We’ve already talked about the reality of hell, but most people don’t really get the severity of eternal damnation and we all really don’t want to think about it. If we really grasped hell and the meaning of total separation from God, it would change everything. Having said that if we truly grasped and believed God’s word, we would not have to worry about spending eternity with satan but at this point in the church hell is a reality for those who refuse to obey. The reality of hell changes how we fear God, listen to the words of Jesus, seek the power of the Holy Spirit and realize the grasp satan has on the church. Luke tells us Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” You would think that just the mention of hell would have been enough to set the church straight but like we see in Jeremiah it does not. Jeremiah 36:1 “In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. 3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” Instead of fearing God, king Jehoiakim burned the scroll. Today hell is very real it even eternal separation, fire punishment from God is not enough for people to turn from their wicked ways.

        When we fear God there is nothing to fear but the problem is most do not fear God. If the church feared the wrath of God, the church would not do these things I am about to list. If the church feared the wrath of God, they would believe in hell, they would not change or ignore scripture. The church would repent. They would not elevate men and women above Jesus. They would understand the power that satan has been given over the church but also understand that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat him. They would seek and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, the church does not fear God or the reality of hell.

        As we talked about yesterday, the church has sustained insurmountable losses, as we have not prevailed against our enemies due to our rebellion. Instead, our enemies have prevailed against the church. The reality of hell is not just for those who have nothing to do with the church, but also for those who call themselves the church and refuse to obey and follow God’s words wholeheartedly, knowingly and unknowingly. Remember the deception and delusion is so great in the church that most think they are following God’s word. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Mark 9:42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” So, you have those like the Salvation Army that took this to heart but turned away from the true gospel. The false teaching of many churches has done this not only to children, but to young disciples. 

        satan’s only goal is to turn you away from God which means you will spend eternity with him. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” He started in the garden by saying to Eve, Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say?” and continues to this day. He is also tempting people by offering them the world. Luke 4:6 “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” But that is the deception. It is like King Sennacherib offering the people of Jerusalem. Isaiah 36:16 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 17 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.” That was a lie as the Promised Land was the land of milk and honey. If you look back at Revelation 12:10 “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.” Revelation 11:5 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Then go back Daniel 7:14 “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Then to Matthew where Jesus said Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus has been given all authority and power even though satan does have power. 

        This is where most in the church get it wrong and do not understand the power satan presently has been given. They think that when Jesus came, satan and the demonic were destroyed and he no longer had power. Matthew 8:29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time? 30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs. 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” The pigs died, not the demons. satan is very much alive and very powerful and has decimated the church because the church refuses to obey God’s word. The only reason he has power is because the church refuses to obey, which is why God allowed satan to decimate the church and is why God brought delusion upon the church. For hundreds of years, satan has stood in most pulpits and institutions. Doctrines of demons are everywhere, and ears are itched with his teaching. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 

        Since the church listened to false teaches distort scripture and turn away, God has turned away and we are powerless to defeat him. Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ 17 I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.” Jeremiah 22:21 “I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me.” Zechariah 7:11 “They refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. 13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’”

        When Jesus came, the church was given power to destroy the work of satan and the demonic. That was how it was supposed to be and this is where the confusion lies. The work of satan is only defeated when we obey God’s word. When the church does not obey, there is no power to defeat satan and satan prevails. The church was supposed to have power, but along the way rejected God’s word and went their own way, bringing disaster upon the church. That is not how it was supposed to be, just like no one was supposed to be able to stand against Israel when they took the land promised to them. God did not lie; the people rebelled. So, as we saw in Daniel, Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” satan was given power to defeat the church because of the rebellion of the church against God’s word. That verse in Daniel shows us the victory of satan over God’s people and thankfully His defeat. Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

        When Jesus came, he defeated satan’s work, even in death, Jesus was victorious over satan. Acts 2:24 “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” John tells us 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” The church was to continue in this work that Jesus started in the same power and authority. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” The church was to go out in the power that raised Jesus from the dead. 

        The purpose of the church is described here. Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” 5 This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Jesus sent Paul Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” 

        The church was to continue destroying the work of satan, as Jesus gave the church power and authority to do so. Therefore, it cannot be done in our own power, even though for generations now the church has tried and failed. Because the deception and delusion is so strong in the church, the church does not know enough to turn from their wicked ways but instead just keep on going in their own strength. Money, music, books, fame, fancy buildings, slick programs, dynamic speakers will not defeat satan’s work but only enhance it when the truth of God’s word is not proclaimed. The apostle Paul said 2 Corinthians 11:6 “I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge.” What he also had was power. He said, 1 Corinthians 4:18 “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” I am pretty sure the church would be better off with power. It is still mind boggling that so many in the church oppose the power as described in scripture that is available to the church. This refusal to believe that power is available is a refusal to repent. If they admit power is available and they do not have it, then they would also have to admit they have followed other gospels. This explains why there are doctrines and theology to justify the lack of power in the church. Therefore the church must repent and turn from wicked ways, even if it is a hard truth to accept.  

        The power just described with Paul, is the power the church was supposed to have but we must believe and proclaim the confession that Peter made. The rock Jesus is referring to is Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” You cannot make this proclamation and follow other gospels. There cannot be healing and casting out demons and preach other gospels like the charismatics who say this is happening in their midst. The kingdom will not come near, nor will there be the power needed to defeat satan’s work. Jesus told Peter Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus gave the church the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. That means the church was to have incredible power just like Jesus had. God’s plan was for the church to go out in that power. Can you imagine the results? Cities and even countries would be turned upside down just as they were with Jesus. You don’t actually have to imagine, you can read about it. When Jesus preached, He said Mark 1:15 “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Those were the keys the church was to receive.

        We saw the keys given to His disciples. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

        If the church turns back to God’s word and turns away from our wicked ways, the power and authority the church was supposed to have will return and the keys to the kingdom of heaven will be returned to us. We will then go out and do as Jesus did and continue to destroy the work of satan.