Q28: What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?
A: 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.
John 3:16-18, 36, 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God…36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (ESV)
The Vertical Truth in Faith – What does this mean in my relationship with God?
The answer to this catechism question provides two areas of thought in regard to one’s relationship with God. Many people find the reality of hell to be unfair, mean, or even in contradiction to what they know of God. Many may say, “How could a loving, gracious, merciful God allow hell?” however, it is more contradicting for hell to not exist than for it to exist because God is perfectly just. All of humanity is dead in their sin, having rebelled against God. It is in man’s nature (Eph. 2:1-3). Thus, everyone, apart from faith in Christ, justly deserves the wrath of God toward their sin that is displayed in a place the Scriptures call hell.
The second area of thought comes from the first. Those that have confessed Jesus as Lord are mercifully spared from the just wrath of God. Jesus is the substitute that takes the just wrath of God toward our sin. That is, Jesus, on the cross, gets our wrath and we, through faith, get His righteousness. Such knowledge should result in an enormous amount of gratitude expressed through obedience and worship because our salvation from God’s just wrath is solely an act of God’s grace.
- Romans 1:18– For the wrathofGod is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
- Romans 2:5– But because ofyour hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day ofwrath when God‘s righteous judgment will be revealed.
- Romans 5:8-9– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21– For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Horizontal Truth in Love – What does this mean in my relationship with humanity?
For the believer, there is one takeaway from this question and answer in regard to one’s relationship with humanity. That takeaway is to share the Gospel, in its fullness with all they come into contact with. What is meant by sharing the Gospel “in its fulness”? It is to ensure that one tells others of their rebellion (sin) and the wrath of God that awaits them (hell), but the mercy and grace that is theirs if they believe on Christ. Apart from telling people what they need saving from, why would they think they need saving at all?
- Ephesians 2:1-3– And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Practical Truth in Action – How can I put this truth into action
There are two action steps from the above questions. First, all of those in Christ ought to find themselves overflowing with gratitude, celebration, worship, and thanksgiving because God, in Christ, has spared us from His just wrath. Second, with the knowledge of God’s just wrath, Christians ought to find themselves sharing the Gospel in its fullness with all those that God has sovereignly put in their life. For there is no other way to salvation from the wrath of God, but through faith in Christ.