God’s Mercy and Judgement
But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The third refuge of lies is universalism, the belief that God is too good to condemn anyone, that there is no hell, and no future punishment for sin. How common a refuge is this today! When you urge people to come to Christ, they answer, “I believe in the mercy and goodness of God. I believe God is love and too good to condemn anyone. I don’t believe in hell.
Does that satisfy the demands of your own conscience? When your conscience points out your sin and demands a change in your life, does it satisfy you to say, “Yes, I know my life is not right, but God is love, therefore, I am going right on trampling His laws underfoot, because He is so good and so loving.” Is that the kind of conscience you have? Shame on you! Don’t ever do it again. God’s infinite love gave His Son to die for you on the cross of Calvary.
Will your interpretation of God’s goodness stand the test of the dying hour? Is universalism making you a better man? Oh, with many it is simply an excuse for sin! In many of our churches, the world is sweeping in like a flood! All separation is gone, and professed Christians are running after the world, the flesh, and the Devil. They have accepted the eternal hope nonsense that is robbing the church of its devotion and beauty. The church is becoming so like the world that you can’t tell the two apart. People have grown comfortable in a life of sin, giving up their separation to God.
Will universalism stand the test of the Judgement Day? When you meet God, will you look into His face and say, “O God, I know my life has not been right, but I thought You were a God of love. I thought You were too good to punish sin. I did not think there was any hell, so I didn’t bother to obey Your laws”?
The two questions that we must consider is whether there is a hell and eternal punishment and whether the goodness of God cancels out the justice of God.
Jesus taught the reality of hell and as a matter of fact spoke more about hell than heaven. The story of Lazarus and the rich man is one of those teachings of Christ. Let’s read it together.
19 “Now there was a certain rich man who was habitually dressed in expensive purple and fine linen, and celebrated and lived joyously in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, covered with sores. 21 He [eagerly] longed to eat the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise). 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things [all the comforts and delights], and Lazarus likewise bad things [all the discomforts and distresses]; but now he is comforted here [in paradise], while you are in severe agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you [people] a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to come over from here to you will not be able, and none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 So the rich man said, ‘Then, father [Abraham], I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may solemnly warn them and witness to them, so that they too will not come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have [the Scriptures given by] Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 He replied, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent [they will change their old way of thinking and seek God and His righteousness].’ 31 And he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to [the messages of] Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Furthermore in Revelation we read of the reality of hell.
And I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them [for this heaven and earth are passing away]. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged according to what they had done as written in the books [that is, everything done while on earth]. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades (the realm of the dead) surrendered the dead who were in them; and they were judged and sentenced, every one according to their deeds. Then death and Hades [the realm of the dead] were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire [the eternal separation from God]. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire. He who overcomes [the world by adhering faithfully to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But as for the cowards and unbelieving and abominable [who are devoid of character and personal integrity and practice or tolerate immorality], and murderers, and sorcerers [with intoxicating drugs], and idolaters and occultists [who practice and teach false religions], and all the liars [who knowingly deceive and twist truth], their part will be in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
So let us set aside the foolish thinking that there is no hell and no eternal punishment for the wicked and the sinner.
There is no question that God is love and that He loves people. In John 3:16, 17 we are told this.
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him].
Scripture tells us that the fallen angels were not spared, the world of Noah’s day were not spared, Sodom and Gomorrah were not spared and when Christ became sin for us, He was not spared.
He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
Now I want to remind you, although you are fully informed once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe [who refused to trust and obey and rely on Him]. And angels who did not keep their own designated place of power, but abandoned their proper dwelling place, [these] He has kept in eternal chains under [the thick gloom of utter] darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent cities, since they in the same way as these angels indulged in gross immoral freedom and unnatural vice and sensual perversity. They are exhibited [in plain sight] as an example in undergoing the punishment of everlasting fire. Nevertheless in the same way, these dreamers [who are dreaming that God will not punish them] also defile the body, and reject [legitimate] authority, and revile and mock angelic majesties. It was about these people that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, when he said, “Look, the Lord came with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly deeds they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh and cruel things ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These people are [habitual] murmurers, griping and complaining, following after their own desires [controlled by passion]; they speak arrogantly, [pretending admiration and] flattering people to gain an advantage.
For those who wish to believe that the goodness and love of God will prevent anyone, no matter how evil, from being punished and banned from heaven, let me ask a simple question. If heaven is to be inhabited by unchanged people and if the love of God condemns no one, how will heaven be any different than the world we currently live in? If sinners who are still sinners will be in heaven, how will we find peace and safety? If God is so good then He must also overlook the devil and that would mean that we will continue to be tempted even in eternity. I totally understand that we would wish that we get only the mercy of God and it chills our heart to think that there will be those who are lost for eternity, condemned to eternal punishment. Let us not forget that sin cost God His Son who suffered in our place and those who reject the Son also reject the grace of God. When we consider universalism in the light of truth and reality, it doesn’t stand the test; for were it true, then Christ dying for our sins on the cross was in vain and that would truly make God unkind and unloving and unjust. My argument for those who wish to believe that there is refuge in other religions is this: who other than Christ has died for our sins? Who other than God has given up His Son for us? While the practice of other religions may make people in this life somewhat better for most religions teach kindness and respect, the question is whether our goodness will qualify us for heaven. It was Christ Himself who said that He was the only way, the only truth and the only life.
Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
10 “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up from some other place [on the stone wall], that one is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider]. 3 The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep [leading to life]. 8 All who came before Me [as false messiahs and self-appointed leaders] are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His [own] life for the sheep. 14 I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me]— 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—and I lay down My [very own] life [sacrificing it] for the benefit of the sheep.
Let us abandon this foolish notion that we love more than God or that our justice is more pure than His. Do we not know that God takes no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked? Do we not understand that God has provided a way of grace through Christ that we might escape the consequences of or sins in eternity? Do we not grasp this great love of God who placed our sins on His Son and that Son took the penalty of those sins and paid the price. While in the eyes of the world who wishes to live without any restraints, this may seem to be intolerance, in truth it is love at work. Let us lay aside all other approaches and as the old song says, So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown.
Dr. John Thompson