As a child of God, I realize that the subject I will be writing about in this article will make some people angry; especially those who have not given and don’t feel as if they need to give their lives to Jesus. I will not apologize for anything that is written here because Jesus did not apologize to anyone who disregarded His words when He was on this planet, two-thousand years ago. As far as God is concerned, there are only two types of people walking this earth: the believers and the unbelievers; the saved and the unsaved; the sheep and the goats; the righteous and the wicked; those who love God and those who don’t. The Holy Bible says a many great things about these two types of people in both the Old and the New Testaments. For example, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:4-10 / NIV).
In God’s economy, you yourself decide which one of these types you are. God has a
right to take sides because it is He who created us and gave us life (Genesis 1:26-27 – “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” NIV). God has a right to let into Heaven anyone He does or doesn’t want there. God wants only those who love Him and obey him. If you think that God has an ego problem, please think again. God created us, so He has a right to tell us what He wants from us. What many do not realize is that God wants everyone in Heaven with Him when they die – everyone. But, the problem is not with God, the problem lies squarely with us, and the decision we must make that determines whether we spend eternity with God in Heaven, or an eternity without him in Hell. God has always left the choice up to us, that’s why He gave us a free will, so we could choose whichever eternity or reality we wanted to live in. If you don’t believe in Hell, then don’t accept Christ as your Savior to be saved from it, and take your chances. But are you willing to take that chance that there is a real Hell? Jesus gave His life and died so you wouldn’t have to find out.
For those who do not know the truth about why God does not just take everyone to Heaven when they die, let me tell it to you straight -- it is because of your sin. Yes, your sin. Before you get annoyed at that comment, let me tell you with great authority that everyone sins. There is not a person on this planet that does not, and has not sinned, a great many times. The Apostle James said it best in 1 John 1:8-10 -- “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (NIV).
The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is that, when an unbeliever sins, there is no one to forgive them of that sin, since they have never given Jesus their lives. But, when a believer who has given their life to Jesus sins, we can go straight to God, ask for His forgiveness, and immediately receive it from Him. When we are forgiven, God wipes that sin away and remembers it no more (Hebrews 8:12 –“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” NIV). With God, it is as if that sin had never happened. Still, if you have never given Jesus your life and asked Him to forgive your many sins, then by God’s standards, you are still un-forgiven, and remain stained and covered by your sins.
This is why God cannot let an unbeliever into Heaven – God hates sin and cannot look upon it because it is abhorrent to Him (Psalm 11:5 –“The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” NIV). On your own, you could never be good enough, or do enough things to get God to see you any different. It is only through the blood Jesus shed on the cross that wipes away your sins in a way that God no longer sees them. When you tell Jesus that you want to give Him your life, and then ask Him to forgive you, now, when God looks at you, He sees only Jesus, and what He did on the cross when He took upon Himself all of the sins of the world for all time. At that immediate moment, you shake off the wicked ways of the world, and now become the righteousness (in right standing with) of
As explained above, the wicked are people who have not accepted Jesus’ death upon the cross as the substitution for their sins. When it comes to the subject of hope in a wicked (whom I will now refer to as an unbeliever) person’s life, there is a lot that the Bible has to say about it. Unfortunately, for the unbeliever, it is all negative. But let’s look at a few Scriptures and see if we can’t find anything positive for an unbeliever to find hope in.
The hope of the wicked ends in vain.
What does “in vain” really mean? Today we mostly use the word vain to mean conceited, which the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines as “having or showing undue or excessive pride in one's appearance or achievements.” But, vain also means: “having no real value: idle, worthless”; “marked by futility or ineffectualness: unsuccessful, useless (ex: vain efforts to escape/ futile)”. Taken together, the words “in vain” mean -- to no end; without success or result; in an irreverent or blasphemous manner (ex: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Deut 5:11/ NIV))” Simply put, vanity is futile and even potentially dangerous, especially when it comes to your spiritual life and position.
Proverbs 10:28 tells us that: The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked are all in vain (NLT). In the life of a believer, there is happiness in knowing that Jesus Christ will come back for us someday and take us into Heaven where He is for all of eternity. But in the life of those who refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the Bible says that their hope will end in vain. How many of us today would put our faith in someone who never does what he says, never tells the truth, or never stops letting us know that he is greater or more superior to us? But don’t we do just that every day when some of us put our faith in the Satan, letting him dictate to us that we should keep on doing things we know aren’t right, or even legal? We know we shouldn’t drink and drive, or text while driving, but how many of us still do it believing that we won’t kill someone when the car goes off course because we aren’t paying attention to driving the car and not keeping both hands on the wheel. Isn’t putting your hope in your driving skills in vain when you do things like this?
But, when it comes to the future, why do so many people play games with their eternal destination? We are all going to die someday, and after we take our last breath, we are going to be alive someplace (Galatians 5:19-21 – “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” NIV). Where that place is is to be your greatest decision. Hoping that God will let you into Heaven without your having given your life to His Son, Jesus, is in vain, and, as the definition above says, will be without success, though it will end in a result that you don’t want to discover, because that result is Hell. If you refuse to choose Heaven, then you will have chosen Hell by default,
The hope of the wicked will perish.
One of the other definitions of vanity is that vanity is “marked by futility or ineffectualness: unsuccessful, useless (ex: vain efforts to escape/futile)”. Proverbs 11:7 says it very well: “When the wicked die, their hopes all perish, for they rely on their own feeble strength” (NLT). If Jesus is not your Lord and Savior when you die, you will have hoped for Heaven for nothing. You will have wasted useless time in a state of futility hoping to get to Heaven, when all you had to do before you died was to ask Jesus to be in your Lord and Savior.
Too many people believe that God will let them into Heaven simply because they are good people”. Such vanity this is! In Romans 3:10-12 it clearly exclaims to us that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” NIV). God says that there is not one “good” person living on this earth that can gain Heaven without His intervention. There are too many people on this earth who believe that God will let them into Heaven just because they have done many good works to others in need. But the Bible also says that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 / NIV). Again, this is such futility on the part of any human believing that they can tell God who to let into Heaven. Only God gets to make that decision, as we have discussed earlier in this article.
Read the book of Ecclesiastes to see just how futile life without God is. Talk about vanity, and the uselessness of the things we recklessly put our hope in! As the verse above tells us the wicked’s (unbeliever’s) hope will perish when they die, because once you decide that Hell is where you want to be, and you are there, then there is no hope for ever getting into Heaven – ever. Do you want to know for sure that you will be in Heaven with Jesus? Then please make the right decision right now, and tell Jesus that Heaven is where you want to be, so that the hope you have for a great future can be realized on the day you take your last breath.
The hope of the wicked is easily broken.
Have you ever put your hope in someone so much that, when they came through for you, you felt so elated that your faith and trust in them rose higher than the sky? But, when they next let you down, your faith and trust in them bottomed out? This is what happens when we hope in the wrong thing. There are very few places where your hope can rest without the fear of it being dashed against the wall of your life. We all tend to place our hope in things that can just as easily steal that hope from us. When it comes to God, if your hope is not in Him, then your hope is fake and mostly non-existent (Job 27:8 – “For what hope has the godless when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?” NIV). Too many situations and problems in life can make you feel as if hope has left the planet and disaster is all you’ll face because of hope’s brittle way of leaving you when you most need it.
Hope is brittle – here one day and gone the next. For the believer in Christ, hope’s foundation is found in Jesus Christ. On His promises do we place our hopes, knowing full well that Jesus will never go back on His promises to keep us and take care of us. But, for the unbeliever, hope is brittle and can let you down at without a moment’s notice. What does the Bible say about the hope of one who doesn’t know God? In Job 8:13-15 we read, “That is what will happen to those who forget God; the hope of the wicked will be gone. What they hope in is easily broken; what they trust is like a spider’s web. They lean on the spider’s web, but it breaks. They grab it, but it does not hold up”(NCV).
What are you trusting in at this very moment -- a person; an object; sex; drugs; other things that keep you from thinking about your eternal destiny? As we all know, all of the above things will let you down, because, without God, we have no idea what we are doing and how to get away from it. As the verse above says, people without hope are grabbing at things that possibly can’t help them escape their sins, temptations, and the guilt they both bring. That kind of hope cannot hold you up and crumbles at the smallest bit of doubt. Godless hope is brittle.
What are you hoping in? Earlier we discussed the kind of hope that says that God will let us into Heaven because a good God would never send anyone to Hell. Let me remind you that it is you who decides to go to Hell, because you refuse to put your hope and faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did for you on the cross. But, why would God rely on you to make the decision? Because, He gave you a free will just so you could make that decision. Because He is such a good God, He refuses to force anyone to be in Heaven if they don’t want to be. Love never forces anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. Place your hope and faith in Jesus and you will never have worry about where you will go when you die. The choice is up to you.
The wicked can expect God’s wrath.
By now, you may be asking yourself, “But why is God mad at me? Doesn’t He love me enough to want me in Heaven with Him?” The answer is: yes, He does. But, again, it is your choice. God and Jesus already did the hard work when Jesus gave up His life for us on the cross. God knew that the only way our sins could be wiped out was if His perfect, sinless Son took on all of our sins upon Himself, took them to the grave, and rose again just as spotless as before He died.
God’s anger isn’t with those who call on the name of Jesus and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. God is only angry at those who do not believe that He sent His Son to die for our sins. Have you ever gotten angry when someone didn’t believe you when what you had to say was very, very important? Why should God be any different? What He has been telling us for the last six thousand years is that He truly loves us and wants us ALL in Heaven with Him (2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” NIV). But, humans that we are, always wanting our own way, have made it a point to push God aside to follow our own agendas. Even Jesus’ fellow countrymen pushed Him away when He came to them two thousand years ago.
If you desire to be in Heaven someday, then choose to give Jesus your life. If you desire to be forever separated from Jesus, then choose to live with Satan, when he is cast in to the pit at the end of time (which is a lot sooner than you think). As Proverbs 11:23 reminds us, “The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath” (NIV). It’s good to have the proper desires – a great marriage, healthy children, a happy life, to name just a few. Isn’t it better to know that your desires will pay off someday in such a way that they bring you nothing but joy and happiness? The right kind of joy and happiness where there is no guilt or condemnation of any kind, knowing that, in fulfilling your desires, they won’t turn around and bite you back? Remember, God only stays angry at those who will not believe that Jesus Christ is His Son, and is the only way to get into Heaven.
The wicked will be destroyed.
This brings us to the most difficult thing that most people have a hard time understanding about a kind and loving God. Yes, God is kind and loving, but He is also a God of justice. When we sin we are breaking His laws. Just like getting a speeding ticket, we have to pay the penalty for doing wrong things. How many times did your parents punish you for disobeying their rules of the house? Why should God be any different? He created us, so He has a right to tell us what to do and how to live, just as your parents had the right to do since they “created” you. Sometime in the future God will finally decide that enough is enough, and it’s time to call His believing children home (Revelation 22:12 – “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” NIV). When He does, He will separate the believers from the unbelievers (Matthew 31-46 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” NIV). He will create a new Heaven and a new Earth (2 Peter 3:13 – “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” NIV) and place His believing children there to live with Him forever in Paradise (1 Peter 1:3-4 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,.” NIV). Those who had refused to accept His free gift of salvation in Christ while still alive will be relegated to the pit of Hell, where they will be separated from God forever, just as they had decided they wanted to be.
But you don’t have to be counted in the numbers of those who flat out refused to give Jesus their lives before they died. You can decide today that Hell is real and that you don’t want to go there when your days on earth are finally over. Think of your worst nightmare – Hell is far, far worse than that. What do you have to lose, other than the Paradise that God created you for in the first place? Don’t take this decision lightly -- your eternal life depends on it. Don’t leave it until tomorrow, for you have no idea when you will die. You could be hit by a car, or have a heart attack in the next few minutes. Only God knows what day and time you will die (Hebrews 9:27-28 – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” NIV). Don’t leave it up to chance. Know for sure where you will go when you die. God loves you. Jesus took upon Himself all of your sins, died and rose again for you so that you could be with Him in Heaven. I plead to Jesus for your soul. Be a believer and join God’s children in Paradise at the end of time. Jesus is waiting for you, too.
I will give God the last word on this hope that only He can bring. The only kind of hope that you can trust in: “The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy (Psalm 145:20/NIV).
"Scripture Marked (NIV) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved."
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked (NCV) is quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.
In vain. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved April 6, 2012, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/in vain.
Coming next: The Promise of Hope
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