Friday, September 29, 2023

It’s No Joke

“Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14 NLT)

People are selective when it comes to the subject of God and the afterlife. They like the idea of a God who is loving, completely accepting, and tolerant. People can go along with a deity like that.

But they don’t like the notion of a God who is also just. And they reject the idea that God would send some people to Hell, or at least a lot of people they know. They would like to think that certain people will be in Hell for the horrible crimes they’ve committed. But they don’t expect themselves or family and friends to end up there.

Yet Hell is a real place for real people. And according to the Bible, Hell is a miserable place of torment and separation from God that lasts for eternity.

As Timothy Keller pointed out in The Reason for God, “In our culture, divine judgment is one of Christianity’s most offensive doctrines.”[1]

When you bring up this topic, people get upset. Maybe one reason is widespread misinformation about Hell. It certainly is not a party place. And it is absolutely not a joke. If it were, Jesus would never have talked about it in the way that He did.

Most of the biblical teaching on Hell comes from Jesus Himself. He spoke about it more than anyone else in the Bible. And He spoke about it in a very specific way. More than half of the parables Jesus told relate to God’s eternal judgment of sinners.

We cannot pick and choose things in the Bible that personally appeal to us and then throw the others aside. We can imagine, as John Lennon famously sang, that Heaven and Hell don’t exist. But that won’t change the fact that they are real.

The Bible tells us there are two deaths: one is physical and the other is spiritual. In Revelation 20:14 we read, “Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death” (NLT).

The next chapter also mentions the second death: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (21:8 NLT). The second death this is speaking of is Hell.

If you are born once, you will die twice. You are born physically, and you will die physically. And then you will face the second death and eternal separation from God.

But if you are born twice, you will die once. You are born physically, and you are born again spiritually when you put your faith in Christ. You will face only the first death (unless, of course, the Rapture happens in your lifetime).

Scripture tells us that the second death is what we should fear.

God has given us a free will, so where we spend eternity is really our choice. Not everyone will be saved in the end—only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2023 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

[1] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2008),71.

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