Regret (Matthew 13:47-50)

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

All through Scripture there is a prophetic warning that those who are not right with God   will eventually find themselves apart from Him forever. But what is it to be separated and apart from God, who created all things and sustains all things? 

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Jesus has spoken before about weeping and gnashing of teeth. As He puts it, this is a characteristic behavior of the damned. For earlier He said, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The separation between the righteous and the wicked begins with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the decision point, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the knife-edge that separates between that which is for God Most High and that which is not. 

When the Gospel is preached, those who say yes to Christ are clearly on the righteous side. Scripture testifies that God gives us His righteousness, which is apart from the Law, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” 

But those who refuse Christ find themselves without God’s righteousness. They are depending on their own, which no matter how good it is counts in God’s sight as unrighteousness, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore they are at risk of the final divide appearing (the second coming of Christ) before they can change their minds. For when that day comes, the separation will become irreversible. On that day those who refused the offer of the new covenant in Jesus will begin to realize the enormously tragic mistake they made, but it will be too late. 

Like a person who points a gun at another and pulls the trigger without calculating the cost first, the horror of finality of their own choice overwhelms them. They will weep and gnash their teeth in eternal regret. 

They will forever be in darkness of soul, being apart from the creator and sustainer of light and life. God Most High, who not only created all things but sustains all things, will no longer be their helper. What then is their end condition? God Himself testifies, it will be like being “throw[n] into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

If it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there would be ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance; but here is thy misery, this is thy state for ever, here thou must be for ever: when thou lookest about thee, and seest what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think this again, this is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousand years as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the sea, or sands on the sea-shore, yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word EVER, how will it torment thy soul!

John Bunyan

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How can we rest while our loved ones go off to such a place? Let us to all we can while we can to rescue them from an eternity apart from God.