History of Redemption: Blog Post 45
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyones name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:10; 14-15 ESV.
At first glance, these words are a terrifying glimpse of our fate apart from the work of Christ. As I have read these verses over and over again however, I have realized the incredible amount of information that we learn about God and His plan of salvation in Revelation chapter 20.
What has struck me today is the extent to which God hates sin. God’s wrath is not a popular topic today, yet it is His wrath against sin which informs us greatly of His holiness. We worship a holy God. We worship a God who is “separated from sin and devoted to seeking His own honor” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology). This is so crucial to who God is, that we should be constantly striving towards a deeper understanding of what it means that God is holy. When we understand what it means that God is holy, we will worship Him not in spite of, but BECAUSE OF His wrath against sin.
These verses in Revelation 20 also remind me of the incredible mercy of God. I deserve to be thrown into that lake of fire. You deserve to be thrown into that lake of fire. Many theologians and pastors have described hell as “separation from God”. Often they describe hell as such to make it less offensive. But hell is described in the bible over and over again, as a real physical place, where those opposed to God are forever tormented. The thought of hell as God teaches it, is terrifying to me. It causes me to shudder. But what should bring me to my knees in fear and trembling is the fact that this is where I deserve to suffer for eternity. I have stood opposed to God. I have offended Him. I have profaned His holy name. When I am asked by skeptics why anyone deserves to go to hell, I ask them, why does anyone deserve to go to heaven? The truthful answer to this is, no one. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). By GRACE I have been saved from eternity in the lake of fire. By grace YOU have been saved. It is not because of our good works, or our obedience to the law, or by anything but this, GRACE! Our God has had mercy on me, a sinful and wretched man. Praise be to God for His immeasurable mercy.
And finally, God knows those whom He has chosen. Their names are written in a great and awesome book. And we who have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, can now have confidence that our names are written in that book. How great is our God?
There are many people alive today, whose names are also written in that book of life, and who desperately need to hear the good news, that “Christ was slain, and purchased for God with His blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. (Revelation 5:9 NASB). I have heard it said that we should “respect” people of other faiths, and therefore should not preach “our faith” to them. However, if you saw someone standing in the middle of the road with a bus heading straight towards them, what would be your response? Would you “respect” their decision to stand there, and allow them to be killed? Would you not yell at them to move? If they were deaf, would you not even push them out of the way? When we understand what it means to be thrown into the lake of fire, the most respectful and loving thing we could ever do would be to share the gospel with that person. This should motivate us to live as missionaries, wherever and whenever God has placed us. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15).
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).