Thomas Boston – The Torments of Hell
Note: Knowing what we are saved from is a means that God grants us for valuing the Lord Jesus Christ, and His salvation, all the more. The understanding that what Mr. Boston describes is but a tiny drop in the bucket of the revelation concerning (a) what the Lord Jesus Christ had to endure to save His people and (b) what those outside of Christ will have to endure, in their own being, throughout all of eternity, should bring us all to our knees. What greater attitude-adjuster or paradigm-changer is there than these two truths? I can think of only one and that is the eternal love, mercy, and grace required to motivate God the Father, and God the Son, in eternal covenant, to engage in the dreadful but justice and glory-filled work required (at Calvary) to save God’s from-eternity people from their sins. The entire picture should be immensely sobering and terrifying and yet equally awe-inspiring and love and gratitude-inducing, for those who meditating upon these things.
2 Corinthians 5:11a states “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” The implication is that the Christian knows, he or she sees the terror… albeit only in very small part. Nonetheless, we see the terror, the phobos (from whence we get phobia); we see the utter fear and dread concerning eternal damnation and the fate of those who will forever experience it. I feel reproof, shame, and even anger (at myself) as I write this, knowing how carnal, vain, and even asinine my many daily thoughts and actions are in the light of this great and frightful truth concerning God’s eternal wrath, and in light of the many, many people that I know who are right now under it. Yet, if you (are made to…) know better, you do better, Lord willing and enabling.
In sum, though many do not like to preach concerning God’s hatred of both sin and reprobate sinners themselves; though many do not like to preach concerning eternal judgment, wrath, torment, and damnation; and though many more wish to hear nothing of it, hating such hearing, the truth is nevertheless absolutely necessary to proclaim. For if we are to know the terror, we must hear of the terror, seeing that we can only know it from (a) the word of God and (b) the word of God expounded by faithful preachers and teachers, as the Spirit of God enables. So though “fire and brimstone” preaching can be abused, and though fear alone saves no one, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We need to first proclaim to men and women the truth of God’s just wrath and then we need to proclaim to them our only hope of escaping it — that Hope being the Lord Jesus Christ, His Person and His finished work on the cross as the Substitute for elect sinners, even as the one dying and rising again for their sins so that they would not have to endure Hellfire forever. In most circles, religious or otherwise, such truth is antiquated, even absurd, in our day — but it is Truth nonetheless. May the Spirit of God make it effectual (by the sovereign will, mercy, grace, and purpose of God the Father) in the hearts of those hearing the Gospel truth today, and in the days to come, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, as God gives His people ears to hear. May all of God’s people have greater ears to hear and greater spiritual conviction of heart to act in accordance with what we hear.
To God be the glory, Amen.