The Fearful Destiny of Non-Believers
“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:18-20)
What is so important that Paul has to repeatedly remind the believers? What is it that causes him to be in tears? It has to do with the destiny of a non-believer. If men have to reject God’s salvation, their soul will perish forever after death. Many believe that since God is abundant and merciful, like a father, God will certainly not put people in hell and cause them to suffer. There are even Christians who believe that those people who do good all their lives will definitely not suffer because the gracious God will grant them rest.
Hell is designated for the Devil and the rebellious angels (Matt 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, Rev 20:10). They disobeyed God, and God gave up on them, subsequently deserting them to a land of waste, known as hell. The origin of this “land of waste” can be traced back to the Old Testament where it mentioned the Valley of Ben Hinnom, located at the south end of Jerusalem, once known for a place where idol worshippers sacrificed their children through fire (2 Chron 28:3, Jer 7:31). It is a place detested by God and a placed where waste was gathered and incinerated. The Jews believed that hell is a place where sinners receive their punishment.
Jesus reminded us many times about the reality of hell, where the worms do not die and the fire not quenched (Mark 9:48). Sinners are tormented in this place of eternal punishment (Matt 25:46) with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:42). Because hell is so frightening, our Lord warned us to avoid it at all costs. “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matt 5:29)
Though sinners face this fearful situation, God has provided salvation for them, hoping that they will repent and believe in the Son of God to redeem them from eternal death. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…” (John 3:17-18). Paul was sent from God to preach this Gospel of salvation; some received and became God’s children, while others rejected. Some have even become the enemy of Christ. Paul, knowing hell to be such a dreadful place, vehemently encourages those who only know to enjoy their present lives to escape from this eternal torment.
Thus, brothers and sisters need to grasp the current opportunity to spread God’s salvation to friends and relatives who have not yet known the Lord; this is to prevent them from suffering the eternal punishment. Do not fool ourselves or listen to Satan say, “they may not certainly die; God’s love is forever abiding…” The Jews thought God only punishes those deserving it, but our Lord said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:2-3) Remember the Lord’s word, “…whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18)