Beyond the Sunset
Today we’re looking “Beyond the Sunset” in James 4:13-17.
Every one of us is moving swiftly toward eternity. And the pace at which we’re doing so seems to be increasing every day! I don’t know about you, but the years seem to blur more & more & pass faster & faster the older I get. Since we’re all speeding toward an eternal destination, we should consider important truths about that destination. And in today’s Time in the Word, we will look at some important truths about eternity – truths that can impact the way we view our present and our future.
There is a famous song that was written many years ago entitled, “Beyond the Sunset.” I can hear my parents singing it in my memory – my Dad’s guitar and singing a strong melody and my Momma’s tight harmony – it makes me smile as I think of it. This song has a wonderful message – a message that reminds us that eternity awaits each and every one of us:
Beyond the sunset, oh blissful morning When with our Savior, heaven is begun Earth's toiling ended, oh glory dawning Beyond the sunset when day is done
(Songwriters: Blanche Kerr Brock / Virgil P. Brock
Beyond the Sunset lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.)
Keeping this beautiful picture in mind, let’s read our focal passage – (James 4:13-17):
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such & such a city, spend a year there, buy & sell, & make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time & then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live & do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good & does not do it, to him it is sin.
One thing that we must be reminded of is that death does not end it all. All of us know that death is coming & we need to get ready to meet it. I read a short poem once that recounted,
We live through the tender teens, teachable twenties, tireless thirties, fiery forties,
forceful fifties, serious sixties, sacred seventies, and even the achy eighties;
but then comes shortening breath, death, sod & God.
We all know deep down inside that there is an eternity (Jesus said in Mt 25:46 – And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life). There is an eternity and only two possible destinations in that eternity – everlasting punishment or eternal life.
From this understanding, we come to know that where you exist in Eternity is far more important than where you will live in this life.
Let’s examine what Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Mark 8:34-37 – 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
We worry about so many things that are not as important as we think. Does your money, or perhaps the lack of it, worry you? Are you chiefly concerned about having a good time? Are you mainly interested in getting ahead in this world? Eternity is so much more important. Jesus said again in (Matthew 6:33), “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
And because of these words, you can know where you will spend eternity
Jesus knew He was going (John 14:1-4 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”)
Job knew he would be in eternity (Job 19:25-26 – For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is [struck off]destroyed, this I know,That in my flesh I shall see God)
David knew he would exist in eternity (2Sa 12:23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.)
Paul knew he would be in eternity (2Co 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.)
In Jn 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
And in 1Jn 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
The truth is there is an Eternity and you will spend that Eternity in one of two places: Hell or Heaven
Hell is a terrible place. It’s a place of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. It’s a place of night and darkness. It’s a place of eternal fire. In Rev 21:8, we see the cowardly, ]unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. And in (Rev 20:15) we also find anyone whose name is not written down in the Book of Life added to that list of Hell’s inhabitants. So let us look again at the terrible eternity of the sinner: turn to (2Th 1:7-9 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power).
Hell was not made for humans (Mt 25:41)! Knowing this, we are left to wonder, “What does it take to inflict punishment on spiritual beings?” If Hell was created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his Demons – who are by their order of creation more powerful than we, how much more terrible would the punishment be for humans? Our language surely has no words to describe it; and our earthly mortal frame of reference surely has nothing to offer in comparison. But Hell is a real place that deserves a real description, and the Bible gives us an even more detailed glimpse into this place than Heaven. Even Jesus spoke about Hell twice as often as He did of Heaven. It is:
· A place of awareness & remembrance (Lazarus & his brothers) (Lk 16:23-24, 27-28, 30)
· A place of judgment & fair treatment / varying degrees of punishment (Ro 2:6; Mk 12:40; Lk 10:13-14, 12:47-47)
· A place of choice: accumulated wrath (Ro 2:5-6) – Are you storing up treasures in Heaven or wrath?!
· A place of truth (Ro 2:2; 2Pt 2:13)
· A place of lost hope (1Th 4:13; 2Th 1:9; Rev 20:10) – “finality” – forever separated from God (2Th 1:9) = no more general grace!
· A place of punishment: Punishments in Hell are described in as best as our limited language & understanding can express them
o Outer Darkness (Mt 8:12): Why “outer” / “outside” – because it is away from everything – God’s presence, the presence of others, light, warmth, comfort – it is complete & utter loneliness in complete & utter darkness (consider the emotional & mental effects of extended exposure to darkness – anxiety, terror, uncertainty, panic) – the Bible also describes this in (2Pt 2:17 & Jude 13) as “the gloom of utter darkness”
o Silenced (1Sa 2:9): Unable to offer excuses / justify sin – all that is pushed away as suffering overtakes reasoning
o Weeping & Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth (Mt 13:42): Pain so severe that all you can do is grit your teeth & cry out in pain.
o Everlasting Fire (Mt 18:8): A fire that burns, but that does not give off light (utter darkness) – it’s much akin to being burned alive without being able to see or find the source of the burning
o Anguish (Mt 5:22; Lk 16:24): Pain & suffering beyond our ability to relate
o Great Distress (Eze 7:25): No peace – emotional & mental turmoil unlike anything ever experienced on earth
o No Rest Day / Night (Rev 14:11): Fatigue, exhaustion, desire for rest but unable to have it
o “Worms that never die” (Job 24:20; Mk 9:48): The word picture is meant to describe the sensation of being eaten alive by maggots
o Shame & Everlasting Contempt (Dan 12:2; Eze 32:17-32): Regretting life’s decisions, & being ashamed of the sins committed in the body, & the rejection of the Gospel so that the individual holds themselves in utter & everlasting contempt
o Everlasting Punishment (Mt 25:46): Once there, is no way out… EVER!
Why is hell so awful? Worse than all of these, Hell is the absence of God.
· There is no air in hell...because God is the breath of life.
· There is no peace in hell...because God is the prince of peace.
· There is no comfort in hell...because God is the God of all comfort.
· There is no love in hell...because God is love.
· There is no light in Hell – only darkness...because God is the light.
Heaven is a wonderful place (See Rev 21 – 22 for descriptions)
Heaven is beyond our mortal comprehension, beyond our Earthly frame of reference; but the Bible gives us a glimpse:
· Heavenly beauty: Walls of Jasper, Streets of Gold, Gates of Pearl; Foundations laid upon 12 costly gems; Crystal flowing river; Tree of Life; and the glorious, warm, & blessed light of God shines evermore – with no more darkness ever in that place. Words fail to describe the glories & beauties of that place. God created the Universe in 6 days – Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you” & has been preparing that place for more than 2,000 years – how beautiful Heaven must be, sweet home of the happy & free, fair haven of rest for the weary, how beautiful Heaven must be!
· Heavenly blessedness: There are many wonders in Heaven to be sure; but not only is Heaven significant because of what is there, it’s also significant for what isn’t there! No more: tears, death, sorrow, pain, night / darkness, defilement, curse
· Heavenly bliss: We will know Him perfectly, we will worship & serve Him in His presence & His habitat, we will reign with Him, & we will enjoy the relationship with Him that He always intended – our blessed Father forevermore.
Song: “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be.” (Songwriters: A. P. Bland / A. S. Bridgewater / Dwight Moody Brock. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group)
Chorus: How beautiful heaven must be Sweet home of the happy and free; Fair haven of rest for the weary, How beautiful heaven must be.
Truth 7: Where you will be in eternity is determined by what you do with Jesus Christ
· Jn 3:17-19 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
· Jn 3:36: He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
· 1Jn 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
· Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
· Ro 10:9-10 if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If you will do the trusting, Jesus will do the saving. Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now. He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now!
To the child of God, death is not a doom; but a door. Death is not an exit; but an entrance. Death is not the end; but the beginning. Death is not the sunset; but the sunrise. Beyond the sunset, oh blissful morning, when with our Savior, Heaven is begun. Earth’s toiling ended, oh glorious dawning, beyond the sunset, when day is done.
What lies beyond the sunset for you? The darkness of eternal night or the light of a new eternal day?
You can settle that today – and it depends on what you do with offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.