“A Day of Reckoning” Pt. 2
Romans 2:8-9, 11
April 3, 2016
There are many misconceptions about God, Christ, the Bible, the cross, the resurrection, and many other biblical doctrines. But perhaps the most dangerous truth to misunderstand is the truth about Hell and God’s coming judgment. Inaccuracies and vagueness about Hell are prolific. Consider just a few that I found in my files this week:
- A few days before his execution, Timothy McVey, the Oklahoma City bomber, said, “I don’t believe in God or in hell…but if I end up there I’ll have plenty of company.”
- Ted Turner, the businessman behind television stations like TBS, TNT, TCM, CNN, and more said, “Heaven is perfect. Who wants to go to a place that’s perfect? Boring, boring. In [Hell] we’ll have a chance to make things better because hell is supposed to be such a mess.”
- A number of years ago, a California skateboard manufacturer included a brochure with each of its products that encouraged buyers to sell their souls to the devil, even including a contract that promised to consign their souls to Hell. On the brochure a smiling “devil” described Heaven as an unappealing place where “they set up a bunch of dumb rules, and then they imposed a really strict dress code.”
- Before he died from cancer, atheist philosopher Christopher Hitchens said about Heaven, “[You’re at a party and] you get tapped on the shoulder, but [instead of being told to leave,] guess what? The party’s going on forever; you have to stay. And not only that, but you have to have a good time — the boss says so.” (He shudders) “Anything eternal is probably intolerable.”
- In the late 1980s current presidential candidate Donald Trump said, “I don’t worry [about death]. I’m fatalistic and I protect myself as well as anybody can. I prepare for things. But ultimately we all end up going. I don’t believe in reincarnation, heaven, or hell — but we go someplace. Do you know, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out where.”
- Perhaps the most sobering is a study that was done by the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a decade ago that found that 65% of people in Minnesota believed in Hell, which is a relatively high number. However, only 15% said they knew someone who was certain to go there, and only 3% believed that they would go there. In other words, most people in that survey believe in the reality of Hell, but they don’t see it as a danger.
And add to that the flippant way that Hell is spoken of in our culture. Instead of being used as a proper noun to describe a real place, it is used as an adjective (helluva or hellish) or an adverb (hellishly) to describe things that are bad, but not really so bad, and even good: bike races (“Hotter Than Hell 100”), fastballs, outside temperatures, hot sauces, and more. The way the word Hell is used as a vulgarity and adjective in our culture is part of Satan’s design to get mankind to believe that Hell is not such bad place. After all, if we can endure Texas in August and habanera hot sauce, then we will also certainly be able to endure Hell. Four hours after the hot sauce, it doesn’t feel quite so bad; surely Hell will be the same.
It is not the same. Hell is a horrid place beyond our comprehension and imagination. And God’s judgment is real and people you and I know will be in Hell — not for a day or week or season, but for all eternity.
We do well to remember the words of two more men:
- Solomon Stoddard [grandfather of Jonathan Edwards] said, “Many men are not aware what a terrible thing it is to be damned. They have a deeper sense of poverty and reproach than they have of damnation. They look upon hell as an uncomfortable place; they think that if it must be their portion to go to hell they shall bear it as well as others; they are not likely to go there alone. They seldom think of it. They look upon it as a remote thing at a great distance, and it doesn’t terrify them.”
- And secular, unbelieving philosopher Voltaire was asked to speak some words of comfort to a dying friend, but he declined to do so, saying, “I don’t think I can do that. The thought that there might really be a hell plagues me continually.”
In the book of Romans, Paul is explaining his understanding of the gospel, and he has begun with his understanding of sin and its effects on all mankind. In chapter 1, he noted that the pagan unbelievers are under the condemnation of God because of their sinful rebellion against Him. But now in chapter 2 he also reveals that those who are self-righteous and believe they are good without Christ are also facing God’s real judgment — a judgment that will end in Hell.
And to make his point, Paul notes in vv. 6-11 that all men will face judgment — both those who are righteous in Christ and those who are righteous without Christ. Last time we looked at the judgment of the righteous. Today we will look at the judgment of the unrighteous (including those who think they are righteous, though they are not).
In these verses, Paul tells us —
God will judge all men according to their actions.
In these verses there are four warnings about this coming judgment (we will see the last two today):
- The Certainty of Judgment (v. 6)
- The Certainty of Judgment for Believers (vv. 7, 10)
- The Certainty of Judgment for Unbelievers (vv. 8-9)
- The Impartiality of the Judge (v. 11)
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 2:8-9, 11.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.