Life After Death

Chapter 10: The Final Destiny of the Wicked (Part 2)

We have seen that God divides all mankind into two groups: the righteous and wicked who have completely opposite eternal destinies, which are determined at death. 
 
 Upon death, the righteous go up to be with their Lord in Heaven. The wicked go down to Hades, under the earth, a place of punishment and torment, sometimes also called Hell to await their final sentencing and dismissal to the Lake of Fire. 
 
 To talk about Hell is unpopular nowadays even in the church-world but Jesus wants us to tell people there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. 
 
 In John 16:8, Jesus described the Ministry of the Holy-Spirit to the world through us: “when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.”
 
 As a general rule, those who are warned about a coming danger are far more likely to take action to avoid it, whereas those who have no warning are in far greater danger of falling into that danger, so it is obviously right to warn them, as you would warn someone about to walk off a cliff unawares or someone sitting in a burning house who did not know it. You would risk their rejection of your message because you knew their life was at risk and that it was a small price to pay in comparison. How much more is this true when someone’s eternal future is at stake, under threat of eternal destruction!
 
Jude 22,23: “on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.

 
 Some say: “I believe in a God of Love, not Judgement.” 
How do you know God is Love? The Bible says it (1John 4:8). But the same Bible says God is just and must punish our sins.Exodus 34:7: “He will by no means clear the guilty.” 
 
 Some say: “My god would never send anyone to hell.” It may be true that your god would not send anyone to hell, but your god is just a figment of your imagination, rather than the God of the Bible. The only way we can know God is how He has reveeled Himself in the Bible - and it is not as a harmless kindly heavenly grandfather, but He reveals Himself as a holy God, a just Judge to be feared, as well as a God of boundless love. 
 
 Some may say: “I don’t believe in the OT God of judgement, but the NT God of love as preached by Jesus.” They know neither the OT or the NT which are in full agreement - for Jesus spoke on hell more than any other prophet or writer of the Bible. 
 
 We must let our thinking be controlled by scripture not by the world or the worldliness that has got in the church that only wants to talk about self-esteem and God’s love and ignore His judgement side: Romans 11:22: “Behold, the Goodness and Severity of God.” To know God we must consider both sides of God, His goodness and severity (from the word for ‘cutting off’). 
 
 He is merciful, long-suffering and good to us far beyond what we deserve. He does not treat us according to our sin, but postpones His judgement and continues to move in goodness towards us to give us a chance to repent (Romans 2:4). However although He is quick to show mercy and slow to anger, His patience (the time of grace) will run out. We are to proclaim both: “the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of God” (Isaiah 61:2). After the Acceptable Year of God’s Favour, the day of salvation is over, there will be the Day of Vengeance of our God. 

“Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord, I will repay” (Romans 12:19 - quoted from Deuteronomy 32;35). Vengeance is Retributive Justice. God will punish all sinners, for Justice demands they pay the punishment for their sins. 

 
 The time will come when He will judge, and cut the stubbornly unrepentant off from His goodness. Then it will be too late and all they have left to look forward to is everlasting punishment, for they can never pay the full price for their sin against an infinite God. 
 
 During the time of grace (postponed judgement), we must not be deceived into thinking that we can sin and get away with it, because He does not seem to send judgement immediately. Don’t think God will never judge, just because He is slow to judge! 
 
 Galatians 6:7,8: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption (sin-death), but he who sows to the Spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life.” 
 
Clearly the reaping, both good and bad, goes beyond the grave. There will be an everlasting harvest of what you sow in this life. 
 
 In His kindness, He delays His judgement to give you a chance to repent, but if you harden your heart and despise His goodness to you, you are just storing up a greater judgement for yourself when your time of grace comes to an end.
 
 Romans 2:4,5: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself WRATH in the (predetermined, fixed) DAY of WRATH and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.” 
 
 2Peter 3:9,10: “The Lord is not slack concern His promise (to judge) as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” His delay is to give us an opportunity to repent for He does not want anyone to perish. 
 
 He sees and records everything and will surely judge, and when He does He will rigorously bring everything (thought, word and deed) into judgement. The wheels of His justice may grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceeding fine - there is a slow train coming round the bend, and unless you repent it will run you down.
 
 *Both the goodness and severity of God are revealed in what happens at death. Men go one of 2 ways. 
All mankind is divided into two groups: 
(1) Those under the goodness and mercy of God in Christ, 
go to heaven.
 
 (2) Those who die unrepentant in their sins outside of Christ and His mercy will experience His severity, being cut off forever from His goodness and go to a place of punishment, to await their final judgement. God’s severity is that He will at last finally cut off unrepentant sinners from His goodness and then it will be too late for them, means we must warn people about the reality of God’s judgement and hell.
 
 *Only by understanding the goodness and severity of God can you understand the glorious Gospel of Christ. His severity means that He must and will punish all our sins. His goodness means that He offered to take that punishment upon Himself rather than us having to bear it. His Severity upon sin was revealed through the Cross, for He did not even hold back from punishing His Son when our sins were upon Him. His Goodness was also fully revealed at the Cross in providing propitiation for us through His self-sacrifice. 
 
 The Book of Romans majestically presents the Gospel starting with man’s problem and revealing God’s solution. All have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (spiritual, physical, eternal). All our so called good works (righteousness) are as filthy rags and cannot save us.But God sent His Son and on the Cross a Great-Exchange of sin and righeousness was made (Romans 4). 
 
 IMPUTATION. If we accept this transaction, believing in Christ (His death and resurrection) for us then His perfect Righteousness is imputed to us (we are clothed in it) and God sees us in Christ forgiven and righteous in His sight and makes a legal verdict declaring us FORGIVEN and RIGHTEOUS = JUSTIFICATION. (Then the Judge steps down and adopts us as His Son into His family). 
 
 Romans 5 starts by concluding: “Since we have been JUSTIFIED by faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
 Romans 5:8-10: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 
 
 To save us from Hell, Jesus had to bear the equivalent of eternal hell for all of us on the Cross. Thats why in the Gethsemene, He did not want to drink the cup of God’s wrath upon our sin and pleaded if there be any other way let it be, but God said there was no other way for us to be saved. That means if Jesus did not die for us, we would have no other hope to be saved, we were destined for God’s Judgement of Fire! If we could be saved by doing good works or by being a nice person then surely God would not have put Jesus through the agony of the Cross, but it was necessary for there was no other way for man to be saved from eternal judgment. 

If it were not for Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross, all mankind would automatically go to eternal hell and destruction, for by nature we are all sinners under the wrath and condemnation of God. So it is not the case that you have to do something terrible to go to hell, but you are going to hell unless you take drastic action to escape it. Unless you do something about it, you are heading for hell and the only effectual thing you can do about it is to call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus to save you and He will (Romans 10:13). Our only hope to escape hell is to trust in Him and receive Him as our Lord and Saviour. If you do nothing you will just continue in our sins on the road heading to destruction. 

 
 John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (to die for us), that whoever believes in Him (as the Son) should not perish (eternal destruction in hell), but have everlasting life (in heaven). For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world (because the world was already condemned as guilty), but that the world through Him might be saved. 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.”
 
 He who believes in Christ and receives His salvation is forgiven and justified (declared not guilty on the basis of the blood of Christ), and so will not be condemned, but instead have eternal life with God in Heaven. Jesus confirmed this in John 5:24: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has (already) passed from death into life.” 
 
 Romans 8:1: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is wonderful news to the believer. God, the Judge, has already declared us forgiven and righteous in His sight. We already possess eternal life. Therefore when we die we do not enter a place of punishment for sin, but go directly to God’s Presence in Heaven. 
 
 However anyone that does not believe in Him, but rejects Him and His salvation, remains under condemnation. As we read in John 3:18: “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.” In fact his rejection of Christ has compounded his sin and judgement.
 
 John 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.”
 
 God has given us this life on earth as a time of grace to give us an opportunity to repent and receive His salvation. In this life-time He patiently holds back His judgement and offers us His free-gift of forgiveness, but once this life is over it will be too late to receive it. This life is acceptable time of the Lord, the day of salvation, but if you do not receive Him, upon your death you will have to start facing the day of vengeance (punishment) of our God.
 
*Every man’s final destiny is determined and fixed by God at the time of his death. At death, the unsaved, being still in their sins, are found and pronounced guilty by God and are sent to a place of punishment (Hades) where they must await their resurrection and sentencing to their final judgement in the Lake of Fire.
 
 Revelation 20:11-15: “Then I saw a Great White throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the 2nd death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” 
 
 *The Lake of Fire is the final state and eternal destiny of the lost. 
It is called the 2nd death - an eternal separation from the goodness (life) of God. Although believers die once, unbelievers will be raised and then suffer an eternal death. (This is what most people think of as HELL, a word that the KJV confusingly uses to translate HADES (Greek) or SHEOL (Hebrew), the place where unbelieving souls go after death at this present time).Jesus believed in the Lake of Fire, infact He spoke on it more than anyone. When Jesus referred to the Lake of Fire(rather than Hades) He called it GEHENNA, after the Valley of Hinnom, a deep and narrow valley south of Jerusalem(Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5, see also James 3:6; Matthew 3:12; 13:41,42) where children were sacrificed in fires to Molech (2Chronicles 28:1-4, 33:6; 2Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31-33). A place of continual burning. 
 
 Let’s see the Old-Testament background to GEHENNA:
 
 2Chronicles 28:1: “Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD, as his father David had done. 2 For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. 3 He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire (abortion, 200,000 a year, 600 a day, secularists, shows if reject God lose all sense of right and wrong), according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” 
 
 2Chronicles 33:6: “Also he (Manasseh) caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.” 
 
 Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet (Fire-Place), which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. 32 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. v33 The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away.”  
 
 2Kings 23:10: “And he (Josiah) defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech.” Since Josiah, it was turned into a rubbish tip for dead bodies of animals and criminals, a place continual fire without and worms within. 

In Jesus’ time, it was a rubbish dump where the rubbish was burnt in a perpetual fire and where worms thrived. Hence, Jesus used it as a picture of the fires of Hell where God burns His rubbish - those who refuse to be salvaged (saved), and turned (changed) into something worthwhile as subjects in God’s Kingdom. 
 
 Isaiah 30:33: For Tophet (the Place of Fire - Gehenna) was established of old, Yes, for the king it is prepared. He has made it deep and large; Its pyre is fire with much wood; The breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, Kindles it.” Since he threw children into Fire he will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. 
 
 The Old-Testament talks about the Lake of Fire in other places too: Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.”
 
 Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this, ”Says the LORD of hosts. 
 
 Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before His indignation? 
And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? 
His fury is poured out like fire”
 
 Isaiah 26:11 LORD, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see. 
But they will see and be ashamed for their envy of people; 
Yes, the fire of (reserved for) Your enemies shall devour them. 
 
 Isaiah 33:14: “The sinners in Zion are afraid; 
fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: 
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? 
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
  
Jude 7 tells us that God’s Judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah by FIRE and BRIMSTONE was a picture and warning of His coming eternal judgement of sinners which will also be by FIRE: 
 
“as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” 
 
 Isaiah 66:24 “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. 
For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” 
 
 This describes the dead bodies of those killed at the 2nd Coming, but the famous phrase: “For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched” describes the state of their soul in hell, suffering an eternal conscious punishment.
 
 Next time when we look at Jesus’ teaching on eternal punishment in Hell, we will see that He often uses this phrase to describe the endless punishment of the wicked.
 
*Gospel appeal. Hell is real, but Jesus died so you don’t have to go there. Receive His offer of forgiveness and eternal life.

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