The Truth that Drives the Sinner to Christ

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By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];

At the second advent of Jesus, He will bring His reward with Him for all those who receive Him as their Saviour. The following words in Revelation sang in the heart of John the revelator and he said, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

According as his work shall be. The work that we as followers of Jesus do here on this earth, is going to be rewarded in the sense that we will continue to exercise the talents and the gifts that we have exercised here on this earth in the name of the Lord. And there we will continue to fulfill those gifts and talents and make them really beautiful. But there is another side of this reward. He comes with a reward according to their works. God, in His righteous judgment:

Romans 2:6 …will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

We need to establish our faith upon a “Thus saith the Lord”, what is written, not what we imagine, and we must compare scripture with scripture. I will now lay out scripturally the declarations that the Scripture makes concerning the reward of the rejector of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. In text we have just been reading there is a delineation of those who seek God, and there is something which we will gain: Immortality, eternal life. Then it goes on the contrast, in verses 8 and 9. What is given as a reward to those who are contentious and refuse the gospel? Indignation and wrath, and:

Romans 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

There is the description. One is immortality and eternal life. The other one is tribulation and anguish.

Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

With God there is no respect of persons. The reward will be according to the individual’s responses. There is another term of the reward.

Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reading the Bible as it reads we see that there is a description of those who have the fruits of righteousness, which is eternal life. But the fruit of those who refuse and do unrighteousness is death. In the description so far, the reward is clearly delineated in the Scriptures. Remember what God said to Adam and Eve when they were warned.

Genesis 2:17 … in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

That consequence was met by Jesus Christ. The wages of sin was death. Did Jesus die? Indeed. Jesus took the consequence of every human being.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

The love of Christ, as you look at the gospel, it constrains you. It judges in your mind. You make a judgment. If He had to die for all of us, then what are we all? We are dead, potentially dead. It’s just that He died, that is the reason why we live today. He died for all that henceforth we may live not to ourselves but unto Him who died for us and rose again. The privilege of every human being is to embrace the great love of God so that they do not need to experience that horrifying consequence that Adam and Eve unleashed upon this planet. The love of God is so great. God’s love is of such a nature that, although Adam and Eve did the very thing that God had warned them of, and that all those who have come after Adam and Eve have a horrible future to look to, yet if they will only take hold of this wonderful story:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us,

These are important words. God commends to you what His character is like. He wants you to think. We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. But now through this amazing love He commends this love that, while you were yet sinners:

Romans 5:8 …Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

We need to know what a thrill the atonement message really is. Through this beautiful atonement we see that God loved us so much that even while we were enemies He gave Himself for us. Consider the nature of God. You didn’t care. You wanted to do your own thing. And it didn’t look at all as if you were ever going to turn to Him, but He came and gave His life for you. That is an enormous demonstration of love. There was no security that that was going to be accepted. None at all. He simply offered Himself while we were yet sinners. What a love. How touching. It touches my heart every time. I’m never tired of looking at that text and seeing the mentality of God. What is the consequence of rejecting that love?

When we have considered and God has given us all this precious benefit of His love and people spurn it and reject it, this is what happens:

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

God’s character is so precious that He sees us in our deplorable condition and He was prepared to put His Son through the horrifying experiences of the consequence of sin. And if that is His character and we reject, willfully deny, and ignore this wonderful gift, how do you think God feels within Himself? His whole heart has been poured out for the human race, and here He is with a heart of infinite love – a love which is expressed in those words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” – He who has given us His Son has given with Him all to this human sinful race; and now there are these people who will make light of it and reject it, what is the natural response in God’s heart? Don’t put God down on the same level as a human being. We would go, Grr! wouldn’t we? We would become frustrated and annoyed. Does God? We want to appreciate this. But before we actually go into His response, let us come to the manner of rejection that takes place in the people who do not really take seriously what God’s love is. This is the question that everyone must answer:

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Here is the manner of rejection: People despise the riches of the goodness and forbearance and love of God. They despise it. And how do they despise it? By ignoring the drawing of that love to lead us to repentance. So they don’t repent. People who do not repent have despised the goodness of God. They harden their impenitent hearts and treasure up for themselves a reward. But because of God’s great love this is what we should do:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;

What is it? A just recompense of reward.

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];

Here is the preamble to the understanding of the reward of the wicked, those who have taken lightly the wonderful love of God, who have not given earnest heed to the things which have been delivered to us through the beautiful gift of Jesus Christ in the gospel. Because by not doing so, it’s so easily let slip. When you don’t take something really seriously, don’t you forget it readily? When you look at God’s wonderful love, His amazing character, shouldn’t that stir you into a response mechanism inside of you, that you will take very close notice of everything He has to say? If we don’t do that, we will let it slip. We have slighted His love. “Oh, yeah;” you know, this sort of off-handed slighting. And as a consequence, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? How can we escape the just recompense of reward?

What is this just recompense of reward? God’s great heart is touched with joy if we receive His Son, because He didn’t want to see us be destroyed by death. He has touched our hearts with His love and He looks upon us and says, Wonderful, these people are responding to My love. These have a just recompense of reward – God’s wonderful joy and love toward them. But the rejectors, what do they do to His heart that was touched with love toward them? Remember, Jesus said, Suffer the little children to come unto Me; for what?

Matthew 19:14 … for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

He took a child from among them and put him among themselves when they were saying, Who is the greatest? And He says, I’ll show you who the greatest is, he who has a heart like a little child. Who is the greatest in heaven? The Father in heaven, isn’t it? God. He has a heart like a little child, and yet He is the great God of the universe. And with His heart that has been pouring itself out in the simplicity of childlike love He sees people slighting it and trampling it underfoot. What comes up in His heart in the childlike simplicity?

God’s Grief

We talk about the wrath of God. Here we have a revelation of the nature that is in the heart of God when He is filled with this amazing contradiction of this amazing love. Jesus was about to do some wonderful act of healing a man in the temple on the Sabbath day, and these hard people were ridiculing and rejecting Jesus. Look at the characteristic response:

Mark 3:4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger,

What was the motivation of the anger? What was the motivation of the wrath?

Mark 3:5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand.

And of course He healed Him. What is the emotion in the heart of the One who represents the Father in heaven? When anger comes into His heart, what is the actual emotion? Grief. You can understand this, God’s wonderful childlike love pours out itself to us in the gift of His Son, and then He bewilderingly looks at the rejectors and says, What? I can’t comprehend you. Be astonished, I’m grieved!

Listen to Him speaking about the children of Israel who were rejecting His wonderful love. His heart is yearning for the salvation of those souls who are dying because of sin; He has given them a precious recovery program, an atonement for them, and they reject it.

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed [their] gods, which [are] yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for [that which] doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

What is God’s emotional response? I’m astonished. Be astonished, O ye heavens, I am heart-broken! These people, I am giving them eternal life, I am giving them hope, and they turn away and forsake Me. I can’t comprehend it. My heart is grieved.

Jeremiah 2:14 [Is] Israel a servant? [is] he a homeborn [slave]? why is he spoiled? 15 The young lions roared upon him, [and] yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. 16 Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. 17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

Can you see His heart? I love reading the responses of the heart of God in the Scriptures. They touch my heart with a desire of wanting to please Him. I don’t want to cause Him grief. But this is what people are doing. They turn away from all these love tokens to their own ways, and He is astonished, He is grief-stricken. But notice what He says:

Jeremiah 2:17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD…?

“I don’t want you to be destroyed; you are destroying yourself, and you are not listening to Me! Judge righteously. I have died for you, because you are dead. I am trying to redeem you to come into My way, and you are turning it down. You are bringing it upon yourself.” This is what the wicked will be doing. It is a reward. What are the wages of sin?

Psalm 9:15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit [that] they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. 16 The LORD is known [by] the judgment [which] he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

What is God known by? His character is revealed in the way in which the wicked are going to be destroyed. He stands there in grief and cannot stop them from going the way that they’re going. He is not going to stop them because everything He has tried to do to stop them, from a free-will response of His love, they’re walking over the top of it. So He says, Haven’t you created this for yourself? Your reward is what I said would happen to you about the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and now I’ve brought Jesus into your ranks and you still rejected it.

Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, [and] all the nations that forget God.

It is their own doing, their own net, which is here spoken of.

God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; {GC 36.1}

God is not the executioner. He just stands there in grief and He leaves us to our own consequences. Therefore those who reject God’s saving grace are given, by His grief, to the reward of their own hands. He is so grieved with them that they haven’t responded to the redemption by which they could be relieved from the consequences of their own hands, so that He could reward them with eternal life. He is grieved and He says, Alright then, you will be destroyed by your own actions.

Explore with me this particular phenomenon of the vengeance of God.

Proverbs 5:21 For the ways of man [are] before the eyes of the LORD,

All of man’s ways are corrupt ways; God sees it all. He sees everything that everybody does.

Proverbs 5:21 … and he pondereth all his goings.

Can you see God’s personality here? He is watching us, and He is grieved, and He is pondering. He is looking and He is despairing for the people after He has given them His Son.

Proverbs 5:22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

God is grieved. He is not an executioner. In His grief and wrath He has to let them go and do what they have to do. We can follow this description through the Scriptures, that when God destroys He is simply grieved in His wrath and passes the wicked into the natural consequences of their actions.

Isaiah 24:1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty,

When people read that, they say, See? He’s an executioner, He is making the earth empty.

Isaiah 24:1 … and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.

The Lord does that; but notice how it transpires:

Isaiah 24:4 The earth mourneth [and] fadeth away, the world languisheth [and] fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. 5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

What have they done? What is the everlasting covenant? Isn’t that the everlasting gospel? Isn’t that the work of the atonement? While they reject Him, they have done this, therefore the earth languishes. And because they have forsaken the everlasting covenant,

Isaiah 24:6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.

Here we have another description of the wrath of God that takes place when man has turned away from His saving grace.

Men and Satan have been in cahoots together and the continual, deliberate hardening of the heart and turning against all that God has done in His mercy, has put the human race in a trap of a net which they themselves will suffer under. Lucifer is perfectly described in the following words. What did Satan do with the gift of Jesus Christ?

Satan sought to make it appear that he was working for the liberty of the universe. Even while Christ was on the cross, the enemy was determined to make his arguments so varied, so deceptive, so insidious, that all would be convinced that God’s law was tyrannical. He himself laid every scheme, planned every evil, inflamed every mind to bring affliction on Christ. He himself instigated the false accusations against One who had done only good. He himself inspired the cruel deeds that added to the suffering of the Son of God—the pure, the holy, the innocent. By this course of action Satan has forged a chain by which he himself will be bound. {CTr 290.5-6}

Can we understand how the evil works? If we resist the law it will keep on working upon us, it will continue to fester in our mind; and if we keep on resisting it, it will meet us in the judgment and it will finally consume both soul and body. You are forging the path of your own destruction.

His plan of work has ever been one of deception. He claims to be religious. He has a synagogue in which there are worshipers. . . . He sways all classes. Constantly Satan works among people of all ages. At times he assumes a cloak of piety, purity, and holiness. {CTr 291.3-4}

It will look so holy, so pure, so good.

Often he transforms himself into an angel of light. He has blinded the eyes of men and women so that they cannot see beneath the surface and discern his real purposes. {Ibid.}

The people who reject the beautiful reality of Christ and His sacrifice, are forging together with Satan the chain that will finally destroy them. And to the end Satan goads them. There he leads them through after the death of Christ to reject the pure messages, twisting the Scriptures to suit their own ways, ending up with false doctrines until Mystery, Babylon the great, and all her daughters which we see in the world today, are finally going to meet the consequences of their own actions with the kings of the world, the plagues. And when the plagues are being finished, Jesus comes and takes His people with Him. There are then one thousand years in which Satan looks at the result of all his activity. You read of it in Isaiah 14. “Is this the man that made the world so empty?” But do you remember, we read before that it is God who makes the earth empty. Can we see the connection of those scriptures? It is God who lets Satan forge his own chains. It is God who orchestrates the people who reject His wonderful love.

After He goes through those thousand years, there is then a resurrection of the wicked. And now he says, Ha! and he continues. He deceives the wicked some more. And there, taking them right through to the end, he reveals what their actions and his actions will result in. After the thousand years, this is the chain that he has forged together with those who have rejected the precious gift and the love of God:

Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven,

What did it do?

Revelation 20:9 … devoured them.

Burnt and few men left. We have here a fire that burns and devours. That is after the thousands years.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him 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, 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, according to their works. 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. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

So they were resurrected from the first death. And this one is the second death.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

So according to that text, what is the result of man’s sinfulness after he has been deceived again? A second death that has to do with the devouring fire. And death is death, isn’t it? Every man is going to receive a reward according to his works.

There was a man in the parable of Jesus Christ that we want to meditate about. This man was forgiven a huge debt, and then he went along and found his servant and he didn’t forgive him his debt.

Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Here we have someone who has done much wrong; he will receive many stripes. And the one who has done little wrong will receive less stripes.

Matthew 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

Isn’t that a beautiful illustration? God wants to forgive us because we desire Him to forgive us.

Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Reward? What is the reward here? It is the reward of the hard-heartedness that is going to be mete out. Here we have something to do with fire, with torment. The fire burns, but what else does it do? It torments. A fire that is going to mete out punishment. It is going to give stripes, many or few. And at the same time it is a fire that burns up and destroys.

Let us explore this fire, so that we can understand this just recompense of reward. Remember that beautiful text in Isaiah 53:5: By His stripes we are healed; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. Do you remember the days when you got a punishment and you knew it was a just punishment? You know, children, when they get a good hiding, and they know it’s right, after that they feel peaceful, Now I know what I’ve got to do and what I mustn’t do. There is peace that comes after stripes. I’ve gone through such an experience, Now that felt better, now I know why I’m wrong. And Jesus went through stripes and through punishment to have peace and to be healed from the wrong that we have done. We will be able to see this.

So when God punishes us, before that punishment, we will be healed; we will be recovered. But these stripes that we are reading here, what sort of stripes are they? Are they stripes of healing and stripes of peace? Here is the description of this fire, of this torment. Remember, we were just reading in Revelation that the wicked shall surround the camp of the saints, Jerusalem, and fire will come down and do its work of both torment and destruction and death:

Zechariah 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem;

They’ve gathered around to fight against it.

Zechariah 14:12 …Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,”

They are still standing there, and their flesh consumes away.

Zechariah 14:12 …their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

What does this fire do? It consumes. It burns up. But it burns up slowly. So it is a consuming fire, isn’t it? They will be burnt up. It will consume, but it is also a fire of torment, because people will be standing on their feet receiving the stripes of God’s grief.

As the holy Jerusalem is standing there and the fire is burning all around, because it came from heaven to do this work, this is what takes place:

Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Here they are, burning in the flames. Their eyes are being consumed; their tongue is being consumed, but their worm of life is still conscious. They are receiving the stripes according to their works. All the texts of torment now come into focus. They are receiving stripes according to their works. This is the reward of those who have rejected the saving work of God.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation;

Before it was mixed with mercy, and now there is none.

Revelation 14:10 …and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

Here is the torment. Burning in the fire with the flesh consuming and their worm does not die, and they are suffering the reward of their own hard-heartedness.

Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Here is the torment. No rest day or night. As the fire is burning, their life is still conscious and it is consuming them bit by bit. No rest day or night. Torment.

Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are],

Notice that word “are” is a supplied word. It shouldn’t be there. A proper rendition would be: “where the beast and false prophet were cast,” because they were cast into the lake of fire before the thousand years (see Revelation 19:20).

Revelation 20:10 … and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Here is the torment. The fire does torment. As we carefully consider these Bible texts, and especially when it sounds here like they are going to be burning for ever and ever, that they are going to be tormented for ever and ever, we need to find an explanation of the Scriptures on this subject.

Jude 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

What are Sodom and Gomorrah given for? As an example of what this fire will do. Are Sodom and Gomorrah still burning today? It is an eternal fire. It is given as an example. There we see a clear distinction of how the Bible explains itself, because then we will be able to correctly collate all the other Bible texts to put them in their right setting. If Sodom and Gomorrah were given as an example of the vengeance of eternal fire, then it is a fire like Sodom and Gomorrah. It will cause people suffering, but it will consume. We have here a perfect illustration of this fire that will do its work just as the Bible says:

Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

There you have the torment that burns them, and the smoke rises up for ever and ever. What is written about the burning and the smoke?

Psalm 37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD [shall be] as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.

What is this fire doing? It is consuming their eyes, their tongues, according to the torment that was meant to be for them; but ultimately, as it consumes flesh bit after flesh bit, slowly tormenting them, it will finally be consumed away into smoke.

Psalm 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked [shall] not [be]: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it [shall] not [be].

What is this fire going to do? It is going to consume them away so that you’ll be looking for where their burning was and it’s gone. It shall no longer be. It is a fire that burns to death and consumes away. God is a consuming fire. It consumes them away. If you want to get the truth you have to get the one Bible text that explains the other. That is very plain and simple. They will consume away, you shall consider their place and you won’t see it any more.

Proverbs 2:22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

When God will do this work of helping the people to meet the reward for their sins, this is what will happen:

Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

Into smoke shall they consume away. Tell me, if you light a match and you see the match burning, and then the match is consumed but you see smoke going, how long will that smoke keep on going? Does the smoke ever stop going up? When you study the consuming of certain planets in the universe, and they disintegrate, what is left in the universe? They call it nebulae, don’t they? or the remnants of broken down pieces of planets. They will go in eternity; the smoke of their torment will rise in eternity. But their torment has been mete out according to the stripes that they needed to receive, no more, some with many, some with less. But they will consume away as the fat of lambs, and the smoke of their torment will go up for ever and ever, but it will burn them. Root and branch will be consumed away, everything.

Malachi 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts.

Who does this include? Is Satan going to be consumed as well? He is the root. Even Lucifer will be consumed away.

Ezekiel 28:18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

God’s people will see the wicked in this horrible, abhorring sight of the burning; and their worm will not die; they will burn, and Satan of course will burn the longest. But what will they ultimately be burned away to? Into ashes. We will consider the place of the wicked and it won’t be there anymore. It’s gone. This is the destructive fire that is foretold:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

We now come full circle. Who are they? Those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Everlasting destruction, everlasting torment, everlasting fire. Can we see how the Bible explains itself? It has everlasting sense about it. The people who are tormented there are dying and dying and sensing their death. The pain of the punishment is extreme, severe. They will not get let off scot-free. If we reject the gospel of Jesus Christ there will be a pain and an anguish according to the knowledge that we have had. We have slighted God’s love; we have walked by, paying no attention to it, and God is grieved and He leaves us to this consequence.

Nahum 1:9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. 10 For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.

What will happen? The Lord will make an utter end and affliction shall not rise up the second time. The people who are being afflicted there are going to be afflicted and consumed. And after that, no more affliction.

There is a wonderful summary of this in the Spirit of Prophecy. It was given to Sister White in vision:

…fire from God out of heaven is rained upon them, and the great men, and mighty men, the noble, the poor and miserable, are all consumed together. I saw that some were quickly destroyed, while others suffered longer. They were punished according to the deeds done in the body. Some were many days consuming, and just as long as there was a portion of them unconsumed, all the sense of suffering remained. Said the angel, “The worm of life shall not die; their fire shall not be quenched as long as there is the least particle for it to prey upon.” {EW 294.1}

Satan and his angels suffered long. Satan bore not only the weight and punishment of his own sins, but also of the sins of the redeemed host, which had been placed upon him; and he must also suffer for the ruin of souls which he had caused. Then I saw that Satan and all the wicked host were consumed, and the justice of God was satisfied; and all the angelic host, and all the redeemed saints, with a loud voice said, “Amen!” {EW 294.2}

Said the angel, “Satan is the root, his children are the branches. They are now consumed root and branch. They have died an everlasting death. They are never to have a resurrection, and God will have a clean universe.” I then looked and saw the fire which had consumed the wicked, burning up the rubbish and purifying the earth. {EW 295.1}

Not only the wicked are destroyed but it burns up all the rubbish that has accumulated.

Again I looked and saw the earth purified. There was not a single sign of the curse. {EW 295.1}

Why is it necessary to have this gruesome detail laid out before the mind’s eye, this just recompense of the reward? Let us read the reason why. The spiritual realities that are here illuminated are for the purpose that we may correctly relate to this subject as it is in Jesus.

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in [gehenna].

Hell. This is the fiery flame. What is He able to do in that gehenna? He is able to destroy both soul and body. Why is that written? That we should fear Him. Now some people will say, Just a moment now, is this saying to us that we should be scared of God?? God is no respecter of persons. Take seriously what God is saying! If you think that you can just so flippantly get into heaven, don’t be mistaken.

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. The true understanding of God’s way will persuade men. They will fear, and they will do what? What will you do when you fear these terrible rewards? You are persuaded, what will you do?

The Lord would have His people trust in Him and abide in His love, but that does not mean that we shall have no fear or misgivings. Some seem to think that if a man has a wholesome fear of the judgments of God, it is a proof that he is destitute of faith; but this is not so. {6BC 1100.7}

A proper fear of God, in believing His threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, {6BC 1100.8}

What will these threatenings and these horrifying stories do? It will do something do you. It will cause you to fear Him and flee to Him instead of running away from Him, because He’s given Jesus Christ to attract us.

A proper fear of God, in believing His threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, by causing the trembling soul to flee to Jesus. Many ought to have this spirit today, {Ibid.}

They ought to have this spirit,

…and turn to the Lord with humble contrition, for the Lord has not given so many terrible threatenings, pronounced so severe judgments in His Word, simply to have them recorded, but He means what He says. One says, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law,” Paul says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” {Ibid.}

Is there a purpose to study what I have studied with you? Absolutely. This is the truth as it is in Jesus. Many people will argue over the destruction of the wicked and the annihilation of the wicked and the state of the dead simply as a doctrine that they just argue about, but what is it for? All truth must be seen as it is in Jesus, so that we can understand that we need the gospel of Jesus with great intensity. If I don’t have the sense of the terror in front of me I will have no reason to flee as a bird to my mountain, as we sung. But the fact is that we are already dead and we have a sure condemnation to suffer as the reward of our natural actions; and if I don’t understand this I will not tremble at the word of God. But if I will understand what is written in detail, then I will flee to my Saviour because He shows me, “I am a God of compassion and love, and when you disobey Me I yearn for you. I want you to be saved, I don’t want you to go through that thing; I am grieved if you walk away. And in my grief I am going to have to let you go to the destruction that is taking place.”

It is a grief to God. God is a consuming fire; and when you read about the plagues, as they fall, heaven’s sanctuary is all asmoke because of the wrath of God. God’s grief is so great it creates smoke in the heavenly sanctuary. He has got the heart of a little child, a heart that wants to see only good, and He is grieved to the consuming detail.

May this help us to take God’s word seriously, to take the atonement of Jesus so seriously that I will escape for my life. May God grant us the impact of His word as it is designed by Him. This is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on May 8, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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