Who Is In Hell?
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
Sunday Evening Sermon - April 12, 1970
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." I John 1:8-10
"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Romans 4:8
If you have to die and go to Heaven or hell, it just makes sense that a fellow should go to Heaven, doesn't it? I want you to go to Heaven and that is what we are doing. Isn't that something? Just stop and think how ridiculous it is to try to talk a fellow into going to Heaven. To have to holler and scream and beg and plead and pry and kick and beller to talk you into going to Heaven is, to me, one of the most absurd thoughts in the world. You ought to be jumping at the chance. You ought to be begging, "Preacher, tell me how. Tell me how."
It ought to be that anybody who knows he's got to die would have enough sense to want to go to Heaven when he dies. So, we're just preaching very, very simple messages. Right to the point. Tonight I am going to speak on the subject, "Who Is In Hell?" And I say this lovingly, if you don't know you're saved tonight, know before you leave.
Don't let pride or denominational background or your so-called "Christian heritage," or your good deeds send you to hell. Don't let them! Don't live in doubt about where you're going when you die. Just look at the thing square in the eye and say, "Okay, I'm going to Heaven. I'm just going to do it. I am going to do whatever is necessary to go to Heaven." And tonight, if you listen very carefully, I can explain to you, as simple as ABC, how to get to Heaven.
The text tonight is "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." I may preach and then pray and then preach again. Let's pray first.
"Father, help us tonight to be able to help the people. That's all we want to do. We don't care about a good sermon. We just want it to be powerful. I pray that grown men tonight and grown ladies and teenagers and boys and girls shall be convicted of their need to get born again and know that they're going to Heaven. Speak to our hearts. We don't pray for any great oratory, we just pray for a good, convicting message where the salvation plan is simple to understand and to respond to. Give us the hearts of the people tonight. Help them to believe us and trust us while we preach. In Jesus's name, Amen."
Now, what's the great difference? What is it that divides men between being lost and being saved? Is it the church? No. You can go to Heaven and be a Presbyterian. You can go to Heaven and be a Catholic. You can go to Heaven and be a Baptist. It's not the church. What is it? The ordinances—communion, baptism? No. You can go to Heaven and be sprinkled. You can go to Heaven and not take the Lord's Supper or take the Lord's Supper. You can believe in the consubstantiation theory or the transubstantiation theory. (You didn't know I knew all that, did you? Are you impressed?)
That's the consubstantiation and transubstantiation—you want to know what it means? See Dr. Billings after the service. I have no idea. I read it in a book the other day and it looked good. But it doesn't matter whether you take the Lord's Supper by passing a loaf around and you just take off a chunk and eat it. Some churches do like we do and break it up in little pieces. (It saves money that way.) And you just take it out of the tray. Some churches that have a jug of grape juice and you pass it around and everybody drinks out of the same bottle. But we pour it in little cups for you. But that's not the difference.
What is the great difference? Your good life? You ask the average person, "Are you saved?" They say, "Why, sure. I'm not so bad!" That has nothing in the world to do with it. I mean nothing. Your good life has not one single thing to do with where you go when you die. That's right. Not a thing. Not a thing. People in this service tonight who are twice as good as other people in the service tonight, will go to hell and the person that's half as good as he is will go to Heaven. That's true!
You say, "Preacher, I can't understand that." That's why you came tonight so you can understand it. I'm going to teach it to you after a while. I said there are people in this house tonight twice as good as another fellow who is going to Heaven, and the person twice as good as he is going to hell. Yeah. That's right! What's the difference?
It's not good and bad. It's not church or no church. It's not communion or no communion, baptism or no baptism. What's the difference? Romans 4:8, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Don't leave me now. Follow me carefully.
If you could talk God (and I left my pen. I'll be reaching in my pocket all night. I left it in my study awhile ago. I'm not having a heart attack, I just keep reaching for my pen. It's amazing how many times you need something that you all of a sudden leave.) But all right now, let me start again.
Here is the book in Heaven. Every time you do something wrong, if you can talk God into not marking it down, that's the way you get to Heaven! That's it. Let me say it again now.
If you can figure out some way to cause God to lose His pen and cause God not to write down the crookedness you've been up to, you're going to make it to Heaven. Are you with me? I'm still a Baptist. I'm like the Baptist lady at the hospital that was rubbing the Catholic doll at three o'clock in the morning. She said, "Lord, don't let this doll fool you. I'm still a Baptist at heart." And I'm still a Baptist.
Now the only way you're going to get to Heaven is to figure out some way to keep God from marking down in His book the things you do that are wrong. That's it. That's the only hope you've got. Do you follow me? How many of you understand? You may not agree with me, but you understand what I'm saying? Would you raise your hand please? All right.
In other words, the Bible says that all have sinned, every one of us. The Bible says there are none righteous. No, not one. The Bible says our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of God. Okay. We all stand on common ground, don't we? We're sinners. Right? Amen. Every one of us, sinners, right? All right. Then we have to figure out a way for sinners to get to Heaven, don't we? All right. Now if a person gets saved, is he still a sinner? Yes.
The Bible says in I John 1:8, "If ye say that ye have no sin, we fool ourselves and the truth is not in us." In Verse 10, it says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
So the simple truth is—now, if you'll listen, it may mean Heaven for you; if you don't listen, it may mean hell for you—the only hope we have is to figure out some way to get to Heaven as sinners. As sinners! So God has a book. One sin charged to our account and that's it. We're gone! No chance for Heaven. One bank robbery makes you a bank robber. One murder makes you a murderer. One theft makes you a thief. And one sin makes you a sinner. If God puts one sin to your charge when you die, then you have got to go to hell. You have got to figure out some way of keeping God from writing down, in His record, all the sins you've done.
Now, if you'll listen carefully, I'll tell you how to do it. I think one of the great surprises we will have when we got to Heaven is seeing who is there that we didn't expect to see! I think one of the great surprises when we get to Heaven is seeing who is not there that we expected to see.
I imagine that I'll see some of you folks in Heaven and I'll say, "I never thought it." I'll look at somebody and I'll say, "Cal Streeter, I'll declare. Isn't that something? Cal is here. He held out faithful to the end." And then I'm sure that in some cases, I'll say, "Where's old so-and-so?" And somebody will say, "Well, you'll have to call long distance to get to him because he's not here." I'll say, "Well, if anybody, I would've thought that person." We normally think that the good go to Heaven and the bad go to hell. That's what we normally think.
Some people think that the really bad go to hell, the really good go to Heaven, and the rest of us go to the middle place. It depends on those of us who are still on earth to get a hold of Headquarters and tide us over from the middle place to the good place. But the normal opinion is that the good go to Heaven and the bad go to hell.
Now, here's what I want to do tonight. I want us to go to Heaven and I'm not going to be dramatic. But I want us to go to Heaven and I want us to see who is there. And I want us to go to hell and I want us to see how is there. Now, as far as I know, there are only three people in all the Bible that God tells us are in hell. And I want to tell you who they are.
First, I want us to go to Heaven and see who is there. God tells us about one fellow who went to Heaven. Let's talk about him awhile. I do this for fear of being dramatic, but I'll go ahead and do it anyhow. Let's talk to him awhile. Here is a fellow, over here, who is in Heaven. We know he is there because Jesus said in Luke, Chapter 18, "This man went down to his house justified." So we know he's in Heaven. Okay?
Let's walk up and let's talk to him awhile. Let's say, "Sir, you're in Heaven so you must've been a faithful church member. What denomination did you join?" And he says, "I didn't join any denomination." "What? You mean you were independent? IFCA or Independent Baptist or one of Hyles' crowd? That's the crowd that can't get along with those who can't get along with anybody else." We can't even get along with those folks who can't get along with each other, you see.
"So who are you? What group are you in? The Southwide Baptist Fellowship or the Baptist Bible Fellowship? You're here in Heaven so you must have joined some church. What church did you belong to?" "I just didn't belong to any church." "What? And you're in Heaven?" "Yeah. Praise the Lord! Glory to God, I'm here!" "Well, look. This doesn't quite add up. Oh, I know what it is. You didn't believe in membership."
I was in Toronto, Canada, preaching last August. I will be there again this August, at The People's Church, where Dr. Oswald Smith has been for years and Dr. Smith's son pastors now. I was met at the airport by a man who had a moustache and a little goatee. It was very interesting. I said, "How long have you been attending the People's Church?" And he said, "Oh, twenty-five years." He said, "I'm on the Board." I said, "Oh, is that right? You're a Board member?" "Yes, I am. I'm on the Board."
I said, "How long?" He said, "Many years." I said, "Is that right? How long have you been a member here?" He said, "I'm not a member." He said, "We have an unusual feeling about membership here and I've just never joined. Some folks join and I think they call some constituents." "Oh, I see. You didn't belong to any denomination and you're in Heaven and you have no church home. I know what it is. You belong to the People's Church in Toronto. That's where you come from." They don't have memberships, neither does the Church of God, brethren. They don't have memberships either. Did you know that? Well, it's a good thing you came tonight.
Right. The Church of God folks don't have membership rolls. You didn't know that? They don’t' have membership rolls. Is that right, Mrs. Fields? You have a son who is a preacher. "Well, you didn't belong to any church. You must have attended a Church of God." "No. I didn't. I didn't attend the Church of God. Praise the Lord. I'm in Heaven, though."
"Let me get this thing straight. Maybe you're just one of those folks that believe in a universal church. You didn't believe in local church membership so you just belong to the "big" church. The invisible church. This mystery church. Maybe you're on of those that thought you were too good of a Christian to join. God pity your backslidden heart. With whom did you fellowship? What church did you attend?"
"Well, I hate to say this, but I'll be honest with you. I didn't attend any church." "You didn't? Somebody must have goofed up on the records up here. You're in Heaven?" "Yeah. I've been here 2,000 years." "Two thousand years? Praise the Lord! This is great. Oh boy! What a tremendous time. Glory to God! Hallelujah! Wait a minute now. Wait a minute."
"Where were you baptized?" "I just never was baptized." "You weren't baptized? Boy, if you'd been at Hyles church, you would've gotten baptized or gotten made one or the other. I'll tell you that for sure. How long have you been here?" "I've been here two thousand years." "Are you sure that you live here? You just don't come on a visit?" "I've been living here two thousand years." "Let me ask you this fellow. You probably didn't believe in baptism, did you? You probably belonged to the group that lives over in Chicago, that believes baptism was in John the Baptist's day, and Jesus didn't come to baptize, and that's all in the past."
"Let me ask you a question. How much did you give a year to the church? Your regular offering, income tax deductions, and so forth; how much were your contributions a year?" "Well, I never did give anything to the church." "You mean you got to Heaven and you didn't belong to a denomination? You had no church affiliation? You didn't get baptized? You didn't contribute anything to the church?" "No, I didn't. I never gave anything to the church." "And you've been here two thousand years? Praise the Lord! Boy, this is wonderful! Glory to God!"
"Let me ask you a question, young fellow. You must have done good deeds. You probably fed the poor a lot and really gave to the Red Feather Agency. You probably gave to the Heart Fund and Cerebral Palsy. You went down to the bank and they have a little can there and you probably just put dime after dime in that can and squeezed dollar bills down in there. Just folded them up and squeezed them down through there."
"No. I never gave anything to poor people at all." "And you're in Heaven?" "Yeah. I've been here two thousand years." "Well, let me ask you a question. What kind of profession were you in on earth?" "Well, I was a crook. I hate to tell you this. The reason I'm laughing, sir, is because I'm happy. I've been here two thousand years and I've been laughing for two thousand years. We've been singing hallelujah and praise the Lord and blessings and honor and majesty be unto Him for two thousand years and I like it here."
"Well, look. What kind of profession?" "I cheated people out of their money on earth." "Let me ask you a question. How long did you follow that profession?" "I followed it all my life, just about. I was a publican." "You mean you were one of those crooked publicans." "Yes, I was." "One of those crooked publicans?" "I got money from old ladies and widows and men and poor people and little children and I got it for myself and taxed them: I got rich while they got poor!" "And you've been in Heaven two thousand years?" "That's right."
"Now let me get this straight. You have never belonged to a church?" "No." "You never got baptized?" "No." "Never attended church?" "No." "Never tithed?" "No." "Teach a Sunday School class?" "Never saw a Sunday School class." "Never attended one yourself?" "No." "Never did any good deeds?" "Never did any good deeds." "Never belonged to the church?" "Never belonged to the church." "Never were a good man?" "Never was a good man." "What in the world did you do to get it?" Now listen carefully, don't you miss it. Write it down. You can learn something. Here's what he said.
"One day I went to the temple and I realized I was a sinner. I beat on my breast and I said, 'Oh, God, be merciful to me a sinner. Oh, God, I'm a sinner and I know that Jesus Christ came to die for me and He's going to the cross as my substitute and, God, I can't do a thing to deserve salvation. I can't do a thing to deserve Heaven. All I can do is say, God be merciful to me, a sinner. Forgive my sins. Cover my sin with your blood and don't impute my sins to your record.'"
"And do you know when I put my faith in the Christ of the Bible, God promised me He'd never write down another sin against me and erase all the other ones I'd ever committed. You thought only good folks went to Heaven, didn't you?" Heaven is full of people who never joined a church, never got baptized. Now hold it, I think you ought to join a church. I think you ought to get baptized. I think you ought to give a tithe. Those things are proof of salvation but not a means to salvation.
Well, that's very interesting. Let's walk down the streets of Heaven. I'll tell you my eyes are glaring on the golden streets. "Hey, fellow. You're up here. How long have you been here?" "Two thousand years." Let me ask you a question. What church did you belong to on earth?" "I never joined a church." "You never joined a church either?" "No. Glory to God! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! This is wonderful here."
"Have you seen Jesus?" "Look at Him. There He is on the throne. I've seen Him for two thousand years." "I know, but I want to ask you a few questions. I want to tell the folks back in Hammond. I am preaching for the next few weeks on soul-winning. I want to tell them how to get to Heaven. You're here." "Yes, I've been here two thousand years." "Now, if I can figure out how you got here, I can go back and tell all those people on Sunday night at First Baptist Church in Hammond on April 12 how they can get….Doesn't that make sense?"
Listen, young folks! And you listen from now until I get through. And that includes old folks, too. But, if I can find out from somebody who is in Heaven, how he got there, and tell you, wont' that be good news? "Okay, fellow. Now, let's see. Did you join a church?" "No. Never joined a church." "Did you get baptized?" "No, I never got baptized." "Did you get sprinkled as a baby?" "No, we, up here, sort of joke about that. Nobody ever got here that way." "Did you ever get confirmed on Easter Sunday at church?" "No, I never did that either."
"Well, were you ever a deacon?" "No, I never was a deacon." "Ever teach Sunday School?" "No, I never taught Sunday School." "What good deeds did you do?" "Never did a good deed in my life!" "Well, how much did you give the church?" "Never gave a dime to the church." "Let me ask you a question. What was your profession on earth?" "I was a thief." "A thief? Never gave a dime to church?" "Right." "Never joined a church?" "Right." "Never attended a church?"
"Right." "Never got baptized?" "Right." "Never got confirmed?" "Right." "Never got sprinkled?" "Right." "Never did a good deed?" "Right."
Now follow me. That means that doing good deeds does not get you to Heaven. That's right. This fellow got there and never did one single good deed, right? Right. Amen. It also means joining the church doesn't get you to Heaven. The first two guys we've talked to up here said they never joined a church.
"Let me ask you a question. What did you do? What did you do to get here?" "Well, sir, one day I was brought before the judge and the judge pronounced me guilty of a crime. I was a thief. And, by the way, I was guilty. I did it. I stole all my life. I was so crooked and I stole so much that they put me on a cross to kill me and they did. I paid the price for my crime by dying for them on a cross. But," he said, "right next to me, there was another guy that was dying and he said he was the Son of God. And do you know what? When I saw him dying, I had the strangest feeling he was right. I heard a Centurion say, 'Surely this was the Son of God.' And I heard when they had smitten Him and had beaten Him and had scourged Him and had lashed Him with a cat of nine tails, 39 times, and had carried that old cross and had bent beneath the load. I heard Him say, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' And I looked over and I said, I believe that's the Messiah. I believe that's the Christ. All I ever did, I'm honest with you, Hyles, all I ever did to get here was on my dying cross the last breath that I breathed I said, 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.' And Hyles, do you know what he said? He said, 'Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.'"
"Do you know what I did? I got to go to Paradise with Him who unloosed all the saved people of the Old Testament and took them to Heaven, and the same day I was with Christ, and thanks be to God, I have been with Him ever since!"
"You mean to tell me that's all you ever did and you got to Heaven?" "Yes, sir. Do you know why? Because the Lord promised me He'd erase all my past sins and never write another one down against me. He did not impute my sins against me."
Now look. If you're here tonight and you're trusting church membership to get you to Heaven, then you'd better listen to what the thief in Heaven has to say. If you're trusting a baptism, a good deed, a good life, to get you to Heaven—here's a fellow who was a thief, a reproach, guilty, dying for his sins and yet tonight the Bible says he's in Heaven. He never joined a church. He never got baptized. He never gave a dime to the church.
Now that means that whatever gets you to Heaven has nothing to do with you joining a church. That means that your getting to Heaven has nothing to do with your getting confirmed? Amen? That means your getting to Heaven has nothing to do with your good life. Amen? You have got to come to the place in your life that you realize you cannot save yourself and you look in faith as that publican who beat his breast and said, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and as did that thief who said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Let's go a little further. "What's your name, fellow?" "My name is Noah. Glory to God! Praise the Lord! Oh, I've been up here a long time. Well, I've been up here two thousand years, but I was down in Paradise several thousand years before that. I'll tell you what, I've had a wonderful, wonderful time for four or five thousand years." "Noah, I've heard about you in the Bible. Say, Noah, you must be an awful good man to get up here."
"Noah, I'm glad I found one good guy in Heaven. There's a thief. He was a drunkard. Boy, he got drunk every night. He was a crook. I'll be you never had a drink, Noah. I bet you're here because you're good." Sanctified, glorified tears roll down his cheek. Noah says, "Jack, I wish you hadn't brought that up. I did take a drink. You see. I'm the first drunkard the world ever knew." "A drunkard?" "Yeah, I'm a drunkard." "In Heaven?" "Yeah, I've been here—Praise the Lord. I mean I'm not happy about that liquor I drank, but I've been having a great time for several thousand years. You can come here and go back and tell those folks in Hammond how to get here, and that they'll like it here."
"But now, Noah, tell me about it." "Well, you see, one time God spared me and my boys and our wives from a flood and I went out and I drank win and I got drunk." "You did?" "Yeah, I got drunk. Not only that, I stripped myself naked. I was laying naked, so drunk." "And you got to Heaven?" "Yeah. Yeah. I got to Heaven."
"What's wrong? What's your name?" "My name is Lot." "How long have you been here? A long time." "Well, boy, you must be a good fellow. I know you! Abraham's your uncle. You're bound to be a good guy." "No, I never was a very good guy." "Well, Lot, what did you do to get here? You must've lived a good life." "No. The truth is, I chose the well watered plains near Sodom, Jack. I pitched my ten toward Sodom and I got in Sodom and I became an awful sinner. My daughters, I sold out to homosexuals, and my wife turned to a pillar of salt and I escaped with my daughters, and their husbands were killed and all I had was taken. I was a wicked, vile, awful kind of fellow and I escaped to a little city called Zoar, and I hate to tell you this, but I committed incest with my daughters."
"Down in hell tonight I've got two little sons born of my daughters. One named Amon and the other named Mohab. They're down in hell, but I was saved." "You mean to tell me that you did all of that and you got to Heaven?" Well the Bible says, "Righteous Lot vexed his righteous soul." "I was saved. I'm sorry about it." "Well, Lot, what did you do to get to Heaven?" "I just trusted the coming Messiah. That's all I did."
Did you ever stop to think that Heaven's full of people who are bad? Yeah. You think if you turn over a new leaf that you can go to Heaven. Why, it won't help you a bit. Heaven is full of people that were bad. All right, let's go to hell for a minute.
Let's don't stay long now, but let's just go down there and see who is there.
The Bible tells us of at least three people who went to hell and we know they did. Now, first, let's go back and establish two or three things. Is it true that bad people can go to Heaven? Is it true that you don't have to join a church to go to Heaven? Is it true that you don't have to get baptized to go to Heaven? Is it true that you can commit sin and still go to Heaven? Amen.
Now all you've got to do is to get God not to mark your sins down against your record. All right, now let's go on to hell and see the folks there.
Here's a man in hell and I say, "Sir, hold it a minute. Listen, could I have a talk with you a minute? I want to interview you. "Hey, just a minute. Father Abraham. Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue?" "Look, now I've got some folks down in Hammond that don't want to come here. They want me to tell them how not to come here." "Now, listen. Cool my tongue. I'm tormented in this flame." "Now look, while Abraham's thinking up an answer, could you tell me what awful things you did on earth to deserve hell? You see, I happen to think that wicked people go to hell. People that are mean as the devil, that's the kind that go to hell. I want to ask you a question. Give me a list of all the wicked things you did, please, and I'll take them back to Hammond and I'll tell my folks don't do this, don't do this, and they won't go to hell. What kind of fellow were you?"
"I'll be honest with you. Now, I'm not boasting. I was the nicest rich fellow in town. Hey, Abraham, send Lazarus. I'm tormented in this flame." "Now look. You said you were a nice fellow?" "I was the best rich man in town. You see there was a poor fellow in our town and nobody else would let him sit at their gate. There were many rich men, but I was the only rich man in town who would let that poor man sit at my gate, and my friends drove up in their Cadillacs and their chariots and they drove right into my gate and they saw that poor, feeble, beggar at my gate. Nobody else would allow that, but I did. I was the nicest rich man in town."
"Abraham! Please, after all these years, send Lazarus, I'm tormented in this flame?" "I know what happened. You didn't feed the beggar?" He said, "Yes, I did. I gave him my leftovers. Now, no other rich man would do that. You see, I wasn't a bad fellow." "let me ask you a question. Did you ever get drunk?" "No. I never did get drunk." "You mean you didn't do a bunch of bad things to get here? What did you do to come here?" "I did just one thing. I just didn't receive Christ as my Savior."
"You see, those of us who live in hell die constantly. We learn one thing the hard way and that is you don't go to Heaven because you're bad. You got to Heaven because you've been born again. You got to hell because you've not, and I didn't listen and I just didn't receive the Savior. I didn't take Him into my life by faith and I didn't get born again."
"Boy, I'm learning an awful lot! I'll declare. Most of the folks on earth they think you're down here because you're a dirty, wicked, vile, old sinner." "No. I'm here because I didn't receive Christ." "Strange thing. You know what? I was up in Heaven a while ago and I talked to some fellows up there, ten times as bas as you and they got to Heaven." "Yeah, I know. That's what I figured on earth. They asked me on earth all the time if I was saved. And I'd say I was a pretty good fellow. I joined the church. I fed the poor and I gave him leftovers and I let him hang around my gate and he knew where to get some food to eat, he knew what rich man would help him."
"I used to say to them when they came by to talk to me, 'I'm good enough. I'm as good as anybody. There's nothing wrong with me. I'll get there if anybody does.' But, Abraham, send Lazarus."
"You mean to tell me that that's all you did to get here?" "That's all. Say, Jack." "Don't you call me Jack." "Well, Brother Hyles. Brother Hyles, tell them something for me in Hammond. I've got five brothers and I want you to tell them, but I want you to tell everybody, because I don't want my brothers or anybody else to come here. Abraham, send Lazarus. Have him dip his finger in water and cool my tongue. I'm tormented." "Now, look. What do you want me to tell the people?" "I want you to tell them not to come here. I want you to tell them it's not by works of righteousness that we have done but by His mercy He has saved us by the washing of regeneration."
"What else to you want me to tell them?" "I want you to tell them that ye must be born again to get to Heaven." "What else do you want me to tell them?" "Except ye repent you will all, likewise, perish." "What else do you want me to tell them?" "Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Tell them it's not works that get you here or get you there. It's refusing to accept the person of Christ as your Savior."
I see another fellow over here. "What awful thing did you do to get you down here? You're burning, you're screaming, you're crying, you're gnashing your teeth, you're begging for mercy. How many murders did you commit? How many homosexual acts did you commit? How many vulgar acts did you commit? How many terrible deeds did you commit? How many times did you get drunk? How many times did you steal? How many times did you rob? How many times did you curse? How many vulgar thoughts did you have?"
"I got news for you. I'm tormented, but I went to church every day, two or three times. I never one time did one thing to hurt anybody on earth. I fasted twice every week. Every time I got a dollar, I gave God a dime. Every time I got ten animals born to me, I gave God one of them. I gave God tithes of everything I owned. I was a moral man, a good man, a church-going man."
"Well, look. What are you doing down here?" "I didn't know. I think I know now. Listen carefully. One day I went to the temple to pray. I stood up and I prayed. I thanked God for how good I was. While I was praying, a fellow walked down the aisle from the rescue mission. He'd been a publican who had gone down to the bottom and he ended up at the rescue mission.
"I looked at him and I said, 'Boy, that's a fellow who has been guilty of it all.' I was praying in the temple and I said, 'Dear Lord,' –And I was sincere, Hyles. I said, 'Lord, I want to thank you that your grace kept me from being like that. Thank you that I'm not that way. I'm glad I fast. I'm glad I'm clean. I'm glad I'm what I ought to be. I'm glad I'm not like him.' Did you know, Jack, what he did? He beat on his breast. I think I know what he was talking about, because I saw him just awhile ago up there in Heaven. He's shouting. Hey, send me some water."
"Tell the folks what you did." "It's not what I did. It's what I didn't do. I knew when I saw that fellow beat on his breast. I knew he had found the way. I almost did the same thing. I almost got beside him and beat on my breast and said, 'Dear God, be merciful to me a sinner,' but I didn't. I'm not here because I was a bad man, because I wasn't. I'm not here because I didn't join the church, because I did. I'm not here because I didn't tithe. I did tithe. I'm here because I refused to humble myself and admit I needed to be born again."
You know, hell is full of people that are as good as that man, but who would not humble themselves to admit their need of a Savior. There's a third man that's in hell the Bible says. We talked about him the other night. "Say, fellow. How long have you been here?" "Two thousand years." "What are you doing?" "I'm trying to give back the thirty pieces of silver. It keeps coming back. I throw it out and it comes back and I throw it out and it comes back. I throw it down and it bounces back up. I throw it like that and it boomerangs. Look at it. Thirty pieces of silver. Abraham, send me water!"
"Listen. What you should've done was listen to the preacher." "Sir, I was a preacher. I was one of the twelve best preachers in the world." "What? Preacher in hell?" "Yes, sir. I'm Reverend Judas. I was one of those boys." "Judas, what did you do to get here?" "I know what I did. Time and time again I knew that I should receive Christ as my Savior. Time and time again I heard what He said. 'Ye must be born again,' but I didn't do it. I heard him say, 'Whosoever believeth on Him shall have eternal life.' But I didn't do it. I heard that he that believeth on the Son shall have eternal life, but I didn't do it. I heard him say again and again and again how to be saved, but I didn't do it." "That's the question, Judas. How many drunken brawls did you ever get in?" "I got in not one. Not one. I was the best kid in my neighborhood. I was a good guy. I just didn't get born again."
"You know, you three fellows. I was up in Heaven awhile ago. I was talking to some folks that you know. "Hey, rich man, Abraham, send Lazarus. Have him stick his finger in water and cool my tongue. I'm tormented."
"Now listen. I saw a fellow awhile ago up in Heaven that you know. His name is Lazarus. He said you were a better fellow than he. He's in Heaven and you're in hell. Hey, you. I saw a fellow that you know, too. I saw that publican awhile ago. The one that beat on his breast over here by the altar. I saw him. He's up there rejoicing and praising God. Do you know you're a better man than he is? A lot better. I saw him awhile ago."
"Judas, I just saw Peter awhile ago up in Heaven. Did you ever cuss and swear when Jesus was being crucified?" "Well, I had already betrayed him." "Did you ever blow off at the Board meetings?" "Now, I never blew off. I never did." "Do you know what I believe? I think you're a better man than Peter. But he's in Heaven and you're in hell. Strange thing isn't it? Isn't that strange?"
In our story, all the good guys went to hell. All the bad guys went to Heaven. Your flesh doesn't want to take that. Your flesh rebels right now. There are people in this audience who have never been born again. You've never received Christ as your Savior. You've never been saved but you've joined a church and your flesh wants to say that's all you'll need. And your flesh wants to say that you've done good deeds and that's all you'll need. The flesh hates to admit it can't get its way and make its way to Heaven.
Now listen carefully. There's a book in Heaven tonight and it's got your name on it. It's got your name on it. Now listen and I'm going to tell you how to get to Heaven. Everybody in this house will commit a sin, at least one, before you walk back in this building next Sunday and probably before you walk out those doors tonight.
There will be two cars of people who will get out here and drive down Calumet Street and turn right. Here's a fellow driving down, and about a half a block before he gets to the tracks he sees that light going on and off. Right beside him is another fellow who was here and he sees the same light. So he guns it, tries to get underneath, and he says "Wonder if I can get around it." Nobody's looking. Is Brother Hyles here?
One fellow says in his heart cuss words and the fellow beside him says, "I'm going to try to make it." But it comes down too fast. Is Brother Hyles around? I can't make it and he says in his mind cuss words. The Lord says, "Hey, Gabriel, that first fellow, right it down. Write it down!" Gabriel writes it down against his record. The other fellow right next to him said the same thing. Which being interpreted is—You'll just have to guess for yourself.
Gabriel says, "Okay, let me have that pen again. I'm going to write down what he said, too, because he said the same thing the other guy said." The Lord says, "Hold it, Gabriel! Don't you touch that pen." Gabriel says, "Wait a minute. He said the same thing the other guy did. You and I both saw his heart and you know his heart, and it is as wicked as the other fellow. Let me write it down."
"Hold it. Don't you touch it." "What? He did the same deed, he said the same words. He had the same feelings. Committed the same sin." And God says, "Gabriel, impute it to him. Mark it against him. Don't mark it against him."
What's the difference? Here's the difference. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity. Same fellows five or six cars behind. Three cars get over and one comes from the other way. Both of them say things that make that look like a Sunday School picnic. The Lord says, "Okay, Gabriel, write it down." That fellow has a whole page of bad things. "Hold it, Gabriel. Don't you touch that record." "What? You saw it. They said and did the same thing. What's the difference?"
The Lord imputes one and doesn't impute another. What's the difference? The difference is five letters. F-A-I-T-H. One of those men realized he was a sinner one day, realized that he was lost and on his way to hell. The church could not save him. The priest could not save him. The ordinance could not save him. The sacrament could not save him. Good works could not save him. Merit could not save him. Giving could not save him. Joining could not save him. A new leaf could not save him. He was a lost, hell-deserving sinner without God, without hope.
He said, "Oh my God, what can I do?" God said, "My son died for you on the cross and paid for every sin you ever committed and ever will commit. If you'll just believe it with all your heart and put faith in what he did for you I'll never charge another sin to your record." What? That's right.
One fellow has it charged. The other fellow doesn't. That's why the good sometimes go to hell and the bad sometimes go to Heaven. Because it's not goodness or badness, it's "Have you ever been born again." Have you? Don't come to me now about this church membership bit, this good life bit. You say, "I live a good life." So did the rich man in hell. "I feed the poor." So did the rich man in hell. "I joined the church." So did the Pharisee in hell. Hell will be full of good, moral people who never came to the place where they got born again by faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, I'll come back to where I started and I'll close. Does the Lord mark your sins down or not? Have you been born again? Blessed are you. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute unrighteousness. Now you say, "Well, good. When that thing goes down tonight, I'm going to let him have it because the Lord won't charge it to me." You won't say that because when you got saved, God gave you a new nature. The old nature is going to say, "Let him have it." But the new nature is going to say, "you should not have done it." Don't you see?
The question is, have you been born again? Have you been born again? Have you been born again? Have you, in faith, trusted? If you could ever stop—it would get you a long ways toward Heaven. There's no good deed that can please God because the righteous acts we commit are tainted by unholy, selfish motives at best. People say, "Isn't she a good lady? Isn't he a good man?" Why, of course not.
The good we do is tainted by selfishness. The best we do is filthy rags. The best person here tonight and the best he does is as rotten as dirty corruption rags that a leper has for his sores. That's why you can't get to Heaven because you're good. Even your good is tainted with bad. When your righteousness is tainted with sin, that's why all you can do is throw yourself at His mercy and say, "I'm a sinner. My good is even bad."
"Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner and save me." That's the difference. Have you been born again? Now you'll never hear it any plainer than you've heard it tonight. You never will. You may hear it as plain and a lot of you are stunned, still. The difference is not goodness or badness but imputation or not imputation. Charging the sins to your record or not charging the sins to your record.
When I sin, it is charged to the record of Jesus Christ. The Apostle wrote in Philemon and said, "When the slave comes back home if he has wronged you at all, put it on my account." And that is what God says. Jesus says, "Lord, put that on my account."
I ask you a question. Are you going to Heaven? Don't come and say you joined the church. That won't do it. Don't you say you're a Baptist or a Presbyterian or a Lutheran or a Catholic. That won't do it. Don't even say you're a Baptist. That won't do it. You've got to get born again.
Let us pray.
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