“. . . in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
WHILE WE LIVE, WE MAY CHANGE OUR MINDS ABOUT GOD, BUT WHEN WE DIE, IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO CHANGE. At least, it will be too late to change the consequences of our choice. If we die in unbelief, we will certainly become believers when the awesome reality of God is no longer avoidable, but by that time it will be too late to do anything about it. It will be too late to obey God.
“For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God'” (Romans 14:11). When we meet our Maker, there will be no possibility of denying His existence. At that time, every person who has ever lived will acknowledge God’s greatness, but for those who have never acknowledged Him before, this newfound “faith” will only be like that of the demons who “believe — and tremble!” (James 2:19).
If we live in rebellion against God, passing up every opportunity to repent and seek His forgiveness, and then die, the judgment day will find us falling at God’s feet and begging for His mercy, not in love but in fear. We will cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16,17).
Paul used striking language to describe the coming of the Lord at the end of the world: He will be “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). If the lost are those who “do not obey the gospel,” then the time when the gospel may be obeyed is a matter of great importance. That time is right now, but it won’t continue indefinitely. At some point, it will simply be too late.
If we are among the lost, one of the worst aspects of hell will be the helplessness of the whole situation. Not having wanted to see the truth, we never did see it . . . until it was too late. And at that point, nothing can be done but to agonize over the truth. Forever.
“Hell is truth seen too late” (Tryon Edwards).