Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Whom are we going to Believe?

Meditation for the week of July 31, 2011

Matthew 25:41  "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The meditation this week is one that has been haunting me.  Is there really a place of everlasting fire?  God says there is and I believe God.  Who is going to go there?  The devil and his angels, obviously. Those who worship the beast during the tribulation period will be sent there.  The beast is a man who offers the world peace but ultimately requires them to worship him instead of God.   (See Revelation 14:11, 19:20).  The beast and the false prophet end up in the everlasting burnings along with Satan and those who take the mark of the beast.  But the sad thing is that all those who were deceived by Satan down through the ages will be cast into this place of torment.  Revelation 20:15 says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”  The most important thing in life is to make sure that one’s name is written in the book of life and it is quite clear to me that true believers in Christ are the ones whose names are written there.  Luke 10:20 says, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

How long does this punishment last?  The Bible says that this is everlasting punishment.   Matthew 25:46 says, “ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  If everlasting life lasts forever, it seems reasonable to assume that everlasting punishment lasts forever as well.  This means that the dead are not burned up like tinder in this place but that they suffer here forever and ever.  Revelation 14:11 says,  “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Since the end of the unbeliever is so terrible, most people want to explain this part of the Gospel away.  This doesn’t sound like good news.  However, I would like to spend a few minutes meditating on why God is just and merciful and why he still sends the Devil, The Beast (a real person), the false prophet and all who have believed Satan’s lies rather than the Truth of Scripture to a place of eternal conscious punishment.  When we read about Satan, he was the most prominent and honored angel in heaven (Read Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19). He was apparently the Lord’s trusted right hand person.  But Satan was not satisfied to be second in command, he wanted to be first and he violated the Lord’s trust.  When a trusted friend that you have treated well  treats you badly, it hurts worse than when someone you don’t really know treats you badly.  It  becomes personal.  Some divorced people understand what I am saying.  David experienced this when his trusted adviser, Ahithophel turned on him.  The Lord experienced this when Judas became a traitor.  The Lord in heaven experienced this when Satan turned on Him.  The eternal burnings were prepared for Satan and those who follow him and I understand that. 

However, Calvary was prepared to save all of humanity from the condemnation of the devil.  Satan is determined to have his followers and the Lord is determined to defeat Satan’s purpose.  So while the Lake of Fire is prepared for the devil and his angels, Calvary was prepared to save us from Satan’s judgment. 

Will all be saved?  No.  The reason that all will not be saved is that all will not believe God.  They would rather be sheep going astray  (Isaiah 53:6) and believe the lies of Satan.  Those who go to heaven believe God and trust in the salvation provided for sinners at Calvary.  Those who go to the eternal burnings believe the lies of Satan.

Yes, everlasting fire and punishment is real.  Yes, God is just in sending people there who will not trust Him and be loyal to Him.  Yes, Calvary was prepared so that we might escape the judgment that we deserve as sinners. 

It is all a question of whom we are going to believe.

Bruce Collins

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