Reward and Punishment - Part 2

February 5, 2022

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).

The rational Christian mind believes there must be degrees of punishment in hell for those who have rejected faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Hell is hell, and the torment and terror of it is beyond our ability to understand. But surely an unsaved person who lived a good, responsible, caring, and benevolent life will not suffer like a Hitler or Stalin, a Dahmer or Bundy, right?

The Bible states that judgment in hell will indeed be experienced differently for different people. (Revelation 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. If these people are destined for hell anyway, why be judged according to their works?

In Luke 10 Jesus speaks of comparative punishment. To one village that rejects the Gospel Jesus said, I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city (10:12). He then spoke to Bethsaida and Chorazin, . . . it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you (10:14). Whatever punishment the residents of Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon will be in hell, the towns in Galilee that refused to hear Jesus Christ would experience the greater. The level of punishment in hell is tied to the amount of light a person rejects.

In Luke 12:47-48 Jesus said, And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. This also speaks of various levels of punishment in hell.

Again, Scripture does tell us there are degrees of punishment in hell, but it doesn’t detail what those degrees of punishment are. Is it enough that any level of hell (Dante’s Inferno), or any degree of punishment in hell is beyond our understanding or imagination. But to suffer a greater degree of punishment forever is quite incomprehensible.

The reality of heaven and hell is this (Matthew 7:13-14), Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Jesus is that narrow gate and difficult way that leads to life. Amen.


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