Saturday, October 25, 2014

P3 Seeing Eternity Beyond this Life - Hell follows from final rejection of God in this life - 2 Peter 2-3

2 Peter 1:3 "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

Today I want us to continue delving further into the actual argument of Peter in his 2nd letter. This little letter of Peter's is quite significant in understanding how we see eternity beyond this life. Far from portraying Heaven and Hell as abstract ideas that do not concern us in this life, Peter clearly draws the connecting points between how we relate to the God of eternity in this life and our eternal destination in the next life. Yesterday we sketched out the first two main points of eternity beyond this life as we find it in 2 Peter. 

1. Physical and spiritual life are resourced in God. 2 Peter 1:3-9

2. Eternity in Heaven follows from your relationship with God. 2 Peter 1:10-12

Today we continue on into 2 Peter by noting the next point about seeing eternity beyond this life....

Eternity in Hell follows from final rejection of God in this life. 
If we necessarily believe that there is such a thing as universal standards of right and wrong, and if we believe there are associated consequences that have to do with justice, then what we have evidence for is a Divine law Giver. Many people today struggle with the concept of eternal punishment or feel uncomfortable at the thought (this writer included). As hard of a struggle we may have with the Biblical teaching on eternal punishment, that nonetheless does not take away the true reality of Hell and eternal punishment. The Bible clearly teaches it, with Jesus being the Chiefest Teacher of the reality of eternal hell. Hell is mentioned nearly 100 times in the scripture, with Jesus speaking on the subject nearly 20 times. As a matter of fact, Jesus speaks more on Hell than finances, the cross and even the subject of not judging. In-as-much as Jesus so often spoke on the topic of loving one's enemies and God Himself, He dedicated equal amounts of time warning people about the terrors and realities of Hell. 

Frankly for the Christian church to neglect the Bible's teaching on Hell is to commit two major errors: not being loving to those who are perishing in their sins without Jesus and not being faithful to God's truth like the Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles were. 

The Apostle Peter relates to us some certain realities about hell in 2 Peter 2 & 3:

1. Final rejection of God is why people go to Hell. Let it be plainly stated: God does not send anyone to Hell nor predestine people to such. People go to Hell because they persisted in their free and final rejection of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. Notice 2 Peter 2:1, how the false teachers are condemned because of their "denying the Master who bought them". Jesus died on the cross for humanity in a general way, especially believers. (1 Tim 4:10) No one who dies and goes to Hell can say that they were excluded from Jesus' dying on the cross for them. He died for all men to hold off the wrath of God long enough to give people a chance to hear the Gospel and to respond to the call of salvation. Notice elsewhere in 2 Peter 2 how we see other people following the rejection of Christ in 2 Peter 2:2. 2 Peter 2:15 describes unbelievers who are on their way to Hell in this life as "forsaking the right way" and in 2 Peter 2:21 as those who "turn away".  Here is the scariest thing of all dear friend, especially for readers who may be reading this post today, you do not know when your final rejection may be. You have heard what Jesus has done for you many times over and have rejected Him as many times. How long will God hold out for you? As the scripture says: "it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) Final rejection of Jesus Christ is why people go to hell. But now notice a second truth about Eternal Hell following from rejection of God in this life...

Finality of Hell as an eternal place for those who reject God in this life. 
Peter describes just how real Hell now and the later Lake of Fire is and will be in eternity for those who reject Jesus Christ. Hell is a place of swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1); punishment (2:9); black darkness (2:17); fire (2 Peter 3:7) and wrath (3:12). When you read the account of the Rich man in Luke 16, there is no return, no rescue and no relief. No one who dies comes back as a re-incarnated person or thing in this life. Hell is final once a person passes from this life to the next. 

The sad thing is that in order for you to go to Hell, you don't have to do anything. All who are born into this world are described in scripture as being "in Adam" and "sons of rebellion". John 3:36 says the wrath of God is already sentenced for everyone born into this world and who are conscious and understanding. Unless you by grace through faith enter "into Christ", you cannot escape the judgment of God. 

Tomorrow we will consider one final point on seeing eternity beyond this life...

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