New Warhorn Media post by Alex McNeilly:
New Warhorn Media post by Alex McNeilly:
Yesterday, I asked my children…
“Will the people who spend eternity outside the feast, in darkness, isolation and hellfire be glorifying God?”
Immediately, my 14 year-old daughter cried out “NO!” Her sense of justice found the question scandalous.
After a few moments, my 28 year-old son answered, “Yes.”
The ten of us discussed the offense of spitting in a person’s face, and how the penalty changed based upon the relationships of the spitter and the face.
a) An older sister spitting in her little brother’s face.
b) A stranger spitting in your little sister’s face.
c) A child spitting in their mother’s face.
d) A pulled over driver spitting in the policeman’s face.
e) An American spitting in Joe Biden’s face.
f) Any created and sustained sinner spitting in the face of God.
We ended up aknowledging that those who spend their life-everlasting separated will also be glorifying God.
But to get there we had to consider what @acmcneilly correctly describes as “unspeakable terror.”
My impression is that once upon a time, hellfire & brimstone preaching used to be a commonplace. Now, it isn’t, as far as I can tell. I know we need to do it, but how can it be done well?
One way I’ve been helped to understand how it’s done well is by reading old puritans. Thomas Watson is one of my favorites. I’ve never read such intense and overwhelming descriptions of the wrath of God. Nor have I read such intense and overwhelming descriptions of the love of God.
Often, we fall into thinking that faithfully preaching God’s Word is a delicate balancing act. We falsely think we have to find the narrow middle way between overemphasizing God’s wrath and overemphasizing God’s love. We sometimes fall into the error of thinking that in order to rightly preach the love of God, we have to be careful to hide the wrath of God. Or sometimes we overreact to such an error, thinking that in a culture which only ever talks about the love of God, we must instead focus on the wrath of God and be careful not to overemphasize God’s love and grace.
Both of those are wrong.
Rather, we must turn our preaching of God’s wrath and our preaching of God’s love both up to 11.
Here’s an example from Watson, from his work on The Ten Commandments:
God’s wrath is terrible. The Spanish proverb is, The lion is not so fierce as he is painted. We are apt to have slight thoughts of God’s wrath; but it is very tremendous and dismal, as if scalding lead should be dropped into one’s eyes. (Watson, The Ten Commandments [1692; Banner of Truth, 1965], 195)
Watson goes on like this for some pages:
While the wicked lie scorching in the flames of wrath, they have none to commiserate them. It is some ease of grief to have some to condole with us; but the wicked have wrath and no pity shown them. Who will pity them? God will not. They derided his Spirit, and he will now laugh at their calamity. (196)
But then, what joy and relief when Watson faithfully gives the balm for such fearful truth:
Let us adore God’s patience, who has not brought this wrath and curse upon us all this while. We have deserved wrath, yet God has not given us our desert. We may all subscribe to Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is slow to anger”; and to to verse 10, “He hath not rewarded us according to our iniquities.” God has deferred his wrath, and given us space to repent (Rev. 2:21). He is not like a hasty creditor, who requires the debt, and gives no time for payment . . .
What shall we do to prevent and escape the wrath to come?
By getting an interest in Jesus Christ. Christ is the only screen to stand betwixt us and the wrath of God; he felt God’s wrath that they who believe in him should never feel it. . . . Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace was a type of God’s wrath, and that furnace did not singe the garments of the three children, nor had “the smell of fire passed upon them” (Daniel 3:27). Jesus Christ went into the furnace of his Father’s wrath; and the smell of the fire of hell shall never pass upon those that believe in him. . . .
To you who have a well-grounded hope that you shall not feel this wrath, which you have deserved, let me exhort you to be very thankful to God, who has given his Son to save you from this tremendous wrath. Jesus hath delivered you from the wrath to come. The Lamb of God was scorched in the fire of God’s wrath for you. Christ felt the wrath which he did not deserve, that you might escape the wrath which you have deserved . . . (198–199)
We dishonor God’s love when we fail to preach His wrath. And we dishonor God’s wrath when we fail to preach His love. His wrath and His love are twin truths which make perfect sense when we look on the cross of Jesus Christ.