For It Is “Just”
Listen please, to this scripture from 2 Thessalonians 1, verses 7 thru 9; “For it is JUST, for God to repay with affliction, those who afflict you.”
“And to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us, when the Lord shall 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 Christ.”
“And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power..”
Those who do not know God, and those who do not obey God, must include everyone, who is NOT in God’s church, which is His kingdom.
Now listen to this scripture from Mathew 13, verses 41 & 42; “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather, out of His kingdom, all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness. And will cast them into the furnace of fire. In that place, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Even out of the kingdom of God, out of His own assembly, will be gathered everyone who continues to sin willfully, and who actually becomes a stumbling block to others, and they will be joined with all those outside the church, and they will all, “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power” And.. “In that place, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Being in the church, doesn’t give you a free pass, to practice sin and to be a stumbling block to others, does it?
God will repay with affliction. He will deal out retribution. There will be a penalty to be paid, and that penalty will be eternal! Eternal darkness, eternal separation from God. It’s likened to a furnace of fire, and there will be, figuratively speaking, weeping and gnashing of teeth, for eternity. Not a pretty picture!
But is it true? Will it really happen? God says without a doubt, it’s true! And He makes no attempt to apologize for it either. And He doesn’t make excuses. He tells us straight out; That IS the way it will be!
Do You Believe It?
But do you know what a lot of people say? They say; I don’t believe that for a second. There’s no way, that a loving God, would ever commit anyone to an ETERNITY of punishment. That kind of punishment would be far too great for the crime committed. Our life amounts to such a minuscule amount of time, compared to eternity, and God would never be so unfair, as to exact that kind of punishment, for such a small amount of sin.
And people object, saying; An “all loving” God, wouldn’t condemn someone to an eternal hell. An “all knowing” God, wouldn’t have created man in such a way, so that he’d have to suffer eternally. And a completely “just” God, wouldn’t be, so “unjust”.
A man once said; Even I wouldn’t do such a thing. I’m just a human being; I’m nowhere near, a righteous, all loving, and merciful God, and even I wouldn’t condemn anyone to an eternal hell. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t allow ANY pain and suffering, let alone condemn anyone to hell.
And you know what? I think we’d all probably say that. I doubt whether there’s a single person here, that if they had their choice, would condemn someone to hell, eternally. We don’t want to make others suffer, do we? It actually hurts us, to see suffering and pain.
I was reading a sermon by JW McGarvey, from 1893, about this very subject. And he agreed, that in his day, he didn’t know anyone who would choose to commit someone to hell. And someone responded and said; That’s proof, that God wouldn’t commit anyone to hell either.
McGarvey pondered that, and do you know what he concluded? He said; The fact that we wouldn’t commit anyone to an eternal hell, is simply proof that WE, would do things differently than God has done. That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean there IS no hell. And it doesn’t mean that souls won’t BE committed to hell. It simply means that we would do things, differently. But then, we’re not, “all knowing” like God is. And we’re not “righteous”, as God is. And we’re not really all that “just” either.
The truth is, we’re all sinners. And what sinner would want to send another sinner to hell? Sinners, don’t get to decide, what is a “just” penalty for sin. McGarvey made a good point. He said; If a man is on trial for murder, you wouldn’t appoint another murderer as the judge. He said; If a criminal went on trial, how would justice possibly be served, if the jury were made up of only criminals, and all the witnesses were criminals, and the judge was a criminal? But that’s exactly how it is, when sinners get together, and try to decide, what is the proper and fair punishment for sin.
Fortunately, that decision isn’t ours to make, it’s God’s decision. But unfortunately, for many, God has made that decision. Hell is real! And condemnation for those outside of Christ, is also real. Even condemnation for some, who are IN Christ, is real. And eternity is real.
We DO have a decision to make; Will I obey God, or not? If I’m NOT in God’s kingdom, will I believe and obey His commands, and get IN that kingdom? And if I am in the kingdom, will I continue to obey, and not willfully sin, and not become a stumbling block to others?
Do You Object to Hell?
While you think about that, I’d like to tell you about another objection people have, to the idea of eternal punishment. And this is something that weighs heavy on many people’s hearts. Here’s the objection, to the reality of hell..
“If I should be fortunate enough to be rewarded with heaven, but yet I know, that my wife, or my husband, or my children, or whoever was dearest to me on this earth, was in hell; Then heaven, would be hell, for me.”
How do we deal with thoughts like that? How can we ever hope to enjoy heaven, if we KNOW, that people who we love, will be.. “elsewhere”?
Well, the answer really lies with Jesus Himself. There was indeed a time, when Jesus lived right here on this earth, and although He was God, He was also human. And He felt all the human sympathies, and compassions that we do. He stood with Mary and Martha, and wept over their sadness, when their brother Lazarus died. Even though Jesus knew full well, that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, He felt the pain of His dearest friends, and He wept. (John chapter 11)
On more than one occasion, Jesus miraculously fed multitudes, because He felt compassion for them. They were “..distressed, and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mat 9:36)
And I imagine, there might have been a tear in His eye, when He said this, in Luke 13, verse 34; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones those sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children, like a hen her brood, under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left to you desolate! And I say to you: You shall not see Me until the time comes when you say; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
I can almost see the tear in His eye as He said that. And then there was another time, when the bible specifically tells us that Jesus again wept. Remember when Jesus made His entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey? And the people were praising Him, and the scriptures say they were “spreading their garments in the road”. It was kind of like “rolling out the red carpet”. And they cried out, in Luke 19, verse 38; “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
But some of the Pharisees evidently didn’t like them praising Jesus, and they said to Him; “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” And Jesus answered, and said; “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (verses 39 & 40)
It sounds like Jesus was going to be exalted, whether it was by the people, or by the stones of the earth.
Now here’s the part that tells us, Jesus wept.. Luke 19, verses 41 thru 44; Jesus is entering Jerusalem.. “And when He approached, He saw the city, and wept over it, (just like in Luke 13, when He said; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem..”) So then.. “He saw the city, and He wept over it saying; If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace.”
The people of Jerusalem were crying out; “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” But they really didn’t understand what “makes for peace”. True peace, comes ONLY from faith in Jesus, and obedience to His words. And these people who were crying out for peace, would soon turn on Jesus, and demand His crucifixion.
And Jesus continues, and says; “But now they have been hidden from your eyes. (in other words, faith in Christ is hidden from their eyes) For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will throw up a wall before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground, and your children within you (this is speaking of the city of Jerusalem) . And they will not leave in you, one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
Just like we read in chapter 13, Jesus had compassion on Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was the very heart of the nation of Israel. And Jesus wept over Jerusalem and it’s people, just like He had wept for Mary and Martha.
All the while Jesus lived upon this earth, He tried, and tried to save Israel, but as He said in Luke 13:34; “But you would not..” They would not believe that He was the Christ. Unbelief is, “a gulf of separation” between the saved, and the unsaved.
And so in Luke chapter 19, Jesus foresees the time when Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed, and it brings tears to His eyes. And He says that the reason for the pending destruction of Jerusalem, is “because you did not recognize the time of your visitation”. Israel had been “visited” by God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. But they didn’t recognize Him; And so.. “They would not!” They would not believe in the Christ, and they would not obey His words. He was prophesied about, by all the prophets of God. He was their Savior sent by God, but they wouldn’t believe. Is it any wonder that Jesus wept?
Compassion, Humanity, and Tears
So in these passages, we see the compassion, and the humanity, and the tears of Jesus. He felt exactly the same as we feel, over the fact that some of the people who we love, and who HE loves, would be lost eternally. But then something happened to Jesus. He died.. just like we will all die someday. And he was resurrected.. just like we will all be resurrected someday. And Jesus ascended up to heaven. Just like we hope to ascend to heaven someday.
And as Christ reigns in His kingdom from heaven, He looks down upon widows, and orphans, and famine. And He sees the sufferings of countless people, and He sees all of those who are lost in sin. But we don’t have any indication that Christ is weeping in heaven.
As a matter of fact, we’re told in Revelation 21, verse 4; “And HE shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be death. There shall no longer be mourning, or crying, or pain. The first things have passed away!”
How can that be? How can those things be gone? And how did the Son of God, go from a tear-filled human being, to a Spirit in Heaven, where no tears are ever shed? Did Jesus Christ lose His compassion? No; We’re assured, in Hebrews 4, verse 15; “For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched, with our infirmities..”
So then, since that is the case; How can there be no tears in heaven? Let me ask you this question; Have you ever read in the bible about any of the angels being grief stricken and in tears over the plight of humans? Angels are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service to those who will inherit salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14)
And they minister to us, even as we are suffering. But they do so with the joy and gladness, that has it’s origin in heaven. Let me quote a well-known preacher, who says it beautifully; “Heaven has a balm for every wound, for every pain, and for every sorrow. It cures every ill, to which human hearts can be exposed. And by some strange power, that the Almighty alone can exercise, or has the wisdom to devise, your souls shall be free from care.”
And just like the man Jesus, was transformed from a tearful human being, to a Spirit in heaven, where no sadness exists, God also guarantees our own transformation. Just like we read in Rev 21, verse 4; “..The first things have passed away.”
Here’s God’s guarantee; “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet, what we shall be. We KNOW, that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3, verse 2)
Jesus explained it like this, in John 16, verses 21 & 22; “Whenever a woman is in travail, she has sorrow, because her hour has come. But when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for the joy that a child has been brought into the world. Therefore, you too now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”
What Jesus is saying, is that whatever sorrow you may have in this life, in heaven, you will remember it no more, because of the unimaginable joy that will be yours. “And no one takes your joy away.”
The Reality of Heaven and Hell
Eternity in heaven, is evidently greater than anything we can imagine. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 8, and verse 18; “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared, with the GLORY that is to be revealed to us.” “Sing to me of heaven”.. As the song says.. “Sing that song of peace. From the toils that bind me, it will bring release.” Heaven is a reality unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, and greater than we could ever imagine. But a reality, nonetheless, and it’s well within our reach.
But there’s another reality to be acknowledged. And that reality is eternal hell. And because we live in a world where we DO understand pain, even pain in our spirit, we surely don’t want that pain to last eternally. And we don’t want anyone else’s pain to last eternally either. God has blessed us with the ability to feel compassion for others.
Maybe you remember this verse from last week. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 11; “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men..” And that’s what we need to continue to do, until the day we die. We need to do everything we can, to persuade men. To persuade all people, to plead with all people, and to cry for all people.
We need to persuade people to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Just like Peter confessed in Mathew 16, verse 16.
To persuade them to repent of their sins, because Jesus Himself said; “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13, verse 3
And we need to persuade all people to confess the name of Christ. Jesus guarantees us, that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before His Father who is in heaven. Mathew chapter 10, verse 32.
But He warns us, that if we deny Him before men, He will indeed deny us before His Father who is in heaven. Verse 33
And we need to persuade people that if they would do these things; Believe, and repent and confess Jesus, then they can be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, and God will wash away those sins, and He will save you, and add you to His church. “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22, verse 16.
And of course as Christians, we need to persuade one another, and encourage one another, to be faithful unto death, and God will give us a crown of life. (Revelation 2, verse 10)
Please let me know how you feel about the bible teaching on heaven and hell. Your comments are always appreciated