Jump Start # 2158
Matthew 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Our verse today shows the eternal outcome and where the journey ends. The cemetery isn’t it. Eternal life or eternal punishment is it. Now, from this passage, a few thoughts.
First, Heaven and Hell are linked together. Everyone wants Heaven and no one wants to talk about Hell. The word “Hell” has disappeared from the modern pulpit. Preachers today don’t mention it and you know the expression, “out of sight and out of mind.” We need to put it back into people’s minds. Theological pied pipers, like N.T. Wright, spreads the poison of annihilation and denies in the eternal existence of Hell. Jesus believed in Hell. He connected Heaven and Hell together in the same sentence. If there is an eternal Heaven, then there will be an eternal Hell. No Hell, no Heaven.
Second, our verse speaks of going away to punishment and eternal life. It’s not here. It’s not a better earth or a worse earth. It’s going somewhere else. In John 14 Jesus promised to prepare a place for His disciples. He was leaving to do that. He added, “Where I am, there you may be.”
Third, eternal punishment and eternal life are based upon our choices, not God’s. God has not determined that you will be in one or the other and no matter what you do, it’s set. That’s not the case. Our verse today follows a section of taking care of others. Some were naked, hungry, thirsty, sick and in prison. Some took care of those and others did not. That was the basis of this judgment. What are you doing with the Gospel message? How are you using your opportunities?
Fourth, the nature of this life and this punishment is eternal. It’s not for a short while and then there is a reprieve or a reevaluation of the situation. The door swings one way. This is forever. Forever never ends.
Fifth, for the righteous who follow Christ, this life is the worst that they will ever experience. This is as bad as it gets. But even with the pain, the discouragement, the disappointments and the heartache, it’s bearable. We have Christ. We have His word. We have His family to help us. There is prayer. There is hope. There are promises. There is the understanding that whatever bothers us now, will one day end. Our problems do not go into eternity. There won’t be cancer in Heaven. There won’t be sadness, sorrow, or pain in Heaven. This is as bad as it gets. That is comforting to know. We can handle this. It won’t be long, and all of this will be over. Unlike the eternal Hell, God is with us here.
Sixth, for the unrighteous, this is as good as it will ever be. Life here is the only “Heaven” that they will ever experience. And, it’s not like the eternal Heaven. There is sorrow here. There is pain here. There is stress, disappointments, heartache, temptation and troubles here. For the wicked, this is it. This is as good as it will ever be for them. What’s ahead, is horrifically worse. It’s a terror they have never understood. It’s eternal. It’s without hope. It’s without God. It’s without comfort. It’s without something to look forward to. The picture of Hell is extreme. It ought to scare us. It ought to make us turn to Christ. It doesn’t have to be, but it will be for those who have turned their backs on Christ. Hell was initially made for Satan. Man wasn’t supposed to go there. But he will and it will not be nice.
And, all of this makes us wonder. We see so many rushing through life, worried, without purpose, without aim, and to think, this is as good as it will ever be for most of them. And, it’s not very good, at that. Blind to what is around the curve. Clueless to what really matters in life. Caught up in the trivial things of vanity and materialism, they have filled their hearts and their days with matters that really do not matter. No time for Christ. No desire to be with Christ. No wanting to sit and talk about the eternal, this is as good as it will ever be for them.
And to think, if so many feel that their lives are miserable now, what’s coming will be so much worse. It’s not the cars, the cash, the accomplishments, the labels, the who you know, but what you have done with Jesus. That’s what matters. Have you allowed Jesus to dwell in your heart? Have you allowed the Lord to change you, mold you and shape you into a godly, righteous person?
Years ago, there was a beer commercial on TV. Two guys sitting in the hot sun in a boat fishing. One says, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” And, with what we have said today, without Christ, it probably doesn’t get any better than that. But for the child of God, there is so much more still to come. The best hasn’t even started yet. There is something to live for. There is a reason to get up and get after the spiritual side of things today. God’s promised something good, really good. This life isn’t it.
Satan tries to get us to take our eyes off of Heaven. He wants us to see all the pretty things we are missing around us. He’ll entice you with forbidden fruit that is a delight to the eyes. Lust, greed, materialism, vain success, power, position, popularity, prominence, and money, are all dangled before our eyes. This is “Heaven” to a lost world. How could anyone turn their backs on this, the world believes. This is where it’s at, never seeing that so much of this is corrupt, empty, bought by selling out our souls, worthless in eternity and destined to be burned up with the rest of the world at the Lord’s coming.
The best now, really isn’t so good. There are moments. They are some nice things, but Satan always has a way of ruining things. This isn’t Heaven. It never will be. There is pain. There is sorrow. There is disappointment. People ruin good things. Satan ruins everything he touches.
It can get much worse and it will for those who don’t want Christ in their lives. But, there is something so much better for the righteous. Out of here and into the home of God. Away from all the things that are wrong. Away from those who do not care. Away from Satan. With God forever.
The best is truly yet to come!