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Visiting the Real Twilight Zone, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2023 7:05 am

Visiting the Real Twilight Zone, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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February 27, 2023 7:05 am

Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Several years ago on television, we were introduced to the crisp and eerie voice of Rod Serling. His creative imagination took us to the strange realm of another dimension.

Remember, it was called the Twilight Zone. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll resumes a message he introduced on the previous program that steps into uncharted territory, but it's not fictional. In this fascinating study about the life beyond, we'll examine the hope that's extended to those who embrace God's plan. We're in Matthew chapter 25.

Chuck titled his message, Visiting the Real Twilight Zone. Matthew 25 talks about the destiny of the unbeliever. Verse 31, Jesus is speaking. When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne and all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Verse 41, then he will say to those on his left, depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. When the unbelieving person dies, again the body as with the believer begins to decay. However, the soul and spirit of the unsaved, rather than going into paradise, the place of the presence of God, the spirit of the unsaved goes to Gehenna called Hades in the New Testament or often hell. It is a place of temporary conscious pain.

I say temporary because it too awaits final resurrection of the body. Now before I go any further, let me say that many who hear such a thing respond quickly by saying, I need to get more religious. I need to go to church more. I need to carry a Bible. I need to have my good works outweigh my bad.

I got to deal with this guilt that I'm living with. So maybe if I get religion, I'll find an answer to this eternity that I'm afraid of. You go back a couple of chapters to chapter 23, you'll meet the most religious people who ever lived called scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23 verse 33. And you'll read some surprising words if you think religion is going to help you. To these religious people who were living in hypocrisy and only words about their faith, no real faith, Jesus said, you serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Well, religion doesn't relieve you from the future of hell. Going to church, studying the Bible, being baptized, being christened, paying your bills, living a good life, obeying the law will in no way ingratiate you before an eternal God who requires of us righteousness, not human goodness. In fact, he demands perfect righteousness and not even religious people can provide that kind of righteousness. Righteousness for eternal life comes in Jesus Christ and only there. Christ spoke of another excuse in Mark chapter 9 verse 43.

You'll turn from Matthew to the next book, you'll see Jesus' words. Many people will excuse themselves by saying I'm only human. I've got these eyes that lust. I've got these hands that commit wrong. I have these feet that move me to places that are ungodly.

I walk in darkness, not in light, but I'm a victim of my own humanity and being a person of this kind of condition, I can't help myself. Look at Jesus' words in Mark 9 verse 43. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than having your two hands to go into hell into the unquenchable fire. Verse 45. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than having your two feet to be cast into hell. Verse 47 doesn't get any better.

If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than having two eyes to be cast into hell. Now there are some times you take the Bible literally. There are some times you understand its symbolism. Jesus isn't saying that we're to enter life with no hands, no feet, and no eyes. The point is symbolism.

Don't misunderstand. He's saying for you to hide behind a hand or an eye or a foot that disobeys is foolish. You prepare yourself by preparing your heart. You prepare yourself by placing your whole self at the disposal of Jesus Christ who cleanses hands, eyes, heart, feet, lives. But it's worth noting that he refers once, twice, three times in a row to hell. Verse 48, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Look again at John chapter 5.

Please turn. John 5 verse 25. Jesus again is speaking. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear shall live. And just as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. And the Father gave the Son authority to execute judgment because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, says Jesus. An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice and shall come forth referring to the life of faith, those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Now there is no getting around it unless you wish to do an enormous amount of semantic footwork, unless you have a wonderful way of cutting out of scripture certain verses that have the same kind of reliability as those you would prefer to leave in. You're left with facts that you have to come to terms with. And I would suggest that we not joke about hell.

It isn't a laughing matter. I wrestled a little with using this illustration but I'm going to do so. These are not my words. I'm reading from a book, Whatever Happened to Hell by John Braun.

Just listen. It is not unlikely that within the last 24 hours you have heard someone say, what the hell are you doing? Or I sure as hell will.

Or who in the hell do you think you are? That word hell has become a conversational byword in our day. Good friends dare to say playfully to one another, oh go to hell. They surely don't mean go to the place of punishment for the wicked after death, though that is how the dictionary defines the word hell. But why use the word hell? He has a good point.

Keep listening. Why use the word hell? Why not instead, what the jail are you doing?

Or I sure as school will. And why not say, oh go to Chicago. Simply because, now listen, simply because jail, school and Chicago, even for the enemies of each, have no real sting.

They have only the flavor of vanilla at a time when chocolate or peppermint is needed. When it comes right down to it, in the English language, hell is the strongest expletive available that carries the idea of ultimate deprivation, fear, torment, punishment, suffering and loss. Whether or not the user of the term hell believes in it as an actual literal place is of little or no consequence.

There is an inbuilt, inarticulated, yet understood bite in the very word itself. So if hell really is the place for eternal punishment of the wicked after death, how come it's used so lightly millions and millions of times each day? Why is there such an apparent lack of seriousness about the word?

Why do people pretend the place doesn't exist? He concludes, when is the last time you heard a serious sermon on the subject, or read an article of note dealing with judgment and eternal punishment? Even the evangelical crowd has by and large avoided the topic, opting for a more positive approach. Hell has come on hard times. You realize I would not be a true servant of the Father as an ambassador of his and a spokesman for the Lord if I failed to tell you as much about hell as I tell you about heaven. You realize that you would be ill-informed regarding your future if you picked and chose only those passages regarding heaven and forgiveness and security and hope and a definition and life with Christ forever. For it isn't for everyone. It isn't even for most. As a matter of fact, those who will spend eternity in hell have always been in the majority.

And if you will allow me to be almost cranky for a moment, I suggest we stop using the term lightly. I suggest you reserve the word hell for its singular purpose. It is the destiny of the lost. It is the most hideous scene the mind can imagine, and it isn't imaginary. The ultimate scene is in Revelation chapter 20, the last five verses.

Again, you owe it to yourself to look. You may not like what you see, but you will read the truth when you read Revelation 20, 11 to 15. Let's understand where we are before we read this awful scene. When the believer dies, the body goes into the grave. The soul goes immediately to be with the Lord Jesus awaiting resurrection when they're joined and forever with the Lord.

A lot of other details in the scriptures, but they're not pertinent to this subject at this moment. When the unbeliever dies, the body goes to the grave, and the soul, the spirit of that body, goes into Hades or hell where it is kept in conscious torment, as we shall see in my next message. It's kept in constant torment awaiting its resurrection, that is the resurrection of its body. The body and spirit will be resurrected at this last judgment, and we're going to read about it now.

It's the judgment for the lost. Revelation 20, 11, I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. We're looking at a scene that is in the spaces. There is no longer any earth. It's been burned up. There is no longer the atmospheric heavens as we know it, as we know of them.

In space is this incredible scene yet future, not twilight zone imagination, but reality, the ultimate real twilight zone. Verse 12, I saw the dead. This is the lost, the great and the small standing before the throne. Books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books according to their deeds.

No one was missed. The sea gave up the dead which were in it. Death and Hades, remember I said that was the temporary location of the spirits of the lost, gave up the dead which were in them.

So both bodies and spirits are given up to this judgment, and they were judged, every one of them, according to their deeds. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. It really is not technically true to say the eternal abode of the lost is hell. The eternal abode of the lost is the lake of fire, prepared originally for the devil and his angels. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Two very important facts that you must face. The first is the only time to prepare for then is now. Second, there is no chance of change after death.

I've not been speaking of some playful imaginary fun kind of entertaining scene. I've been talking about truth and reality. I do not care how you were raised. I do not care what you have been taught. I do not care how I have been raised or what I have been taught, but according to an intelligent and careful study of the passages of scriptures, I tell you on the authority of the word of God this is the truth. It's gotten hold of me.

It's pushing at me. It causes me an increasing sense of uneasiness when I am with those without Christ, an urgency, a drive, I hope not maddening or insane, but a growing sense of intensity to tell them even if it takes a little recording in my pocket or even if it takes a few casual moments with a neighbor. I am responsible to tell the lost of how to be saved. The worst thing for you is to sit in a place where the gospel is preached faithfully and to think that sitting and hearing means you're safe. Sitting and hearing simply means you're responsible and you have no possible chance of deciding once you have died.

What is the issue? I turn finally to 1 John 5 verses 10 to 13, some of my favorite verses on the good news of Jesus Christ. Let's look at them and we're through. 1 John 5 verse 10. This is so simple.

It is so easy to grasp if you will only believe it. The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning his Son. Now the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son.

I love this. He who has the Son has the life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may hope, think, desire, K-N-O-W, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

Isn't that great? Everybody has eternal life. You have a soul and it's eternal. Every person you meet is eternal.

What's concerning you is not eternal life, it's where you're spending it. If the most exciting moment of your life is behind you, you're lost. If the most exciting moment is in front of you, you're saved. Three men, close friends, who love to fish and hunt together most of their lives had reached the the epical moment of their hunting experience. They were in northern India about to be involved in a great hunt.

They were huddled around a fire as it was smoldering early in the morning. Not known by two of the three, the older of the three, the oldest gentleman had just come to know Christ and had just become aware of eternal life with God. He lived now every moment awaiting the Lord Jesus' return and his departure from this earth and his joining with other believers to be forever with the Lord and the subject came up. What was your most exciting adventure?

He sat very still and listened. One told of a tiger hunt where with one shell left in the chamber, this cat was jumping toward him and he shot and picked him off and he dropped at his feet. Boy, that must have been exciting. The second one told of a brown bear hunt in Alaska. A similar story, had two rounds left and it took both of them but right at his feet he fell and he showed a picture of this bear that's, not the bear, but the rug that's been made out of the bear that now fills his den back home.

The older gentleman sat quiet. They looked at him. How about you? He said to me, my most adventurous and exciting moment will happen just seconds after I die. If your most exciting moment is behind you, you're lost.

If your most adventurous and exciting moment is yet to happen, we're going up together. The crisp voice of Rod Serling is no longer heard. He's dead.

And every time I hear the haunting melody of the Twilight Zone, I think, wonder where Rod Serling is today. I wonder. I wonder. I'd like us to bow in a moment of silence, please. You have given me the courtesy of a few moments to listen. I need to give you the courtesy of a few moments to think.

Now you think. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life. He who does not believe in Christ does not have the life.

These are written that you may know that you have eternal life, forgiveness, hope, and heaven. Wouldn't you like to come to know Christ at this moment? Wouldn't you like to firm up that decision?

Doesn't that make sense? Then do it. If I could make you do it, I'd go up and down these aisles and up and down the pews and walk among the cars and walk among the street and throw switches and push buttons and make people believe. But I can't do that. But at this moment, if you will turn your life over to Jesus Christ, you decide you're moving toward him and not from him. You decide at this moment in your life, he's becoming your savior because of his finished work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. You believe now.

Would you lift your hand up? You've just come to know Christ. Today you want to make it known. Yes, I see that.

God bless you. Anyone else? Yes. Anyone else?

This is the day I'm trusting in Jesus Christ as my savior. Yes. Anyone else? Yes.

I see. If today has struck a note of interest and decision in your life, I invite you to meet with our counselors in the prayer room where folks will talk intelligently and graciously with you. They'll pray with you, give you some materials, and spend time answering your questions. You will stay only as long as you wish.

No one will manipulate you or force you to sign something. This is simply between you and the Lord Jesus, and today you want to have it make sense. Maybe you'd like to have someone just to pray with you.

You may have a lost friend that you need help in knowing how to reach. Take time now to do that. Father, there's a great comfort in knowing that we have told the truth and we have heard the truth. Not that we can explain it all, not that we can answer even our own questions about it, but simply that we have let your word speak for itself.

The truth has been declared. Now our need is to respond to it correctly. Thank you for these moments when we have been able to give our attention to something as important as this. For the believer, it has represented tremendous encouragement and hope for ourselves as well as our loved ones in Christ who died as believers. Give us a sense of urgency and intensity as we represent your Son on this earth for the brief time we have left, how we look forward to that glorious coming and that reunion with Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

It is in His strong name that we pray and all God's people said, Amen. Something Chuck Swindoll said today has caused you to finally address a deep personal issue. Or maybe you're ready to say yes to God and you're willing to become one of His own. To discover how to take this all-important step, visit us online at

On our website you'll find a wide variety of free resources that clearly explain how to become a follower of Jesus Christ and we look forward to connecting with you. As we prepare these daily programs, we have no idea how God will use His word to stir in the hearts of those who listen. But not a day passes when we don't hear a story here at Insight for Living about someone who's stepped over the threshold from spiritual blindness into the light.

Let me give you a recent example. One of your fellow listeners who lives in New Zealand told us her heart-rending story. She said, My precious dad took his own life in 2004. It devastated me and I believed that God had left me. During that very dark time in my life, I took to listening to Insight for Living early each morning. Through the broadcasts, I was encouraged daily from the Word at a time when I couldn't even read my Bible. Many years on from that time, my dark night of the soul had a tiny pinprick of light.

It was Jesus Himself revealed to me through Insight for Living. That is so beautiful. What an encouraging testament to God's faithfulness. And you know, when you give a donation, you're empowering Insight for Living to share the truth of the Bible with someone who's craving to get beyond that twilight zone that Chuck talked about. And we're deeply grateful for your partnership. To give a donation today, you can speak to one of our friendly ministry reps on the phone.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or to give a donation online, go to Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget, on the Insight for Living Ministries cruise to the great frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun. And without a doubt the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska.

In fact, I guarantee this. You'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for His majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.

They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing. You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime, and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing, and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you?

The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or visit slash events.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll conducts what he calls an interview with one from beyond, next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Visiting the Real Twilight Zone, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, 2011, and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 14:29:41 / 2023-02-26 14:38:44 / 9

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