The Present Power of Heaven and Hell
Jesus had a lively, daily awareness of heaven and hell. These awesome realities were always relevant for the way he lived and taught. He was radically reasonable about these things. If we will live forever in bliss or torment, then securing the one and escaping the other is more important than most of what we think about.
So he motivated loving actions with the hope of reward in heaven, and he motivated radical purity with the fear of hell. For Jesus a profound desire for heaven and fear of hell were practical daily parts of living a glad and holy life. For example:
The motivation for sacrificial generosity.
But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:13-14).
The motivation for loving your enemies.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High (Luke 6:35).
The motivation for simplicity and charity.
Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, no moth destroys (Luke 12:33).
The motivations for evangelism and missions.
Make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness (= money); that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9).
The motivation for enduring persecution with joy.
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great (Matthew 5:11-12).
The motivation for avoiding lust.
I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell (Matthew 5:28-29).
Motivation not to fear death in the cause of the gospel.
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell: yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4-5).
Motivation to bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Luke 3:9).
Motivation to be doers and not just hearers of Jesus.
But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great (Luke 6:49).
Motivation to give our lives away for the gospel.
For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:24-25).
Hebrews 12:2: fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org