Tom: In this segment of our program, we’re continuing on with addressing so many aspects of the gospel. Dave, as we’ve said before, it’s such a profound subject and just a great encouragement—every aspect of it. Now, last week, we addressed life. What happens when you're saved, when you receive the gospel? You have life, and you have it more abundantly. But there’s a downside to rejecting the gospel. I want to read a verse that probably all of us know: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Now, Dave, there are some terms in here: “Perish.” “Condemned.” I’ll read John:3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: And he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Now here’s another aspect: God’s wrath for those who do not receive the gospel.
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s something that isn’t preached very often, because it’s not popular. But Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” 2 Corinthians 5.
“Well, can’t God just—I mean, God is so loving and kind—can’t He just forgive everybody? And if we’re sincere, and if our good deeds outweigh our bad, then everything is going to be okay.”
Well, that’s like saying, “Look, I got a ticket last week, but, you know, I’ve been a pretty good person anyway. I don’t think that they’re going to really make me pay the fine”—or it could be something more serious than that. It’s a matter of justice. We’ve talked about this in the past. We have offended—well, more than offended—we have broken God’s laws.
God is the Creator of this universe. He makes the rules, and He said, “The soul that sinneth, it must die.” He said that there are consequences for rebelling. Actually, it's rebellion, Tom—even to reject the gospel is rebellion. God loves us so much. He’s not like the impersonal law of karma, you know: reincarnate you into an ant or a tree or whatever. But the God of the Bible loves us so much that He came to this earth, became one of us—became a man, because He had to become a man in order to represent us before His court of justice. And when He took our place, He was condemned.
You know, we’ve talked about it. He pleaded with the Father in the garden. “If it’s possible, don't make me go through this.” And the Father said, “No, this is the only way.” So Christ literally became our representative before the court of His own infinite justice, and there He was condemned by God’s justice, and He paid the penalty. This is what’s involved.
So those who reject the penalty— I mean, John:3:16, one of the favorite verses; most Sunday school kids learn it: “should not perish.” You believe in Him, you won’t perish. Well, then, the implication is very strong. If you don't believe in Him, you will perish. And, of course, you quoted John:3:36: “…shall not see life.” Or John:5:24: “He that hears my Word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life—shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.”
Now, if you don't pass from death to life by believing the Gospel, putting your faith in Christ, then you are still under the penalty of God's judgment.
Tom: And there are consequences, as I said. We’ve been delighting in talking about how wonderful God’s salvation is, but there are consequences for those who reject it. I’ll read 2 Thessalonians:1:7-9. “And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
Now, Dave, you didn't make that up. I’m not making it up. This is what God’s Word says. And people have to know what the scriptures teach about this. There are consequences.
Dave: God is holy, the Bible tells us, and sin must be punished. He loves us so much, He provided a way of escape, but if we persist in our rebellion against God—and I think the worst rebellion possible is rejecting the pardon—He offers pardon for everyone, but He only offers pardon to those who admit they’re guilty, who admit they need pardon, and who admit that they can’t pay God off by their good works or whatever. And now to reject His gift or…. Well, it’s a rejection if you offer anything. This is a gift—you can't earn it, and so forth. We’ve gone over that many times. But this is rebellion, Tom, and the writer to Hebrews warns us:
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And I can tell you, I'm…what…20 years older than you, thereabouts, probably, and, Tom, the older I get, the more I realize it’s a slippery slope. This life comes to an end—I hope in the Rapture, but if not, I'm going to be facing God. And I often say, “Lord, I’m afraid—not that I’m afraid for my salvation—it is so awesome to be in the presence of God, the God who created this universe, that is infinite in power and wisdom and so forth. To be in His presence—but we can’t even be in His presence if we reject the pardon He offered, and Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the door. By me, you enter into eternal life, the presence of God. You reject that, you are lost forever.” And in John:3:36, “The wrath of God abides on him.” It’s an awful thought, but it’s true.
Tom: And again, we have an idea of Jesus—the popular idea—it all seems to be very positive. But Jesus himself spoke more about what takes place outside the presence of God. I mean, it will be a fearful thing, but it will be a wonderfully fearful thing to be in the presence of God. But to be outside that, I mean, the scriptures—Matthew, for example, verse after verse talks about wailing and gnashing of teeth, cast into hellfire. And this was not originally made for mankind. The scripture says this was made—prepared—for the devil and his angels, those who had the ultimate experience, the ultimate environment, in the very presence of God, and they rejected that.
Well, what else could it be for them? But it ought not to be, for us.
Dave: But those who rebel against God and reject the pardon He’s offered, they are in fact the followers of Satan. Therefore, they will follow him into that lake of fire, it's called, which, as you quoted, was prepared for the devil and his angels. That’s where his followers end up as well. I mean, it’s a horrible thing to talk about.
Tom: Yeah, and they won't be torturing humans down there. They'll have their own troubles.
Dave: Right. It’s a horrible thing to talk about, Tom, but again, we have to face the facts, and this is what God says. And furthermore, it’s only reasonable, it’s logical—you’ve got some pretty horrible consequences. You’re at 37,000 feet. You step out of an airplane. You say, “Birds can fly. Why can’t I? Grandma talked about this Law of Gravity, but I don't believe that,” you know.
Well, you find out Granny was right. There is a Law of Gravity. Even to violate the physical laws, there are serious consequences, and you don't get any second chance when you step out of an airplane or off the top of a building, because this is what happens. And surely there would be even more stringent, you would say, requirements to be in God’s presence and to share in His holiness and His perfection, His joy forever.
That’s not just for anybody, and Jesus, as you said, He talked more about hell; He talked more about people who are outside of this than anyone else, and it’s a solemn thought. But we needn’t be worried about going to hell, because He offers pardon.
Tom: Right. Dave, that's the thing that in one sense grieves me, because people say, "Well how can a good God let something like that happen? How could He even prepare a place for the devil and his angels, for their rebellion? How could a good God do that?”
On the other hand, my response normally is, “Well, wait a minute! Not only is God just and fair, but He sent His son to die for us…
Dave: Amen! Tom, somebody just reminded me the other day of an illustration I used to use years ago. Here’s what…well, you’d like it because you’re a fisherman.
Here's a fish, swimming in a beautiful river. It looks out on the bank, and it sees a man up there, sitting on a chair, smoking a cigar, his legs crossed, and he's got a fishing pole—and the fish looks up and says “Man! Now that’s really livin’!”
So, it jumps out, wriggles its way up onto the chair, tries to cross his fins, and is trying to pick up a fishing pole and light up a cigar with its gills going, you know, and it’s gasping, and it falls over and it dies. And it’s flopping around, dying in gravel and dirt, and somebody walks by and says, “What kind of a good God would create a fish to suffer like that?”
No, God did not create the fish to suffer like. He created the fish to swim in that beautiful ocean or the river or lake, or wherever it is. The problem was, it got out of what God intended for it, and that’s man’s problem.
God loves man, and He put him in a perfect garden, and man rebelled against God, and he wanted to take his own way. And there are serious consequences! And hell is really—it’s a continuation. You are going to be alone, you’ve taken in your own way, you have rejected God, and these are the consequences that there are. And Jesus, as you said, He paid the penalty, and there is pardon and forgiveness and eternal life offered for everyone who will believe in Him.