“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
This is described as “the greatest offer ever made by the greatest person who ever lived.” We cannot overlook the fact that this greatest Bible verse on God’s love also contains a warning of judgment—should not perish—because God’s love and justice cannot be separated. His love will hound you to your dying day, but you still must choose Him.
On the cross, Jesus hung between two thieves. One thief believed on Him and went with Him that day to Paradise. The other railed on Him, mocking: “If you are really the Son of God, save yourself and us to.” (Luke 23:39). Hardened by sin and unrepentant, he had no remorse, even in the face of death! Between them was the cross of redemption, but they each had to choose, and so do we. God will never violate our right to choose, even if we choose to perish. This is why He sends so many warnings.
April 15 marks the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The builders of this great ship boasted that she was unsinkable. Their reckless thinking resulted in the deaths of over 1500 passengers. Even after she had hit the iceberg and was quickly going down with many perishing, the New York Times newspaper printed: “all on titanic safe.” Western Union telegrams were also stating that all was okay.
Several fatal mistakes were made by its owners: There were not enough lifejackets for everyone on board; there were also no red flares used for emergencies. There were only white flares onboard, which they shot off, and the SS Californian, a ship 20 miles away, saw them, but did not think it was a distress signal. They eventually came to help, but would have come sooner had they seen red warning flares. By then it was too late to help the hundreds that perished. Amazingly, there were no binoculars for lookout men stationed in the crow’s nest. They were using eyesight to look for icebergs in the dark!
I must tell you, when I look in the Church pulpits of today, I don’t see many red flares going off! I see many shooting off white flares and declaring: “You are blessed! You are favored! You are about to come into your season of greatness.” This would be wonderful if it were always true, but for many who are living in sin, walking with the world, sleeping with the enemy, and still shouting with the saints, they need some Holy-Ghost red flares to warn them that their ship of sin is going down, and they better get on the Jesus’ life boat before it’s too late!
Where are the “warners” like Noah, a preacher of righteousness who warned his generation to flee the coming deluge? (1Peter 3:20, 2Peter 2:5). Like John the Baptist who called out those living in adultery and declared: “Who has warned you to flee the wrath that is to come?” (Luke 3:3-19). Like Paul who told ministers: “Preach, warning every man, and teaching every man with all wisdom…” (Col.1:28). At least 20 times in the New Testament is the command “Take heed” which translates warning!
Where are the “watchmen on the wall” like Ezekiel, who stand with their spiritual binoculars to their faces, keeping watch for the enemy and sounding the warning when danger arises? Ezekiel used warn fifteen times in connection with “pastors”! God’s watchmen are supposed to watch, hear, and warn! (Ref. Ezekiel 3:17-21, 33:1-9)
John Harper was a minister of the Gospel traveling alone with his six-year-old daughter on the Titanic in 1912. When it hit an iceberg and sank, 1520 people perished, because there were not enough lifejackets and lifeboats on board. Women and children were given lifejackets and put on lifeboats first. In the case of a child traveling with only his/her father, he was allowed to go on the lifeboat with his child, as was the case with John Harper. But the last minute, he kissed his little daughter, put her on the life boat, and turned back to preach the Gospel to the hundreds whom he knew would die in the frigid waters.
When the Titanic went down, he swam from person-to-person asking if he/she was saved and prayed with those who wanted to be. One man with a hardened heart answered, “No!” At this, John Harper took off his life jacket, and putting around the man, said, “Sir, You need this more than I do.”
Only six people survived those frigid waters, and that man was one of them. Later he became a born-again Christian and at a reunion of Titanic survivors, he stood up and declared: “I have been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and will for the rest of my life!” If John Harper was not willing for that man to perish—and gave him his life jacket in hopes of saving his natural life, to give him time to choose Christ—how much more is your Heavenly Father not willing for you to perish? When His Son gave His life for you?
“For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… who has delivered us from the wrath to come” (1Thes.5:9). The Bible says, “Men perish because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause, God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth…” (2Thess.2:10-12).
Could any of us, especially parents, stand on the shoreline and watch someone, especially our child, floundering in the water and not throw out a lifesaver? No. And neither can we fail to tell them that now is the time to escape the damnation of Hell.
Hell As Real As Heaven
It always amazes me how people can believe in a place called Heaven but not in Hell. Jesus Christ actually preached more on Hell than Heaven, because He knows how terrible, how tormenting, how horrible and permanent Hell is! There are no exits in Hell. No back doors. You can’t take a “weekend” in Hell to see if you like it and want to live there. There are no “timeshares” in Hell. Neither is there a place called “Purgatory”—no temporary place where you can stay so long and then after you have been “purged for your sins,” you can get out. The Bible flatly teaches: You must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus now! “Today is the day of salvation, and now is the accepted time” (2Cor.6:2).
No one on earth can pray you out of Hell once you are there, not even Mary, or one of the “Saints.” No one can light candles for you, or as Mormons teach, be baptized for you after you are dead. There is no “graduation day” from Hell, because it is not a reform school or correctional center. Jesus said: “The worm (man) dies not and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). This means you will have an eternal body that cannot die. He said: “There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt.8:12). This is not a metaphor—this describes a person with a being and consciousness, and a body that can feel pain and torment—that can burn but not be consumed. The Bible says: “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” (Rev.14:11).
The worst thing about Hell: You can never feel the presence of God. It is a place of utter hopelessness: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power” (2Thes.1:9). People in Hell will still have their desires to lust, to sin, even to rebel, because there’ll be no presence of God to convict them. In Hell, the filthy will still have their filthy desires and imaginations and their addictions with no way to feed them (Rev.22:11).
There will be no sermons in Hell, no teachers to teach or preachers to preach. For teenagers, there will be no saved parents to get on your case. No praying mom or dad to tell you the truth. There will be no voice of God to convict your heart and no Holy Spirit to say: “Repent.”
Jesus told of the rich man who died and went to Hell, and being in great torments in the flames, he begged father Abraham to send Lazarus the beggar, who had died and gone to Paradise, with a drop of water on his finger to cool his tongue. But he never said: “Have mercy on me, and forgive me of my sins, and save me” (Luke 16:19-31). There was no spirit of conviction upon him, because there is no Spirit of God in Hell. We know this is not a parable but a true story, because Jesus never named characters in His parables. Hell is not fictitious; it’s a real place of eternal torments.
Today, if you are convicted of your sins, there is still time to accept the greatest offer ever made, and have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev.20:15, 22:1).