Rev. Allen Baker preaches on damnation at RTS Jackson’s 2017 Missions Conference.
Elias Medeiros: For me, it is a great privilege to introduce to you the Reverend Dr. Al Baker. I told you yesterday he’s an ordained minister of the PCA and has been in gospel ministry for more than 35 years. He finished his M.Div. in 1981 at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. He has a Doctor of Divinity in Evangelism and World Missions honorary degree from Whitefield Theological Seminary. His base of operations is in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves as an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship. He has four books written: Evangelistic Preaching in the 21st Century, Seeking a Revival Culture, Revival Prayer, and Essays on Revival.
Prior to his present ministry, Al was the organizing pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church, West Hartford, Connecticut, serving there for nine years. Before that he was the pastor for 10 years of Golden Isles Presbyterian Church in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Al has long been actively involved in 40 missions, as I mentioned yesterday, to Central America, South America, Africa, India, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, and Indonesia. He travels extensively around the United States, preaching in churches and in the streets, literally.
His wife, Wini, is here with him, and God has greatly used her also to minister to seminary and faculty wives wherever they go. He really prays to promote the revival culture in churches by leading revival pray weekends and preaching Bible conferences. He’s also working to raise up the next generation of revival and evangelist preachers like Samuel Davies, the great 18th-century Presbyterian preacher from Richmond, Virginia.
He is with us for now, and right after this, we’ll have a free lunch, and he’ll give us the third exposition. By the way, if you talk with him for a few minutes, and I have the privilege for being with him in some places together, this is a man who loves the Lord, and he memorized the Scriptures. He could he could quote for you Romans from 1 to 9 by heart today to you if want. But he’s not going to do that. But he memorized the Scripture and meditated on the Bible every single day. My dear brother.
Allen Baker: Amen. It’s a pleasure to be here. If you have your Bibles, I’d like for you to turn with me to Matthew 25. Yesterday, I mentioned that my topic is “A Passion for Souls.” You know, in Romans 9, the apostle Paul says that he has “unceasing grief and sorrow in his heart for his brethren.” He says, “I could wish that I were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren.” Now, my dear friends, that is a burden for the lost, a passion for souls.
Now, after I mentioned that yesterday, then I said we need to gain a better motivation as we go out to preach and to evangelize and have that passion for souls, and so we looked at Romans 1. Paul, “I’m under obligation.” We looked at the universality of sin. Then we talked about Paul speaking about the propitiating death of Christ. Then we ended by looking at Ephesians 2. “While we were dead in our trespasses and sins” Paul goes through, says, “but God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us” and so forth. Yesterday, it was motivation. In this hour it’s damnation. And then the next hour, glorification.
Matthew 25, this is the Olivet discourse. This is the section, verse 41, where Jesus is about to say, “Because you did not do it the least of these my brethren and you did not do it unto me.” So we’re going to look at verse 41 and then also verse 46. This is the Word of God, the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, our only rule of faith and practice. This is a most sober verse:
“Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
And verse 46: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Let’s pray briefly. Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that the Holy Spirit come down. We pray, Father, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains may quake at thy presence as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes the water to boil, to make thy name known among thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence. Now, Lord, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come on the preacher and everyone here. Father, our desire is that we would see something, something of the awful reality of hell and the lake of fire and that, Father, you would use this to generate within us a passion for souls. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.
This year, 56 million people will die. Today, 153,000 people will die. This hour, 6,390 people will die. In the next minute, 107 people will die. And every second, nearly two people in the world die. Boom. Boom. Boom. Six people just now. Now Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and many are those who find it” (Matt. 7:13). George Gallup has said that based on his surveys, he would suggest that maybe only seven percent of America is truly Christian. Now we don’t know. That’s up to God, of course, but that’s a staggeringly small number. In fact, it’s something like 26 million people. So you think about all the people dying in the United States today, all of the people dying all over the world today, this year. Many of them, apparently, when they die will go to hell. Jesus said that your judgment is upon you because you did not believe in the name of the only begotten son of God.
What is hell like? Who goes there? When do they go there? Why do they go there? We know the Scriptures make clear that there is a hell. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Scriptures. As I like to say when I’m preaching out on the streets, “This Jesus, this loving, wonderful savior, is the one who developed the doctrine of sin and the doctrine of hell. He’s the one who lays it out.”
Hell Is the Just Fate for Those Who Die Without Christ
So what happens when someone dies without Christ? You know it in your mind’s eye. I pray you will know it in your hearts and you will know it in your mouth and your feet and your hands as you go out to the world. What happens to someone who dies without Jesus Christ? That very moment they die, they’re soul immediately is separated from their body and they go to a place called hell. Jesus said, if you cause a little one to stumble, it is better for you to be thrown into a sea with a heavy thing around your neck than to be cast in to hell (Mark 9:42). He says hell is a place of unquenchable fire. He goes on to say, in Mark 9, it’s a place where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies.
Hell is a place of justice.Hell is a place of justice. In Romans 2, Paul says, “Do you not know the kindness of God is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up for yourself wrath on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God who will render to every man according to his deeds.” Do you know what he’s saying there? Every last person in this world, and now I’m thinking about the unbeliever, every last unbeliever . . . .
Let’s just take Jackson, Mississippi, for a moment. When every unbeliever in Jackson, Mississippi, wakes up in the morning and gets out of his nice bed in a nice, cool house in the summer, in a warm house in the winter. He takes a nice shower. He gets a nice cup of coffee. He eats a nice breakfast. He gets in his nice car. He drives to his nice job where he makes a lot of money. He’s got good clothes. Maybe he’s got a second home. He’s got all of these things. We can go on and on and on. These are manifestations of God’s goodness to people. Do you not know the kindness of God is meant to lead you to repentance? In other words, every day when the unbeliever wakes up, as he looks around, as he surveys all that he has, he should be saying this: “Wow, there must be a God. And this God has blessed me. Therefore, I should seek him. How do I find this God? How do I find peace with this God?”
That’s what ought to be happening, according the apostle Paul. But that’s not what happens, he says. But because of the stubbornness of your unrepentant heart, you are storing up, it’s gathering steam every single day. It’s like in Africa when I go there in the dry season, they’ve got these water barrels there to catch the water. There’s not much there. But when the rainy season comes, the water comes off the roof, and it catches it, and they drink that water. In other words, they’re storing up that water. And eventually, because the water continues to rise, rise, rise, one of these days it just pours out. That’s what he’s talking about. The kindness of God is meant to lead people to repentance. So when they don’t turn toward him, he justly condemns them.
The kindness of God is meant to lead people to repentance.When you get out of seminary and you have an opportunity to speak to maybe young people in your church, here’s what you should say to them: “You must repent and you must believe the gospel and my prayer is that you would come to Christ very early. Because if you’re not willing to repent, and if you’re not willing to come to Christ, the best thing that could ever happen to you is that you die at an early age. Because the longer you live, the longer your sins are mounting up against you, the greater your judgment will be.”
In 2 Thessalonians, he says, “Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will suffer the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from his glory” (1:8–9). It is a just place, hell. God’s justice comes down on people. Those people in hell would give anything if just one of their sins could be removed from them because the judgment would be less. It’s not just a place of justice. It’s a place of conscious torment. Luke 16, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This rich man in Hades says, in torment, “I would love to have Lazarus come and touch his finger in the water and put it on my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” He knows where he is.
Listen, this idea that some people have that “Well, when you die, you’re just annihilated. That’s it. It’s all there is.” I hear that all the time out on the street. “Well, I’m not worried about death because when I die, it’s all over.” And I say, “That’s not true. It has been appointed for men once to die and then the judgment. You know there’s a judgment and you know it’s coming.” It’s a place of conscious torment, but beyond that, it is a place of conscious, endless torment. That’s the picture.
Now what happens? Who’s going there? Everybody who’s not in Christ. Everybody in this world. And by the way, when I preach at Presbyterian churches, I’ve come to understand that there’s a lot of unbelievers in those Presbyterian churches. And so I say, “Listen, hell is no doubt full of Presbyterians. Hell is full of Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and you know what else? Hell is for anyone who does not have the life of God in us, so we understand that about Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and so forth, but even those in the church who have made a profession, but their hearts have not been changed by the regenerating grace of God, when they die, they’re going to hell.”
In Romans 1, Paul says the wicked, vile sinner is going to hell. He’s under the wrath of God. Romans 2, the moral sinner is under the wrath of God. The latter part of chapter 2, the religious Jew or any other religious person is under the wrath of God. They’re all under the wrath of God. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So it’s everyone. Now when are they going? They don’t know. It may be today. They may get up in the morning, kiss their wife goodbye, kiss the children goodbye, get in the car, get out on the interstate, and somebody driving in the wrong direction hits them head on and they’re gone just like that. We can play this, we can spin this out in a number of ways, and you know that.
Everyone in this world will die and they will stand before God and they will give judgment.No one knows. We know this, though, we know there is appointed for men once to die, every one, unless the Lord Jesus comes back first for his people. Everyone in this world will die and they will stand before God and they will give judgment. Everyone.
But why is it a conscious, endless torment? Those in hell, it is beyond anything we could possibly imagine. You imagine the greatest horror possible to you and hell is infinitely worse than that. When I hear people say, “Well, this is like hell on Earth,” they don’t know what they’re saying. Hell is infinitely worse than anything we can imagine or fathom. And when they go before him, it’s going to be forever. He’s going to cast them into hell, God will.
But why? Why eternally in hell? Now, you know, there are theologians, John Stott for one, Philip Hughes for another, who say there’s an annihilation. That would be nice, I suppose. But that’s not what the Scripture says. Clearly, the passage I just read, it’s an eternal punishment. For ever.
Now, why? Listen. God is a god of forgiveness. God’s in the forgiveness business, right? Well, why does he say that it is a conscious, eternal torment? Because when you understand how holy, holy, holy he is and when you understand the sinfulness of man, the seditious, rebellious nature of every last person in this world, then you begin to understand. This is the most heinous act of anything possible when we rebel against this God who has given us manifold goodness, days without number, times without number, all these great things we have and we reject him and we turn away from him and we live as though there’s no fear of God before our eyes. Those people, and that was you, and that was made before God gave me regenerating grace and before he gave it to you.
It’s an eternal hell. Now, as bad as that is, that’s not the end.
Hell Precedes the Final Judgment Which Ushers in a Worse Punishment
Those people in hell would give everything they own, they would give anything they possibly could, they would be willing to stay in hell another million years. Why? Because they dread that day. And what is that day? Revelation 20, “I saw a great white throne, and he who sat upon it from whose presence heaven and earth fled away. And I saw the souls of those who had died, and each one was judged according to his deeds, according to the things that are written in the books. The sea gave up the dead which were in it, death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them, and each one was just according to his deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death. And if anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, he’s thrown into the Lake of Fire.” The day they dread more than anything, willing to stay in hell for another million years, is that day.
They’re going to stand before God on that day. They’re going to be judged by him. So there they are, one by one standing before King Jesus, the resurrected, glorified Christ. And as they stand before him, according to Romans 2, every one of their thoughts will be judged. There they are, standing before the holy one himself, whose eyes are a flame of fire, whose feet are like burnished bronze which are made to glow in a furnace, his head and his hair are white like wool, like snow. His voice is the sound of many waters. They’re going to stand before this glorified Christ and he’s going to say, “Now let’s check out your thought life. Every thought you ever had. Now, let’s square, if we could, your thoughts with the law of God, the Word of God. How do you measure up with your thought life? Oh, that was blasphemy. That was jealousy. That was bigotry.” All of these different thoughts, whatever they might be. And at that point in time, those in hell standing before the great white throne will understand that they are guilty, according to Romans 3, but be unable even to make a defense. They can’t even open their mouths to defend themselves before him.
Now, after their thoughts are judged, according to Matthew 12, every careless word will be judged. So there they are, standing before him again. “Now let’s check out your words. Those things that you said that were blasphemous, those things that you said, those bawdy, wicked jokes, those things that you said against your spouse. Those lies that you told, whatever they are.” So there they are. All of these words are standing before the holy one himself. And then at that point, then they’ll also know they’re judged for their words.
But according to this passage in Revelation 21, according to 2 Timothy 5, not only that, but their deeds will be judged. Every thing they’ve ever done will be judged in light of God’s law, and even those sins of omission, those things they should have done, which they did not do. Oh, yeah, I should have helped that person years ago, but I refused to help him. Now after this judgment has occurred: their thoughts, their words, their actions, then they will hear the words they knew were coming, but words that they had dreaded ever since they went into hell. They will hear those words, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” And at that moment, they will not be able to open their mouth at that moment. As they are cast into the lake of fire, they will know they’re getting exactly what they deserve. That’s the truth.
Hell Is Real, but No One Has to Go There
That’s what you’re taught here. That’s what you know. But do you really believe it? Do you really believe your family members, your good friends from high school or college, your work associates, they might be pretty good people, would they really go to hell? That’s what the Bible says. You can argue with it all you want. You can try to massage it all you want, but there it is. But you know what I love to tell people when I’m preaching in churches, when I’m preaching at a sporting event on a college campus, I love to say to people, “But no one has to go there. No one has to go to hell. Jesus Christ died for his people.”
Three times, at least in the New Testament, the Greek word translated propitiation is used, as you know. Romans 3, “being justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, that in the forbearance of God, he passed over the sins previously committed for the demonstration I say of his righteousness at this present time that he might be just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
“My little children, I’m writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1). 1 John 4: “In this is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
So what’s going on when Jesus is on the cross? There he is nailed to the cross, being scoffed and mocked, stripped, beaten, pierced through for our transgressions. There he is on the cross. And as he’s on the cross, you hear him say, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?” Many scholars seem to think he quoted the whole Psalm 22. All we have recorded is verse one. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Now, remember that there was a perfect Trinitarian love and unity between the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s always been, and they enjoyed this perfect communion together. But now when he’s on the cross, he’s obviously separated. He’s crying out for his Father’s comfort. He’s looking for his Father’s care. And the Father is silent. There’s no answer. What’s going on here?
No question about it. God loves the sinner, but God also hates the sinner.Second Corinthians 5, “God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Psalm 5 says, “The Lord hates those who do inequity.” The Lord hates those who do iniquity, the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. When I’m preaching on the streets, I’ll mention that. I say, “Did you get that? The Bible says that God hates the wicked.” And they say, “Well, wait a second, we thought God is love?” Yeah, he is love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “In this is love, not that we love God but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10). Yeah, absolutely. No question about it. God loves the sinner, but God also hates the sinner.
And you ask, how can that be? Well, listen, we’re not capable of that. But God is absolutely, perfectly holy without the slightest taint of evil in him. He can love and he can hate at the same time. So what’s happening on the cross? Jesus Christ took your iniquity. He took your murder. He took your racism. He took your idolatry. He took your fornication, your pornography. Whatever it is. He took it all upon himself. The wrath of God came down on his Son, and Jesus Christ was separated from his Father. And he experienced hell for you and for me. You know that. This is propitiation. No one has to go to hell, and so we freely offer the gospel to anyone who’s willing to come. And we know they can’t come unless the Holy Spirit draws them. But that’s the beauty of it. You don’t know what he’s going to do. You just go forth with the gospel.
I had a ministry, and I’ll talk more about it later, in the next hour. But I had a ministry when we were at St. Simons Island, Georgia, ministering to homosexual men, HIV-positive men. Most of them were very poor. As we would minister to these men, we had a meeting every Wednesday night. We had anywhere from 15 to 20 come, beautiful ministry. And it was one guy in particular, very poor, and he was on welfare, and he’s homosexual, he was HIV-positive. And he told me that he was getting $50 a month taken out of his government check, which was making it very difficult for him. He said, “Yeah, I entered into a loan with a company [ala loanshark] in March” and here we are in October. He says, “I took a $200 loan out, and they’re taking $50 a month out of my paycheck.” And he said, “This is really hard on me.” I said, “Bring me your paperwork next week.” So he brought me his paperwork. I saw that the balance on his loan where he’d been paying since March to October, $50 a month on a $200 loan. He still owed $153. The truth in lending law requires that the actual percentage rate of the interest be on the document. The interest rate was 68 percent.
This was a young black man, so I took his paperwork and I went to the loan shark’s office and I said, “I want to pay so and so’s loan.” “Oh, God bless you, Pastor.” I said, “Don’t give me that. The Bible speaks about usury. You are ripping off the poor, and God will judge you for that.” That man came to faith in Christ. That man is dead now. Before God had worked in his life, he was a homosexual. Everybody in the world has got their problems with sin, that happened to be his, I’m sure other things as well. But that was his sin. So if God had not saved him when he had died because of his sin, he would have gone straight to hell, and he would eventually be cast into the lake of fire. But God is a God of mercy and grace. That’s the message that we have.
Gain a passion for souls. People all around you every day are dying.By all means, study here. Get this into your mind, absolutely. It’s vital. But my dear friends, get it down into your heart. Gain a passion for souls. People all around you every day are dying. You can sit back and say, “Well, you know, God’s got his elect.” I know that. But Paul again in Romans 9 says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. I could wish that I were separated from Christ, accursed.” And later on, he’s going to lay out the doctrine of election: “Jacob, I loved; Esau I hated. He’ll have mercy on whom he desires. He’ll harden whom he desires.” It doesn’t matter to Paul. Yeah, there’s election, but at the same time, he’s burdened for the lost.
Would you say that you have a burden for lost sinners?May I ask you this question? Would you say that you have a burden for lost sinners? Do you look for opportunities even while you’re in seminary, to speak to people about their souls? When is the last time you had anyone call on the name of the Lord with you? Have you ever had anyone do that? And you know, most of us here are Presbyterians, and you’ve read your church history, and I promise you that what I’ve been preaching today, throughout the history of the Presbyterian Church, we’ve always believed it, and we’ve always had a passion for souls. My prayer and earnest desire is that we would gain that again.
I want to challenge you to apply what you know in your mind, get it down into your heart, and I want you to go out and I want you to share Jesus with people. I want you to look for opportunities every day. If you’re not doing it now, what makes you think you’ll do it when you get out into the ministry? And again, let me just remind you of this in closing. We’re a debtor to grace, amen? We’re a debtor. “For by grace you’ve been saved through faith, not of yourselves. It’s a gift of God, not a result of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you who are the Gentiles who were called uncircumcision by the so-called circumcision, which is performed in the flesh by human hands, remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world. But now you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2).
My dear friends, until God worked in your life, whenever that was, until God took out your rebellious heart in regenerating grace and gave you the life of God in Jesus Christ, you were bound for destruction. You are bound for hell. But God has delivered you from the domain of darkness, and he’s transferred you into the kingdom of his beloved son (Col. 1:13). That’s what happens to the believer. You were without hope. You were without God in this world.
You think of 9/11. Those planes hit those World Trade Towers. The people above the line where the planes hit: most of them did not get out. And you’ve seen the images of those people from a thousand feet jumping from those buildings. How bad must it have been? I can’t even imagine the horror of it all. “We got to pick our poison. Do we stay here and burn alive or do we jump to our death?” That was their options. Now, I’m sure that there were believers who died like that. And surely in their flesh, there had to be some fear, no doubt about it. That’s just human nature.
But I promise you, at the same time, Christ Jesus gave peace to his people because they’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death and he’s with him. So he’s giving him a peace, even though they’re facing death. Why? Because they have God. Because they do have hope. The other people, though, who didn’t have Christ, there they are. They know they’re going to die, and my dear friends, think about this: they are without hope. They are without God in this world. They can cry out to whatever they think God’s going to be. But there’s no answer unless they come through Jesus Christ. That’s the condition. That’s the dilemma we find ourselves in.
We’ve been born again by the blood of Christ to a living way through the through renewing work of the Holy Spirit, and the world is on the way to hell. But no one has to go there. Jesus has made a way. His propitiating, expiating, justifying, sanctifying, redeeming, reconciling death accomplishes our eternal salvation. We have the truth, nobody else outside of the Christian church has the truth. We have it. I want to challenge you right here and now. I want to challenge you, “God, give me a passion for souls.” And when you do, it will change your life. It will change your ministry.
Let’s pray together.
I think I’m going to ask you just maybe privately in your heart right now just to pray whatever God seems to be speaking to you. Let me just say, as you’re contemplating these things, if you’re sitting there and you’re rebelling against it, hard-hearted against it, my you’re in trouble. You need to repent. But if you are humbled by the Word then just say, “Jesus, have your way with me.” Just take a few seconds just to deal with God, as it were.
Father, we live in a world of great trouble. It’s everywhere around us. We see the brokenness of our world. We see broken relationships. Everywhere we see debauchery. Lord, I pray that we would be proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ. What a Savior. What an amazing Savior you are. Lord, work in our hearts. Work in my heart, Lord. You know I get cold hearted. I do. So Lord, work in all of us. Pour out your Spirit on each one, Lord, that we might leave here challenged, renewed.
Lord, the beautiful thing is that we confess our sins, you’re faithful and righteous to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That’s amazing to me, that your Grace is always greater than our sin. We just got to own up to our sin, and you will forgive us. We repent. Lord, Lord, Lord, work in each of us.
Now, may God’s great benediction fall from heaven on believing hearts: the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, both now and forevermore, Amen.