New City Catechism 28.3
Question 28: What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?
Answer: At the day of judgment they will receive the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them. They will be cast out from the favorable presence of God, into hell, to be justly and grievously punished, forever.
If, as Scripture teaches and as the church has long confessed, the final destiny of unbelievers is everlasting conscious torment apart from the presence of God, from which there is no escape, then it follows that we should understand that being “lost,” or outside of Christ, is a condition with dire consequences. Recognizing the threat of hell, we should be driven to want to spare anyone who will listen to us from ever experiencing it. The doctrine of hell should be one of our motivating factors (though not the only one) for sharing the gospel far and wide.
At the end of the day, we do not have ultimate power over the salvation of any other person. We rest in God’s sovereignty. But we also recognize that God has chosen to use us in the fulfillment of his saving purpose, and having charged us with a mission to share the news of Jesus, let us do so because we love God and because we love our neighbors and want to see them rescued from the judgment to come. Without Christ, they truly are lost and headed for a future that is unimaginably horrifying. Out of love for your neighbors, look for opportunities to give them the best news in the world: the news of how they can be rescued and brought into God’s family.
Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Acts 2:1-41. What are some indications in Peter’s sermon that showed the threat of coming judgment against his hearers? How does verse 40 show Peter’s great love for those who heard him preach? How can we imitate Peter in our own lives?
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