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THE MAN WHO WENT TO HELL
WITH HEAVEN ON HIS MIND
Intro: No matter how you approach the subject, Hell is an awful thought. Hell is a place where there is eternal torment and pain in unquenchable flames. Hell is a place of terrible memories and horrible thirst. Hell is a place of eternal separation from everything of beauty that resides in this world. Hell is a place of eternal separation for the presence of God. Hell is a place prepared for the devil and his angels, but all those who reject Jesus as their Savior will go there for all eternity. Hell would be a horrible place to spend eternity.
I can only think of one thing worse than going to Hell; and that would be to go to Hell with Heaven in your mind. Does that really happen? The Bible gives us several vivid examples of this phenomenon. Consider the following people and their rejection of the Savior.
· Judas Iscariot He kissed the gates of Heaven and went to Hell Matt. 26:49; Acts 1:25.
· Felix He looked into salvation, but he wanted to wait to a more convenient time Acts 24:25.
· Herod Agrippa He stepped up to the very door of Heaven and turned away Acts 26:28.
· Festus He heard the claims of the Gospel and called them the ravings of a mad man Acts 26:24.
As far as we know, every one of the men I mentioned died and went to Hell. But, every one of those men went to Hell with Heaven on his mind!
The very same thing takes place in this text. A young man comes to Jesus, hears the way of salvation, and he turns away to leave as lost as he came. As far as we know, this young man went to Hell with Heaven on his mind.
The same thing continues to happen all around us. People come in and out of our churches. They hear the Gospel message; they are challenged to repent of their sins and to turn to Jesus for salvation; but many leave the church just like they came in. They leave lost and still on their way to Hell. If they do not repent of their sins, they will eventually die and go to Hell. When they do, they will go to Hell with Heaven on their mind.
I want to take a fresh look at this familiar passage today. I want you to preach on The Man Who Went To Hell With Heaven On His Mind. Notice some facts about this man. I want you to see His Status; His Search and His Sorrow.
I. v. 17a HIS STATUS
A. He Had Privilege All three Gospel writers tell us that this man was rich. Matthew also tells us that he was young, Matt. 19:22. He lived a life of privilege. The world was his! Anything he wanted was well tithing his reach.
B. He Had Position Luke tells us that this man was a ruler, Luke 18:18. This probably means that he was an influential leader in the local synagogue.
C. He Had Prestige According to all the information we have about this man, it appears that he was very moral, v. 20. He lived a good life. People all over that region probably looked up to this young, rich, moral, religious leader.
(Note: From every outward appearance, this young man was riding high on the pinnacle of success. He was everything a mother or father could want their child to be. If you looked at his life, you might think that he had it all. But, appearances are deceiving!
In spite of everything he has going for him, this young man had one mighty big skeleton in his closet! He had much, but with his much, he had an itch he could not scratch!
He had found that his youth left him unsatisfied. His money had left him feeling unfulfilled. His morality, his clean living and his religious activity had not been able to satisfy the deepest longing of his soul. His swift climb up the rungs of the social ladder had failed to give him what he wanted most: peace with God.)
(Note: Maybe there are people in this room in the same shape as this young man. From every outward appearance, you have it made. Life has been good to you. You have a little money. Maybe you have climbed up the social ladder a little ways. Maybe your name is well known and you are well thought of in the community. Maybe you are a good person, who has lived a clean, moral life. Maybe you are a church member, a leader, a teacher, and everyone thinks your life is complete.
But, in spite of all you have, there is still something missing in your life. You know you have what it takes to live, but you also know that you are unprepared to die. You have everything you want and need materially, but you do not have spiritual peace with God. Everything looks good on the outside, but the insides are all messed up. That is a terrible way to live, but it is an even more horrible way to die!)
II. v. 17b-20 HIS SEARCH
A. v. 17b His Concern This fellow has a lot going for him, but he knows that he is missing the most important thing of all: a saving relationship with Almighty God. (Ill. Many people never realize that nothing in this world is more important that their souls salvation, Mark 8:36-37.)
This man sees his need and he desires to do something about it.
· He came “running to Jesus, this shows us that he senses the urgency of his need.
· He “kneeled before Jesus; this shows us that he understands that there is something special about Jesus.
· He comes while Jesus is in “the way. That means that Jesus is in the middle of the road when this fellow comes and bows down before Him. This shows us that he is not ashamed to admit that he has a spiritual need.
· He came pondering the issues of eternity. He wants to know how he might “inherit eternal life.
(Note: This young man has a lot going for him. He it all! Yet, with all his power, his possessions and his privileges, he still does not know the answer to the greatest of all questions. He knows a lot of things, but he is forced to admit that he does not know the way to Heaven! He comes to Jesus with thoughts of Heaven on his mind.
You don’t find many people who are thinking about eternity! Most people are so wrapped up in themselves and their lives that they have no time for thoughts of God, Heaven, Hell, or where they will go when they die!
Most folks are just like this young man. We have it all! We live in one of the wealthiest societies in the history of the world. We have so much here that the thoughts of natural men and women hardly ever turn to the matters of God, Heaven, Hell or eternity.
We live in the midst of one of the most sophisticated and intellectually advanced cultures the world has ever known, yet people still do not know the answer to the most basic and important question of all. People do not know how to be saved. Man can split atoms, put men on the moon, harness the power of the sun, wind and rain, but he does not know how to get to Heaven!
The sad fact is, most people don’t even care to know. At least this young man was concerned about his soul. Are you? You should be!
Death is coming, Heb. 9:27. One day real soon you will leave this world forever. When you do, you will go to either Heaven or you will go to Hell. The place you go when you die will be determined by what you do with Jesus while you are alive. If you are not saved, you need to consider where you will go when you die!)
B. v. 17b His Confusion Lets give this young man his due! He is concerned about the right issue, in the presence of the right Person, John 14:6; Acts 4:12. He comes at the right time, Isa. 55:6; and he came in the right way, 1 Pet. 5:5. This man gets a lot of things right in his encounter with the Lord. But, it is the things he gets wrong that cause him all his trouble.
· He thinks salvation can be earned - He is looking for a “Do oriented salvation. He wants to have a hand in it. He wants to be involved. He wants to get his salvation like he has gotten everything else in his life: he wants to earn it for himself.
· He thinks salvation is a reward - He seems to think that if he can just do enough good things, then God will give him eternal life as a reward. Salvation is not a reward for faithful service; it is the free gift of God’s grace! We could never do enough to reach a place where God would reward us with salvation. Salvation is not a reward for service, but it is the gift of grace, John 10:28!
(Note: Many people still believe that salvation is based on “do. They believe that they have to do something to be saved. Be it join a church, get baptized, teach Sunday School, preach, give, become a moral person and stop sinning and the list could go on forever!
The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that salvation is never about “Do, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5. Salvation, through Jesus Christ, is always about “Done!” When Jesus died on the cross, He said “It is finished! He did it all and there is nothing you and I can do you to add to it or to get it on our own.
Salvation was achieved by Jesus when He died on the cross and rose again. It is received by us when we accepted what He did by faith! Salvation has never been about what we can do, but it has always been about what He did!
(Note: The Philippian Jailer had the same questions for Paul and Silas in Acts 16:30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Pauls answer to him was that there was nothing more to do but to believe, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 16:31!) Nothing has changed! If you want to be saved, you must rest in “Done!” and forget about “Do!”)
C. v. 18-19 His Challenge When Jesus hears what this man believes about salvation, Jesus challenges him in two specific areas.
· Concerning The Character Of The Savior The man had called Jesus Good Master. Jesus reminds the man that there is none good but one, that is, God. When Jesus makes this statement is calling this young man out. Does he believe that Jesus is a good man, or does he believe that Jesus is God? Obviously, this man considered Jesus to be merely a great teacher.
(Note: Before anyone can be saved they must come to a correct understanding of Who Jesus Christ is. He is not just a good moral man; a teacher sent to show us the way. No! He is far more than that! He is God in the flesh! He is not a way-shower; He is the Way. He is not a true dispenser; He is the Truth. He does not point out the path to life; but He Himself is the Life! (John 14:6)
Do you know Who Jesus is? He isn’t just another stop on the scenic road to Heaven. He is the only hope you have of salvation, 1 John 5:11-15; John 8:24. He is not just someone you add to what you already have. At the end of the way, He is all that matters. Finding out Who Jesus is, is one of the primary, elementary steps in coming to know Him!)
(Ill. John MacArthur tells about sharing the Gospel with a young actor from India. At the close of their conversation, the young man bowed his head and asked Jesus into his heart. When he had finished he looked at Dr. MacArthur and said, “Isn’t it wonderful? Now I have Mohammed and Jesus too.
That is not how it works! It’s not Jesus and… It’s Jesus alone! Do you know Who Jesus is?)
· Concerning The Condition Of His Soul When Jesus gives this young man list of commands, it isnt to imply that salvation comes by keeping the Law, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5. Jesus is trying to get this man to see that he is a sinner. Jesus is attempting to get him to be honest about his spiritual condition.
Apparently, this young man believed that salvation was just something else he could add to his resume. Jesus wants him to see that he is a sinner and as a sinner he has no ground upon which to stand before the face of God. Jesus wants him to see that regardless of what he may possess materially, he is morally and spiritually bankrupt.
(Note: This is where most people are isn’t it? They take an external, superficial, inventory of their lives and think they are alright. They say, “I don’t beat my wife. I don’t abuse my children. I don’t run around. I don’t drink. I provide for my family. I am a pretty good person. And, after all, compared to some people, why, I am almost a saint!
Do you know what’s wrong with that? The problem with people and their relationship with God is not what they are outwardly; it’s what they are inwardly! The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart! Man is a sinner, Rom. 3:10-12, 18, 23. He can clean up the outside all he wants to, but he is still a sinner!
You can wash a pig, perfume him and put a ribbon around his neck and he looks clean. But, you turn him loose and he’ll head straight to the wallow. Why? He is a pig and that is what pigs do! You can take a corpse and comb its hair, put makeup on it, perfume it and it looks pretty good, but it will still rot and decay. Why? It is a dead corpse and that what corpses do!
A sinner may turn over a new leaf and look good outwardly. He may be a moral, clean, hard working person, but he is still a sinner at heart and he needs a Savior. That is what Jesus wanted this young man to know and that is what He wants you to know as well.)
D. v. 20 His Confession The man responds to the Lords challenge by telling Jesus that he has kept all of those commandments since his youth. And, he probably had! Jesus didnt rebuke him for his claim. But there is something else that we need to consider.
It may be that Jesus only mentioned the commandments that the young man had kept. Perhaps the Lord did not mention the ones he had broken. If you will notice, all the commandments listed in verse 19 deal with man’s relationship to man. It may be that this man was right with his fellowman, but he would never be right with God until he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. By the way, neither will you!
You can be moral, religious and decent. You can treat others with dignity, respect and tender care. But, none of that will make you right with God. To be right with God, you must come to Him through His Son, 1 Tim. 2:5.
III. v. 21-22 HIS SORROW
A. v. 21 The Master’s Requirements When Jesus hears his response, the Lord reaches out to this young man. He tells him in very clear terms how to be saved.
· The Lord’s Compassion We are told that Jesus loved him. In spite of his sins and in spite of his improper understanding of the things of God, Jesus loves this poor, lost sinner.
He loves you too! He loved you so much that He gave Himself on the cross to save you from your sins, Rom. 5:8. He loves you so much that He will not turn you away if you will come to Him by faith, John 6:37. No one in this world may care if you live or die, but the blessed Savior cares and He calls you to come to Him for salvation.
· The Lord’s Confrontation Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter. This fellow had a lot going for him. But, Jesus saw things as they really were. Jesus knew that he still lacked one thing. This man needs to get rid of the gods he already has before he can receive the true and living God. His gods are his wealth and his self.
He is told to sell what he has and give it all away. This will guarantee him riches in Heaven. By these acts, he will demonstrate that he had no other gods before the Lord; and he will be reaching out to his fellow man. Thus, he will be working toward keeping all ten of the commandments, not just a convenient few.
By the way, you will never come to Jesus and you will never be saved until you come to where you are willing to lay everything own for Him. He may let you keep your stuff. He may not ask you to give it all away. But, He does demand that we relinquish our grip on all we have and are. Until we do, we will never be saved! You may have a lot going for you too, but if you lack Jesus, you are still lost!
· The Lord’s Call Next, Jesus calls this man to die to himself and totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is saying, Turn your back on everything but me and you will be saved. The verb phrases take up the cross and follow me are both in a tense that suggests a once for all action.
Have you trusted Jesus for your soul’s salvation? Have you willingly released your grip on everything else and reached out to Him by faith? That is His demand! Anything less will not save the soul. Jesus is calling us to make a once for all commitment to follow Jesus by faith. Have you done that? Is He your Savior? If He isn’t He can be! It is as simple as asking looking to Him by faith, Isa. 45:22.
B. v. 22 The Man’s Rejection This man was looking for an easy fix. He wanted salvation, but he wanted it on his terms. He wanted to keep all the things he had. He wanted to add Jesus to his resume.
When he heard the Lord’s demands he was “sad. The word means to be under a cloud.” We are also told that he was “grieved. This word means to be thrown into sorrow. This man is broken hearted. He came to Jesus with Heaven on his mind, but he walked away with Hell as his destination! It did not have to be! But thats how it turned out. You see, in that one moment of time, this rich, young man made two heartbreaking decisions.
· He Made An Earthly Decision - He chose his possessions over Jesus! He loved his money more than he wanted to be saved.
Jesus will allow you to make the same choice. It may not be money. It may be pleasure, some sin, your family, your independence, etc. If you want it, He will let you keep it! But, ask yourself this question: “Is it really worth more than my soul?
· He Made An Eternal Decision - One day, this man’s youth faded and was gone. He retired from his prestigious position down at the synagogue. Finally, age and disease overtook him and even his vast wealth couldn’t prolong the inevitable, and he died. When he did, he found out that his religion and his moral lifestyle were not enough. When he died, he found himself in Hell, lost forever, because he had walked away from the only hope he had ever had: Jesus Christ.
What you do with Jesus in this life, will determine what He will do with you in the afterlife! Has He called you to follow Him? It is decision time, what will you do?
Conc: As far as we know, this young man died and went to Hell. But, he went there with Heaven on his mind. Don’t let that happen to you! Look at your life.
Consider where your faith is today. What do you trust to give you eternal life? Good works? Clean living? A good name? All those things will fail! You might have a lot going for you, but if you do not have Jesus Christ, you are lost, doomed and headed to Hell.
You might be thinking about eternal matters. Don’t be satisfied to just think about eternal things, come to Jesus today and get your eternity settled. Don’t go to Hell with Heaven on your mind!