Christians I know are experiencing complex emotions these days. They are alternately angry, fearful, and mournful of the things coming upon the world. See, we know what is ahead for this last chapter of human experience. Though we have always known the fate of the lost and unsaved, sinking in their sin, but because the prophesies are nearing fulfillment at this time, we are starting to see it. And there is a difference between knowing and seeing. We see the sin piling up, we see sinners sinking, drowning in their anger and pain. Being separated from God they are crying out. We read of corruption and hate and shooting and evil and lying and false religions and it goes on and on. All we can do is stand on the lakeshore and tell the sinking, perishing ones the truth, that there is a helicopter above their head with a lifeline. Grab it! Grab it! we shout. Many won't. It is excruciating to see so many refuse to listen. They will not look up at their redemption drawing nigh and one by one, they strangle and perish. We cry. Why? What we are feeling these days is mourning. We are watching the death of our world as we know it, and we are watching the perishing of many souls. We sink to our knees in grief.
We all started in the pit of sin. We are born in it. However, that helicopter lowers a rope to each one of us. And when we become aware of the lifeline we all must choose either to live in relationship with God and experience life, or live apart from God and end in ruin. Some look up, see the way, and take it. Others, many others, don't.
I am listening to Pastor Steve Hadley preach through the book of Revelation. On his 10/25 message, titled "Jesus, King of Kings" he read a portion of another Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards', message titled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The portion that spoke to me was the description of the concept of eternity. Our minds can't really wrap around the fact of eternity, either our dwelling with Jesus in New Jerusalem, nor the eternity many will spend (even loved ones and friends) in the Lake of Fire. Jonathan Edwards talked about hell a lot and this sermon was dedicated to the subject. This is excerpted on point four, the part that discusses the length and breadth of time that those who reject Christ will spend in torment, apart from Him, in the everlasting fire. Death is not a cessation, you know. It is but one breath to another, from body to soul, from earth to hell - or heaven. Life continues for both saved sinner and unrepentant sinner. For the unrepentant sinner, the following awaits:
Sinners in the hands of an angry God
Enfield Connecticut, July 8, 1741
It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"How awful! How could a loving God do this? you ask. He must not be loving, you conclude. The answer is, He is. This is the God who loved us SO MUCH that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. The God who would send His son to hang tortured, bloody and alone on the cross so that we sinners could live, loves us mightily indeed.
You may say, Bah! How could God send people to hell? The answer is, HE DOESN'T! The Lake of Fire (where hell will be thrown into after the final events) was built for the devil and his angels, not for God's children. And contrary to common belief, it is not our sins that put us there, because our, your, sins have been paid for. It is refusal to accept the Way that paid our sin-debt that sends people there. It truly hurts to watch so many perish when there is a rescue hovering right above their heads.
Edwards wrote "The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air." Christian Brother or Sister, fear not and boldly witness. "O praise the Lord, His deeds make known, And call upon His Name;" do this for the lost. For the lost, dear ones. They perish. They do not know that there is another lake, the Lake of Fire awaiting. And eternity is a long time.