As I discussed in one of our first blogposts, Salvation is a continuum. Merriam-Webster defines a continuum as a “coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of… elements varying by minute degrees ….” It is a big idea with many subparts. Salvation includes the moment we first believed and enjoyed the forgiveness of sins in Christ (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:5-6; Luke 1:77), and Salvation includes our ongoing spiritual growth to maturity. It is a spiritual place of refuge and blessing, and it is progressive (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Cor. 7:10; Phil. 2:12; 2 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 2:3; 1 Pet. 1:9). There is a general equivalency between Salvation and life in the Kingdom of God, a place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Salvation also includes the promise of an afterlife, the return of Jesus Christ to Planet Earth, and a promised future life with Christ here on Planet Earth in our resurrection bodies (Matt. 6:10).
In the Bible, the big idea of Salvation is often contrasted with the big idea of Destruction. It turns out that the doctrine of Destruction is also a continuum. The writer of Hebrews warned believers about the risk of apostasy and destruction. He said, “But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction [apoleia] but of those who have faith for the safekeeping of the soul” (Heb. 10:39). At Philippians 3:18-19, Paul again warned that apostate believers will be destroyed because their god is actually their appetites, and their minds were preoccupied with earthly matters. We must understand that we believers can retreat from the spiritual life. In my opinion, if apostate believers die, they will still go to Heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-8; John 14:2; 1 Cor. 15:49), but they will lose out on many blessings and rewards, both in this life and the next (Heb. 11:6). The writer of Proverbs warned, “Pride goes before destruction [sebar] and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Prov. 16:18). Jesus warned, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction [apoleia], and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life…” (Matt. 7:13-14).
Jude (the brother of Jesus and James) strongly warned us of the risks associated with apostasy. By way of comparison, Jude reminded us about the Israelites who God delivered from Egypt and how God later destroyed [apollymi] those who did not remain faithful in their desert wanderings (Jude 1:5). It is important to remember that those who escaped from Egypt were believers. At Exodus 14:31, after God rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians at the parting of the Sea, we read, “When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and His servant Moses.” Just like most Israelites, most Christians are a stubborn and obstinate people. As the Apostle Paul wrote, God said, “I have spread out my hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Rom. 10:21). Among Christians, apostasy is not a minor problem, it is a recurring major problem. So, what happened to the Israelites, who wandered in the desert for 40 years? First, they never entered into the Promised Land of blessing. Second, they died prematurely from multiple causes. Further, in the next life, they will not enjoy their full potential complement of blessings and rewards. There are consequences for disobedience. As the writer of Hebrews explained, God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6), but sadly, most do not continue to seek Him.
As Jude explained, whether believer or unbeliever, whether angel or human, the disobedient and rebellious will receive punishment and judgment from the justice of God (Jude 1:1-16). The Lord God will destroy them in their evil (Ps. 94:23). As the Psalmist taught, God will destroy those who speak lies (Ps. 5:6). Again and again, we read that He will destroy the evil person (Ps. 94:23). In fact, at Proverbs 11:3, we read that “the perversity of the treacherous will destroy them.” Jude provided the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example (Jude 1:7). When humans participate in sexual perversions, there will be dramatic consequences. If we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction from the flesh (Rom. 6:8). Again, we are also told that there will be dramatic consequences to angelic or spiritual beings for their disobedience (Jude 1:6-7). When Jesus encountered demonic spirits during His earthly ministry, the evil spirits called out to Jesus saying, “Have You come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24). Their anxiety regarding their future and ultimate destruction was heavy on their minds. However, in my opinion, the Bible does not provide specific information regarding what their future destruction will look like. Similarly, I do not believe that the Bible has provided specific details regarding the future destruction of the unbeliever (those that never believed). In my opinion, it seems clear that the unbeliever will still spend some time in Sheol after his or her death until the resurrection of all (Luke 16:19-31; Acts 24:15). Likewise, we do not have specific information regarding the consequences that will be experienced by apostate believers who drifted away from their walk with Christ (Phil. 3:18-19). Yes, as stated above and bears repeating, it seems clear that the disobedient believer will go straight to Heaven after his or her death (2 Cor. 5:1-8; John 14:2; 1 Cor. 15:49; Matt. 6:20). And it seems clear that the disobedient believer will suffer a loss of his or her potential blessings and rewards (Heb. 11:6), but again, we do not know the exact details of what their destruction will look like or what their resurrection body will be like or look like. We do know that destruction can include ramifications to the body, soul, and spirit, and it can include the loss of future blessings and rewards.
The Lord will destroy all pride even when manifested by His own people (Jer. 13:9), and He will destroy the enemies of His people (Jer. 47:14; 51:55). He will destroy all idols (Ezek. 30:13). He will destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:18). In fact, God will destroy the so-called wisdom and understanding of the wise of this world (1 Cor.1:19). He has promised to reward the righteous and “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). The objects of God’s wrath are those subject to destruction because of their obstinance and disobedience (Rom. 9:22).
At Psalm 145:20, King David declared that God will destroy all of the wicked. However, in the same Psalm, David declared: “All Your works will give thanks to You, Lord” (Ps. 145:10), and “all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever” (Ps. 145:21). Apparently, He can do both. In fact, He will destroy all of those who do evil; He will bless the righteous, and He will bring about a new place of blessing for all, such that every knee will bow and every mouth will praise God, whether in Heaven, on Earth, or under the Earth (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). The Lord is righteous in all His ways (Psa. 145:17). He will destroy all human and creaturely pride (Prov. 16:18). Only humility will remain.
 “Continuum.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/continuum. Accessed 29 June 2022.