There Is Damnation In Numbers
“It is appointed for men to die once and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
Awhile back, my kids were reading a famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. When Becky asked them what they thought of it, one of them said “If the pastor preached things like that in church, I’d pay a lot more attention.”
I, myself, am not hankering after the good old days when a steady stream of hellfire poured forth from the pulpit every Sabbath. But while averse to dramatizing the horrors of eternal punishment, I think we do a great disservice to the gospel if we exclude altogether the threat of divine judgment. For the prophets of old, the inevitability of judgment has ever been the prelude to their message of repentance and grace.
There is, of course, a lot of disagreement about the nature of divine judgment, it being a matter upon which the Scripture speaks in different ways at different times. The familiar image of the lake of fire is sometimes described in ways that suggest perpetual torment (Rev. 20:10), but also in ways that suggest a second death (Rev. 20:14). Trends in interpretation can be found among believers in every age of the church, but the creeds take no particular stand on the issue, except to say that all people will indeed stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Either way, a day of reckoning is certainly coming, unless one is prepared to stand with those who say mankind’s experience of spiritual obligation and failure has no purchase in reality (their condemnation is assured). But we must take care how we respond to the coming judgment, for it will lay bare the secrets of every heart. The true believer is not the one who sagaciously buys a bit of fire insurance just in case, but the one who, unflinchingly sure of his sin and in anguished conscience before the holiness of God, casts himself on the mercy of the Divine Court. So put, we may well wonder just how many true believers there really are out there, but then we were warned about that when our master said that only a few would find the road that passes through the narrow gate into the Kingdom of God. There is no safety in numbers—only damnation.
What about you? Are you among the few or the many? Do you find yourself standing on the broad path of life? If so, there is genuine cause for alarm. Today could be the day of your salvation. Tomorrow could be the day of your damnation. The time to talk to God is now.
Pastor Chad LewisFebruary 9, 2017