Thursday, 22 September 2011

No get-out clause

…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power

This is Paul's fullest and most graphic description of the fate of the unbeliever, and what we find is that this statement refutes every heretical attempt to soften the truth of hell.

No universalism - Some hold out the hope that the door to heaven will remain open until everyone comes in, and no one will be left outside.  Such a hope is thoroughly dashed on the rock of this passage of Scripture.  Paul says that people are punished with everlasting destruction - there's no way back.

No annihilation - "Well" some say, "not everyone will be saved, but those that aren't saved will be snuffed out of existence."  These verses (and many others) contradict that notion.  Paul says that the unbeliever is punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord.  It makes absolutely no sense to say that a person who is out of existence is away from the presence of the Lord - they aren't away from anything or anyone, they have no location, they have no status at all.  Where were you before you were conceived?  You were not anywhere - the fact is, you were not!  So it would be if you were annihilated - where would you be?  It's a senseless question because you would not be!  The fact that Paul says the unbeliever is away from the presence of the Lord establishes the fact that the unbeliever continues to exist.

No inclusivism or pluralism - Some feel that there are many ways to God, and as long as one is sincere he will be accepted by God.  However, the Word of God disagrees.  Paul says that this everlasting destruction will be the portion of those that do not know God, and do not obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of Christ is man's only hope - He is the only Saviour, the only Substitute, the only Way, the only hope.  Without Him people will pay the penalty for their own sins.

If you don't know God, if you have not obeyed the Gospel by turning to Christ for salvation, there is not a ray of hope for you in the world to come.  But there is hope for you now.  Obey the Gospel, and come to Christ.