Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Great Gulf Fixed

Temple Baptist Church - 7-26-2015
Luke 16:19-31

A.  Our text for this morning is a very familiar one and has been preached in many ways over the years.  I have nothing new to add to that preaching but do want to make an unusual application.
B.  Our Lord Jesus Christ sets forth many truths in these verses concerning hell.  I want to look at three of them.  We find that:
1.  Hell is a real place!  There have been many attempts by men to ignore hell.  Hell is as real as heaven.  More is said by our Lord about hell than heaven because it is a place to be shunned.
2.  The horror of hell.  While many ignore or do not believe in hell, others have tried to put out the fire.  Hell is a place of torment.
The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel for April 10, 1983, asked Billy Graham: 
"Surveys tell us that 85% of Americans believe in heaven, but only 65% believe in hell. Why do you think so many Americans don't accept the concept of hell?" He replied: "I think that hell essentially is separation from God forever. And that is the worst hell that I can think of. But I think people have a hard time believing God is going to allow people to burn in literal fire forever. I think the fire that is mentioned in the Bible is a burning thirst for God that can never be quenched."
3.  The permanence of hell.  I have often said that the “heaven” of heaven is its eternality.  The “hell” of hell is its eternality.  No destruction of the soul; no second chances; and no escape or ultimate release from it.
C.  This morning, I want to draw your attention to verse 26.  In the Old Testament economy, the center of the earth contained both a literal burning hell and Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort for the saint.  The word “gulf” means to “yawn” or to “open wide.”  The gulf was a place of division, emptiness, and impossibility.  Its purpose was two-fold:
1.  To keep the saved from coming to the lost. 
2.  To keep the lost from coming to the saved.
D.  At these last two points, I want to make a practical application.  I fear that many believers have “a great gulf fixed” that keeps them from going to the lost and that keeps the lost from coming to them.  As God’s children, we have a two-fold responsibility to the unsaved:
1.  To live in such a way in their presence that they would see the love of Christ in our lives that would compel them to come to Christ.
2  To come to the lost with the truth of God’s love and the way of salvation.  This is done by both living for Christ in their presence and actively witnessing to them concerning God’s will for them and the way of salvation.
E.  Sometimes, I fear that we, as God’s children, fix gulfs that keep sinners from coming to Chris.  Here are a few “gulfs” that God’s people have fixed that keeps the unsaved unsaved!
1.  The Gulf of ListlessnessRomans 13:11  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  (When I think of listlessness, I think of a low grade fever.  The low grade fever of apathy.  Is so easy say that we do not believe in Calvinism and yet to live as if it was a doctrinal truth.  To be saved from hell and not to care to tell others of that great salvation.  Our salvation should compel us to tell others of God’s great love and His deliverance from a place called hell.  The low grade fever of unconcern.  In the Psalm 142:4, David said, “No man cared for my soul.”  May the Lord give us a desire to see souls come to Christ!  May we do our part in witnessing and supporting missions that others may have the preacher spoken of in Romans 10.)
2.  The Gulf of Prayerlessness.  1 Timothy 2:1  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  (We know of the power of prayer but too often neglect the privilege of prayer.  We have memorized so many verses concerning prayer but do not utilize its unlimited power on behalf of the lost.  No prayer equals no souls!  Few tears are ever shed over our lost loved ones, friends, and neighbors.  No prayer keeps us from going to them and them coming to us.) 
3.  The Gulf of Carelessness.  2 Corinthians 3:2  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men(We too often live carelessly in front of the lost and they see nothing in us that compels them to want what we have.  We are ambassadors for Christ.  Our lives are different because of Calvary and it is essential that the lost still call us “Christians.”  Careless living keeps the saved from going to the lost and the lost from coming to them.)
4.  The Gulf of Selfishness.  Philippians 2:4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others(Humanism equals selfishness and that is what the system has instilled within people.  God’s peoples have fallen into this same mindset.  Selfish with our lives; Selfish with our time; Selfish with our money.  Selfishness will keep the saved from going to the lost and the lost from coming to them.)
5.  The Gulf of Hopelessness.  Now back to our text.  Luke 16:26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence(The end result of all of the previous “gulfs” is hopelessness in the hearts and minds of the lost.  If we fix the gulf, the unsaved have no hope as we are the salt and light of this world.  John 20:21  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.)

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