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Hebrews 9:27-9:27
Key Verse: 9:27

What do you think the most important problem is in our life? Poverty, Politics, Environment, Food and Disease? The bible says that none of these is our most important problem. Does the bible ignore such problems? Not at all. Do you know the famous sculpture Rodine’s “The Thinker / Le Penseur”? Many people wonder what the man is really thinking. The picture of this sculpture is used in many places like clothing stores, restaurants, and even banks. People say “he is thinking about what to wear or what to eat or where to invest. But none of these are correct. Originally, “The Thinker” was a small figure in a monumental sculptural group work called The Gates of Hell. Rodine positioned it above the door frame of the gates of hell to watch people’s destruction. The thinker contemplated the destruction brought upon mankind. What could be the reason of the destruction of mankind in hell? Was it because of the problem with poverty, environment, food, and disease like cancer and AIDS? No! It was because of man’s sins and God’s judgement. People don’t like to hear sin and judgment though the bible emphasizes them. Does God want to judge people? No. He wants us to hear his message about sin and judgment so that we may escape from our inevitable doom. I pray that through this message we may deeply think about the seriousness of our sins.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church and reminded them of the gospel. What is the gospel? The gospel means the good news. We all like good news such as promotion, straight A+, healing of the sickness etc. Paul said the gospel is the first important good news. Why? It is because the gospel contains the way of God’s salvation fulfilled through Christ’s death and resurrection which had been planned and prophesied in the Scriptures. “Christ died for our sins”. Here the word “our sins” draws our attention. The word “Sin” is one of the most used words in the Bible - 474 times (NIV translation). It is because sin is the fundamental problem of mankind. What is sin? The origin of men’s sin is found in Genesis 3. When God created man in his image as his masterpiece and the object of his love, man’s relationship with God was perfect. In order to keep the right relationship which means God is the Creator, and man is the creature, God gave him one single command “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. But the man was tempted by the Satan and disobeyed the command. So, sin is fundamentally disobedience to God’s command, and not honoring God as God. In this regard, Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In this world, more than 7 billion people live. We can make distinctions between them in various ways: language, color, food, cultural standards. But there is one common thing. In the sight of the holy God, all are sinners regardless of how serious crime they make like Mafia and how sweet person they are like cutie-pie little baby. “All have sinned” Here, sin which is “Hamartano” in Greek means “to miss the mark”. This is like someone who shoots arrows but fails to hit the target. Since we fail to meet God’s standard, we all have “Fail” grade from him. No one is capable of living the glorious lives God wants. Men fail to live up to God’s standard. Due to that, men suffer very much. Since God’s image in men was tainted with sins, men have become lack of patience, true love, and holiness. We are easily angry, brutal, resentful, and unforgiving. We are competing, hurting, deceiving and betraying. We want to be loved but fail to love. Relationship between people is broken. We are sick with pleasure seeking. We are not strong but weak and ill. So, we become fearful, shameful, sorrowful, harassed and not restful. We are suffocated and agonized by aftermath of our sins. In the Bible, king David committed a sin of adultery with a wife of his loyal man and killed the man to hide his sin. However, under such a terrible sin, his soul became so painful and weary. Later, he confessed to God “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Sin gives heavy burden to our souls. Life that does not bear God’s glory is truly miserable and painful.

However, such miserable life is not the only one effect of our sins. There is the consequence of sins. Romans 6:23a says “For the wages of sin is death.” What a shock! We die due to our sins. This is the fulfillment of God’s warning to the fallen man. In Genesis 2:16-17, God said to the man "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." By disobeying this command, death indeed came to men. God said to the fallen men “for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Ge 3:19). Death rules over us. Death is very powerful and irresistible, and swallows up everything. All die; the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the strong and the weak, the oppressor and the oppressed. I know a story about the first Emperor of Qin Dynasty in China. He did not want to die and tried to live long life by eating special herbs. But he died. Last week, we also heard about the sudden pass away of the former Canadian Finance Minister. No one can escape death. So death makes us fearful. We also feel meaningless in our lives since we die with empty hands. Death teaches us how our sin is serious before God.

But our physical death is not the end of consequence of our sins. Hebrews 9:27 says “Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Some may think that there is no God and nothing happens after death. But, we will face inevitable God’s judgment. The Bible clearly warns that there is God’s judgment. To prove that God judges, the Bible recorded the destruction of corrupted people in Noah’s time and Sodom and Gomorrah. We can also see other examples in the book of Daniel, written about Israel’s captivity in Babylon. Babylonia kings were very proud of their great kingdom. But God gave them his message that they should acknowledge God who is in heaven. In one occasion, king Belshazzar was drunken at a feast and out of pride he drank wine from the golden goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem. He praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone that can not see or hear or understand and dishonored God in heaven who held his life in his hand. That time suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote letters on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN”. Mene means: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel means: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres means: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. // Just as the message said, the arrogant king ended his life that same night. This is also God’s message to us that God weighs people against his standard and certainly judges them in His time.

Men become wicked more and more and sin dulls the sense of right and wrong and of normal and abnormal. The Bible says, in the last days, people suppress the truth and their conscience is seared as with a hot iron. So, their hearts become impenitent and do not feel any guilty before God. People replace normal standards with abnormal ones, and natural things with unnatural ones as seen in sexual depravity and perversion. People do not want to honor God as God and to follow wicked standards. But God’s standard has not changed and will not be changed. God still weighs our hearts and judge according to his standard.

How did God judge people? 2 Corinthians 5:10 says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” God’s judgment is not based on our intelligence, wealth, accomplishment and fame but on good or bad we’ve done. God does not judge us group by group; Torontorian, UofT alumni. Family name. He judges individually. Each person should be accountable to what he said and did in life. Romans 2:6-9 elaborates more about the basis of God’s judgment. “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” What does it tell us? This teaches the importance of having right purpose of life. What we are seeking now determines our destination in God’s judgment. Who will have eternal life? Those who seek glory, honor and immortality and keep on doing good. This glory and honor are not like perishable one in this world which falls like the flowers of the field. This is the glory and honor of the immortal Creator God. Particularly, his glory, honor, immortality was displayed in Jesus whom He sent to us. So, those who accept and learn of Jesus by persistently living based on his words will receive eternal life. On the contrary, those who are self-seeking, in other words, living their own way, and rejecting the truth that is Jesus, and doing evil will have wrath, anger, trouble and distress.

What happens after the judgment? There will be the second death. Let’s read Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” The second death means the complete separation from God and receiving never-stopping torment in hell. This week I experienced a sudden black-out, which reminds me of the importance of light that God created. Hell is the place of eternal darkness, fire and no rest. In this world, the longest prison sentence ever given was 384,911 years. But the second death is eternal punishment in hell. Who will be thrown into the place? Eight types of people are listed in Rev 21:8. The cowardly is first mentioned even before the murderers and the idolaters. Who are the cowardly? These are the people who fear men more than God. So they are afraid of people’s persecution and do not stand in God’s side. They like to hear the gospel but reject it in fear of peer pressures. Jesus mentioned “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28) Next, the unbelieving are not only atheists but also people who know God but do not believe the truth (2 Th2:12). Even though they go to church, they do not believe the word of God, especially God’s way of salvation. The vile is those who do abominable things, which include homosexual behavior, idol worship, child sacrifice, offering imperfect sacrifice, cross-dressing, and many more that God hates.

The murders are those who take one’s life like Cain killed his brother Abel. Jesus extended the meaning of murdering in Matthew 5:22 “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” So, murders include our verbal insults as well. The sexually immoral is all unclean persons that indulge themselves in impure lusts, in fornication, adultery, and all lewdness. In addition, Jesus said “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Mt 6:28). Those who practice magic arts include sorcerers using evil powers to seduce people. The idolaters are those who worship idols. In this world, more than 300 millions idols are worshipped. Finally, all liars. They are the ones who oppress the truth. They say “God does not exist.” “This world is not made of God’s power.” “Jesus is not the Savior” “There is no heaven and hell, so let us eat and drink” Such hedonistic and pleasure seeking life will be subject to the second death.

When we think about these people, what do we feel? We can see how holy God is and how sinful we are. How many cases are yours? Even one match dooms us to being thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. No one can escape from the eternal punishment. I am one of them. I am a sinner who is fearful before men. Out of fear, I have deceived people: my parents, teacher, friends and supervisor. With my unclean lips I’ve murdered others numerous times including my family. I’ve sought my flesh pleasure to gratify sinful desires. I was an idol-worshipper and denied the true God. I thought I was good man. But I was totally a hopeless sinner. I must have been the first one to be thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. But the gospel has come to my ears and heart. “Christ died for my sins” It is the most important good news to me. He saved me. Thank and praise God for this wonderful gospel that has power to save me. I pray that God may continue to use me as his instrument to save the perishing souls with the gospel of Jesus.

(By David Kim)

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