After his first letter to the young church at Thessalonica, Paul realized he needed to clarify some false ideas about the Second Coming.
He picks up his pen and begins by reaffirming his deep love for the believers there. He recognizes their love for each other, their strong faith despite persecution, and encourages them that rest is, indeed, coming from their troubles. (2 Thess 1:1-7).
He reminds them that God will repay with tribulation those who trouble them (2 Thess 1:6).
And then, Paul mentions something we rarely talk about in our modern churches— God will exact fierce judgment.
God is the completely righteous judge – “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:8-9)
Years ago, I sat on a plane headed to record an interview on Revive our Hearts. As we sat delayed on the runway for almost two hours, I found myself talking to the cute little old lady beside me. She asked where I was headed, and I explained I was going to share my story on a Christian radio program.
We talked a bit more, when she exclaimed, “You know, my friends and I have decided there is no Hell.”
With that, I noticed several around us, turned and started listening to our conversation.
I silently prayed for the Lord to give me words and began to explain, that Jesus, Himself, talked about Hell more than any other person in the Bible.
It is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31), a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30).
Hell is real. It’s a hard concept for many. But the truth is, because of the sin of Adam, it is the default destination for all of us.
Yet, God sent His Son to save us. He is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father and escape Hell, except by His blood. (John 14:6)
But what’s really harder to understand than Hell, is why an all-good, just God, would be so mercifully patient with us; as, time and time again, we reject the great gift that He gave us when He sent His only Son to die in our place.
Jesus did that for us!
The Apostle Paul knew that, and lived His life to tell others that. He, along, with countless others have died martyrs’ deaths refusing to deny the gospel.
We can’t just decide with our friends that Hell doesn’t exist. We can’t pick and choose parts of the Bible. If we disagree with the Bible, we are the ones who are wrong.
And friend, to deny Hell is to deny the gospel. If we weren’t in danger of perishing, there would have been no need for Jesus to die in our place. God would have been cruel in sending His Son to the Cross.
But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
After I had said, all I felt led to say that day on the plane, the little old lady politely shook her head and picked up her book to begin reading again. I’ve thought about her many times. I pray she came to see the truth and her need for a Savior.
I pray those who have been given chance after chance, ( maybe that’s you), will not wait one more minute to realize that without Jesus, there is everlasting destruction, flaming fire, and Hell.
Those aren’t flowery, fluffy, feel-good words, but it is Biblical truth.
As Paul reminds those early believers, Jesus will come again, and when He does, judgment will come.
Oh friend, let’s love others enough to tell them the truth.
All of it.
The time may be short. The consequences our huge! Jesus is coming for those who know Him as Lord and Savior.
And Paul will use this second letter to the a Thessalonians to tell us more about that!
(If you are studying with us, we have finished 1Thessalonians and are starting 2 Thessalonians today. I’ll generally post each weekday from where I’m studying.)