The devil in the cloak of the serpent posed the question that ensnared Adam and Eve. God said, “…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” (Genesis 2:17). Satan asked, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1)
God had declared the consequence of disobedience. If Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Flatly contradicting God, Satan said, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).
God said what He meant, and meant what He said! With sin came death—spiritual, physical, and eternal. With the sin of Adam and Eve “… death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
But God is gracious. He gave to the fallen couple the wonderful promise of a Savior from sin. He promised the Seed of the woman who as man’s substitute under the divine law would suffer a bruised heel in the fearful battle through which He would deliver a mortal wound to the devil.
To the devil God said, “He shall crush your head” (Genesis 3:15). The Seed of the woman was the Lord Jesus Christ through whose righteous act “the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18).
While humanity must suffer the bitter consequences of sin in this life—the greatest of which is death—in Christ eternal death has been conquered and is no longer a threat to any who believe in Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Yes, in Christ Jesus God the Father reconciled the whole world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). Blessed are all who by power of the Spirit believe in Him who is the personification of the gospel, for Scripture says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
In his Gospel Mark records, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (16:16).
In one of his epistles John records, “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” (1 John 5:11, 12).
Making God a Liar!
Nevertheless, unbelieving man out of the deceit of his own heart contradicts God as did the devil.
We recently read (St. Paul Pioneer Press, from the New York Times—3/5/11) of a “most influential evangelical pastor” who has a problem with the teaching that—as he describes it—“a select few Christians” will go to heaven “while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.” The writer terms the idea of eternal punishment in hell “misguided and toxic.”
Such a deceiver is neither a Christian pastor nor an evangelical. He is a purveyor of death! Yes, in this world everyone is free to believe whatever he chooses to believe, and a preacher is free to preach what he chooses to preach.
But one who denies that only those who believe in Christ will go to heaven while those who reject Christ will go to hell is not a spokesman of God, but makes of God a liar. This purveyor of false doctrine who is described as “part of the emerging church movement, which caters to younger believers” speaks the imagination of his own mind.
Does God the Father desire the eternal death of any sinner? Absolutely not! It is His desire that all people turn from their unbelief and wickedness and live (Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9).
In this regard God again said what He meant, and meant what He said! For that very reason He promised the Savior, nurtured that promise throughout the Old Testament period, and ultimately brought it to pass through the birth, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Although Christ died for all, has God indeed said that only believers in Christ Jesus will go to heaven and spend eternity with Him? “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34). “And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 4:17).
Has God said that those who deny and reject Him will go to hell for eternity “with no chance for anything better”? He will say to those who do not have the Son of God (1 John 5:12) and who do not believe (Mark 16:16), “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his wicked angels…And these will go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:41,46), from which there is no release (Luke 16:23-26).
The God of Scripture is the living God who loves all. What more could He have done and offered to manifest that love and His desire for the salvation of the sinner? How much more could He have done than what He did?!
Concerning both the salvation of those who believe in Him or the judgment of those who reject Him in unbelief, He is faithful to His Word!
People can deny the truth, but they cannot change it! “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Thus saith the Lord. Blessed are all who believe, for they shall see Him whom they have believed in heaven!