We know that it is God’s loving desire that “none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Yet the sad reality is that many in this dying world will reject the hope and salvation held out to them by God, through Jesus, and will perish in their sins. It is a fearful thing to contemplate that sin and hardness of heart toward God can eventually alienate one from God and result in eternal separation from God (i.e. hell).
“Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment — the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and his rebellious and sinful creation. How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, that all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: ‘The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent.’ (Revelation 9:20).” — A. W. Tozer
When the angels came to rescue Lot from the destruction of that wicked city Sodom, Lot hesitated and deliberated. He wasn’t sure if he should really flee. Lot told his family about the warning, that the city was about to be destroyed. But the attitude of Lot’s two sons-in-law was, “Our city will be destroyed? You have got to be joking!!!” They were incredulous and thought it was a practical joke. Lot’s wife may have also been unwilling to leave, because she later looked back with dire consequences.
So there they were, in the city that was their home, being told to leave immediately because the city was going to be destroyed in a matter of hours. Really? Are you kidding me? This is all so sudden. They could not bring themselves to believe it; they were stuck and could not move. In the end, Lot never left the doomed city by his own volition, but rather the two angels took hold of Lot and Lot’s wife and two daughters and forcibly removed them from city. Note that the sons-in-law never made it out.
When the angels managed to get Lot and his family beyond the city walls, their message was clear and direct and delivered in no uncertain terms:
“Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, or stop anywhere in the whole valley; escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed.” Genesis 19.16,17
If not for a clear, sustained and even forceful intervention, Lot and his family would have perished in the flaming destruction of that wicked valley along with all the sinful and wicked people who lived there in open rebellion against God and God’s ways.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. “(Hebrews 10.31)
“For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12.29)
“Knowing therefore the fear/terror/dread of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5.11)
Even if we never talk about it. Even if we are not sure we really believe in it. Even if it sounds like a bad joke or the bizarre tale of a science fiction writer. The Truth is that hell is very real before God. Hell is the inevitable eternal fate of all those who choose to embrace rebellion against God and unashamedly practice sin.
In the story of Lot, the scripture says that God was being “merciful” to Lot when the angels took him by the hand and dragged him out of the doomed city…
“When the morning arose, then the angels hurried Lot, saying, ‘Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the iniquity of the city.’ But while he (Lot) lingered (instead of immediately fleeing), the men (the two angels) seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, for the LORD was merciful to him (Lot); and they (the two angels) brought him forth and set him outside the city and left him there. And when they (the angels) had brought them forth, they said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, or stop anywhere in the whole valley; escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed!” — Genesis 19.15,16,17
Today we are afraid of hurting someone’s sensibilities by suggesting that God wants to save them from eternal destruction. Even if we believe it, we keep quiet and try to maintain superficial peace, in hopes that perhaps someone else will come along who can say it without giving offense. But the truth is that God offends people. If we understand what the word “God” means, then we know that what He desires supersedes everything that we desire. He is God, and He has the last say in all matters. If He desires that people everywhere escape desruction by coming to repentance for their hard hearts and sin, placing their faith in His Son Jesus, then there is no resisting the eternal purposes and plans of God. That is His reality and there is no alternative; if we want to be saved from destruction, we will be saved only by believing and embracing His reality. His loving and merciful reality.
Oh how I hope and pray that every jeopardized soul would find a loving friend who will take them by the hand and drag them out of hell’s trajectory, and into the everlasting love and mercy of God though the Gift of His Son Jesus.
The reality that “God alone will decide our eternal fate” is real. Hell is real. Eternal lostness for those who resist God and His ways is real. Hell does not go away just because we are not thinking about it, or because we do not “personally” believe in it. Who does not know that some things are greater than and beyond the control of our “personal” beliefs? It does not matter what we beleive…if our personal beliefs are not God’s Truth. The personal beliefs of millions are on a direct collision course with God’s reality.
Oh that we would take the time to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom (Psalm 90.12). Oh that we would respond to the merciful and loving voice of God Who is calling us by name, offering us a way of escape from eternal destruction. Oh come Lord Jesus and soften our hearts that we may hear Your voice and embrace You before it is too late. Condition us for heaven before we become irrevocably unfit to live with You there!
“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, giving vengeance to those who don’t know God, and to those who don’t obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when He comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired among all those who have believed (because our testimony to you was believed) in that day. To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and work of faith, with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” –2 Thessalonians 1:7,12
“The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9
“I tell you, my friends, don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear Him, who after He has killed, has power to cast into Gehenna/Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him [God].” –Luke 12:4,5
“Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.” –Matthew 7:13
“Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the Name of the Lord.” –Acts 22:16
“Whoever will call on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” –Romans 10:13
“Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom/reign of God.” — John 3.3
“For God so loved the world, that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. –John 3:16,17
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” –Matthew 7:21
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things which I say?” –Luke 6:46