"But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
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A sober look at the eternal torment of those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior.
The strongest support of the doctrine of Endless Punishment is the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer of man. Though the doctrine is plainly taught in the Pauline Epistles, and other parts of Scripture, yet without the explicit and reiterated statements of God incarnate, it is doubtful whether so awful a truth would have had such a conspicuous place as it always has had in the creed of Christendom.
If, in spite of that large mass of positive and solemn threatening of everlasting punishment from the lips of Jesus Christ, which is recorded in the four Gospels, the attempt has nevertheless been made to prove that the tenet is not an integral part of the Christian system, we may be certain that had this portion of revelation been wanting, this attempt would have been much more frequent, and much more successful.
The Apostles enter far less into detailed description, and are far less emphatic upon this solemn theme, than their divine Lord and Master. And well they might be. For as none but God has the right, and would dare, to sentence a soul to eternal misery, for sin; and as none but God has the right, and would dare, to execute the sentence; so none but God has the right, and should presume, to delineate the nature and consequences of this sentence.
This is the reason why most of the awful imagery in which the sufferings of the lost are described is found in the discourses of our Lord and Saviour. He took it upon himself to sound the note of warning. He, the Judge of quick and dead, assumed the responsibility of teaching the doctrine of Endless Retribution. "I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." "Nothing," says Dr. Arnold, "is more striking to me, than our Lord's own description of the judgment. It is so inexpressibly forcible, coming from his very own lips, as descriptive of what he himself would do" (Stanley's Life of Arnold, I. 176).
Christ could not have warned men so frequently and earnestly as he did against "the fire that never shall be quenched," and "the worm that dieth not," had he known that there is no future peril fully corresponding to them. That omniscient Being who made the statements respecting the day of judgment, and the final sentence, that are recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, could neither have believed nor expected that all men without exception will eventually be holy and happy.
To threaten with "everlasting punishment" a class of persons described as "goats upon the left hand" of the Eternal Judge, while knowing at the same time that this class would ultimately have the same holiness and happiness with those described as "sheep upon the right hand" of the Judge, would have been both falsehood and folly. The threatening would have been false.
For even a long punishment in the future world would not have justified Christ in teaching that this class of mankind are to experience the same retribution with "the devil and his angels"; for these were understood by the Jews, to whom he spoke, to be hopelessly and eternally lost spirits. And the threatening would have been foolish, because it would have been a brutum fulmen , an exaggerated danger, certainly in the mind of its author. And for the persons threatened, it would have been a terror only because they took a different view of it from what its author did they believing it to be true, and he knowing it to be false!
The mere perusal of Christ's words when he was upon earth, without note or comment upon them, will convince the unprejudiced that the Redeemer of sinners knew and believed, that for impenitent men and devils there is an endless punishment. We solicit a careful reading and pondering of the following well known passages:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:31-33,41,46).
"If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-48).
For those who reject God's free gift of Salvation through Christ.