We may learn the folly and madness of the greater part of mankind in that for the sake of present, momentary gratification, they run the venture of enduring all these eternal torments. They prefer a small pleasure, a little wealth, or a little earthly honour and greatness that can last but for a moment to an escape from this punishment.
If it be true that the torments of hell are eternal, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37)…Eternal misery, though they lie every day exposed to it, is a thing neglected…And if they do take pains for a little while, they soon leave off: something else takes up their thoughts and concern.
Thus you see it among young and old. Multitudes of youth lead a careless life, taking little care about their salvation. So you may see it among persons of middle age and with many advanced in years, when they certainly draw near to the grave…How strange is it that men can enjoy themselves and be at rest when they are thus hanging over eternal burnings. At the same time…not knowing how soon the thread by which they hang will break, nor indeed do they pretend to know. And if it breaks, they are gone, they are lost forever, and there is no remedy!…
If they be eternal, one would think that would be enough to awaken your concern and excite your diligence. If the punishment be eternal, it is infinite. Therefore, no other evil, no death, no temporary torment that you ever heard of or that you can imagine is anything in comparison with it…
Jesus Christ has paid the whole debt due to the divine Law and exhausted eternal [sufferings] in temporal sufferings. What great encouragement it is—to those of you who are sensible that you are exposed to eternal punishment—that there is a Savior provided, Who is able and Who freely [saves sinners] from that punishment in a way that is perfectly consistent with the glory of God—yes, [in a way] that is more to the glory of God than it would be if you should suffer the eternal punishment of hell.
For if you should suffer that punishment, you would never pay the whole of the debt. Those who are sent to hell never will have paid the whole of the debt that they owe to God, nor indeed a part that bears any proportion to the whole…Justice therefore never can be actually satisfied in your damnation, but it is actually satisfied in Christ. Therefore, He is accepted of the Father, and all who believe are accepted and justified in Him.
Therefore, believe in Him, come to Him, commit your souls to Him to be saved by Him. In Him, you shall be safe from the eternal torments of hell. Nor is that all: but through Him, you shall inherit inconceivable blessedness and glory that will be of equal duration with the torments of hell. For as at the Last Day the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, so shall the righteous, or those who trust in Christ, go into life eternal.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
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Jonathan Edwards was only partially right about Gehenna. Of course what at does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose themselves. Yes, sinners will have to pay for the misdeeds done while they were in the body, but that only lasts as long commensurate with how bad they were while in the body. The punishment is eternal, yes, but after a time of punishment, destruction. It is eternal in the sense that they are extinguished forever, in my view. Most references in the bible about the final disposition of the wicked have the idea of being snuffed out. Take a look at Mt 10.28.
Also, there will be eternal torment but not for humans. Rev. 20. 7-10 clearly portrays this reality, and humans are also sent to the same place. The difference is that for humans it is temporary until their punishment is complete. Otherwise, how could there be degrees of retribution? Sure, some will say that the wicked will keep on getting worse. However, the scope of probation is what they have done while in their earthly life (Rev. 20. 12-13). Saints also receive payback for the good they have done. But, there is a cutoff only while on earth. The states seem fixed according to scripture and a careful reading brings this out (2 Cor 5.10).
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