Christians painstakingly assure other Christians of their eternal security, using the promises of God in the Bible (Jn 6:37; 10:28–29; 17:2, 6, 24; Rom 8:35–39). The means of grace are also helpful in this worthy ministry.
It is strange, however, that Christians are slow to minister assurance of destruction to reprobate unbelievers. Assurance of destruction in eternal hell may seem unloving and not very gracious; but, on the contrary, it is exceedingly cruel to withhold such knowledge of the truth from Holy Writ.
Here are some considerations for this “other” ministry of assurance:
First, God has already promised these assurances of destruction in His revealed Word; therefore, Christians are not preaching anything that is not already public information. The revelation of God in the Holy Bible is for all people everywhere and at all times (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15).
Second, Christians do not know who is elect and who is reprobate (Rom 9:22–23); therefore, the warning of assured destruction is a general warning to all people (Rom 1:18). John the Baptist posed it as a question, “Who can deliver you from the wrath to come (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7)?” The apostle Paul answers the wilderness prophet’s question for us, “…Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10).” The unbeliever obviously does not believe this truth.
Third, the warning of eternal punishment serves to humble elect, redeemed, believers (2 Pet 3:11) and to stimulate gratitude for so great a grace from God in salvation (Eph 2:8–9; 1 Thess 5:17–18). At the same time, it serves to harden the heart of the reprobate unbeliever (Jn 12:40; Heb 3:8, 15; 4:7). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News and the power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16–17). It is bad news for everyone else who does not have the Son (Rom 8:9) and has not been given His gift of the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, the ministry of God’s Word, in order to be found faithful, must be declared as a whole counsel. This includes the promise of God for just judgment and punishment for sinners (Mt 25:41, 46; Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Jude 7; Rev 20:11, 14–15), who press on in their unbelief and ungodly living (Jn 3:19; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12; 8:7; Eph 2:12; Jude).
Fifth, faithful proclamation of sure destruction has no power to change God’s eternal decree of election, nor His eternal decree of reprobation (Rom 9). The assurance of both election and reprobation are ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:36; 1 Jn 5:11–13). The task of those who know the truth is to faithfully declare it without pretension or prejudice…and certainly without pride.
Sixth, preaching the assurance of destruction is a testimony of the preacher’s own faith in the truth of God’s revelation. It is a marvelous test. Those who fail to preach this subject are exposed as charlatan purveyors of “God is love, only” theology. They deceive the deceived. In this case, neither the preacher nor the hearer has the Spirit of truth to guide them into all truth (Jn 14:17; 16:13).
Seventh, preaching the assurance of destruction comforts and encourages the elect, in that, the truth they are hearing is right and should be faithfully proclaimed. God is glorified as His attributes of justice, righteous judgment, wrath, and eternal will are made known. Again, this is not a morbid exaltation in the destruction of others, but it serves as a very solemn warning and meditation to the elect, redeemed, regenerate saint. The believer marvels at God’s mercy and God’s grace toward him. The unbeliever simply scoffs at the foolishness of the preacher and his message.
Finally, we must agree that it is far more loving to assure our neighbor of the truth — of assured destruction — than permit her to be comforted and deceived by deviant philosophies of the afterlife spawned by the devil. If someone has warned you that you are on your way to hell…and you actually are…then you owe them a debt of gratitude for loving you with the truth.
Stay thirsty for righteousness my friends and be assured of the eternal fire awaiting those who do not love the truth (Lk 16:19–30; Jn 5:42). Finally, remind the naysayer in these matters that Jesus Christ was the most prolific preacher in the Bible on the subjects of damnation, hell, and eternal torment in the lake of fire. This is the Jesus they never knew and the subject they loath from this day forth and forever.
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 19, 2022