[b]For Those Who Are Not Christs[/b]
[i]by Rev. J. C. Ryle[/i]
Reader, I love your soul, and want it to be saved. I am therefore going to speak to you about Hell. There is such a place as Hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What men do not like they try hard not to believe. There is such a place as Hell!
When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment. All who are found impenitent and unbelievingall who have clung to sin, stuck to the world, and set their affections on things below, all such shall come to an awful end. Whosoever is not written in the book of life shall be Cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). This will be Hell!
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is real and true. It is as true as Heaven, as true as the fact that Christ died upon the Cross. There is not a fact or doctrine which you may not lawfully doubt if you doubt Hell. Disbelieve Hell, and you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in Scripture. You may as well throw your Bible aside at once. From No Hell to No God is but a series of steps.
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend on it, Hell will have inhabitants. The wicked shall certainly be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psa. 9:17). The same blessed Saviour who now sits on a throne of Grace will one day sit on a throne of Judgment, and men will see there is such a thing as The wrath of the Lamb. The same lips which now say, Come unto Me, will one day say, Depart, ye cursed! Alas, how awful the thought of being condemned by Christ Himself, judged by the Saviour, sentenced to misery by the Lamb!
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell will be intense and unutterable woe. It is vain to talk of all the expressions about it being figures of speech. The pit, the prison, the worm, the fire, the thirst, the blackness, the darkness, the weeping, the gnashing of teeth, the second deathall these may be figures of speech if you please.
But Bible figures mean something beyond all question, and here they mean something which mans mind can never fully conceive. Oh! reader, the miseries of mind and conscience are far worse than those of the body. The whole extent of Hell, the present suffering, the bitter recollection of the past, the hopeless prospect of the future, will never be fully known except by those who go there.
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is eternal. It must be eternal, or words have no meaning at all. Forever and everEverlastingUnquenchableNever-dying, all of these are expressions used about Hell, and expressions that cannot be explained away. It must be eternal, or the very foundations of Heaven are cast down. If Hell has an end Heaven has an end too. They both stand or fall together. It must be eternal, or every doctrine of the Gospel is undermined. If a man may escape Hell at length without faith in Christ, then sin is no longer an infinite evil, and there wasnt any need for Christ making an atonement.
And where is the warrant for saying that Hell can ever change a heart, or make it fit for Heaven? It must be eternal, or Hell would cease to be Hell altogether. Give a man hope, and he will bear anything. Ah! reader, these are solemn things. Well said Caryl, Forever is the most solemn saying in the Bible.
Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection, beware of false views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of new and strange doctrines about Hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a God of your own, a God who is all mercy, but not justa God who is all love, but not holya God who has a Heaven for everybody, but Hell for nonea God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a god is an idol of your own, as true an idol as was ever moulded out of brass or clay. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and besides the God of the Bible there is no god at all.
A Heaven containing all sorts of characters indiscriminately would be miserable discord indeed. Alas! for the eternity of such a Heaven. There would be little difference between it and Hell. Ah! reader, there is a Hell. Take heed, lest you find it out to your cost too late!
Beware of being wise above that which is written. Beware of forming fanciful theories of your own, and then trying to make the Bible square in with them. Beware of making selections from your Bible to suit your taste refusing, like a spoiled child, whatever you think bitter, seizing like a spoiled child, whatever you think sweet. What does all this amount to but telling God that you, in your finite wisdom, know what is good for you better than He?
It will not do. You must take the Bible as it is. You must read it all, and believe it. You must read it with the spirit of a little child. Dare not say, I believe this verse for I like it. I reject that, for I do not like it. I receive this, for I can understand it. I refuse that, for I cannot reconcile it with my views.
Nay! but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? By what right do you talk in this way? Surely it were better to say over every chapter in the Word, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Ah! reader, if men would do this, they would never deny Hell!
Do you know that Calvary is the greatest evidence of an eternal Hell? Why did the Lord Jesus Christ suffer so, if we were all on our way to Heaven? Rest assured, that if you continually reject Christ and His marvellous sacrifice for your sins, you are as sure of going to Hell as you would be were you there now! (Rev. 21:8). Dont spend eternity with the ungodly when the Lord Jesus Christ died to save you from an eternal and everlasting Hell!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon