13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades [HELL] gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. 14) Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15) If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:13-15 (WEB)
My younger kids are at church youth group, my oldest is at a Christian college group, and my wife is grocery shopping. Wow, praise God! A whole night to myself! This has not happened in months, perhaps more than a year. Better yet there are no emergency house or automobile repairs waiting for me!
So I will relish this gift from God and seize the moment as well as my pen to write one more installment in my Optimism Out of Control series. I am hoping to write a longer more thoughtful conclusion to my series, Optimism Out of Control - The Book, but one has to warm up to these things after being away from literary endeavor for so long. So here is a quick little warm up, an expansion and revision of my comments on my previous post, Revelation 20:11-15, Optimism Out of Control, Part 6: If, If, If, If, If, If, If.
So let's consider the Scripture the Holy Spirit gave us above. One might easily conclude that there is absolutely nothing optimistic about this passage at all. Even the mention of God casting the unredeemed into the Lake of Fire is a banned thought for most. But before we ban and burn the Book let's not be too hasty. God does call Himself 'love' after all in I John 4:16. He also says his purpose is to show off his grace in Ephesians 2:7. And the complete atonement of ALL mankind was the purpose of His death on the cross as explained in I John 2:2. Furthermore, we must strive to understand God's grace in the hopes of agreeing with God's judgments, lest we imagine that we would bring tears to Heaven over the fate of the unredeemed. So let's cool the jets and take a slower look at this passage.
First, we see that all the people currently being punished in Hades are safely extracted to stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne judgment. This may be more fully explained in Matthew 25:31-46, though the ordering of the various judgments is disputed among theologians. None-the-less, the extraction of all people from Hades and the discarding of an empty Hades into the Lake of Fire is at least...
...potentially optimistic. After all why extract these people?
Second, we see that the final destiny of each individual person is truly the choice of God's grace alone, not man's choice. He alone has written the names of His chosen people in His Book of Life from before the creation of the world, Ephesians 1:3-10. There is no condition we could possibly meet to add our name, nor a condition we could fail to remove our name. Here is great optimism that our fate is fully and completely resting with God and He invites (and commands) us to rest in Him. Some try to pen their own name into The Book of Life with 'faith.' But you will find no true security if your 'salvation' hinges on your own decision in any way, and there will be no end to your deciding as you 'swing' one way, then another, for assurance. Why not look at Christ instead through the 'eye glasses' of true faith and see your name in His Book written by His love from before your were born?
Great optimism is to be found through trusting our destiny with Christ.
Third, you may be afraid of the passage above because you have too quickly concluded who the redeemed are and who the unredeemed are. "How silly," you say, "Of course Christians are the redeemed and non-Christians are the unredeemed!" Yet grant me this, many whose names are in the Book of Life from before the creation of the world are still non-Christian right now because they still have yet to believe and even others still yet to be born! Yet they are redeemed already by the finished work of Christ!
Furthermore, in your fear you may have raced too quickly to a band-aid solution to a great problem, your sin confronted with Holy God in final judgment. You may fear that your name is somehow missing from the Lamb's Book and try some formula of 'faith' or multiple formulas until you find one that gives you rest. Yet, the Scripture above is clear that your ultimate destiny and the destiny of all mankind rests solely with Jesus and is already written in the Book of Life.
Surrounding yourself with good Christian people cannot change your destiny. Praying a prayer cannot change your destiny. Why even your 'faith' itself cannot change what God has determined before you were even born! 'Faith' is not a coin that you shove into the celestial turnstile to gain entrance to Heaven. Rather faith is trusting in what God has ALREADY fully completed for you. Remember, He is calling lost sheep home, not converting goats to sheep.
So here is very very great optimism! Your fate rests fully and finally with the God of love and grace who entirely paid for the sin debt of ALL mankind, yours included. And this God invites you to know through Jesus Christ that He has always loved you and will always love you.
So what is it gonna be? Trusting God or more of your devices?
Today while getting physcial therapy for acute Patellar Tendonitus I saw a poster on the wall about determination. I commented to the therapist that I need to choose some top priorities to get determined about. She suggested that I determine to be patient. I laughed. I found out later that she is also a Christian.
So now I also ask myself, what is it gonna be Jeff, trusting God or more of your devices?
Lastly, consider a few parting thoughts about the unredeemed. Consider that only three people are listed explicitly as not in the Lamb's book of Life to be cast into The Lake of Fire. They are Satan, The Beast, and The False Prophet. Also be reminded that angels are people too, not just us humans. As for the rest of the fallen angels Hebrews 2:16 seems to indicate that the work of Christ does not cover their sins. Yet Colossians 1:20 might be interpreted to offer some hope even for the fallen angels, except for the three demons listed above. I am certainly not being dogmatic about that idea that some angles might be saved, but it is a useful study to ask the question and compare Hebrews 2:16 with Colossians 1:20.
We also know that because Jesus became a man His death vicariously applies to ALL mankind, but His death does not necessarily apply to angels because they are a different kind than man. Furthermore, it should also be noted that some fallen angels are already in prison as explained in II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. So if the prison they are in, called Tartarus in II Peter, is parallel to Hades, then these fallen angels are among those extracted from Hades / Thalassa at the end of time as explained in the passage highlighted above, as well as the unbelieving rich man from Luke 16:23 and unrepentant men like him.
So if fallen angels are not named in the Lamb's Book of Life, at that time they will be sentenced to The Lake of Fire for The Ages of The Ages. Furthermore, if Christ did not die for angels, then to Lake of Fire they will surely go as well. Matthew 25:41, a overlooked verse, makes is plain that the Lake of Fire is "prepared for... the Devil and his angels!" However, the good news is that Christ did make full payment for the unrepentant rich man's sin, so tell me why would not even his name be in the Book of Life in the end? Friends, the Lake of Fire is not prepared for mankind!
However, if YOU want to know for certain that Jesus has written YOUR name in His Book from before the creation of the world there is only one way to know for sure, and that is through faith in Jesus. Through faith in Christ you can know that your name is ALREADY written in the Lamb's Book of Life and that your eternal destiny in Heaven is ALREADY guaranteed! Your fate is in His hands regardless, so get to know Him, and if you know Him, you will see that He is your Savior, and He will win your trust and obedience.
Now I'm going to find a snack and watch a movie.