When the wicked spring up like grass,
and when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
it is that they may be destroyed forever.
In this essay, I intend to show:
1. Who it is that God considers “wicked”; and why they go to Hell.
2. Who it is that God considers “righteous”; and why they go to Heaven.
3. Answers to objections made by Universalists and Antinomians.
Who it is that God considers “wicked”; and why they go to Hell.
1.1. The Bible clearly shows us that God considers “wicked,” any man who knowingly rebels against His law, as a way of life. If good reasons are presented to his mind for faith in Christ, he often responds with atheistic or anti-Christian objections: so that he can go on justifying his sinful pleasures: “The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Such a man has even had times where faith has entered him, but he resists faith on purpose, because he hates the concept of living a holy life. He scoffs at it, and calls it “religious.”
1.2. If wicked men die in their sins, without Christ, and they have come out of their bodies: God will allow demons to drag them down to Hell, through a dark tunnel, where they will be met with many tortures: “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). And on the Day of Judgment, at the end of the world, they will afterwards be thrown into the Lake of Fire, where they will burn forever. It is clear that all the wicked “shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:10-11).
Who it is that God considers “righteous”; and why they go to Heaven.
2.1. The Bible clearly shows us that God considers “righteous,” any man who puts his faith in Christ’s death on the cross for his personal sins. And in response to this, he tries to live his life in conscientious obedience to every moral commandment in the Bible. This obedience is imperfect, and gradually increases, as the Christian’s life goes on. The love of God being poured into his heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), the righteous man grows in his love for God and all people. This divine love is holy, and motivates the true Christian to both learn and practice all of the commandments of God (but only those which are moral commandments, not the ritual commandments of Judaism in the Old Testament). With a sense of being adopted by God as a Father, he sees himself as a child of God. But also, that wicked and sinful element in his body (which he resists and fights against with the Holy Spirit’s help)—may also tempt him into awful sins (Romans 7:23). And so, the righteous man still partially fears going to Hell, and continues to persevere in faith and righteousness all the days of his life.
2.2. Although God is His Father: he also sees God as his Judge. The righteous man is as much an adopted son as he is a rehabilitated criminal: in God’s sight. He must continue to please God by doing what God says: the righteous commandments of the Holy Bible. Even the righteous man has the natural ability to resist faith, righteousness, the Holy Spirit’s influence on his life, in his thoughts and feelings (Acts 7:51); and this is especially hazardous in times of trial and tribulation; and he can become a wicked man again, but only then it will be much harder for his backslidden heart to be renewed again to repentance and faith, because he hardened his heart against the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-6). But in some cases, if the degree of heart hardening is not so great, a backslider can return again to his first love: and come back to God (Revelation 2:4-5). So, final salvation in Heaven, at the end of one’s life, is completely conditioned on the state of that man’s soul at his death: as long as he dies in the faith, and in a righteous mindset, he is safe from the fires of Hell (Revelation 14:13).
2.3. If righteous men die in the Christian faith, then God will send His angels to take them to New Jerusalem, which is located in the Third Heaven, and where they will enjoy everlasting peace in their eternal homes (Revelation 3:12).
Universalist Objections Answered
3.1. A Universalist may object: “God is love, so it cannot be that He would cast the wicked into everlasting Hell fire.”
I reply: “God is love, but His kind of love is holy and righteous. God’s love is not the kind of love that wicked men have for one another (without any reference to morals, ethics, or law). But God’s love is pure, spotless, and undefiled by any sin: it is a morally brilliant love; and because there is no moral conflict nor ethical disagreement in His love, it also has a sense of perfect peace, harmony, and tenderness in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The same apostle which wrote that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8), only a chapter later, wrote, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome’ (1 John 5:3). For wicked men to live their lives consciously rebelling against God, and His moral commandments, they prove themselves to be horrible beasts of hatred (Hitler, for example). God’s moral law is conducive to nothing else but perfect love for God and people. So, because God is love (righteous love), He is passionately urgent to angrily cast such hateful, despicable, wicked men into everlasting Hell fire, so that they may be burned forever. And rightly so!”
3.2. A Universalist may object: “What about those who have never heard the Gospel? Surely God would not consider them among ‘the wicked’!”
I reply: “All men are by nature wicked, but in the legal and judicial sense, no—not all men have heard, the preaching of either God’s moral law, or the Gospel of justification by faith with good works. And so, the unevangelized are not ‘wicked’ in the legal sense—that is, until the Holy Spirit has begun to draw them to Christ (and they get into the habit of resisting His influence on their lives). Such pagans have the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, leading their hearts and minds to think and feel righteous concepts, or maybe even experience encounters with Jesus through dreams and visions (as it is in many Muslim countries). They may cross paths with Christians, or missionaries preaching the Gospel, or something on the radio, or TV. They may see a Gospel tract or Bible printed in their language. Or, in some of the more primitive countries, where magic and supernatural activity are much more experienced: Jesus or angels may appear to them visibly, in order to convey the Gospel message. In whatever degree the Holy Spirit influences the unreached pagans, to that degree they will be responsible on the Day of Judgment. (Whether this influence involves human missionaries or not.) Even now, the Holy Spirit tries to draw the pagans to Christ, through revelations, and circumstances of many kinds. Jesus said, ‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself’ (John 12:32). In whatever degree the pagans experience such things—if they resist them, and push away the righteous influence of the Gospel—God will consider them ‘wicked,’ and they too will be cast into everlasting fire (if they die without faith in Christ) because they have not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God: Jesus, nor did they do the will of the Father in their lives (John 3:18; Matthew 7:21). Hell fire will be their sentence forever.”
Antinomian Objections Answered
3.3. A Calvinist may object (although not all Calvinists): “No Christian is ever ‘righteous’ in the way you describe: only in the legal sense of being forgiven of his sins, or crimes against God. For you to keep the law in your life is legalism, works-salvation, and a damnable heresy!”
I reply: “Your view of salvation is properly called Antinomianism. It is a false gospel. This view was condemned by men of God like Martin Luther and John Wesley. It is likely that you misinterpret Galatians as teaching that Christians don’t have to live by any of God’s laws…even the moral ones! This is very wrong. Galatians was written against an early church heresy called Judaizerism (the belief that Christians had to be circumcised, and live by Old Testament ritual commandments in order to be saved). Acts 15, Romans 8, and James all clearly show that Christians are only obligated to live according to the moral commandments of God’s law. (However, this does not mean that living by God’s good laws alone is enough to save your soul, as if faith in Christ’s death and resurrection didn’t matter.) But in the context of faith in the cross, and God’s willingness to forgive our sins when we confess them, and repent of them: every Christian (so long as he lives) is directly commanded by Christ to ‘go and sin no more’ (John 8:11). That is, to go, and live by the moral commandments of God to the best of your ability—and praying that the Holy Spirit will help you to live righteous (but not expecting total ‘perfection’). God deals with the Christian’s sins negatively by dying on the cross for us, so that our past and present sins can be forgiven. God deals with the Christian’s sins positively by commanding us, for the present and the future, to keep His moral law by the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Romans 8:4). Why? How can this be? Because ‘the Law is spiritual’ (Romans 7:14). The Spirit of God, and the Law of God, express the Will of God.”
3.4. In response to your charge of legalism—I reply: “Firstly, legalism is not a Bible word, and is improperly used all the time by modern Antinomians, who wish to excuse their wicked religiosity. Second, works-salvation is what the Bible teaches (to a certain extent) in Romans and James. It even goes so far to say this: “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead…a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:17, 24). So, since faith without works is dead, there is no salvation from Hell without them both. Generally speaking, faith is only alive and well when accompanied by performing (somewhat well) the good commandments of God in your life. God’s mercy covers over every mistake and sin through the blood of Christ. Except in the case of men like the thief on the cross, who are not going to live for much longer, but are in the process of dying, as they come to believe in Christ. Deathbed repentance and deathbed faith can only go so far in the area of good works. Converts on their deathbeds are unfortunately not going to have the opportunities to live their lives in good works, or grow in righteousness. So, for such men, God will say, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), even if they have no works to add to their faith in the cross. Such men can be saved by faith only, and the sheer grace and mercy of God. But for everyone else who is alive: that is not the case.
3.5. Every man on Judgment Day will be judged according to his works (Revelation 20:13). How they lived their lives: continuing conscientiously in faith, and repentance, and righteousness, all the days of their lives? I hope so. I hope that you too, will walk on the straight and narrow path of God’s moral law! Every man that is not dying, and still has time to live his life: he cannot be saved from Hell unless he lives a righteous life before God in continuous faith and repentance from sin, and an active pursuit for holiness. For “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Righteous living is a requirement for salvation. (Sure we stumble, and give into temptation, sin, and fall. But we must repent to God immediately when that happens, and ask God to help us not sin again. This must be the constant state of our hearts and minds before God every day of our life. As I have said before, all righteous living is imperfect, and grows holier over time.) Thirdly, Antinomianism is the damnable heresy! Because it creates lukewarm Christians, hypocrites, and wicked churchgoers. If they persist in their sins, they will go to Hell, and not go to Heaven (regardless if they go to church every Sunday morning). If this is you—then repent from your sins and believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! Time is running out!