“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). To the sheep, Jesus will say, “Come, you who are blessed.” But to the goats, Jesus will say, “Depart from me, you cursed.” The grave judgment of the wicked is “eternal fire.”
In Revelation, the throwing of the unrighteous into eternal fire will happen after the Great White Throne Judgment. “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15).
This eternal fire, Jesus will say, is prepared for the devil and his angels. Note that the fire is not prepared for the unrighteous. The kingdom was prepared before the foundation of the world, but not the fire. Thus, we can say that God did not originally prepare the fire for sinners. (Blomberg) However, when people rejected Christ, God decided to damn them. By implication, the decision to throw the wicked into eternal fire is a consequence of their decision to reject Christ.
This is the kind of God I see in the Bible. God did not decide to prepare hell first and then throw people into it. God did not prepare hell and then choose people to go there. Rather, God prepared the fire for the devil and his angels. Then God decided to punish people in hell after they rejected Christ.
Their decision to reject Christ is shown in vv. 42-45.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
The righteous are rewarded for their response to Christ. But the wicked are judged for their rejection of Christ. Their rejection is shown by their lack of positive response toward Christ. They gave Him no food, no drink, no welcome, and no clothes to Christ.
Again the point is not the feeding of the hungry. Rather, the stress is their rejection of the least of Christ’s brothers. By rejecting the least of Christ’s followers, they rejected Christ. Thus, rejection of Christ leads to damnation.
This is a serious thing for people today. Your response to Christ’s followers, and therefore to Christ, will determine whether you will inherit eternal life or suffer in eternal fire.
How have you responded to Christ’s messengers? Have you received their message about Christ or rejected it? To say yes to Christ’s messengers is to say yes to Christ. To say yes to Christ is to inherit the kingdom. To reject Christ is to suffer in eternal fire.
The most important decision you will make in your life today is to respond to Christ’s messengers and His message by putting your faith in Christ alone.
Will you make that decision today? Come to Christ today.