s will. He has done everything possible, everything that He can do to stop you, and the only way you can wind up there is to ignore the stop signs along the way. But what are those stop signs?
First, God has placed in every human being the stop sign which we call Conscience. In John 8, we read about the Jewish religious leaders who brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. They walked away because they were “convicted in their conscience” that what they were doing was wrong. Paul speaks about the Gentiles in Romans 2:15 (NKJV), “…who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.” Even the Gentiles, those who did not receive the Law and the Prophets from God have no excuse because their conscience bears witness to the truth. Even Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden knew immediately when they had sinned because God had instilled within them this conscience which tells us what is right and what is wrong. Sadly, though, Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 4:2 that our consciences can become hardened when we repeatedly ignore it, so while the conscience serves to stop us from continuing down the path to hell, it is not enough to put us on the path to heaven.
Second, God has placed before every human being the stop sign of His Creation. Back to Romans for just a second. Romans 1:18-20 (NKJV), “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”
Do you see it? Everyone is without excuse because the things that are made – His creation – provide evidence of God’s existence and His nature and His power. But I want you to see something. This isn’t some haphazard presentation where God puts His creation out there and everyone has to go looking for the meaning. Paul says that God has shown all these things to every person so that they will know His power, His personality, and His purpose to bring all men into a right relationship with Himself. How could anyone look at the beauty of the universe and not see God? How could anyone hold a newborn baby and not know that there is a Creator?
Again, sadly, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden demonstrates that even the perfection of creation is not enough to keep men from sinning, but it is enough to stop our descent on the path to hell.
On which road do you find yourself? While I will share the remainder of these stop signs later this week, let me give you a shortcut – a detour, if you will – to avoid a final destination you do NOT want to experience. Surrender your life to God. Trust in the saving grace provided by Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Know that He did this for you, and if you believe it and receive His forgiveness, you will find yourself on the road to life.
You can listen to the audio sermon from which this was taken by clicking on this link.