Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:(Matthew 25:41)
We have been discussing the widespread abandonment by evangelicals, of major aspects of the gospel, such as the warning of the fate of the unrepentant wicked . The perdition that Jesus warned about is being downplayed and even denied because it is offensive to modern sensibilities. It is almost as if once again the Serpent is suggesting that “You shall not surely die…”.
The previous article addressed the first of two reasons for this defection from fidelity by evangelicals to God’s revelation of this awful truth, which is the fact that the glory of God is no longer adequately being presented to congregations, through teaching and preaching.
The premise of perdition is that we worship a God who is so high, so Holy, so exalted, and so incomparably “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders… “, that to sin against him with impunity is to sin against goodness itself. The world doesn’t believe in such a God, nor does the backslidden evangelical church! They have lost the (true) vision of God.
Those who have seen God have no problem believing in Hell. Isaiah called Woe (damnation) upon himself when He saw God, Peter told Jesus to “depart from me for I am a sinful man…”when it was revealed to him who Jesus was. I am told that during the Welsh revival, teenagers fell to their knees at the presence of God, crying out in agony that “Hell would be to good for me!”.
Our modern problem is that that vision of God is rarely if ever being presented in the churches, therefore it is almost impossible to conceive of a perdition such as Jesus and the apostles warned. Therefore a book like Love Wins is inevitable.
This generation of neo-evangelicals, steeped in humanism, and relativism, seems to be saying, ‘Fire and Brimstone? The smoke of their torment arising forever? Weeping and gnashing of teeth? What offense could possibly warrant that kind of suffering forever? Who could be that important and August, that to transgress his rules would warrant that extreme punishment?’
But the Christian gospel is a revelation from heaven, an assertion that there is such an infinitely Holy, and good, and righteous God.
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. 7For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.(Psalm 11:4-7)
Note that the reason for “snares,fire and brimstone and the horrible tempest” which will break out upon the wicked, is that the Righteous LORD loves Righteousness! God loves people, but not to the exclusion of His holy love of Righteousness! That is why He had to make a Righteous way to forgive sinners.
The second reason why they don’t “get” perdition is related to the first. Along side of the defective vision of God which blinds many, there is an almost total incomprehension of the nature of sin, even among evangelicals.
What is sin? It depends on who you ask. If you should ask the man on the street, you would get something like “Sin is that which hurts someone else”. Almost universally this is the answer you would recieve.
Should you stand up before a congregation of evangelicals, and perhaps word it a little differently, perhaps saying something like, “Which of the ten commandments is the worst to break?”, you would get some variety, one would no doubt say, “Thou shalt not murder”, another might say “Thou shalt not committ adultery”, perhaps another would say, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”, or you would get varieties of the commandments, such as “Rape” or “Genocide”as being the worst possible sins.
But you would almost never get the suggestion that the worst commandment would be the breaking of the first four commandments! These are the ones that deal with man’s duty to God himself. Chances are no one is going to raise their hand and say “Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!”, as being more serious then rape and genocide.
The reason for this is because people are almost entirely insensitive to the fact that all sin is really and truly against God himself. We have had a man centered and not a God centered view of sin presented to us in too many sermons, therefore we , like the world around us can only conceive of sin as “hurting other people”, and not what it really is, rebellion against God.
Sin is a rejection of God’s authority, it is treason, an assault on the very throne of God. Sin is actually worse then Hell because it necessitated Hell. Charles Spurgeon said, “Sin is an awful and undying evil”, and the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs had a series of sermons on sin called “the Evil of Evils”. It would always be better to suffer than to sin.
This is why they “don’t get perdition” and why the accommodation is already being made to the Spirit of the Age, to deny the witness of eternity that Jesus himself committed to the church, that there really is a heaven to gain and a Hell to shun, and that the ony possible escape is to flee to the God appointed Saviour, Jesus Christ.
more to come on this subject…