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Judgment: How do I escape God’s wrath?

Gary Googe Sep 24

The word gospel means good news.  The good news of the gospel is that God has provided a way for all of us to escape God’s condemnation and His wrath.  In other words, ending up in a place called The Lake of Fire is optional.  That does not have to be your destination.  The Bible plainly states that it is not His desire for anyone to perish.

II Peter 3:9

 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [wishing or desiring] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [Emphasis added]

I Timothy 2:3-4

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Who will have [desires for] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

We live in a time when such judgment from God is not often discussed.  Even most preachers don’t talk about it.  All some people ever hear about is the love of God.  It is reasoned that if God is truly a loving God, how could He possibly send someone to such a place as hell or The Lake of Fire? But what people fail to realize is that although we have a God of love, He is also a God of justice.

The Bible clearly tells us all have sinned against God.  Here’s a verse that speaks of both sides of this issue.

Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Emphasis added]

The problem most people don’t seem to realize is that it’s not just physical death that they’ll eventually have to face, it’s the judgment and eternal suffering in Hell and The Lake of Fire they’ll have to endure forever.  In the Bible this is called the second death.  If God’s provision for salvation is not accepted, there will be no way to escape it or avoid it.

Revelation 20:14-15

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. [Emphasis added]

Initially man’s humanly insurmountable problem was one of sin.  It was something he had no ability to address.

Romans 3:23

 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [Emphasis added]

But please notice what it says in the very next verse.

Romans 3:24

 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [Emphasis added]

Yes, God has provided a way for anyone and everyone to gain all the many blessings of salvation.  How valuable it is to know this! It is wonderful news.  That’s what is meant by the word gospel.  It means good news! But individuals must accept it by faith in what He has provided.  This next passage of Scripture tells us what has been provided for us today and how we can come to possess it.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

By accepting this work that He did, salvation is immediately applied to the one believing in it.  There’s no work or anything else one must do to gain it.  In fact, if you try to add to this, it is all nullified.  One must realize that it is faith in Christ’s work alone that provides salvation.  Salvation comes to someone strictly by God’s grace.  It is not something that can be earned in any way.  Until a person understands this and accepts this salvation is not provided.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

Other passages tell us the same thing.

Romans 4:4-5

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

There was a time in the past [as in Acts 2:38—before the revelation given to the Apostle Paul] and there will be a time in the future [during a 7-year period of tribulation] when works are demanded of God as an expression of one’s faith, but that’s no longer the case for this special age or dispensation of grace of which we are a part today.  Since the salvation of a man called the apostle Paul and the special revelation God gave to him, salvation is now obtained with no works of ours at all.  There are many passages that speak of this former time [as in Acts 2:38] and of that coming time [as in James 2:18,20,26 and Revelation 2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15], but that was then, and this is now.  Today, there are no works at all that are demanded as a part of one’s expression of faith.  Today, works have nothing to do with it.  If works are added, salvation is not provided because it is then not of grace.

Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. [Emphasis added]

We are now living in what is formally and rightfully called the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

Ephesians 3:1-3

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [Emphasis added]

Again, it was through the revelation and writings of the apostle Paul that these things have now been revealed to us.  No one, not even the prophets of old time, had any idea God was going to do something like this.  That’s why it is called a mystery, meaning a secret.  This secret remained hidden in God until it was made known through the apostle Paul.

Ephesians 3:8-9

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

The Greek word from which the word mystery is translated is MUSTERION.  As you can see from the spelling, our English word mystery is a transliteration of this word.  And, again, it simply means a mystery, something that was formerly a secret.

Altogether this means we are living in a period of history that was unknown to the prophets.  In this period, God has dispensed grace instead of judgment.  After the world crucified His son, God interrupted His prophesied plan for history and inserted, or dispensed, certain blessings that had never been known or provided before.

It has always amazed me how so often people will attempt to be “calm, cool and collected” when the subject of God’s judgment is brought up.  Certainly, some have become hardened to the idea so that it doesn’t bother them as it once did.  But others get very nervous when discussing this subject.  We have cases like this brought up in Scripture.  Here is one example.

Acts 24:24-25

24 And after certain days, when Felix [a procurator, an agent for the Roman government] came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ [telling us he was given the gospel by which he could have been saved].

25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. [Emphasis added]

Felix was a rich and powerful man in his day but look at him! He trembles at the thought of God’s judgment.  This is exactly what all unsaved people should do.  Hell and the Lake of Fire are certainly to be feared.  The idea of spending eternity in such a place should cause anyone to tremble.  The certainty of God’s judgment and His punishment of the unbelieving is all over the Bible.  All this judgment has been committed to God the Son.

John 5:22

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

Many other passages speak of this great judgment He will bring to the earth.  In Genesis 18:25 He is called “the Judge of all the earth,” in Judges 11:27, “the Lord, the Judge” and in Psalm 9:7 we read: “He hath prepared His throne for judgment.”  The apostle Paul calls Him, “the Lord, the righteous Judge” and “God, the Judge of all” [II Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 12:23].  And related to this we are warned that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31].  It is of mankind in general that these words are declared: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this THE JUDGMENT” [Hebrews 9:27].

But, again, the good news is that God has provided a way of salvation and deliverance from this judgment.  He has done this for people in every generation.  What a shame it is that so many will miss it because of their own willful rejection of it! God has always made it easy for man.  It is He who has done the great work in providing a way for us to escape His wrath.  What is most important for you is to know what God expects of you today to avoid His wrath in eternity.

It is certain that this day of judgment is coming.  Never think for even a moment that it is not.  The apostle Peter declared to a man named Cornelius and his household that it is Christ who was “ordained of God to be the Judge of quick [the living] and dead” [Acts 10:42].  The apostle Paul adds his words of confirmation to this, saying that God “hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained” [Acts 17:31].  He also speaks of “the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead” [II Timothy 4:1].

Some who are called Annihilationists deny all this about God’s coming judgment of man.  But if the Bible is clear on anything, it is the fact that there will be a resurrection of the “unjust” as well as of the “just” [Acts 24:15].  Our Lord is repeatedly called “the Judge of the quick [living] and the dead” [Acts 10:42; II Timothy 4:1; I Peter 4:5].

Therefore, there’s no room for a false hope concerning all this.  The Bible is filled with information about the judgment of God upon man.  God will not exempt even one person from His wrath apart from their acceptance of His perfect work in providing a way for their salvation.  After physical death or the Rapture, a time of judgment will come.

Hebrews 9:27

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

For believers of this present age of grace there is the Judgment Seat of Christ which is a time of blessing and reward for faithfulness.  There is no judgment for us that’s one of condemnation.

Romans 8:1

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [Emphasis added]

But for unbelievers there is the Last Judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment.  This is not a judgment to determine guilt, for many of the people who will be there will have already spent many years in the place called hell or torments [Luke 16:23-28].  Instead, it will demonstrate the righteousness of God in doing what He does in condemning these people to the eternal banishment and suffering of this place called The Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him [Jesus Christ] that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great [no unbeliever will escape this], stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books [God is able to keep perfect records], according to their works.

All people’s names are recorded in these books unless they die without salvation.  It is then that the names of all unbelievers are blotted out [Revelation 3:5].

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

This means that even unbelievers get a type of resurrection body in which they will suffer in the Lake of Fire forever [John 5:28-29].  Please note three other things about their judgment.

1—They are judged for their “works.”  This is because there will be degrees of punishment for these people [Matthew 10:15].

2—They are judged for their works because their sins have already been judged in Christ when He was on the cross [I John 2:2; II Corinthians 5:19a].  It will be clearly shown that their own works are inadequate to provide them with salvation.

3—God keeps perfect records of everything [Romans 2:16; Hebrews 4:13].  The judgment He makes will be perfectly fair.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. [Emphasis added]

Therefore, to escape eternal condemnation man must accept God’s provision for his salvation.  All the work or works that needed to be done to provide it were accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Through His death, burial, and resurrection anyone can be saved.  All one must do is accept by faith His work over one’s own work and salvation is provided immediately.  If you’ve not done that, wouldn’t now be a good time to get that matter settled once and for all?

 

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