Having lived through my fair share of hell fire and brimstone preaching, I do not find it attractive nor are people drawn to it.
One of my family members chooses to believe that a good God would not punish people. Is that the case? Scripture seems to be clear on this for those who change masters.
Revelation 14:9 NASB Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,”
If you give in, worshiping the beast, his image, and taking his mark, then you have condemned yourself to an eternal punishment. Verse 9 creates the context for verse 10 where it says, the one who does this, will:
Revelation 14:10 NASB he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
The he is that person, - there will be many, who gives themselves over to the beast.
Revelation 14:11 NASB "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
Sounds fairly black and white to me, but it is definitely a three-part, intentional, process. It would not be right to condemn a small child who is forced to be chipped while at school. They, often, do not have a clue and to think otherwise about God and his mercy shows me that you know nothing about the character and nature of God.
There is a day coming in which those in opposition to God will come to our “peaceful”streets with an overwhelming level of violence. And, just like we have seen in the African nations where Boko Haran members (a sect of Islam) have fired bombed churches with the attendees inside, or, merely shot or beheaded those who claimed to be Christians. Do you think that won't happen? Then you are deceived already.
That day that is coming falls under the category of, “the day of the Lord,” the time of wrath. The time in which God pours out his wrath upon unbelievers, (Israel and the nations.) We, the church in general, were not meant to receive God's wrath.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB (9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
John 3:36 NASB "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Romans 5:8-10 NASB But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
As Israel wandered and complained in the desert God sent serpents (adders) to punish them [Look this up in Numbers 21.] People began to die and so cried out to Moses for mercy. At God's instructions Moses had an image of the serpent made and placed upon a pole. That was a type of Jesus Christ and, just as the serpents, which did not go away because of the serpent upon the pole, but became a salvation for the people when they looked upon it. Christ became sin upon that cross and took all the wrath due us because of the sin built into us. Sin did not go away, but it's impact, the wrath, went away when we looked to the cross where sin hung and died.
Why then are some continuing to migrate toward the wrath and eternal punishment?
Because some are suppressing the truth.
Romans 1:18 NASB For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
While others, because of their stubbornness and unrepentant hearts are storing up wrath for themselves.
Romans 2:5 NASB But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
I am telling you of things to come, although much of this has already happened in third world nations as Islam has been allowed to rise to power. Since Agenda 21 and now Agenda 2030 are designed to bring America and the Western European nations down to third world nation status for the purposes of population reduction, we can expect to see Islam filling our streets with violence also. It seems like there is nothing you can do doesn't it? But that is not the case. This time is not upon us yet; it will come, I know this because this is the pattern that I see in scripture. However, we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. This is the same power and Word which parted the Red Sea and drown the Egyptian army in the same ocean as they tried to cross it. This is the same word that brought fire down from heaven to consume God's enemies. This is the same word of power that opened up the earth to swallow the Philistines while blasting others with lightning.
What's my point? That God is still looking for those through which he can show himself strong.
Someday soon God will remove his church from the earth. At that point, the game is on and the wrath will begin to pour out of every crack. And, people, will continue to be godless killing machines, all in the power of their god, the beast.
So what happens after the rapture?
Revelation 14:12-13 NASB (12) Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."
Who is he talking about when he says Saints? We love to generalize considering everybody sitting in the pews to be saints. However, Matthew 25 does not tell me that. It shows me that 50% are ill prepared, having no extra oil and will not make it through the gates when he comes because they are off roaming the streets in the middle of the night, looking for more oil. Revelation 14:13 says, “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”
It is God who does the generalizing when he defines saints as:
O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. (Psalms 34:9 NASB)
We all comprehend fear as an aspect of cowering under an oppressive ruler, but God never wanted a relationship like that. Fear then conveys a respectful relationship in which we understand we have no control over anything and because of this relationship there is no want for anything.
Once the church is caught away, the number of people coming into relationship with Jesus Christ will be enumerable. This also tells me that almost as many will be put to death because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Revelation 14:13 NASB And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."
These, because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, are deemed saints. They die because of their testimony – this testimony may or may not be elaborate and many, in their last breath may cry out their love for the Savior. Their actions are their deeds and these acts of kindness follow them into eternity for a remembrance.
Those that embrace a judgmental, unforgiving God typically have problems with God showing people mercy. Here, in the time of wrath, it is so much easier to perceive what happens to these people as God punishing them for their rejection. The problem with that kind of thinking is that you fail to understand that Jesus took all the wrath mandatory for the punishment of sin, upon himself.
Whom then is God's wrath being poured out upon? The nations and Israel for rejecting him. It is never about the church. Because of the timing involved with the gathering of the body to himself, some will escape all wrath; while others, joining themselves to the body of Christ after the in-gathering, will it seems, have to prove their allegiance through death. It seems the only alternative I can see.
Matthew 25: 31-46 offers us a comparable scenario when it comes to deeds that follow them. Jesus, at the end of the thousand years, having called the dead from the nations to himself, separates them into two groups – the sheep and goats. These are not Christians for they have not been caught up in the rapture nor the resurrection of the saints prior to the thousand years. The nations are generally thought to be anyone outside of a relationship with Christ, and yet, the Sheep are given their status because of their deeds, acts of kindness. This is defined as Jesus said,
'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; (Matthew 25:35 NASB)
These simple acts of kindness gained them entrance into the eternal kingdom.
If I thought it wise to take this gamble I would be making a serious mistake. I cannot even pick a line at the market without it coming to a screeching halt for some reason. It is wiser to live in the grace given to me, clinging tightly to his robe.
Consider a piece of wisdom we see in the story of the prodigal's son. Having spent all on riotous living, this Jew, a man who would not have considered touching an unclean pig, ends up not only slopping the hogs but having to eat what they would reject. This was the young man's bottom and looking up meant going back to his father that he had insulted. As he approaches the ranch the father who had looked and longing for his son's return, spots him a long way off and runs to him with outstretched arms. This is the Father and an example of the love he has for us. So, it will not be so much you merely catching a corner of his robe, but Him wrapping his arms around you to welcome you home.