WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 22, 2021
TOPIC: CHOOSE ETERNAL LIFE OR ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
BY T. O. BANSO
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46 New Living Translation).
There is an eternity waiting for everybody after death: eternity with God or eternity with the devil in hellfire. Each person chooses where he will spend his eternity based on his decision on Jesus Christ on earth before he dies. One can decide to accept or reject Jesus as one’s Lord and Saviour.
Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, grants you access to eternal life while rejecting Him will lead you to eternal punishment. Both are eternity waiting for humanity. Talking about the unrighteous (those on the left hand) and the righteous, Jesus says, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says it like this: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” The Greek word translated as everlasting or eternal in the phrase everlasting/eternal punishment is aionios. The same Greek word is used for eternal in the phrase eternal life.
There are two dimensions to eternal life as regards those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. The first is their new life in Christ Jesus upon their salvation. The second is in the future - the glorious life believers will live in heaven. Eternal life is the life believers currently live on earth in Christ Jesus, which is directly connected to the full enjoyment of eternal life in the future.
The story of the Rich Young Ruler who asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life underscores the fact that a total commitment to Jesus Christ is required to enjoy eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23).
Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed for men to die once but after this the judgment. God sent His Son to be born and to die to save us from our sins and hell, to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of Satan. The apostle Paul says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 New King James Version). Paul also says that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Have you given your life to Jesus? Is your name in the register of those saved, which is called the Book of life? Revelation 20:15 says anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. Eternal punishment is real. Eternal life is also real. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:11-13 New King James Version).
If anyone decides to reject eternal life, he has automatically opted for eternal punishment. If anyone does not decide to spend eternity with God, it means he has chosen to spend eternity with the devil, and what is waiting for such a person is a future of eternal conscious punishment.
From Jesus’ teachings, we learn that in hell, “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:46, 48 New King James Version). It is a place of outer darkness and a furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).
The Bible teaches us that the suffering of sinners in hellfire is unending. They will not suffer annihilation. In other words, there is no extermination or extinguishment of unbelievers after they have paid the penalty for their sins, as the proponents of annihilationism say. It is also not true that death is the end of all existence as annihilationists say. Rather, the unsaved will suffer an unending conscious punishment or torment in hell, not limited suffering that will be followed by annihilation.
The destruction of unbelievers does not mean annihilation; it is separation from the life of God. Sinners will not cease to exist after they die. They will suffer eternal conscious torment. And there is no room for repentance or restoration after death. There is no second chance for sinners after death. The fire in hell is eternal! The torment is never-ending.
Jude 5-7 says, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (New King James Version). Eternal fire! The only way of escape is Jesus Christ.
Talking about God’s final judgment on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul says they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The punishment for those who reject Jesus and die in their sins is everlasting destruction. Their suffering shall be eternal.
Hell is such a terrible place that Jesus, expressing the severity of the suffering there, says, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:8-9 New King James Version).
Jesus doesn’t mean you should literally cut off your hand and foot or pluck your eyes. He is emphasizing the need to take drastic measures against whatever can take you to hell. Why should anyone choose to spend his eternity in hell which God didn’t make for man; God made hell originally for the devil and his angels. Hear what Jesus says: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41 New King James Version).
Jesus was born as a human being to save humanity from hellfire and give us eternal life. This is what we celebrate specially at Christmas. Why should anyone reject God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ? Jesus says God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). He says further in verse 36 that he who believes in the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
If anyone chooses to follow Satan, as all the fallen angels did, such a fellow will end in hell. God has placed before you life and death, and He is asking you to choose what you want (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Jeremiah 21:8). Will you choose life or hell? This Christmas season, if you haven’t decided to spend your eternity with God, you should give your life to Jesus today and save yourself from hellfire.
God will not deliberately cast anyone into hellfire. Only those who choose to go to hellfire will end there. They will be there forever with the devil. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 New King James Version).
Jesus Christ is the only sacrifice that can save you from hellfire. There is no other sacrifice for sin but Jesus. The apostle Peter says there is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Choose eternal life or eternal punishment today. But know that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but have eternal life. A living relationship with Jesus will save you from eternal punishment and give you eternal life. “For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life” (Romans 5:10 New Living Translation).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Jesus, I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. I receive eternal life now and will enjoy the fullest expression of eternal life in the future. I will live a glorious life. Holy Spirit, convict those who are yet to surrender their lives to Jesus to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Let them be delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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