Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Mental Agonies of Hell

I found this wonderful piece over at "Sovereign Grace Articles" and let it be known that preaching this sermon today would likely produce one of two results, a) it would send people running out the doors for a more "seeker friendly" church, or b) it would produce weeping and repentant hearts in the lost and saved alike:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

First, observe, the manner in which Paul sought the kingdom of heaven. Verse 26, 'I therefore so nm not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.' Although that Paul wrote these words he had a full assurance of heavenly love. It was many years after his conversion on his way to Damascus; and I am sure, if any one had assurance of his conversion, it was the apostle Paul – 'I am in a strait betwixt the two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better' (Philippians 1:23); 'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord' (2 Corinthians 5:28). And you remember that sweet saying: 'There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness' (2 Timothy 4:8). Yet for all that, Paul sought the kingdom of heaven as if he had been running a race; he was as anxious seeking it after his conversion as he had been before it. There are many people who, after conversion, sit down as if it were all over. They think they need do no more; but it was not so with Paul.

The second thing I desire you to notice from these words is, one important effort Paul made. It was this, 'I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.' Paul had noticed that in the Grecian games the men who ran and wrestled were temperate in all things. Now Paul said this is what I will do in running my race. There are some Christians, I fear, who will not do so much for an incorruptible crown as the Grecian racer did for a corruptible one: 'The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light' (Luke 16:8). There is too much pampering the body, and then Satan gets the advantage.

There is a third troth I wish you to notice. It is, the reason of Paul's anxiety and care. 'Lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' I have told you, brethren, already that Paul had a very clear sight of his conversion, he knew that he was in Christ, and that none could pluck him out of his hand; yet, for all that, Paul was afraid lest he should be a castaway. Paul knew that, though he was a minister, yet, if be gave way to the flesh, if he lived after the flesh, he would be a castaway. He knew that many who seemed Christ's had yet fallen away. Judas he knew was a castaway. Paul felt that which I have sometimes expressed to you; if he lived after the flesh he would die. Paul knew quite well that there is an indissoluble connection between a wicked life and hell. And, oh! it was this that made him temperate in all things.

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