Hell: Part 2
This article originally appeared in the February 26 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 02.23.09 By D. Eric Williams
"The unjust and intemperate shall be punished in eternal fire"
Justin Martyr, (c. 100 - c. 165), 2 Apology, 1.2
In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul claims the doctrine of eternal punishment is an "elementary principle of Christ" which should be familiar to all but the most immature Christian (Heb. 6:1). He further reminds us "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (9:27). Although the timing of these events is a matter of difference among orthodox Christians the fact that every Man will one day stand before the "Great White Throne" is beyond dispute (Rev. 20:11-15). Some Christians believe judgement is rendered at death and the final judgement is simply the last time the process takes place while others believe no one is judged until a certain time termed the "Day of Judgement." Unfortunately, many Christians are confused about the nature of judgement and eternal punishment.
In The Revelation chapter 20 we are told every human being will be judged "according to their works, by the things which are written" in the books which chronicle human existence. Even though we are not required to believe in literal books kept in the vaults of Heaven, we must accept the precept that every person's life will be examined by God and those who are not "found written in the Book of Life" will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity (Rev. 20:12, 15, Matt. 18:8, 25:41).
Although we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, Christians are expected to confirm their belief by their actions. This is why the Bible tells us Mankind is judged according to his deeds. Believers are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Unbelievers rely upon their own efforts and thereby produce works leading to condemnation because those "who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). However, "if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" and thereby every lawful, moral action we undertake is a "good work."
I have lost count of the number of times someone has told me they won't mind Hell since most of their friends will be there. These glib comments reveal a shocking lack of knowledge concerning the nature of eternal punishment. There will be no agreeable communication among the inhabitants of Hell. Instead, the condemned are "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). In Hell "their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:47-48) and its denizens experience eternal despair. Eternal life is described as knowing the true God and His Christ (John 17:3); conversely, the "second death" is an absolute separation from God and His grace.
Although unregenerate men do not acknowledge the grace of God, they daily experience its benefits. Common grace compels the sun to shine on all men. Because of God's grace, mankind may experience joy, pleasure, fulfillment, hope and so on. In Hell there is no grace. Hence, imagine an existence completely devoid of all that is good in this life, coupled with eternal torment and you have begun to understand a tenth part of the horror of Hell.
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." There are no second chances beyond the grave. I adjure you, "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, [and then] you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9). Don't wait until it's too late.