3. God's Punishment Is Both Temporary and Everlasting
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)
Christ's death saves those who trust in Him from the eternal consequences of sin, but it doesn't free us from the consequences of sinful choices. The names of men and women recorded in the "Hall of Faith'' chapter (Hebrews 11), provides a clear reminder that although spiritual "giants," their sins caused them much heartache and suffering throughout their lives. Notwithstanding, their faith was counted as righteousness; therefore, they escaped the eternal consequences of their rebellion against God. No longer condemned and bound by sin, they are set free in Christ, the Messiah.
Albeit, some people seem to completely dodge punishment for wicked deeds committed while living out their lives on earth. Nonetheless, the Bible makes it plain: unless they repent and turn to God, they will not escape eternal punishment, no matter how heinous or "palpable" their sins. "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV).
4. God Disciplines Those He Loves
“My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV)
As a child, I despised hearing my parents state that they didn't enjoy punishing me. But now, as a parent, I understand the truth in those words. Our heavenly Father is no different. He's no monster waiting for His children to mess up so He can dole out punishment. He doesn't delight in our disobedience, but out of love, He “chastens” us, allowing us to suffer the consequences of our rebellion. Why?
Discipline is for our good; it’s meant to correct wrong behavior and attitudes. Nothing restores disobedient children to their parents like the application of proper discipline. The subsequent fellowship is sweet and tender. We often turn to God when at our lowest, when we find ourselves drowning in a pit of despair of our own making. Not until we reach the point of utter desperation do we acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept the consequences of our sin. What a fellowship and joy divine when restored to a right relationship with our Heavenly Father! When Christ returns, our bodies and souls will be made fully new, and we will sin no more. Ever.
5. All Who Accept Christ Will Escape Eternal Punishment and Have Eternal Life
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16 ESV)
Although the subject of hell makes people uncomfortable, it is real, and those who refuse to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ will be condemned to spend eternity in hell.
Only God knows whose name is written in the Book of Life, who will repent and receive the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ. Therefore, let us be the blessed feet that take the Good News to others (Romans 10:15), lest anyone should perish. The gospel is straightforward: God's son died on the cross for our sins; He was dead, buried and rose to life on the third day (I Corinthians 15:3-4). Salvation comes to all who believe this to be true.
The enemy walks the earth to destroy God’s creation by countering and confusing the gospel message (John 10:10), for Satan knows that one day, God will cast Him down into the lake of fire forever. But take heart, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
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