“If we believed in hell …” a sermon by Brother Vince Massa

It would have been “standing room only” had not two extra rows of chairs put in place for Sunday evening service at Gospel Light. Pastor Joseph Cammilleri and members of his congregation at Old Paths Bible Baptist Church came to see Brother Vince Massa preach. This drove our attendance to 171, doubling our usual Sunday night crowd. Priming the pump for the preaching, we saw three music specials performed that evening:

  1. Joe C. and Grayson with banjo sang “At Calvary”. Pastor Vince Giardino called them “our version of the Bee Gees”.
  2. Next, Bonnie, Jaime, Lori, and Melody sang “In Time On Time Every Time”. Pastor Giardino called them “our version of the Lennon Sisters”.
  3. Lastly, with Grayson backing them up with the cello, the Giardino family (Lori, Michael on piano, Julia with her violin, Ross, Leah, and Lydia) came forward to sing, “Before the Throne of God Above”. They were later referred to as Partridge Family.

During Pastor Giardino’s introduction of our guest preacher, Brother Vince Massa, he said “When I grow up, I want to be just like him.” In the past two days at GLBBC, Brother Massa had preached at the Men’s Prayer Breakfast and the Sunday morning service and had taught at adult Sunday school. Unfazed, Bro. Massa was ready for action, saying “Tonight’s sermon will be sobering.” However, true to his style, first he had stories to tell:

  • Story 1: An old farmer was plowing his field when his nagging, cantankerous wife showed up. Upon hollering at her husband, the farmer’s old mule became startled and kicked up his back legs, striking the wife in the head, and killing her instantly. At the wake, Jake’s minister noticed that when the women offered sympathy to the old farmer, he would nod his head up and down. But when the men came up and spoke quietly to him, he would shake his head from side to side. When the wake was over and all the mourners had left, the minister asked him, “Why was it that you nodded your head up and down to all the women and shook your head from side to side to all the men?” “Jake replied, “The women all asked “Are you going to be all right?”, so I nodded yes. The men all asked, “Is that mule for sale?”
  • Story 2: A letter from a red neck marine kid came home. It read, “Dear Ma and Pa” and would go on to say how much easier it was in the Marine Corp than working at home. All aspects of the life were described as easy and the letter made fun of the “city boys”. The letter was signed, “Your loving daughter, Alice”.

The Truth about Hell – The sermon began with Luke 16:19-31. These were the words of our savior Jesus as he told his disciples about a “certain rich man” and a certain beggar named Lazarus”. The story tells of the truth about hell and its torments. As saved people, Brother Massa said, “Sometimes hell gets removed from our minds.” We’ve forgotten about the reality of hell. “Hell is real, hell is hot, hell is eternal, and Jesus said it is.”, Brother Massa stressed. If we believed in hell, there ought to be:

  • Motivation to Seek the LostAfter reading how the lost will be “tormented with fire and brimstone” (Rev 14:10), he stated, “If I was lost and believed in a place called hell, I would get saved.” Likewise, if we are saved, we should be motivated to “pray for sinners.” However, “we have no burden, we have no tears” for the lost, Brother Massa lamented. “Our problem this evening is that hell is too far away … we lose sight of those who are lost.”, he continued.
  • Bro. Massa told a story about Calos Hathcock, a US Marine sniper who undertook great pain and effort to kill a North Vietnamese general. Brother Massa’s point: “Why don’t you be a sniper for Jesus? Go out, see someone, and get them in your crosshairs.” “Bombard God with prayers until God gives you the opportunity to witness”, he said, “I’m talking about one … can’t you get one?” Thus, Brother Massa gave several examples of individuals in his daily ministry that he has prayed for and has either led to Christ or still in his “cross hairs”.
  • Appropriation and Speculation – We should be investing our money on the gospel, Brother Massa insisted. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”, Jesus commanded in Matt 6:20. Investing in church improvements is important because, “If you put up benches, they ain’t gonna come, not the sinners”, Brother Massa insisted, “That’s just the truth of the matter.” If we believe in hell, we would be motivated to give to our church, to missions, and to special offerings.
  • Determination – to do everything possible to save your family. “By the grace of God, by the help of God”, Bro. Massa said, he is going to win his family to Christ. “ Do you have a living loved one that’s lost?”, he asked. You’d better purpose in your heart to get them saved before they die and go to hell.”

Brother Massa began the invitation by saying, “May God have mercy on us because we forget there is a hell, our eyes are dry … and sinners are not getting saved.” He prayed that “our hearts be stirred” to “make an eternal difference”. Pastor Giardino continued the invitation, saying, “Pray for our lost neighbors and our lost friends so we can see an awakening in these parts.

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