The judgment is not a pleasant subject to those who have no hope and are not making any effort to obtain a hope. When he was before Felix, Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come,” and the record says that “Felix trembled.” (Acts 24:25). And God intended it to so be.
The love of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross touches the hearts of many and moves them to tears and loving obedience to Christ. But it takes the “judgment to come” and the terrors of hell to make some stop and think in their downward rush to eternal destruction. The “no judgment—no hell” doctrine that ungodly men loudly proclaim today is one of the main causes of the increase of wickedness in our society.
Remove from people’s minds the fear of God and tell them there’s “no hell” or “judgment to come” and you have done away with much of the New Testament—the very part that God ordained to hold people back from wickedness. Felix was a wicked man. Paul knew it. That was the reason he preached to him “righteousness, temperance and judgment to come.” Paul also placed the judgment before the Athenians as an incentive to repentance.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at: but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31).
“Hath appointed a day”—that day is yet future, and it is coming to you, to me, to all. It’s coming to the rich, the poor, the high, the low. All will be judged. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27). What could be plainer? Just as surely as all men die, so all will surely be judged.
What do we have jail houses for? What do we have law enforcement officers for? What do we have the courts of the land for? What are all these things for if not to curb wickedness? Remove these means of restraining wickedness and this would indeed be a charnel house of death in which we live. Likewise, remove “hell” and “judgment” from God’s word and you take away from people the fear of God. And that’s exactly what the devil wants done.
The devil took away from Eve the fear of God when he said, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:4). Having had the fear of God removed from her, “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband and he did eat.” The very first transgression—the one that brought death upon the whole human race—was because the devil removed from Eve the fear of God’s judgment upon her if she should eat of the forbidden fruit. That’s what the “no judgment—no hell” doctrine is doing to people today. It is removing the fear of God from men’s hearts. It’s no wonder the courts are flooded with divorces, homes are broken by fornicators and adulterers, drunkenness is rampant, murder stalks our streets and God’s name is flippantly profaned in speech!
The devil says, “All the hell you get is in this life,” and that sets well with many—with those who have no hope and who make no effort to obtain any hope. But the rich man in Luke 16 didn’t think so—at least after he died—for, “in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments,” and said, “I am tormented in this flame.” And so shall it be with all who forget God and openly flaunt his word. Yes, there is a judgment after death and plenty of hell for the wicked and disobedient.
The “no judgment—no hell” doctrine is inspired of Satan and has one purpose only—to remove the fear of God from you and bring you to eternal loss.