Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Have you ever thought about what allows a person to live eternally with God, and why some will spend eternity in hell? There is a very simple answer. It almost seems too simple. Any Christian should know the answer to this, but with all of the false teaching around many people get confused. Do you think a person will spend eternity in hell because they sin?
No, there won’t be one single person in hell because they were sinners here on earth. A person will be in hell because of their rejection of the remedy that God provided to take away their sin. Jesus Christ paid the price and gave us a free gift. If you do not accept that gift then you have made your choice. All human beings, both Christians and non-Christians, are sinners and whether or not you want to admit it that’s just the simple truth. Yep, we’re all a bunch of sinners. The only reason some of us avoid hell is because we have said yes to God’s remedy. There is no other way.
Jesus the Christ is God’s only remedy, which will fully deflect our punishment. His only begotten Son paid the price for all of our sins past, present, and future.
“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).
The “Man” referred to in this passage is, of course, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is the full payment for the sin of this world there is no other sacrifice available for forgiveness of sins. If you sin or should I say, when you sin, there is nothing you can do to make that right. You cannot do any works that will take that sin away. You cannot deny yourself food, you cannot say prewritten prayers, you cannot ascend a flight of stairs on your knees, nor can you go to a mere human to be absolved from your sin. There is nothing you can do to take that sin away. There is no other sacrifice than Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection that takes sin away. A person does not go to hell because of sin. Rejection of Jesus Christ is the reason for multitudes spending eternity in hell.
Why reject the truth? Why reject something God made so easy to accept? Stubborn pride, self-will, believing lies instead of truth, and thinking that you are a good person who doesn’t need a Savior are just a few excuses. So many want to complicate what Jesus did, but the truth is, accepting His sacrifice is easy for us, but what Jesus accomplished on that cross was far from easy for Him.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
Too often we focus on only one aspect of Jesus’ character. Either we see Him as just a man and forget that He was also fully God, or we see Him as God and forget that He became human. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest, He knew what He was about to face. Not only would He suffer pain and humiliation by the hands of His human tormentors, He would be standing in our place.
This means He bore our sins and for the first time He would be separated from God the Father.
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
The pain would pass, but the separation from God the Father was what He asked God to let pass from Him. Because we live sinful lives and every day we need to ask forgiveness we get used to this feeling of separation. We cannot possibly imagine how forsaken Christ felt as He hung on that cross, separated from God the Father, when He became sin in our stead.
There is no other sacrifice for sin. Jesus asked that God the Father would allow the cup to pass from Him if there was another way. But the cup did not pass from Him. There is no animal sacrifice that can take sin away, nor can praying while counting beads, or fasting, or anything that we try to do instead of accepting Christ’s free gift.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
That makes it very clear. There is no other way of salvation but through our faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Those who reject Jesus will remain unforgiven. When they die they will be sinners in hell. At that point there is no turning back.
In the verse from Matthew 26:39 above, we can hear the anguish of Jesus. He knew what was coming and His human nature wanted the company and support of His closest friends. He had asked Peter, James, and John to be with Him.
“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
Although it was Christ’s passion to die for His creation, He knew what He was facing. He wanted the support of His friends. We get an even clearer understanding of His agony from Luke:
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
There was nothing easy about what He was about to face. Accepting His free gift of salvation may seem easy for us, but for Jesus there was nothing easy concerning what was involved in what He accomplished on that cross. It wasn’t the nails that held Him there; it was only His love for His creation that held Him on that cross until death.
We all sin, but those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, are forgiven. John wrote to fellow Christians:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
This is not a license to sin. Paul makes it clear that our faith in Christ should make us not want to sin:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)
Our desire needs to be to remove sin from our life. Christians do sin but when we ask forgiveness, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. But we should hate sin in all its forms – thoughts, words, and deeds – and take no pleasure in it. As we draw nearer to Jesus, our desire for sin will diminish.
Many people who reject Christ just don’t understand the eternal consequences of their choice. Hell is temporary, but the judgment on sin is eternal. You don’t just cease to exist when you die and the torment you will feel is eternal. In Luke chapter 16 we read of an incident that Jesus told of a rich man who died and found himself in Hell. Before the cross there were two sides to Hell (also known as Sheol). There was the place where the faithful went, commonly known as Abraham’s Bosom. After Christ’s resurrection the faithful went with Him to Heaven. There is also the torment side where those who are not faithful go. It still exists and will be emptied at the White Throne Judgment.
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23-24).
That doesn’t sound like a place anyone would choose to be. But it gets worse. When the final judgment comes at the Great White Throne Judgment, each person who does not have their name written in the Book of Life will be judged according to their works. Uh oh, that doesn’t sound good. In fact, it is worse than we can imagine.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
This punishment will be forever. This lake of fire is also the final destiny for the devil, the beast, and the false prophet “…and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10b).
“But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:5).
Who is it that has the power to cast a person into hell? It is true that Satan and his minions try their best to keep humans from accepting Christ, but he has no power of judgment. Only God will judge and His judgment is completely fair. He has told us in no uncertain terms what sin is and the penalty of sin. He has had mercy on us and has shown perfect love when He stepped into His creation to die on that cross for our salvation. He only asks us to believe.
So, what can we do? Yes there are sinners in hell, but their sin didn’t send them there. It was their choice to reject Christ’s sacrifice and it was that choice by which they condemned themselves to hell. What about today on this earth? Everyone sins whether we have accepted Christ’s free gift or not. The difference is that Christians have accepted God’s free gift…the only way for sin to be forgiven.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Only believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ can take sin away. Do you know someone who has not accepted this free gift? Today is when you need to talk with them. What about you? Do you have any doubts about your salvation? Will you be one of those unforgiven sinners in hell who rejected Christ?
Time is running out. Will the Rapture happen leaving you behind? Perhaps you will have an unexpected heart attack. If you or a loved one dies before accepting Christ, you will be one more sinner in hell. Don’t let that happen. Commit yourself to Jesus and talk to your friends and family now…tomorrow may be too late.
God bless you all,