The Fiery Fate of Rejecting Jesus

Posted on January 8, 2021

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By David Ettinger

The Ground Rules Laid
Even before Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist laid down the ground rules. He warned the Israelites that their long-awaited Messiah had arrived, and that anyone who received Him would be rewarded, while anyone who rejected Him would be punished.

John said: “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

John was illustrating the separation that occurs when a winnowing fork tosses grain into the air, separating the wheat from the chaff. In this analogy, the wheat represents believers – those who accept the Messiah. The chaff represents unbelievers, those who reject the Messiah.

Just as the wheat falls to the ground and then is collected and placed in a barn, so believers will be gathered by Jesus at their death and delivered to eternity. And just as the chaff is blown a few feet in the air – away from the wheat – gathered up, and burned in the fire, so are unbelievers eventually cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

This is not the message most believers enjoy giving when sharing the Gospel, but it is truth nonetheless, and must be shared. It must be shared because the unsaved must know what will happen to them if they die having rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The Only Answer
John’s warning does not “fit” the picture of the loving, lamb-like Jesus so many Christians like to speak about exclusively. When sharing Christ with the lost, believers don’t like talking about judgment, but the only real answer that can be given to an unbeliever who asks, “Why do I need Jesus Christ in my life?” is: “Because once we die, we go to one of two places, Heaven or Hell, and the destination depends on having accepted or rejected the Lord Jesus.”

Some may argue that such language is too “Old Testamenty” for their tastes. For instance, in doling out judgment on two evil nations, God “… rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah …” (Genesis 19:24).

To the enemies of God – those who hate Him (v. 8) – the Lord “will make them as a fiery oven in the time of [His] anger; the Lord will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will devour them” (Psalm 21:9).

To the sinful Northern Kingdom of Israel, God said: “As they gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the smelting furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath, and I will place you there and melt you” (Ezekiel 22:20).

These passages are more than instances of earthly judgment, but of actual, spiritual, eternal judgment.

Well, you may be thinking, that is the Old Testament. This does not describe my loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

New Testament Fire
If you think that, you haven’t read the entire New Testament.

The apostle Paul tells us: “… the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

The writer of Hebrews tells us: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Note how similar those New Testament verses are to the Old Testament verses. No, sharing these passages is not at all pleasant, but it is absolutely necessary. The world must be warned that rejection of the Savior Jesus Christ has eternal consequences in the literal “lake of fire.”

Neither John the Baptist nor the writers of the Bible shied away from communicating this truth. They may not have liked it either, but they knew it must be shared.

May God give us the courage and boldness to share the true Gospel with those whose very souls depend on knowing and accepting this truth!