The Judgment at Christ’s Coming

by Mike Ratliff

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18, 19 ESV)

I am in the process of reading John MacArthur’s new book Slave. I have heard that some who despise his stand on Lordship Salvation have said that this book is simply another book about the Lordship of Christ. I am about 1/3 of the way through it and that statement is an oversimplification to be sure, but, in a sense, it is correct. When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.” 

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 ESV)

These enemies of the cross of Christ also afflict true believers. However, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire (can’t wait for this) what will happen to these “enemies of the cross?” Notice these enemies of the cross are those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might…

Here is v9 from the ESV: They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

Here is v9 from the NA27: οἵτινες δίκην τίσουσιν ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς δόξης τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ

The word “eternal” translates the adjective αἰώνιον, which is the Accusative, Singular of αἰώνιος or aiōnios, which, in this context, would mean “without end” or “forever.” The words “suffer the punishment” translates the words δίκην τίσουσιν, which literally could be translated as “will pay a penalty.” That payment is in the form of something that will be eternal and it is rendered in the ESV as “destruction” which translates the noun ὄλεθρον, which is the Accusative, Singular of ὄλεθρος or olethros, which does not carry the fundamental thought of annihilation, but instead, corruption by some injurious force, which the subject cannot hinder. In other words, those who go into this eternal destruction will endure it forever, it never ceases or lessens, and they can do nothing to escape it.

Now, what should our response be to this? We should first praise God and seek His glory and we should obey Him by preaching the Gospel to all who will hear so that, perhaps, He will save some from this coming judgment that is coming upon the whole world.

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “The Judgment at Christ’s Coming

  1. I finished “Slave” a few weeks ago. In his true fashion, by the end MacArthur made being a slave to Christ a state without question, and a thing to be desired. He laid out well how it is freedom and security without measure being a slave of Christ. I enjoyed it more than just about any MacArthur book has written, and there are obviously many.


  2. Mike , what is meant by “and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”. If ,as many people say, the Gospel is just the proclamation of salvation by Christ, how does one “not obey” the Gospel except to refuse salvation by grace through faith alone.


  3. Fred,

    That is in v8 and is a parallel to this passage from Romans:

    but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
    (Romans 2:8 ESV)

    So…you are right, the unrighteous are those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by refusing salvation by grace through faith alone and prove it by their unrighteous, self-seeking lives.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  4. I think the gospel also incorporates sanctification. We are also sanctified by faith. I think if we refuse to receive this…walking in the Spirit…then we are being disobedient to the Lord Jesus.


  5. Yes Wholebyfaith, our sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us as we walk by faith (Romans 12:1-2). We are transformed through the renewal of our minds… This is not what we do, but what God does in us as we cooperate with Him by faith.


  6. And also, Jesus Christ is already King, and as such, that means he already has an established kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9; cf. 1 Cor. 15—when Christ comes again it will be to deliver up his kingdom, not establish it).


  7. Great article, brother. I am just now making it through chapter 1 of Slave. I also wanted to share this:

    I myself might be considered a “leaky dispensationalist” like MacArthur, but I am coming to understand that decisional evangelism and easy-believism is rooted in dispensational antinomianism. On most occasions from my experience, those who believe in a sanctifying-less justification are also dispensationalists.

    So with that, I guess I’m not surprised by this Andy Woods posting an article refuting lordship salvation. I pray I honor God with my rebuttal in the coming days to show how much he is in error and the harm he is causing to the Body of Christ and false converts.

    As far as not obeying the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is what Paul says, but instead obey unrighteousness as slaves of disobedience:

    2 Thessalonians 1:8 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. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.


  8. Thanks Justin! I came from where you are myself so I know what you are talking about. I pray for God to bless you with wisdom and discernment in your rebuttal. It is most definitely a worthy cause brother.


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