Lucia's Blog: THE GREAT AND ULTIMATE SEPARATION
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, June 4, 2020

THE GREAT AND ULTIMATE SEPARATION

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world... 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life... 
Matthew 25:31-46



Abraham lied to King Abimelech. He said that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. The king took Sarah into his home, intending to make her his wife, but God struck him and his house of sickness and closed the wombs of all of the women. In a dream, God revealed the truth to the king, so he asked Abraham why he had done such a thing. Abraham said, "I did it because I thought, there is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife." Godliness in the Bible is literally the fear of God and the devotion that grows out of that fear. The proverb says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7).  "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). Jesus teaches us the fear of God by describing a place of everlasting punishment that is called hell. The fear of God is clean (Psalm 19:9). There is nothing evil about fearing God, so let's talk about hell.

Few doctrines in the Bible are more hated, ignored, feared, or unpopular than the doctrine of eternal punishment (hell).  For many, the thought of eternal punishment (hell) and burning in hell for eternity is extremely repugnant to the human mind.  Most people shy away from the concept of hell.  Many pulpits ignore or refuse to preach about eternal punishmentletting brethren and unbelievers live in disobedience to Christ without the fear of eternal consequences.  They would rather talk about heaven than the certainty of judgment. They seem to forget that for justice and righteousness to exist, there must be a Final Day of Judgment.  God has declared in His Word that,  “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”  (Hebrews 9:27).  

This world of darkness is filled with lots of lawlessness and wicked men that get away with every form of crime.  Often, we Christians get discouraged because apparently the wicked always wins and prospers (Psalm 73; Mal. 3:14-15).  Indeed, our world is lawless and imperfect, and the wicked usually are not punished for their crimes or lawlessness.  The righteous seem to suffer most.  Take, for example, our Lord Jesus, who suffered severely and was crucified at the hands of wicked men; the persecution of the early church (many faithful Christians died at the hands of evil men for righteousness), etc.  For justice to prevail, there must be a Final Day of Judgment!  

Our Lord Jesus Christ has declared that He will sit on His throne of glory and separate the righteous from the wicked.  He will do this as the shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  Both will be judged according to their works (righteous and evil works).  Then the dreadful sentence will be executed accordingly.  The anguish and torment of the wicked in hell will be eternal!  Indeed, the nature of this doctrine is terrifying to the human mind.  But, despite the concept of everlasting torment, many find it revolting, ignoring that such a doctrine came from the lips of Jesus, our Lord.  Jesus spoke more of hell and its horrors and dreadfulness than the prophets and apostles ever did. He continually warned and still is urging men of the devastating dangers of going to hell.   To ignore and disregard the clear teachings of Jesus (His doctrines) is to deny Christ Himself!  



I.   THE NECESSITY OF HELL:
  • The Nature and Fall of Man:
Man was created in God's image after the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).  God gave man free will to choose good or evil.  God did not program men to rebel against Him, but rather men have chosen to willfully reject Him and Heaven's plan for living on earth (Matt. 23:37; John 5:40).  Take note, that man was made upright and not evil but has mostly sought to do evil (Ecclesiastes 7:29). 
  • Sin and the Nature of God:
The Word of God clearly teaches that God is holy (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8).  That is, He is utterly separate from evil and sin.  His holiness is demonstrated throughout the Bible (at Sinai [Exo. 19:12-25]; the Tabernacle arrangement, with its holy and most holy place, the abode of God [Exo. 25:22]).  His holy nature was indeed demonstrated to instruct the Israelites about Jehovah's holy nature (Exo. 26:33).  

God's holiness not only suggests that He cannot commit sin (James 1:13), but it also implies that He cannot fellowship with sin and ignore rebellion.  “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”  (Hab. 1:13)  God does not take pleasure in wickedness or lawlessness (Psalm 5:4).  Those who indulge in evil will be recipients of His vengeance.  The Bible declares that the wicked and disobedient are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed (Romans 2:5). 
  • God Promises Righteous Vengeance:
Our Gracious God, promises righteous vengeance and just repayment for sin  (2 Thes. 1:6; Heb. 10:30).  Evil and all lawlessness call for the just wrath of a Holy and Just God.  Evil cannot go unpunished!  God is upright, and all of His judgments are righteous (Psalm 92:15).  If there is no hell, then there would be no final victory over evil.  All evil must be utterly defeated, or there can be no heaven Heaven is the complete absence of sin and lawlessness in the presence of a Holy God.  Without eternal punishment, evil would be allowed and condoned.  
  • Sin Separates Man From God:
When man willfully chooses to sin, he is immediately separated from his Holy Creator.  Isaiah said, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear”  (Isa. 59:2).  In Biblical terms, “death” frequently means a separation.  “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”  (James 2:26).  Thus, when a person enters a state of disobedience and sinfulness, he is dead in his transpasses, spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1).  In doing this, he separates himself from God. Remember, God did not initiate or forced us, but it is our choice and responsibility for sinning.

In Ezekiel 18:20-27 God declared, 
The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him... 25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel: Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26 When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth therein; in his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? '”

According to Ezekiel 18, God blesses the obedient and punishes the disobedient.  Do you suppose it is fair and just for God to bless only the obedient and ignore the disobedient?  In Ezekiel 18:25, we read that the ways of the wicked are not just, but crooked.  Why?  Because instead of accepting responsibility for his wickedness, he chooses to blame others and avoid at all costs the punishment that he deserves because of his iniquities.  God has also declared that if the righteous person turns away from righteousness and commits iniquity or sin, he shall die (v. 26).  And if the wicked turn away from his wickedness, “he shall save his soul alive” (v. 27), “He shall surely live, he shall not die” (v. 28).  After declaring this, He asks the house of Israel, “Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?" (v. 29)

The answer is crystal clear.  Their ways were wicked and crooked.  God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34).  It is all up to man to choose whether to obey God and go to heaven or disobey Him and lose his soul eternally in hell.  The righteous, the obedient, will be saved, and the wicked and disobedient will be punished.  However, if the obedient lives and does not die because of his righteousness and obedience, it would be absurd to let the wicked and disobedient enjoy and partake of the same blessing.  If God allows the wicked and disobedient to live, then, where is the righteousness (justice) of God?  Indeed, God is righteous and just in that He blesses the obedient and punishes the disobedient.

Hence, the existence of a place of punishment is not illogical or unreasonable, but rather it is in perfect harmony with the righteousness and justice of God (2 Thes. 1:6-10).  So it is just and righteous for God to repay with affliction, tribulation, and it is also just for God to bless His righteous and obedient ones.


II.  WHAT IS HELL LIKE

None of us know much about hell (since no one has been there and has come back) except what is revealed in the Bible to us.  We are aware of this dreadful place only through the revealed Word of God and what Jesus taught us about hell.  Jesus spoke of hell more than any other person (James is the only other writer who wrote of Gehenna in the NT, James 3:6).

The description of hell in Mk. 9:43-47 is very specific: 
“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.”
The Old Testament allusion (indirect reference) to hell helps us have a clear understanding of what hell is like:
  1. The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was a foretaste of hell (Gen. 19:24; Jude 7).
  2. A place where the wicked are cast down to destruction and are consumed with terror (Psalm 73:18-19).
  3. Sinners in Zion will receive everlasting burnings (Isaiah 33:14).
  4. The Day of the Lord's vengeance, where He will bring everlasting burning (Isaiah 57:21).
  5. A place where there will be no peace for the wicked (Isa. 57:21).
  6. A place where the wicked will go where their worm never dies, and their fire is never quenched (Isa. 66:24).
  7. Where the wicked will awake to everlasting contempt (despised and rejected, Daniel 12:1-2 10).
In the New Testament Jesus described hell as:
  1. Hell fire, fiery hell and hell of fire (Matt. 5:22).
  2. Jesus warned us that it would be better to lose one's hand, his foot, or his eye in this life than to go to hell (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:9).
  3. A place where God can destroy both body and soul (Matt. 10:28).
  4. A furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:41-42).
  5. A place of damnation, eternal punishment (Matt. 23:33).
  6. A place of outer darkness where the weeping and gnashing of teeth never ends (Matt. 25:30).
  7. A horrible place of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
  8. A dreadful place of eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46).
  9. A place where the fire never is quenched, and the worm never dies (Mark 9:43-48).

Many other passages speak of hell's damnation and punishment without using the term “gehenna.” Consider them as they describe everlasting torment:

  1. Matthew 8:10-12 as outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  2. Matthew 8:29, where the evil spirits acknowledge there is a time for torment.
  3. Luke 13:3 for the disobedient, rebellious, and who do not repent and eventually will perish.
  4. Luke 13:22-30, where the workers of iniquity will be forced to “depart” from God's presence.
  5. Luke 16:19-31 to teach the story of the rich man and Lazarus and the everlasting torment of the rich man.
  6. John 3:16, 36, where all unbelievers will be condemned.
  7. John 5:28-29 where some will be raised to receive damnation.
  8. Romans 2:5, 8-9 of the Lord's wrath that would bring tribulation and anguish.
  9. Romans 2:12, where all sinners will perish.
  10. Romans 5:9 God's wrath.
  11. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9,  God's vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might.  Heaven is described as fellowship with God, while torment is the expulsion or removal from His presence.
  12. Hebrews 10:28-31, a punishment worse than death without mercy.  It will be the vengeance of the living God.
  13. 2 Peter 2:17, an eternal mist of darkness.
  14. Jude 7, 13, vengeance of eternal fire and the blackness of darkness.
  15. Revelation 14:10-11, a place of torment of fire and brimstone where there is no rest, night and day forever.
  16. Revelation 21:8, the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

Hell is repeatedly described as a place of “fire,” and suffering, condemnation, and destruction (Matt 5:22; 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mk. 9:44-47; Jas. 3:6).  Moreover, hell is described as a “lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8); a place of “outer darkness” and agony (Matt. 22:13; 25:30) such as will cause “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41-42, 49-50).  A place of torment and utter separation from God (Lk. 16:24, 28; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).  Indeed, it is a dreadful, horrible place and one must avoid going there at all costs!!!

Men belittle “hell fire and brimstone” preaching and teaching because they don’t believe that the Bible is the Truth.  Therefore, they cannot be frightened by the Bible’s warning.  They will scoff at the Bible doctrine of hell and belittle it.  Even our brethren scoff at the power of the fear of hell to motivate obedience to the Gospel.  They seem to overlook what Paul said,
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience”  (2 Cor. 5:11).  

Those who scare children away from fire, electric sockets, poisonous drinks or pills, snakes, toys, and anything that threatens them are saving the lives of their children by fear.  So, why should one be ashamed to scare people with the dangers of hell or everlasting punishment?  The truth is that we do not scare people into heaven, but we do persuade others with the fear of the Lord to return to Christ as a way of escape from this place of everlasting torment (hell).
“Wickedness is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one turns from evil by the fear of the LORD”  (Proverbs 16:6).  

Sinners must acknowledge their lost condition outside of Christ and accept that being lost means going to hell eternally, where suffering and agony never ends.  The horrible thought of going to hell ought to alarm us and cause panic!!
“He also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb”  (Revelation 14:10).  

There will be no remedy to stop the pain and agony for eternity!!  Therefore, we must try to rescue the lost from the broad road that leads to this terrible perdition, hell. 

Sadly, most people do not fear hell, eternal punishment, because they refuse to believe in God and His Word.  They are blind, refusing to see and acknowledge that in hell, they will be in torment and anguish in flame.  There is no more horrible suffering than this, which will have no end whatsoever!


III.   HOW LONG WILL THE PUNISHMENT LAST?

The main objection usually made against the doctrine of hell is its everlasting, eternal nature.   The concept of eternal punishment has faced considerable resistance, even though it is clearly stated in the Bible.  Many refuse to accept and believe that the wicked will be punished eternally after death. The skeptics reject the idea altogether.  Others believe that it is unjust.  Indeed, Jesus will punish the wicked and reward the righteous (Romans 2:5-11; Matt. 25:41, 46).  The wicked, the disobedient will go to eternal destruction, the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  The righteous, the obedient, will receive eternal life.  Only the redeemed, saved ones will live forever with Jesus.  

The Scriptures explicitly affirm the abiding nature of divine retribution.  The everlasting shame and punishment of the wicked (Matt. 25:46).  The term “everlasting” literally implies “always being.” It is contrasted with that which is “temporal” as found in 2 Cor. 4:18.  Some make the argument that “everlasting” does not mean “truly unending in nature.”  We know the truth about Jesus’ usage of this word, not from the word itself, but through the words of the Judge, as expressed in the Word of God.  In Matthew 25:46, the term “eternal punishment” is contrasted with the “eternal life” (i.e., everlasting communion with God).  Both sentences are unending in duration.

Moreover, in Mark 9:48Jesus stressed that in hell, the fire is never quenched (the agony never ceases).  Furthermore, in Revelation 14:11, John describes a third angel who announces in a loud voice that the wicked are going to perish with the lawlessness of this world.  Those who choose to serve and obey the prince of darkness, i.e., Satan, must expect to suffer the eternal consequences, eternal punishment.  One cannot sin and get away with it.  That simple!  The wrath of God will fall on those whose master is the devil.  And though the wrath of God here on earth is still mixed with His grace (Matt. 5:45), in hell, the wrath will be unmixed.  It will be eternal torment with fire and brimstone.  It will be a horrible judgment that will never end, according to the vivid language of Rev. 14:11.  The fact that this never-ending punishment awaits the wicked and disobedient should encourage all men (believers and non-believers) to obey God and do His will.


CONCLUSION:

After death, judgment follows.  There will be no second chance for salvation (Heb. 9:27).  There is a great contrast between those who die in the Lord, the saved (the obedient and righteous), and those who die lost without obeying the Gospel of Christ.  “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us”  (Luke 16:26).  There is no opportunity for obedience after death!!!  (Matt. 25:31-34, 41, 46)

The Bible describes the penalty of hell as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14), which conveys the ultimate separation from God.  Final judgment will take place to manifest the glory of God to all mankind by demonstrating His righteousness and mercy (2 Thess. 1:3-10).  It will be an entirely fair judgment (Rom. 2:11, Ps. 98:9).  Mankind will not have a second chance after death (Luke 16:24-26).  The book of Hebrews connects death with the devastating consequences of judgment.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”  (Heb. 9:27). 

Therefore, in light of the final judgment, Christians should be able to forgive each other freely, for we know that all record of wrongs will be settled on that dreadful day of judgment and will be made right.  God will avenge us and will repay (Rom. 12:19).  God's delay return is because He is longsuffering, patient, not wanting that anyone should perish but that everyone comes to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).   The Lord is patiently and kindly inviting all sinners to repent.  Therefore, it is our duty as Christians to bring the message of salvation (evangelizing) and so help all men not to perish in hell eternally (Rom. 10:14-15).

The Bible is crystal clear about the consequences of our choices in this life. There is a right way and a wrong way to live, and we must stop to reflect frequently.  We will spend eternity, either in Heaven or in Hell.  This reality is presented in Romans 6:23.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  
This is made clear in the parable of the talents.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master'”  (Matt. 25:21, 23).
  That joy is heaven!!
“But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?'  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”   

That place of darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth is hell! 


There is no third alternative It is either heaven or hell.  The way of heaven “leads to life (heaven)” (Matt. 7:14).  The way of hell “leads to destruction (hell)” (Matt. 7:13).  And each one of us will either spend eternity in heaven or in hell.  For, “we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10).  The truth is that since God raised Jesus from the grave, He has given us the assurance that God will make mankind accountable on that Final Day of Judgment (Acts 17:31). So, heaven and hell are real rather than some theorized possibility or folktale.  God wants all men to be with Him in heaven (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9).  Yet, Jesus has stated that most of mankind will end up in hell (Matt. 7:13-14).  Take heed!

The price of hell is too high!  Hell will be forever, and man does not have to go there.  But they need to faithfully obey God now!  There is a deadline, and that is the Day of Judgment (2 Peter 3:10-12).  We have no idea when that day will arrive.  The eternal home of our soul and the souls of men is at stake!! Therefore, we must endeavor to be watchful and ready for that final deadline.  The Bible plainly teaches that there will be a day of reckoning, and we can be sure of this.  There will be a day when each of us will be audited and called upon to answer for our life (Rom. 14:11-12; Matt. 25:31-46). On that day, “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil”  (Eccl. 12:14).  How will you stand in that day?  Are you prepared for the final deadline?

We either submit to God's rules or foolishly let our sins find us out.  In torment, there will be a separation of the righteous from the unrighteous (Luke 16:26).  There will be a great gulf of separation between the righteous and the wicked.  There are only two ways and two destinies.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”  (Matt. 7:13-14).  

We either do everything God's way or our own foolish ways.  We are either in Christ or not in Christ.  We either are faithful children of God or partake of the wickedness and sins of this world.  We either separate ourselves from all forms of ungodliness and worldliness or mix with the wicked ways of this life.  We either keep ourselves unspotted and separated from the world, or we are defiled in God's sight and lose our reward, eternity in heaven with Him.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!!

When Jesus returns, it will be a big surprise for most, and it won't be a pleasant one.  But for the faithful, it will not be a surprise at all, and it won't catch them off guard for he will be prepared. Therefore, let us resolve to be faithful servants always, growing in the knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.  Always striving to obey God's truths with a humble heartRemember, we only get one chance at life (Heb. 9:27).  Don't blow it!!!

How many people examine their lives and come to the conclusion that they are headed for hell?  I am sure the number is small.  Yet, Jesus, our Lord, taught that many are traveling the broad road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13).  Many deceive themselves, believing they are saved and do not consider themselves to be lost.  There is no middle ground between lost and saved!  If one is not saved, then he is lost.  Some are convinced they are saved, having accepted the doctrines of menThey teach that salvation is obtained by accepting Jesus as their personal savior and confessing His name.  The Word of God does not teach that doctrine of salvation (Rom. 6:17)!! 

Jesus has given us many warnings about the false doctrines that we must avoid (Matt. 15:8-9; Rev. 2:15). When one accepts error, especially concerning salvation, he will be lost eternally (Gal. 1:6-9).  God's plan of salvation is easy and is found in the New Testament.  It involves faith, confession, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  Men's false doctrines about salvation are found nowhere in the Bible!  

Knowing that someday we all will die and will be raised to stand before the Judge of all in judgment and receive our eternal reward, heaven or hell, how seriously do we acknowledge this?  Are you ready for death, resurrection, and final judgment? Man has only one earthly life and death.  After judgment, men will receive their eternal destinies.  The righteous will receive eternal life, a state of bliss in the presence of God.  On the other hand, the wicked will receive eternal punishment, suffering, and sorrow, separated from God.  How much worse could it be?

Judgment will be fair and just!  It will be based on Truth (Rom. 2:2).  Men will be judged without partiality (Rom. 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17).  Judgment will be inescapable (Rom. 2:3).  It will be universal (Rom. 2:6, 9, 10; 10:14-12).  It will be individual (Romans 2:6; 14:12).  It will be thorough.  All aspects of life will be examined (Rom. 2:7, 8, 9, 10, 16; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 12:2).  And it will be final!  The rewards given on that day will be eternal and unalterable (Rom. 2;7; Matt. 25:46).

Are you preparing for judgment?  Remember, the Gospel will judge us.  Therefore, you must obey the Gospel.  Are you ready to face the Judge of all the earth?  Are you ready for Judgment Day?  

May we never miss heaven, the grandest and most glorious place ever conceived.  May we be found faithful and profitable servants by our Lord and not be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  May we thirst for righteousness all the days of our lives here on earth and not have to suffer unendingly and unbearably.  May we always obey our Lord to avoid being punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of our Lord.  May we never miss heaven and be lost forever!  May we teach the lost the Gospel of salvation that they may obey the Truth and be ready for Judgment Day.  May we be prepared to face the most excellent Judge of all the earth who has promised us to make a fair judgment.

Luci

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