Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Illustration of the present life in regard to the number of (and attitude of many) unbelievers

    While it is the practice of certain unbelievers today to count and take comfort and pride in the number of unbelievers in the world, I suspect lack of proclamation of the realities of heaven and hell and all that is associated with them has much to do with it.
    I know at this point, many might suggest that I might promote hell fire and brimstone preaching as if simply by "scaring" people they might enter the kingdom of heaven; but such is not the case. HOWEVER, at the same time, if other situations in life lend light to the truth, it's clear that many are prone not only to not take the truth seriously, but to even peddle and adopt that which is untruth in situations where they are either not confronted with the truth or are allowed to live as though the truth will not catch up to them. For this reason, it's important that the church not neglect preaching and teaching concerning the truths of heaven and hell and the differences between believers and unbelievers when it comes to death, the resurrection and the final judgment. This, along with teaching the truth that there will be degrees of punishment of the wicked serves to curb brazeness rebellion, though it will still be found among some who seek to cast off all truth and sanity.

    To this end, I remind readers of truths pointed out in Thomas Vincent's The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture:

    Difference between unbelievers and all the wicked world from that of believers at the last day
    i. The condition of unbelievers, and all the wicked world, will be miserable beyond expression at the last day of judgment:
    1. Their bodies shall arise, and come forth like prisoners out of the grave, and whatsoever strength and immortality shall be put upon them, will be only to make them capable of eternal torments and misery.
    2. They shall, with horror and dreadful shrieking, see Christ coming in flaming fire, to take vengeance upon them.
    a. Rev 1:7 ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”
    3. They shall stand before the throne and judgment seat of Christ, where the books shall be opened wherein all their sins are recorded – according to which they shall be judged, and sentenced to everlasting punishment.
    a. Rev 20:11,12 “And I saw a geat white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and therewas found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were ritten in th books, according to their works.”
    b. Mt 25:41 “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
    4. They shall then be driven away from the presence of the Lord into hell, where they shall be punished with extremity of anguish, and torment in soul and body, without any alleviation or intermission, unto all eternity.
    a. Mt 25:46 “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.”
    b. Rom 2:8-9 “ Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.”
    c. Rev 14:11 “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night.”

    Regarding Believers
    a. Believers shall be made perfectly blessed in their full enjoyment of God to all eternity.
    i. In perfect immunity or freedom from all evil, and that both of sin and misery
    1. Eph 5:27 “That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
    2. Rev 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”
    ii. In their full enjoyment of God
    1. They shall have the glorious presence of God with them.
    a. Rev 21:3 “Behold, the tablernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.”
    2. They shall have the immediate and beatifical vision of his face.
    a. Rev 22:4 “And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
    b. 1 Cor 13:12 “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.”
    c. 1 Jn 3:2 “We shall see him as he is.”
    3. They shall have both a full persuasion and sense of God’s love unto them, and perfect love in their hearts towards him.
    4. They shall have fullness and exceeding joy
    a. Ps 16:11” In thy presence is fullness of joy.”
    b. Jude 24 “Now to him that is able to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”

    iii. In the Eternity thereof
    1. 1 Thess 4:17 “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

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