Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

People Are Dying Every Day. Then ONLY ONE Thing Matters


Summary:  All around us, people are dying every day. More than 67 million people died in the world in 2022. Some were famous, most were relatively unknown. From the moment of that last breath, none of that matters. At the time of death there is only one thing that matters for every single human that walks the earth. Come and read what that is, and let it change your life for now and all eternity.

Everyone will face God’s righteous judgment

Hebrews 9:27  …people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

The Scriptures of the Bible teach that after death, some will be judged and sentenced to a fiery hell, and others will rejoice at being admitted to heaven. Everyone who ever lives on earth will be judged to one or the other of those two destinies. More on that below.

Why will some be judged and sentenced to the fires of hell?

Matthew 23:33  [Jesus said:] “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Mark 9:47f  [Jesus emphasized:] hell…where the fire is not quenched.”

Matthew recorded those words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders who were rejecting Him: “How will you escape being condemned to hell?” Mark adds Jesus’ description of hell: “where the fire is not quenched.” As one evangelist friend of mine summed it up: “Heaven is good; heaven is all good. Hell is bad; hell is all bad!”

Isaiah 59:2  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Occasionally you’ll hear the complaint: “How can a loving God condemn anyone to hell?” That entirely misses the point. Out of His great love God created us in order that we might know His love and live for Him and, upon death, enter into His indescribably glorious presence forever. It is our fault, it is our sins that have separated us from the perfectly holy God. So God sent His Son Jesus from heaven to die on the cross for our sins, in order to reconcile us, through the sacrifice of Himself, back to the loving embrace of God the Father.

You see, my friends, every action of God on our behalf indicates that it is not His desire to see people condemned to hell. They are damned to hell by their own rejecting of God’s loving provision to save us from our sins — that is, the death and resurrection to eternal life of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son. God’s heart FOR us is clearly captured in many Scriptures. Here are two: “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14) and “The Lord…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Bible record is abundantly clear: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). It is by rejecting God’s free and gracious offer of salvation and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ that men and women are damned to hell. The Scriptures just below will make that very clear.

What is that “one thing” that determines our eternal destiny (to heaven or hell)?

John 14:6  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 8:23  I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

John 3:36
  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

The angel had announced to Joseph: “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21. KJV).

As we saw above, it is sin that has separated all mankind from the perfectly holy God. So out of His perfect love, God determined to provide a remedy for our sins. And that remedy was His Son Jesus from heaven, given a body of flesh by a virgin woman, Mary, through a divine conception by the Holy Spirit. This fulfilled the word of the great prophet Isaiah some 7 centuries earlier, when “the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22-23).

This divine Son Jesus, born into the earth through a virgin mother, lived, preached and taught, then died an agonizing death on the cross for the sins of all mankind. He was the supreme sacrifice — “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7, NKJV). He rose from the grave on the third day, having taken on Himself all our sins (1 Peter 2:24). That salvation from the punishment due to our sins is available to all, but we must make a decision for Jesus.

In the Scriptures above we are told very clearly that if you don’t believe that Jesus is the One sent from God the Father to save us from our sins, you will “die in your sins … [and] whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

Acts 4:12  “Salvation is found in no one else [than Jesus Christ, vs. 10], for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There is no alternative way to go from our sinful state back to a holy God. The only way, that “only one thing” of this article’s title, is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This divine Savior, sent from God the Father, said of Himself, I am the way… No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And the apostle Peter reaffirmed that truth in Acts 4:12 above: There is no other name than Jesus Christ by which we must be saved. The apostle Paul also — speaking of this divine Son Jesus who became man and died on the cross for our sins and rose for our salvation — declared: “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

The New Testament of the Bible declares this truth throughout: Jesus, and Jesus only, is the Savior of all who will come to God the Father through faith in Him [Jesus] and in repentance for sin (Acts 20:21). There is no other way than Jesus, and as Peter said, there is no other name than Jesus Christ by which we must be saved.

Those who in this life turn in repentance and faith to the Savior Jesus Christ will, at their death, realize the glorious Bible truth that “…to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). The saved believer will at death immediately understand the apostle Paul’s reflection about life and death: “…to depart [to die] and be with Christ…is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

“But I’m a basically good person,” you say. Sorry, good works won’t save you.

Titus 3:5  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:8-10  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

I was raised in a religious tradition that placed strong emphasis on our goodness (good works, etc.) granting us favor with God. But, as I learned 54 years ago — the year I was saved/born again in Christ — my supposed good works count for zero(!) in receiving God’s great salvation. By contrast, the apostle Paul wrote that we are saved “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5, KJV).

Paul added: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faithnot by works” (Eph. 2:8f). So what is the role of good works in a Christian’s life? That is answered by a careful reading of Ephesians 2:8-10. We are saved by grace, through faith, not by works. Then once we are saved by grace through faith, good works fit in as the lifestyle of God’s born-again-in-Christ sons and daughters — We are (vs. 10) “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” So do we do those good works to get saved? No. To stay saved? No. We do them because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! The goodness visible in our Christian lives should reflect and illustrate to others the goodness of the wonderful God whom we love and serve (Matthew 5:16).

But I go to church. Doesn’t that count?

I was a churchgoer in the Catholic Church all my young life, from birth through early college years. I found little if any satisfaction in it. I was mostly just following the rules and trying to be a “good” boy. This may shock you, but in those early years I studied 8 years of Catholic Theology, but still did not find the Lord Jesus in a personal relationship of faith and commitment. As I recently said to a friend, my erroneous mindset was basically: Follow the rules and the Church will pull you through to heaven.” That’s why inside myself I felt spiritual deadness.

Then, as I have written in my personal testimony, I came under the influence and shining Christian testimony of a young lady — who became my wife of 38 years before going on to heaven. She told me about having a vibrant, personal relationship of salvation through Jesus Christ. Soon I had committed my life to God and experienced a saving encounter with Jesus in 1969, and my life changed forever! Now I greatly enjoy gathering in our local church with fellow believers and worshiping God together and hearing the Word of God preached and taught. My early church-going had not gotten me saved. But nowadays, as a saved believer in the Lord Jesus, I love attending church services because I’m saved and want to grow continually in my walk with the Lord, even as I approach 80 years of age. As God’s sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18), we should never stop pressing into further growth in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18). And having a good, Bible-preaching, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled local church is a great help in that quest.

In John 3:1-15 Jesus had a conversation with a Jewish Pharisee, clearly a learned man whom Jesus called a “teacher of Israel.” Yet to this religious leader Jesus said, “You must be born again” (vss. 3 & 7). What Jesus was revealing to this notable member of the Jewish Council was that all his learning and his high position were insufficient to achieve salvation before God. What he needed, Jesus said, was the spiritual experience of being born again. And the 27 books of the New Testament make it abundantly clear that the needed new birth comes through repentance for sin and sincere faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). As we saw the apostle Peter say (above), there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, the crucified and resurrected Son of God.

How can I heed Jesus’ warning and “escape being condemned to hell”?

Acts 20:21   [The apostle Paul tells us how:] “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

I quote this verse often in this website’s sermons. Why? Because it is absolutely central to the red letter question just above. How do we escape the damnation to hell that our rebellion and sins against God deserve? 1) We sincerely repent of our sins with “godly sorrow” [2 Cor. 7:10]; and 2) we believe in and personally receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When I did that 54 years ago, the sense of forgiveness and divine love for me was overwhelming to the point of tears.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. If you do know Jesus personally, I hope this has strengthened you and your walk with Him. If you’ve not yet turned your heart and life to Jesus as Savior, I plead with you: please, take a few moments right now and sincerely ask God if these things above are true. He will speak to your heart and point you toward the way to eternal life — “Jesus [said]…I am the way.”

“Pastor Jim, I want heaven, not hell. I want Jesus, not the devil. What do I do?"

Turn your heart and your life over to Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son. He died for you so that you could live eternally with Him! The next few minutes can change you for life and eternity. If God is touching your heart, please let a brief presentation by the late evangelist Billy Graham guide you into becoming a saved, forgiven son or daughter in God’s beloved family. Here’s the link: Peace with God: The Secret of Happiness

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©2023, James H. Feeney.
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Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.