That’s all I’ve been able to think about for the past two hours…
I woke up in the middle of the night, and my first conscious thought was of the people I pass everyday and of my new neighbors in the community where we just moved. Then, just as suddenly and unexpectedly, these words flashed across my mind: “They will burn forever in a lake of fire.” I couldn’t get past the idea. The disturbing image of people engulfed in a sea of fire kept replaying in my head until I was fully awake. I certainly wasn’t trying to think about such morbid things, mind you. And I know the powers of darkness don’t want me to entertain such images. Thus, all I can conclude is that it must have been the Lord who woke me and placed this searing truth before me.
“They will burn forever in a lake of fire. Dwayne, many of the people around you will burn forever.” Really? Will that really happen? Will people who don’t know Christ literally burn forever and ever? Do I truly believe that?
After grappling with those questions for nearly an hour in bed, I decided I’d get up and read what the Bible literally says. This is what I found:
And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 NLT)
I’m a teacher of the Bible. I’m a Christian author and a worship leader. I am a follower of Christ. All these things are true of me, and I’m thankful to be named among the ransomed and free who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord. But, if I passionately worship God week after week–as I sincerely try to do–then how can I not also passionately love those He loves and died for? If I truly believe the Bible to be God’s infallible Word to mankind–which I absolutely do–then how can I not embrace His many warnings about the awfulness of being separated from Him for eternity? How can I not be riveted by the reality of a place called hell? Have I been hiding out in the church, so to speak, somehow cowering behind my esteemed titles and Christian accomplishments? Have I grown so content and comfortable with my own eternal status that I no longer concern myself with the destiny of others?
Oh God, please don’t let me be lulled back into religious lethargy and pious contentment. Please burn afresh into my mind and soul that people without You will burn for eternity in hell. Motivate me to go across my street to build friendships with my neighbors and share Your love with them. Please feel free to cause me to lose sleep and even shed some tears, if it could ultimately result in me helping others lose their darkness and shed tears of new-found joy.