Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing the idea of “infinity” with a six-year-old. He asked me what the last number was, and I told him numbers were infinite, meaning they never ended. His reply was precious.
“If I was God,” he said, “I wouldn’t make the numbers go all the way to infinity. I’d stop them sooner, because I’d know people would get tired of counting.” Nothing beats the logic of a child.
I recall that adorable anecdote, because last week Pastor Marshall began teaching a series on Eternity. When I think about what “eternity” means, I find myself thinking along the same lines as that young boy. The scope of eternity is incomprehensible; my mind just simply cannot wrap itself around the expanse of infinity. Plainly put, I “get tired of counting.” But, no matter how grueling it may be, understanding Eternity is a crucial factor in a Christian’s walk of faith.
When I found out my blog post would need to be about Hell, I was a little shaken. “I would love to have your thoughts on the beauty of salvation and what it means to be saved from Hell,” Pastor Marshall wrote me. Oh boy. Truth is, my thoughts on Hell are usually few and far between. I flipped my Bible to Revelation and began some research; it is terrifying. I read words like “the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger” (Rev. 14:10) and “he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). Eventually I came to recognize two realities that had never quite struck me before. One was that these things do not just happen to Satan and his demons. This horrible fate belongs to people, real people: anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life (20:15). The other was that it isn’t temporary. “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night…” (Rev. 14:11).
Forever and ever. Infinite, meaning it never ends. Our minds cannot wrap around the expanse of Eternity, but that shouldn’t keep us from trying to understand this verse. What this verse means is that people don’t get to climb out of the lake of fire once they’ve learned their lesson. Hell is permanent. Like I said, no matter how grueling it may be, understanding Eternity is a crucial factor in a Christian’s walk of faith. Because, when believers realize that Grace didn’t just save them for something great but from something absolutely horrendous, everything changes.
Understanding Eternity is a crucial factor in a Christian’s walk of faith
Hell is not a slap on the hand, it is everlasting separation from God. Just like God’s holiness has no end, His wrath on sinners doesn’t either. When God poured His Son’s blood over your sin-stained wretchedness, he wasn’t saving you from a few years in the fiery pit. He wasn’t even saving you from a few hundred years. God saved you from a permanent condition of experiencing His ceaseless fury forever and ever. The reality of salvation is that Jesus Christ didn’t die just so we could experience His rewards; He died, because without His death we would spend forever and ever and ever burning in a lake of sulfur and fire with absolutely no way of escaping.
God saved you from a permanent condition of experiencing His ceaseless fury forever and ever
I pray that this truth overwhelms you as much as it does me. In fact, it should completely transform the way you worship. It should change everything you thought about evangelism. We don’t just worship Jesus because He is making a place for us in Heaven. We worship Him, because now we no longer belong to the angels of Hell! Likewise, our hearts shouldn’t only hurt for non-believers because they’re going to be punished for their sin. Our hearts should cry out in anguish because those people will spend an eternity burning in a pit of fire, forever separated from the presence of God!
As Pastor Marshall preaches on Hell this Sunday, ask yourself what you really believe about it. Do you see it as a temporary timeout for people who choose to disobey God, or do you see it for the horrible, fearful, absolutely permanent place that it is? I pray that your heart be moved to a place where the thought of Hell brings tears to your eyes: Tears of joy, because you know exactly the kind of place our incredible Savior swiped us from; and tears of weeping, because the world is still filled with many people who will not be. Then I pray your faith propels you to act on it.
In Jesus’s Name, Amen!