Question 28: What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?

QUESTION:  What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?

ANSWER: At the day of judgment they will receive the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them. They will be cast out from the favorable presence of God, into hell, to be justly and grievously punished, forever.

WARM-UP:  The sermon mentioned an interesting question; What does a valuable life look like today?  How do you sense that our culture, your friends, and yourself answer this question?

  • The Bible’s teaching on hell as conscious and eternal suffering is unavoidable. 
  • Without the existence of hell, much of what we know about God’s love comes into question.
  • Jesus described hell as Gehenna, a garbage heap where fires burned constantly, or as the outer darkness, where there’s no illumination but only misery. In hell, we are therefore cut off from God and from everything that God is. So in hell, there’s no love, there’s no friendship, there’s no joy, there’s no rest because those are all things that exist only where God is present.
  • For God to accomplish his purpose, there must be a separation of evil from good so that his new kingdom can be perfect.  The tension is that all of us, every single person, would need to be cast out for his kingdom to be perfect. 
  • Although, Jesus experienced hell on our behalf to be reunited with God through faith, and we would be welcome into his kingdom. 

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
  • The doctrine of hell is often described as harsh, unjust, or unfair.  What tensions have you experienced with this? 
    • What tensions have you noticed in the culture around you? 
    • Are these tensions the same or different for Christians and those outside the church?
  • In God’s perfect kingdom, made new, how would you describe it? 

Consider this:  Every person on earth deserves and was destined for hell so that God’s kingdom could be made perfect. Yet, Jesus took hell onto himself, in our place, so that we would be able to enter into the kingdom of God.
  • How does this affect the way you relate to God?
  • How does this affect the way you relate to others around you?
  • How does this affect the way you relate to people who have wronged you? 

How would you explain or describe the existence of hell this week to someone who was outside the church or had serious reservations about church because of God’s actions regarding hell?

Judge of All the Earth, we tremble to think of the judgment that awaits all outside your covenant. Before it is too late, may those we love be reconciled to you so that they do not suffer the punishment that is theirs, and would have been ours, apart from you. Amen.