“And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them! ” – Revelation 14:9-13
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve read the whole Bible, or perhaps you’re working towards that end. In any case, if you’re a Christian, you do have to acknowledge and wrestle with the reality of hell as revealed by God in His Word. Anyone who rejects Christ will be judged according to his or her own works and will stand condemned before him. The consequences are eternal.
Just today God provided me with a great conversation and an opportunity to share the good news. My new friend is quite convinced of the certainty of hell for the really bad people he knows. But he wasn’t concerned with it affecting him someday, despite admitting he doesn’t believe in Christ alone for salvation at this point in his life. We said goodbye on friendly terms and I hope we’ll run into each other again so that we can talk more. Either way, I’m asking fervently for his salvation.
But I’ll admit that on my drive home I was like, “God, what if not? Why me to know you and maybe not him? What about all the people outside of Christ who are already dead? What about the people I’ve prayed for for years who still haven’t received Your incredible love?”
And once again the Spirit brought Revelation 14 to mind. He doesn’t downplay the reality of His eternal wrath against the disobedient. The judgment is coming and it’s serious. But, don’t forget and don’t doubt it, Emma: God is very patient and He is fair. Keep the faith, Emma. Persevere, Emma.
I reached chapter 14 in my memorizing schedule in February 2016, just a year before the deaths of loved ones began to ravage my friend’s lives. Some lost young children, and continuing to trust His providence in those losses is still very difficult. (As an aside, this book is very comforting).
Some were believers and some- by what could be seen- were not in Christ. Then, just a few months after those losses, God woke me up early on a Saturday and urged me to go back out to pray and sidewalk counsel at the abortion clinic. It’s a place where death seems to win out, where offerings of tangible help are often rejected, and where I don’t get to see what happens in the lives of those who hear that God loves them but walk on by.
God knew what was ahead. The Spirit was getting me ready to hang on to Jesus for dear life. He was establishing me to continue working- because every prayer and every proclamation of the good news matters.
I can’t wait to rest from these labors and see how these works follow us. But for now, let’s persevere.