Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Eternal Conscious Punishment

 

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." (Revelation 14:11)

 

The Saved

Recently I went to the funeral of a man who had trusted the Lord Jesus as his Savior when he was fourteen years old.  This man went on to prove that he really believed what he claimed to believe at that time.  At his funeral, much was made of the heaven that he is now enjoying.  While his friends and family will certainly miss him, I am sure that nobody would want him to come back from the bliss of heaven since he suffered much toward the end of his life.

 

While we were thinking of his blessings, I was thinking about the end of many who had died and were having funerals at about the same time.  Many of them likely never came to terms with their sin and likely had never trusted the Savior.  For them the Bible speaks of eternal conscious punishment forever and forever.  It is almost too much to comprehend and it is something no one wants to think about or preach.  So often preachers tell people before they die that no one can know for sure where their souls (their eternal beings) will go after they die; yet at their funerals, most of the time, the preacher is quite convinced that the person in the casket will be in heaven.  I believe the Bible makes it clear that the matter of where we go after we die can and should be settled with certainty before we die.  The Bible was not written to leave us in doubt about these things.

 

The Lost

So what does the Bible say about eternal conscious punishment?  The place of the unsaved dead is described in various ways.  It is a place of outer darkness.  It is a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  It is a place that has been prepared for the devil and his angels.  However, those who believe the lie of the great deceiver, share in his ultimate punishment.  When we preach the Gospel, often people say that God is a God of love, and a loving God would never consign anyone to eternal conscious punishment.  And because various descriptions are given to the place of the unseen dead and ultimately of the final destination of those who reject the Lord Jesus, it is assumed that eternal conscious punishment is figurative and not literal.  However, if these descriptions are figurative, it must mean that the real thing is something that we cannot comprehend or understand.  I would assume that the real thing would be worse than the figurative description, not better.  Many people argue that fire and darkness cannot coexist, but I think if one would talk to firefighters, they would agree that they often coexist.  Notice that in our passage, there is smoke and in forest fires and house fires there is smoke that keeps people from seeing.  You will also notice in our passage, that annihilation is not in view.  People do not burn up like tinder and cease to exist.  They are tormented and have not rest for ever and ever.

 

Is God a God of Love?

Yes, God is a God of love.  That is why he wants everyone to be saved and provided a sacrifice for our sins.  He is just and the justifier of everyone who believes in or trusts the Lord Jesus (Romans 3:26).  He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4)."

 

Does God get Angry?

Sometimes we read about God’s wrath and sometimes we read about His anger.  His wrath often refers to the period of coming judgment before He sets up His kingdom.  But the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever even now (John 3:36).  

 

Yes, God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).  Who is considered wicked in the Bible?  Sometimes the word wicked represents lawlessness. Sometimes the word evil is used, but in every case wicked people are taking their marching orders from the wicked one who lies and murders.  That wicked one energized the Jewish leaders to crucify the Lord.  And of course that wicked one is the Devil, or Satan sometimes referred to as a serpent.  Satan is at enmity with the Lord and desires to destroy anything that will give the Lord glory or pleasure.  When we believe the wicked one rather than God, we not only act in wicked ways, we let our rebellious nature rule in our lives.  But basically God is angry with the wicked because they have rejected the love of God that is offered in the person of His Son. 

 

Is there Really a Place of Eternal Conscious Punishment?

Yes, there is.  God doesn’t want to put anyone there.  I don’t want to see anyone go there.  The Christians who preach the Gospel do not like speaking about this place because it is so horrible and so eternal.  But the reality is that people will be going there today.  It breaks our hearts when we realize that this is the truth and I believe it breaks the heart of God to send people to this place.  But God’s love for His Son is such that it would not be "fair" to send Him to the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin and then let people go to heaven who have rejected Him and who never wanted Him in their lives.  Heaven would be an awful place if those who reject Christ are somehow allowed to be there.  That is not going to happen of course.  So now is the time to make sure that you are in a right relationship with this One that we who are saved love.

 

Bruce Collins

 

Meditation for the week of September 30, 2018

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