In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous articles we’ve been considering the consequences of our sin. Last week we saw that when we sin we become justly liable to punishment in this world. This week I want to show you that you also become liable to punishment in the world to come.
Due to our sin, in the next world we are shut out from the comfortable presence of God. Paul speaks of this: ‘God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed’ (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). God simply removes his presence and his power for those who have rebelled against him.
And the result is not pretty – it is hell itself. In Revelation we read just a little about the torments of hell: ‘But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’ (Revelation21:8). Jesus warns people to stay away from hell: ‘And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”’ (Mark 9:47-48). Jesus is clear, the fire of hell is eternal.
So how do you escape such punishment in the world to come? In the verses we read from 2 Thessalonians it condemned people to punishment for not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus. So, conversely, if you do obey the gospel you will go to heaven instead of hell. How do you obey the gospel? Repent of your sin and believe that Jesus died for your sin.
Have you recognised that you deserve to be punished in the world to come because of your sin? Have you believed the gospel of God to escape such punishment?