«THE ETERNAL DESTINY of the UNSAVED: WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE? –by I. C. Herendeen This message is about one of the most important and solemn ...»
THE ETERNAL DESTINY of the UNSAVED:
WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE?
–by I. C. Herendeen
This message is about one of the most important and solemn subjects contained in the Word of God, and
should therefore be dealt with in great boldness and plainness. But important as it is, sad to say the great majority
of preachers rarely mention it and then but lightly. This is all the more reason why we should carefully consider it, and set forth what we find the Holy Scriptures have to say about it: they are very clear as to the destiny of the unsaved. Christ Himself spoke more often and to a greater extent on this solemn subject than he did on heaven and its glories. Today we hear far more about heaven and its glories than about hell and its miseries. No one objects hearing too often about “the hope which is laid up for us in heaven” (Col. 1:5), no matter how often mentioned or emphasized. But when it comes to presenting that which is not so pleasing then we are apt to be told “Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10).
NEED TO THINK ABOUT ETERNITY
This is the clear teaching of the Bible, our only infallible source of information. We cannot, we dare not, fail to give this solemn subject our earnest and concentrated attention for none of us is more than a heart beat away from eternal weal or woe. If we had a clearer vision of the awe-inspiring matter it would banish much of our levity and irreverence, and cause us to realize our deep need of “fleeing from the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7).
REASON FOR THIS MESSAGEI am in hearty agreement with Arthur W. Pink when he wrote: “It is the deepening conviction of the writer that what is most needed today is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh.
What is needed today is —
1. A scriptural setting forth of the character of God: His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His inflexible justice, and His unchanging veracity.
2. A scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man: his total depravity, his spiritual insensibility, and his inveterate hostility to God, and the fact that he is ‘condemned already’ and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding on him (John 3:36).
3. A scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger in which sinners are, the indescribably awful doom which awaits them.
4. A scriptural setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost, the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, and the endlessness of it. It is because of these convictions that by pen as well as by voice we are seeking to raise the alarm.” To quote Bishop J.C. Ryle. “The eternity of future punishment has been held by almost all the greatest theologians from the time of the Reformation down to the present day. “ Further on he continues, “But after every allowance, admission and deduction there remains, in my humble judgment, a mass of Scripture evidence in support of the doctrine of eternal punishment which can never be explained away, and which no revision or new translation of the English Bible will ever overthrow. That there are degrees of misery as well as degrees of glory in the future state... is undeniable. But that the punishment of the wicked will ever have an end... I maintain is utterly impossible to prove by texts of Scripture.” WHAT IS HELL LIKE?
In Rev. 21:8 we read, “The fearful, the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Here we learn that the vilest of the vile will all be associated together. Those of high moral standards, who pride themselves on their truthfulness and honesty, their religiousness, their morality, if they die in their sins will for ever and ever be shut up in the prison-house of the universe with all the vile Sodomites, with every “murderer,” every “whoremonger,” with every “blasphemer” that ever lived: with Cain, Pharaoh, and Judas! Devils and wicked men all under the same condemnation will be their eternal companions. And this companionship, instead of affording relief, will only aggravate their woe. The whole throng, hateful and hating one another, will be tormentors of one another. The passions which burn in the hearts of wicked men on earth and destroy all eternal peace, and sometimes drives them to suicide, will then be unrestrained and do their full work of torture, and relief by suicide will be forever impossible: endure such torments they must. There will be no relief from their sufferings, their torments will be interminable with no hope of deliverance, no means of escape, no resting-place in hell, no change or variation of their lot. With no prospects of any improvement they will sink down to black despair and to “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).
It is high time these facts were thundered forth far and wide and often to warn guilty sinners that “the wrath of God abideth on them” (John 3:36), and that execution of His wrath awaits them the moment they pass out of this life. God is a holy God (Joshua 24:19) and will not at all acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3).
THE SINNER’S FOLLY AND MADNESSWhat has been before us above serves to expose the folly and madness of probably the greatest part of mankind, who for “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25), for a little wealth, or for a little earthly fame and glory, go on in utter heedlessness and carelessness to their eternal doom, as the ox goeth to the slaughter.
How mad are those who know they must die in a few short years at the very most but show no concern as to what is to become of them in the next world! And of those who have been faithfully warned many are not in the least disturbed but hear with as much indifference as though they were not at all concerned in the matter, as though the warning did not apply to them! And yet, for all they know to the contrary they may be in the fiery torments before another day or even hour passes. O the blinding power of sin! O the perversity of human nature! O the utter insensibility and indifference of men and women who are now sporting on the brink of eternal hell suspended only by the frail thread of mortality which may be snapped at any moment!
These series thoughts ought to make every unsaved sinner quake and tremble. Reader, it is useless to flatter yourself with the vain hope that this will not be true of you if you do not make sure and certain that you have been “born again” (John 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:23), washed in the precious blood of the Lamb of God and made an heir of glory. Every professing Christian ought to obey the Scripture command to “examine” himself (2 Cor. 13:5) to make sure that he has passed from death unto life, not prejudiced in his own favor, remembering that he has a “heart that is deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9). He should be careful not to give himself the benefit of any doubt or take anything for granted. Each of us should weigh the tremendously solemn issues which turn on whether or not we have really passed from death unto life.” We simply cannot afford to be uncertain or mistaken for far too much is at stake.
What folly on the part on those who deny the reality of hell! Strong and impressive proof of this momentous truth is furnished by Divine revelation. In it “the wrath of God is reveled from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). From God’s infallible Word we learn that wicked men “treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). We are told that “the rich man died and was buried, and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23,24).
Men will be called from their graves to the judgment Heb. 9:27), and from the judgment the wicked will be sentenced to everlasting punishment. God is to be feared (Eccl. 5:7) for He can and will “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
THE GREATNESS OF WRATH
AND DAMNATIONThe greatness of the evil included in damnation may be inferred from the importance which the Scriptures attach to salvation. If wrath and damnation are trivial matters then the sending of God’s only and well-beloved Son into the world to suffer for us as He did would be unworthy of infinite Wisdom; it would not be worthy to be called “so great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) if it did not deliver from “so great a death” (2 Cor. 1:10). Paul declared that God in the person of His Son Jesus Christ “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15) hence He must have believed the salvation of sinners to be a work of vast magnitude and importance. The Psalmist asks, “Who knoweth the power of thy anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath” (Psa. 90:11). The finite mind cannot conceive what it will be. Because of “the terror of the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:11) every son of Adam ought to give himself no rest until he has made his “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).
Since eternal woe is something future, unseen and unfelt, the human heart is prone to neglect or slight God’s warnings and threatenings of “judgment to come.” Its apprehension disquiets men and distrubs their enjoyments, and so they are strongly inclined to put it from them and go merrily on their way while all the time they are drawing nearer and nearer to the pit of woe. The threat of “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Rom. 2:8,9) is fearful, and they cannot think of these things and remain at ease, and so try to persuade themselves that these threatenings will never be executed upon them.
Of what elements future misery will consist we do not know, but we do know that it will include poignant remorse, a sense of Divine wrath with absence of all enjoyment and of all hope. The subjects of it will “weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth” as at last they realize that they are forever and ever shut out of heaven and in outer darkness. They will “remember” the good things they once enjoyed but will never enjoy again, the opportunities of mercy, once neglected, never to return! They will be “tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24) without a drop of water to cool their tongue. And their hatred of God will be such as to cause them to “gnash their teeth” in rage against Him and blaspheme His name as they realize they are the subjects of the Almighty’s wrath and cannot extricate themselves!
HELL IS ETERNALThe duration of their misery will be eternal, never ending. God’s Holy Word expressly declares “These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46). The punishment of the one and the happiness of the other will be of eternal duration - both will be “everlasting.” In Rev. 14:11 we read “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” They will “suffer the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
The righteous will perpetually rejoice in the glory of heaven while the wicked will perpetually sink under the load of their woe. The terribleness and awfulness of hell is proven by the fact that the everlasting fire into which the wicked will depart is “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Being “prepared for the devil and his angels” how intolerable it will be! How dreadful must that place be! That this “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” produces the most awful sufferings is clear from Rev. 20:10 where we are told that Satan shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Whether this fire is figurative or literal who can say positively? But I believe that when God says “fire” He means fire. Was the “flood” figurative? Was the “fire and brimstone” which descended from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah figurative? Will it be figurative “fire” which shall yet burn this earth and cause “the elements to melt with fervent heat” (2 Pet. 3:10)? No: in each of these cases we are obliged to take the words of Scripture literally. Let those who dare to affirm otherwise answer to God. In the light of this we ask in the words of Ezekiel 22:14 “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.” From the above we learn how God’s character and throne will be vindicated. God will yet punish every rebel against Himself in the display of His sovereignty and government. When Pharaoh dared pit himself against Jehovah, God manifested His authority and destroyed him at the Red Sea. He turned Nebuchadnezzar into a beast to make him know that the “Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Dan. 4:32). God now “endures the vessels of wrath” with much longsuffering, but in a coming day He will “show his wrath and make his power known” (Rom. 9:22).
WHO GOES TO HELL AND WHY“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Form this scripture we learn that ever last one of us is born into this world a sinner (Rom.
3:23) on the road to hell because he is a descendant of his forefather Adam, who deliberately and willfully disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden not to eat of the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17), thus incurring the penalty of death. “The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).