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EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Thursday Evening, January 12, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
(Matthew 25:46).


Jesus Christ is the person responsible for the doctrine of everlasting punishment. Those who reject the idea of everlasting punishment are against Christ, for He is the one who taught it most plainly and clearly. The Old Testament does speak of Hell, sometimes quite forcefully, as in Isaiah 66:24, where the prophet says,

“Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24).

But usually the Old Testament speaks of Hell in shadows and types as an evil place to be avoided, and few descriptions of its horrors are given on the pages of the Old Testament.

It is in the New Testament that the fuller meaning of endless punishment in Hell is revealed. It is mainly Christ who brings to our attention the awful state of those who

“shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

It is Christ who said,

“The rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…And he cried…I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).

It is Christ who said,

“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 9:47-48).

This doctrine of everlasting punishment is overlooked or downplayed in most modern pulpits. It is even joked about by some modern new-evangelicals. For instance, I knew a young girl many years ago whom I had not seen for a long time. My wife and I sat with her and her husband at a reunion dinner. She told a story of my early preaching on the subject of endless punishment in a class I taught at her church. She made a joke about my preaching on Hell, and threw her head back in laughter. I did not correct her. I felt sorry for her, because her “joke” at my expense showed glaringly and clearly that her own husband, who is a minister, did not preach on the subject of Hell as sharply as did the Lord Jesus Christ. So, her preacher husband did not preach as faithfully and pointedly on everlasting punishment as did our Lord. No wonder the young people in her husband’s church usually wear T-shirts to the services, and gather in insolent groups, making light comments, after the services. No wonder so many of them fall away when they are in college, with the truths of Christ not affecting the lives they live. On the contrary, many of the young men I preached Hell to in those early days are now upstanding, godly men, deacons and leaders in their church. “But wisdom is justified of her children” (Matthew 11:19).

I say that Christ spoke the truth when He said,

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment”
     (Matthew 25:46).

And I say that this great truth of everlasting punishment should be preached clearly and pointedly to young people in our churches today - for it is a truth that comes from the mouth of Christ Himself, who will one day judge the world in righteousness.

Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, the great Old School theologian who opposed the spread of “decisionism” in the nineteenth century, said,

No theological tenet is more important than eternal retribution to those modern nations which, like England, Germany, and the United States, are growing rapidly in riches, luxury, and earthly power. Without it [everlasting punishment], they will infallibly go down in that vortex of sensuality and wickedness that swallowed up Babylon and Rome [into] “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (W. G. T. Shedd, Ph.D., Dogmatic Theology, third edition, P and R Publishing, 2003, page 928).

Dr. Shedd’s words have a chilling prophetic ring to them. His warning was not paid attention to in his time. The churches went on avoiding the doctrine of eternal punishment, while growing in riches, luxury and power, until England and Germany were crushed by two world wars a few decades after Dr. Shedd wrote those prophetic words. And America herself is riddled with the same “sensuality and wickedness that swallowed up Babylon and Rome” (ibid.).

In the face of these facts of history, I make no apology whatever for proclaiming to you the sure words of Christ,

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
     (Matthew 25:46).

These words of Christ should often ring out from our pulpits across America and the world, for if they do not, men and women will not see their need for Christ, will not be truly converted - and our nation, and the West, will indeed continue descending the slippery moral slope, and “they will infallibly go down in that vortex of sensuality and wickedness that swallowed up Babylon and Rome.”

But in this age of unbelief, how can we defend Christ’s teaching on endless punishment? First, the Christian Gospel itself ought to silence all arguments against Christ’s teachings on Hell. For the Gospel declares that there is no need, “so far as the action of God is concerned, that a single human being should ever be the subject of future punishment. The necessity of hell is founded in the action of [man], not of [God]. Had [man committed] no sin, there would have been no hell; and sin is the product of man’s free will. And after the entrance of sin [by man] and the provision of [salvation] from it, had there been universal repentance in this life, there would have been no hell for man in the next life. The only reason [that makes hell necessary], therefore…that now exists is the sinner’s [lack of repentance]. Should every human individual before he dies, sorrow for sin [and turn to Christ for forgiveness, everlasting punishment] would disappear” (W. G. T. Shedd, Ph.D., Dogmatic Theology, P and R Publishing, 2003 reprint, p. 930).

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
     (Matthew 25:46)

because they refuse to repent and come to Christ.

The second argument for endless punishment is based on the endlessness of sin. The Bible says,

“Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

One sin makes a person guilty, endlessly guilty. It is not necessary that you commit all kinds of sin, or that you sin for a long time. One sin makes you a sinner, and sin will be everlastingly punished. As Frederick W. Faber (1814-1865) put it in one of his hymns,

O fearful thought! one act of sin
Within itself contains
The power of endless hate of God,
And everlasting pains.

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
     (Matthew 25:46).

Another reason for endless punishment is that there is no saving grace in Hell. All who enter Hell are given up by God everlastingly.

“God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28).

People are capable of committing the unpardonable sin in this life. But all who enter Hell have committed it. No awakening, no conviction, and no conversion enter the hearts of sinners in Hell. As Satan and the demons are given over to everlasting punishment, so those who enter Hell at their death have no more opportunities of grace.

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Judgment for sin comes immediately at the time of death. Punishment is endless because there are no more opportunities to be alarmed, convicted or converted in Christ Jesus.

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
     (Matthew 25:46).

Therefore, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19). When God’s Spirit convicts you of sin, yield to Him. Admit, within yourself, that you deserve everlasting punishment. Nothing less than this can make you see your need for the Blood and righteousness of Christ.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 25:41-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Almost Persuaded” (by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).


THE OUTLINE OF

EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT

by Dr. Robert Hymers


“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment”
(Matthew 25:46).

(Isaiah 66:24; Luke 16:22-24; Mark 9:47-48;
Matthew 11:19; James 2:10; Romans 1:28;
Hebrews 9:27; I Thessalonians 5:19)