5 Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ (Deuteronomy 4:5–6, NKJV)
Through Moses, the Lord repeatedly exhorted Israel “to be careful to observe” His commandments (Deut. 5:1, 32; 6:3). Was careful obedience only reserved for Israel because God commanded them from Mt. Sinai (Deut. 4:13-14)? No, the Lord God has always expected people to obey His commands, promising blessings to the obedience and warning the disobedient of punishment (Gen. 2:16-17; Exod. 20:5-6). God’s desire and expectation that we obey Him remains true under the new covenant, the gospel of Christ. For instance, Jesus expects those who call Him “Lord, Lord” to do what He says (Luke 6:46). We must do the will of the Father to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21). Christ is the “author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). But “to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Rom. 2:8-9). No wonder Paul commended Timothy for carefully following “good doctrine” from the apostle (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:10). God blesses obedience and punishes disobedience. This truth abides forever.
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:10–12, NKJV)
The psalmist counsels the kings and rulers of the earth to be wise, accept instruction, serve the Lord God with reverent joy, and worship the Son. This course of conduct stands in sharp relief to their futile fight against God and His Christ (Psa. 2:1-3). Wisdom, instruction, reverent service, and joyful worship are necessary traits of trusting Christ (v. 12). King Solomon observed, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Reverent humility accepts God’s instruction, but pride promotes ignorance. Honoring Christ the King with obedient service is the essence of trusting Him. He sees and blesses such trust in Him. By contrast, obstinate opposition to Christ kindles His righteous wrath (v. 12). The rulers and judges of the earth continue to reap what they sow, and so do we (Gal. 6:7-8). Worship the Son and be blessed or fight against Him, stir up His anger, and be punished.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49–50, NKJV)
Hell is real, and hell is horrible. Jesus often spoke about hell and warned of “everlasting fire” into which those cursed by sin will “depart” (Matt. 18:8-9; 25:41). This sorrowful scene of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” will not be God’s doing. Some who do not believe in hell try to convince us God does not punish people, and if He does, then He is a horrible God. Their attempt fails miserably. The eternal punishment of hell’s corruption results from sowings seeds of sin in our lives (Gal. 6:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 2:1-11). God sent His Son Jesus to save us from sin’s eternal death. We do not rely on poets’ imaginative journeys to explain hell (i.e., Dante’s Divine Comedy). We listen to Jesus. Denying hell’s existence and its eternal punishment of sin denies Jesus (Matt. 25:46). It is that simple. We believe the Son of God and the truth He taught about hell (Jno. 1:14; 14:6). Those who accept the Bible as God’s word believe in eternal hell (and eternal heaven) because we trust His word as truth (Jno. 17:17). If you deny hell is real, you do not believe Jesus (“Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire,” Matt. 25:41); you believe the devil (“You will not surely die,” Gen. 3:4). We urge you not to believe the liar and father of lies (Jno. 8:44). Believe and obey Jesus, who warns us to escape the condemnation of hell (Matt. 23:33).
Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the Lord. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? (Jeremiah 5:9, NKJV)
The cup of Judah’s iniquities had reached the brim: “Their transgressions are many; Their backslidings have increased” (Jer. 5:6). Like her sister Israel to the north, idolatry, adultery, selfish indulgence, oppressive leaders, false prophets, and faithless neglect of God headlined her sins (Jer. 5:7-8, 11-13). Yet they were sure punishment would not come upon them (Jer. 5:12-13; Micah 3:11-12). Even to this moment, many have created a view of God that takes everyone to heaven. Sin is minimized out of existence; therefore, they eliminate the prospect of punishment. “A loving God will not send people to hell!” they proclaim. We must divest ourselves of this illusion. Yes, God is love. His severity is also real (Rom. 11:22). Our God is a consuming fire against evil (Heb. 12:29). Over and over, God called His people to turn from their sins and return to Him (Jer. 3:14-18, 22; 4:4; 7:13, 25-26). Because Judah and Israel rejected God’s word and refused to repent, God had no choice but to exact punishment. God’s word is clear; those who “do not know God” and those “who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” “shall be punished” when Christ returns (2 Thess. 1:8-9; Matt. 25:46). Now is the time to repent and turn to the Lord. Now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:1-2).
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–3, NKJV)
Jesus rejected the philosophy of Karma. (“Karma is a Hindu term which comes from Sanskrit and relates to fate and action. You alone are responsible for your actions. It is the law of cause and effect, an unbreakable law of the cosmos. You deserve everything that happens to you, good or bad. You created your happiness and misery,” The Tree of Awakening.) While it is true that our choices bring consequences, that is not the only force at work in our lives (Gal. 6:7). It was wrong to conclude that these people Pilate killed were “worse sinners” than others (it was an invalid judgment, see Lk. 12:57). Evil people commit evil acts against the innocent. Time and chance happen to us all (Lk. 13:4; Eccl. 9:11-12). Suffering in the present does not necessarily correspond with some wrong in the past (Jno. 9:1-3; cf. Job). But, times of suffering and affliction should cause us to examine ourselves and repent of our sins. Whether we are experiencing a moment of distress or we see others suffering, instead of judging them as “worse sinners,” we should ponder our lives and repent of our sins. Why? Because we will answer to God for our sins and be punished justly by Him (Rom. 6:23).
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18–19, NKJV)
God’s word has been revealed from heaven (Rev. 1:1-2). It reveals our need for salvation because we have all sinned against God, and our sin brings eternal death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; 1:16-17). God’s wrath is also revealed from heaven. The target of God’s just anger and punishment is “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (v. 18). Ungodliness is impiety and irreverence toward God. Unrighteousness describes conduct that is unjust and not upright toward others (1 Jno. 5:17). Ungodly and unrighteous conduct display a character of faithlessness. They hold down (suppress) the advance and blessings of divine truth in our lives. God’s wrath against sinners is justifiable because He had given a knowledge of Himself to mankind (v. 19-20). Yet, people refused to acknowledge God and honor Him with godly and righteous gratitude (Rom. 1:21). When we reject faith in God we hinder truth and put ourselves under divine wrath. We are without excuse, because God has made Himself known to us through His creation (Rom. 1:20). And, God has revealed His will to us by the word of His Son, Jesus Christ (Jno. 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-2). The gospel of Christ will free you from sin and death. It is your escape from God’s wrath when you obey it in faith (Acts 10:34-35; 2 Thess. 1:8-9).
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5, NKJV)
Before and during the days of Jeremiah, Jerusalem and Judah had trusted in powerless idols, shaped and fashioned after the will and imaginations of men, to sustain protect them and bless them. The idolatrous “altars and their wooden images” exposed their sins to God’s just and fiery punishment (Jer. 17:1-4). God made their sins and punishment very clear to them. It is always thus when one “trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.” One is left to a barren wasteland, void of spiritual blessings when the heart departs from the Lord: “For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited” (Jer. 17:6). Many think they can survive without God, trusting in themselves and others. Instead of this, one should trust the Lord and follow His will: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jer. 17:7). Doing so brings spiritual life, protection, and productivity, “like a tree planted by the waters…” (Jer. 17:8). When we trust in men instead of God we are living with a “this world” perspective. Trusting in God means we put our faith in the true God and look beyond this world. By faith, we live for eternal realms of glory (Heb. 11:13-16). Our hope is in the Lord.
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19, NKJV)
Not all suffering is equal. Sometimes suffering is deserved. The apostle Paul once said if he had committed anything worthy of death, he did not object to dying (Acts 25:11). He would accept the suffering that comes from being guilty of evil (Rom. 13:4). Peter had just warned against sins that bring suffering, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Pet. 4:15). At other times, one can “suffering wrongfully” “because of conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 2:19). Suffering can happen through no fault of your own, and because of your faith in Christ (1 Pet. 2:18; 4:12-16). When we suffer “according to the will of God” we are able to endure it by committing our souls to God. The word “commit” means to deposit (for protection), as one deposits money into a bank for safekeeping. How do we deposit our souls to God for protection? By “doing good” (1 Pet. 4:19). God is trustworthy to safeguard our souls as we “maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8; do His will, Matt. 7:21). God does not say He will remove the suffering, but that He will protect us as we go through it. Dedicate yourself to keep on doing what is good and right when you suffer for following the will of God. By doing so, you are depositing your soul to the faithful Creator, who will keep it safe long after the suffering has past (1 Pet. 5:10-11).
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36, NKJV)
It is unfortunate the King James translators in 1611 used “believeth not” in the second part of this sentence. The New King James version followed suit, using the more modern, “does not believe.” But, the word in the Greek manuscript is apeitheō, which means “disobey” (BDAG), as in Romans 2:8 where the KJV and NKJV translate it, “do not obey” the truth. When the word is thus translated, John 3:36 takes on a whole new meaning: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36, ESV, see also, NASB). Obedience is necessary to have everlasting life. Since the one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who does not obey the Son “shall not see life,” we properly conclude that believing in the Son takes more than faith alone. Surely this why Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Believers obey Jesus. Those who reject Him are “disobedient (apeitheō) to the word” (1 Pet. 2:7, 8). Demons believe, but faith alone will not give them eternal life (Jas. 2:19-20). Those who believe in the Son have everlasting life precisely because they trust and obey Him. The disobedient shall not have life, but punishment (Matt. 25:46). Have the faith to obey Jesus, and you will see everlasting life.