Talmage Answers an Atheist

Dr. T. DeWitt Talmage answers an atheist from the Bible.

T DeWitt Talmage
T DeWitt Talmage

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them” (Ephesians 4:18).

It seems from what we have recently heard that the Christian religion is a huge blunder; that the Mosaic account of the Creation is an absurdity large enough to throw all nations into rollicking guffaw; that Adam and Eve never existed; that the ancient flood and Noah’s Ark were impossibilities; that there never was a miracle; that the Bible is the friend of cruelty, of murder, of polygamy, of obscenity, of adultery, of all forms of base crime; that the Christian religion is woman’s and man’s stultification; that the Bible from lid to lid is a fable, an obscenity, a cruelty, a humbug, a sham, a lie; that the martyrs who died for its truth were miserable dupes; that the Church of Jesus Christ is properly gazetted as a fool; that when Thomas Carlyle, the sceptic, said, “The Bible is a noble book,” he was dropping into imbecility – that when Theodore Parker, the infidel, declared in Music Hall, Boston, “Never a boy or girl in all Christendom but was profited by that great Book,” he was becoming very weak minded; that it is something to bring a blush to the cheek of every patriot, that John Adams, the father of American independence, declared “The Bible is the best Book in all the world”; and that lion hearted Andrew Jackson turned into a snivelling coward when he said, “That Book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests”; and that Daniel Webster abdicated the throne of his intellectual power and resigned his logic, and from being the great expounder of the Constitution and the great lawyer of his age, turned into an idiot, when he said, “My heart assures and reassures me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. From the time that at my mother’s feet, or on my father’s knee, I first learned to lisp verses from the sacred Writings, they have been my daily study and vigilant contemplation, and if there is anything in my style or thought to be commended, the credit is due to my kind parents in instilling into my mind an early love of the Scriptures”; and that William H. Seward, the diplomatist of the century, only showed his puerility when he declared, “The whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever growing influences of the Bible”; and that it is wisest for us to take that book from the throne in the affections of uncounted multitudes, and put it under our feet to be trampled upon by hatred and hissing contempt; and that your old father was hood winked, and cajoled, and cheated, and befooled, when he leaned on this as a staff after his hair grew gray, and his hands were tremulous, and his steps shortened as he came up to the verge of the grave; and that your mother sat with a pack of lies on her lap while reading of the better country, and of the ending of all her aches and pains, and reunion not only with those of you who stood around her but with the children she had buried with infinite heartache, so that she could read no more until she took off her spectacles, and wiped from them the heavy mist of many tears.

Alas! That for forty and fifty years they should have walked under this delusion and had it under their pillow when they lay a dying in the back room, and asked that some words from the vile page might be cut upon the tombstone under the shadow of the old country meeting house where they sleep this morning waiting for a resurrection that will never come.  This book, having deceived them, and having deceived the mighty intellects of the past, must not be allowed to deceive our larger, mightier, vaster, more stupendous intellects.  And so out with the Book from the Court Room, where it is used in the solemnization of testimony. Out with it from under the foundation of Church and asylum.  Out with it from the domestic circle.  Gather together all the Bibles – the children’s Bibles, the family Bibles, those newly bound, and those nearly worn out and pages almost obliterated by the fingers long ago turned to dust – bring them all together, and let us make a bonfire of them, and by it warm our cold criticism, and after that turn under with the plough share of public indignation the polluted ashes of that loathsome, adulterous, obscene, cruel and deathful Book which is so antagonistic to man’s liberty, and woman’s honor, and the world’s happiness.

“Stop!” says some silly old man.  “Stop!” says some weak minded woman. “Stop!” says some small brained child.  “Perhaps you had better give the Bible a trial before you condemn it.” Well, we will give it a trial.  I empanel this whole audience as a jury to render their verdict in this case -Infidelity, the plaintiff, versus Christianity, the defendant.  Twelve jurors are ordinarily enough in a case, but in this case, vaster in importance than any other, I this morning empanel all the thousands of people here gathered as a jury, and I ask them silently to affirm that they will well and truly try this issue of traverse joined between Infidelity, the plaintiff, and Christianity, the defendant, so help you God.

The jury empanelled, call your first witness.  Robert G. Ingersoll! “Here!” Swear the witness.  But how are you to swear the witness?  I know of only two ways of taking an oath in a Court Room.  The one is by kissing the Bible, and the other is by lifting the hand.  I cannot ask him to swear by the Bible, because he considers that a pack of lies, and therefore it could give no solemnity to his oath.  I cannot ask him to lift the hand, for that seems to imply the existence of a God, and that is a fact in dispute.  So I swear him by the rings of Saturn, and the spots on the sun, and the caverns in the moon, and the Milky Way, and the nebular hypothesis, that he will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in this case between Infidelity, the plaintiff, and Christianity, the defendant.

Let me say that I know nothing of the private character of that person, neither do I want to know.  I have no taste for exploring private character.  I shall deal with him as a public teacher.  I shall not be diverted from this by the fact that he has again and again in lectures and in interviews assailed my name.  I have no personal animosity. I invite him the Sabbath after he has changed his views in regard to the Christian religion to stand here where I stand and preach his first sermon.  I deal with him only as a public teacher.

You say: Why preach these three or four sermons which I intend to preach in answering the champion blasphemer of America?  Am I afraid that Christianity will be overcome by this scoffing harlequinade? Oh, no.  Do you know how near he has come to stopping Christianity?  I will tell you how near he has come to impeding the progress of Christianity in the world.  About as much as one snowflake on the track will impede the half past three o’clock Chicago lightning express train. Perhaps not so much as that. It is more like a Switzerland insect floating through the air impeding an Alpine avalanche.

The Sabbath after Mr. Ingersoll in this region extinguished Christianity, we received in this Church over four hundred souls in public and beautiful consecration of themselves to Christ, and that only a small illustration of the universal advance.  Within ten years Mr. Ingersoll has done his most conspicuous stopping of Christianity, and he has stopped it at the following rate: in the first fifty years of this century, there were three million people who professed the faith of Christ.  In the last ten years, there have been three million people connecting themselves by profession with the Church of Christ.  In other words, the last ten years have accomplished as much as the first fifty years of this century.  My fear is not that he will arrest Christianity.  I preach these sermons for the benefit of individuals.  There are young men who through his teachings have given up their religion and soon after gave up their morals.  Ingersoll’s teachings triumphant would fill all the penitentiaries, and the gambling hells and houses of shame on the continent – on the planet.  No Divine system of morals, and in twenty years we would have a hell on earth eclipsing in abomination the hell that Mr. Ingersoll has so much laughed at.  My fear is not that Christianity in general shall be impeded, but I want to persuade these young men to get aboard the train, instead of throwing themselves across the track.  God is going to save this world anyhow, and the only question is whether you and I will refuse to get into the lifeboat.  Besides that, I want to put into the mouths of these young men arguments by which they can defend themselves in the profession of their faith in Christ when they are bombarded.

But that trial comes on.  The jury has been empanelled.  The first witness has been called.  In the opening sentences of my sermon, I gave Mr. Ingersoll’s charges against Christianity.  Now, my friends, it is a principle settled in all court rooms, and among all intelligent people, “false in part, false in all.” If a witness is found to be making a misrepresentation on the stand, it does not make any difference what he testifies to after; it all goes overboard.  The judge, the jury, every common sense man says, “False in part, false in all.” Now, if I can show you, and I will show you, the Lord helping me, that Mr. Ingersoll makes misrepresentations in one respect, or two respects, or three respects, I will demand that, as intelligent men and as fair minded women, you throw overboard his entire testimony.  If he will misrepresent in one thing, he will misrepresent all the way through. “False in one, false in all.”

In the first place, he raises a roystering laugh against the Bible by saying: “Is this Book true? The gentleman who wrote it said that the world was made out of nothing – I cannot imagine nothing being made into something.” In nearly all his lectures he begins with that gigantic misrepresentation.  I offer a thousand dollars reward to any man who will show me any passage in the Bible that tells me that the world was made out of nothing.  The very first passage says it was made out Of God’s omnipotence.  “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” I do not ask you to refer to your Bible. Refer to your memory that you may see it is an Ingersollian misstatement – a misstatement from stem to stem, and from cutwater to taffrall, and from the top of the mainmast down to the barnacles on the bottom.  If he had taken some obscure passage, he would not have been so soon found out; but he has taken the most conspicuous, the most memorable, the most magnificent passage, all geological and astronomical discovery only adding to its grandeur.  “In the beginning.” There you can roll in ten million years if you want to.  There is no particular date given – no contest between science and revelation.  You may roll in there ten million years, if you want to.  Though the world may have been in process of creation for millions of years, suddenly and quickly, and in one week, it may have been fitted up for man’s residence.  Just as a great mansion may have been many years in building, and yet in one week it may be curtained and chandebered and cushioned and upholstered for a bride and groom.

You are not compelled to believe that the world was made in our six days; you are not compelled to believe that.  It may not have been a day of twenty four hours, the day spoken of in the first chapter; it may have been God’s day, and a thousand years with Him are as one day.  “And the evening and the morning were the first day” – God’s day. “And the evening and the morning were the second day” – God’s day.  “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” – God’s day. You and I are living in the seventh day, the Sabbath of the world, the day of Gospel redemption, the grandest day of all the week in which each day may have been made up of thousands of years.  Can you tell me how a man can get his mind and soul into such a blasphemous twist as to scoff at that first chapter of Genesis, its verses billows of light surging up from sapphire seas of glory!  Come now and let Mr. Ingersoll laugh at the fact that the world is made out of nothing.  He rings his charges on that word nothing.  He has gone all through the cities telling what every man, woman, and child of common sense knows is a misrepresentation.  There is as much difference between Mr. Ingersoll’s statement and the truth as between nothing and omnipotence.  Now I will take Mr. Ingersoll’s first misrepresentation, and I nail it so high that North, South, East, and West may see it and remember it.  Wilful misrepresentation!  I repeat, there is as much difference between his statement and the Bible statement as between nothing and omnipotence. Now I demand, gentlemen of the jury, that you throw overboard his entire testimony. False in part, false in all – all that he has testified to in the past, all that he will testify to in the future – all overboard, by the common rules of evidence.

I take a step further in the impeachment of this witness.  One would have thought that after misrepresenting the first passage he would have rested from his labors and given us some honest exposition.  Oh, no! He rolls from side to side with laughter.  He runs up and down the whole gamut of cachination.  He can hardly contain his mirthfulness. He swoops upon the third and fourth verses of the same chapter in caricature and says: “Ha, ha! the Bible represents that light was created on Monday, and the sun was not created until Thursday. Just think of it! a book declaring that light was created three days before the sun shone!” Here Mr. Ingersoll shows his geological and chemical and astronomical ignorance. If Mr. Ingersoll had asked any school boy on his way home from one of our high schools, “My lad, can there be any light without the shining of the sun?” the lad would have said, “Yes, sir – heat and electricity emit light independent of the sun. Beside that, when the earth was in process of condensation, it was surrounded by thick vapors and the discharge of many volcanoes in the primary period, and all this obscuration may have hindered the light of the sun from falling on the earth until that Thursday morning.” Beside that, he would say: “Mr.  Ingersoll, don’t you know that David Brewster and Herschel, the astronomer, and all the modern men of their class, agree in the fact that the sun is not light, that it is an opaque mass, that it is only the candlestick that holds the light, a phosphorescent atmosphere floating around it, changing and changing, so it is not to be at all wondered at that not until that Thursday morning its light fell on the earth?  Beside that, Mr. Ingersoll,” the lad of the high school would say, “the rocks in crystalization emit light. There is light from a thousand surfaces, the alkalies, for instance.” The lad would have gone on to say “The metallic bases emit light.” The lad would have gone on still further to say: “Mr.  Ingersoll, don’t you know there was a time in the history of the world when there were thousands of miles of liquid granite flaming with light?” The lad would have gone on and told Mr. Ingersoll that by observation it has been found that there are burned out volcanoes in other worlds which, when they were in explosion and activity, must have cast forth an insufferable light, throwing a glare all over our earth.  And the boy would have asked him also if he had ever heard of the Aurora Borealis or the Aurora Anchalis.  And then the boy would have unbuckled the strap from his bundle of books, and read from one, entitled “Connection of the Physical Sciences,” this paragraph:

“Captain Bonnycastle, coming up the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the 17th of September, 1826, was aroused by the mate of the vessel in great alarm from an unusual appearance.  It was a star light night, when suddenly the sky became overcast.  In the direction of the high land of Cornwallis County an instantaneous and intensely vivid light, resembling the aurora, shot out on the hitherto gloomy and dark sea, on the lee bow that was so brilliant, it lighted everything distinctly, even to the masthead.  The light spread over the whole sea between the two shores, and the waves, which before had been tranquil, became agitated.  Captain Bonnycastle describes the scene as that of a blazing sheet of awful and most brilliant light – a long and vivid line of light that showed the face of the high frowning land abreast.  The sky became lowering and more intensely obscure.  Long, tortuous lines of light showed immense numbers of large fish darting about as if in consternation.  The topsail yard and mizzen boom were lighted by the glare as if gas lights had been burned directly below them, and until just before day break, at four o’clock, the most minute olliects were distinctly visible.”

Mr. Ingersoll has only to go to one of our high schools to learn there are ten thousand sources of light besides the light of the sun.  But if he had been in one of the classes in our high schools, a class in astronomy, or geology, or chemistry, the impatient teacher would have said to him: “Robert, go down to the foot and be in disgrace – be in disgrace for your stupidity!” This is not wilful misrepresentation in this case on the part of Mr. Ingersoll.  He does not know any better.  It is the most profound and most disgusting ignorance ever exhibited on a lecturer’s platform in America when he says there cannot be any light, or implies there cannot be any light, except that which comes from the sun.

In the first case which I showed you it was wilful misrepresentation. In this case it is ignorance, geological, and astronomical, and chemical. But whether wilful or ignorant misrepresentation, either and both will impeach Robert G. Ingersoll as incompetent to give testimony in this case between Infidelity, the plaintiff, and Christianity, the defendant. I nail on the top of the temple of scepticism this misrepresentation by the champion blasphemer of America.  He misrepresented in the first case.  He has misrepresented in the second case.  Now I demand, gentlemen of the jury, that you throw overboard his testimony.  “False in part, false in all.”

I take a step further in impeaching this witness against Christianity.  He sharpens all his witticisms to destroy our belief in the ancient deluge and Noah’s Ark.  He says that from the account there, it must have rained eight hundred feet of water each day in order that it might be fifteen cubits above the hills.  He says that the Ark could not have been large enough to contain “two of every sort,” for there would have been hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of creatures!  He says that these creatures would have come from all lands and all zones!  He says there was only one small window in the Ark, and that would not have given fresh air to keep the animals inside the Ark from suffocation!  Then he winds up that part of the story by saying that the Ark finally landed on a mountain seventeen thousand feet high.  He says he does not believe the story.  Neither do I! There is no such story in the Bible.  I will tell you what the Bible story is.  I must say that I have changed my mind in regard to some matters which once were to me very mysterious.  They are no more mysterious.  This is the key to the facts.  This is the story of an eye witness, Noah, his story incorporated afterward by Moses in the account.  Noah described the scene just as it appeared to him.  He saw the flood and he fathomed its depth.  As far as eye could reach everything was covered up, from horizon to horizon, or as it says, “under the whole Heaven.” He did not refer to the Sierra Nevadas, or to Mount Washington, for America had not been discovered, or, if it had been discovered, he could not have seen so far off.  He is giving the testimony of an eyewitness.  God speaks after the manner of men when He says everything went under, and Noah speaks after the manner of men when he says everything did go under.  An eye witness. There is no need of thinking that the kangaroo leaped the ocean, or that the polar bear came down from the ice.

Why did the deluge come?  It came for the purpose of destroying the outrageous inhabitants of the then thinly populated earth, nearly all the population probably very near the Ark before it was launched. What would have been the use of submerging North and South America, or Europe, or Africa when they were not inhabited?  Mr. Ingersoll most grossly misrepresents, when he says that in order to have that depth of water it must have rained eight hundred feet every day.  The Bible distinctly declares that the most of the flood rose instead of falling.  Before the account where it says “the windows of Heaven were opened,” it says, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” All geologists agree in saying that there are caverns in the earth filled with water, and they rushed forth, and all the lakes and rivers forsook their bed.  What am I to think, and what are you to think of a man who, ignoring this earthquake spoken of in the Bible as preceding the falling of the rain, and for the purpose of making a laugh at the Bible, will say it must have rained over eight hundred feet every day?  Taking the last half instead of the first half.  The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and then the windows of Heaven were opened.  Is it a strange thing that we should be asked to believe in this flood of the Bible, when geologists tell us that again and again and again the dry earth has been drowned out? Just open your geology, and you will read of twenty floods.  Is it not a strange thing that the infidel scientist writing us to believe in the twenty floods of geological discovery, should, as soon as we believe in the one flood of the Bible, pronounce us asinine and non compos mentis?

Well, then, another thing, in regard to the size of the Ark.  Instead of being a mud scow, as some of these infidels would have us understand, it was a magnificent ship, nearly as large as our Great Eastern, three times the size of an ordinary man-of-war.  At the time in the world when shipbuilding was unknown, God had this vessel constructed, which turned out to be almost in the same proportions as our stanchest modern vessels.  After thousands of years of experimenting in naval architecture and in ship carpentery, we have at last got up to Noah’s Ark, that ship leading all the fleets of the world on all the oceans.  Well, Noah saw the animal creation going into this Ark.  He gave the accounts of an eye witness.  They were the animals from the region where he lived; for the most part they were animals useful to man, and if noxious insects or poisonous reptiles went in, it was only to discipline the patience and to keep alert the generations after the flood. He saw them going in.  There were a great number of them, and he gives the account of an eye witness.  They went in two and two of all flesh.

Two or three years ago I was on a steamer on the river Tay, and I came to Perth, Scotland. I got off, and I saw the most wonderful agricultural show that I had ever witnessed.  There were horses and cattle such as Rosa Bonbetir never sketched, and there were dogs such as the loving pencil of Edwin Landseer never portrayed, and there were sheep and fowl and creatures of all sorts.  Suppose that “two and two” of all the creatures of that agricultural show were put upon the Tay steamer to be transported to Dundee, and the next day I should be writing home to America and giving an account of the occurrence, I would have used the same general phraseology that Noah used in regard to the embarkation of the brute creation in the Ark – I would have said that they went in two and two of every sort.  I would not have meant six hundred thousand.  A common sense man myself, I would suppose that the people who read the letter were common sense people.

“But how could you get them into the Ark?” says Mr. Ingersoll with a great sneer.  “How could they be induced to go into the Ark?  He would have to pick them out and drive them in, and coax them in.” Could not the same God who gave instinct to the animal inspire that instinct to seek for shelter from the storm?  However, nothing more than ordinary animal instinct was necessary. Have you never been in the country when an August thunder storm was coming up and heard the cattle moan at the bars to get in? and seen the alighted fowl go upon the perch at noonday, and heard the affrighted dog and cat calling at the door, supplicating entrance?  And are you surprised that in that age of the world, when there were fewer places of shelter for dumb beasts, at the muttering and rumbling and flashing and quaking and darkening of an approaching deluge, the animal creation came moaning and bleating to the sloping embankment reaching up to the ancient Great Eastern, and passed in?  I have owned horses and cattle and sheep and dogs, but I never had a horse, or a cow, or a sheep, or a dog that was so stupid it did not know enough to come in when it rained!  Yet Mr. Ingersoll cannot understand how they could get in.  It is amazing to him.  And then, that one window in the Ark which afforded such poor ventilation to the creatures there assembled -that small window in the Ark which excites so much mirthfulness on the part of the great infidel.  If he had known as much Hebrew as you could put on your little finger nail, he would have known that the word translated window there means window course, a whole range of lights.  This ignorant infidel does not know a window pane from twenty windows.  So, if there is any criticism of the Ark, there seems to be too much window for such a long storm.  If he had studied Hebrew two weeks he would have been saved the display of that appalling ignorance, that most disgraceful ignorance, when he scoffs and scoffs and scoffs, and chuckles and chuckles and chuckles over the small window in the Ark.  This infidel says that during the long storm the window must have been kept shut, and hence no air.  There are people in this house today who, all the way from Liverpool to Barnegat lighthouse, and for two weeks, were kept under deck, the hatches battened down because of the storm.  Some of you, in the old time sailing vessels, were kept nearly a month with the hatches down because of some long storm.

For the tenth or the fifteenth misrepresentation by Mr. Ingersoll, he says that the Ark landed on a mountain seventeen thousand feet high, and that, of course, as soon as the animals came forth they would all be frozen in the ice!  Here comes in Mr. Ingersoll’s geographical ignorance.  He does not seem to know that Ararat is not merely the name for a mountain, but for a hilly district, and that it may have been a hill one hundred feet high, or five hundred, or a thousand feet high on which the Ark alighted.  Noah measured the depth of the water above the hill, and it is fifteen cubits or twenty-seven feet.  But in order to raise a laugh against the Holy Scriptures, Mr. Ingersoll lifts the Ark seventeen thousand feet high, showing an ignorance of just that altitude!

Ah! my friends, this story of the Ark is no more incredible than if you should say to me: “Last summer I was among the hills of New England, and there came on the most terrific storm I ever saw, and the whole country was flooded.  The waters came up over the hills, and to save our lives we got in a boat on the river, and even the dumb creatures were so affrighted, they came moaning and bleating until we let them in the same boat.” The flood that Ingersoll describes is not Noah’s flood; it is Ingersoll’s flood of hatred against God.  It is not Noah’s Ark that Ingersoll describes; it is lngersoll’s Ark with a whole flock of hooting owls of the midnight of Infidelity, whole nests of viperine and adderine venom against God, whole lairs of panthers which, with spotted claw, if they could, would maul the eternal God to pieces.  And there is only one small window in that Ark, and it opens into the blackness of darkness described by my text, “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.” The first misrepresentation of Mr. Ingersoll was wilful, the second was geological and astronomical ignorance, the third was geographical ignorance.

We are not dependent on the Bible for the story of the flood, entirely. All ages and all literatures have traditions, broken traditions, indistinct traditions, but still traditions.  The old books of the Persians tell about the flood at the time of Ahriman, who so polluted the earth that it had to be washed by a great storm.  The traditions of the Chaldeans say that in the time when Xisuthrus was king there was a great flood, and he put his family and his friends in a large vessel and all out side of them were destroyed, and after a while the birds went forth and they came back and their claws were tinged with mud.  Lucian and Ovid, celebrated writers, who had never seen the Bible, describe a flood in the time of Deucalion.  He took his friends into a boat, and the animals came running to him in pairs.  So, all lands, and all ages, and all literatures, seem to have a broken and indistinct tradition of a calamity which Moses, here incorporating Noah’s account, so grandly, so beautifully, so accurately, so solemnly records.

But I must halt in this argument, as in a great trial sometimes an attorney will stop for lack of time to finish, and I must on other Sabbath mornings take up this subject.  I have only opened the door of a subject it will take me other Sabbath mornings to explore.  I have impeached Robert G. Ingersoll for having misrepresented once, twice, thrice.  I demand that you put into execution the principle of every court room, gentlemen of the jury, and throw overboard his entire testimony.  “False in part, false in all.” I have this morning only discussed the cleanest part of Mr. Ingersoll’s infidelity – the best part of Mr. Ingersoll’s infidelity.  There are depths below depths, and I shall go on and say all I have to say on this subject.

My prayer is that the God who created the world, not out of nothing, but out of His own omnipotence, may create us anew in Christ Jesus; and that the God who made light three days before the sun shone, may kindle in our souls a light that will burn on long after the sun has expired, and that the God who ordered the Ark built and kept open more than one hundred years that the antediluvians might enter it for shelter, may graciously incline us to accept the invitation which this morning rolls in music from the Throne, saying: “Come thou and all thy house into the Ark.”

W A Criswell’s Last Sermon

Uploaded on Jan 4, 2010

W A Criswell
W A Criswell

“The Old Time Religion” the last sermon preached by Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002). He preached it at the 1998 Pastor’s Conference at the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida on Feburary 3rd, 1998. He was almost 90 years old. He recounts his salvation experiance and early years of preaching, including a time when he doubted his salvation and how that was resolved. Sermon is uploaded in 4 parts. I was present at the service and enjoyed it very much. Dr. Criswell was a Southern Baptist Preacher and Pastor who was twice elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention (1968 and 1969) and pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas for 50 years (1944-1994).

W. A. Criswell, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas was almost 90 years old when he preached his final sermon.  And what a sermon it was.  At the end of this article there are four links, each containing a short portion of his message.  Please dear reader–listen to each section.  If it does not ring your spiritual bell you will need to take your bell in for repairs–it is broken.  …Don’t miss this treat.  He reviews life as it was when he started.  He talks about his mother and dad.  The day he was saved as a ten-year old. Wednesday, February 11, 2009 W.A. Criswell’s Last Words Between 1970 and 1971, my family attended First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, which was Pastored by W.A. Criswell. W.A. Criswell’s church was really amazing and fun. At the time, W.A. Criswell’s church attendance fluctuated between 6,000 and 8,000 people each Sunday morning with about 150 kids in my grade. W. A. Criswell’s youth building had 12 floors. On one floor, there was a skating ring with a restaurant, and on another floor there was a bowling alley, a weight room, and a Gym. That year at W.A. Criswell’s First Baptist Church of Dallas sent their High School choir to Japan, and the Junior High Choir went to Mexico. Going to W.A. Criswell’s church was like going to church heaven. On one occasion, W. A. Criswell’s First Baptist of Dallas even rented out the Six Flags over Texas amusement park for one night. It was a blast. I really loved W. A. Criswell. W. A. Criswell was very well known around that time frame. As a twelve year old boy, I watched W. A. Criswell, and observed that he was loving and kind. It was as though his face radiated light. W. A. Criswell would preach exclusively about Jesus each Sunday night. When W A. Criswell spoke, I felt the presence of God. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.A._Criswell) At one time, my mother briefly spoke to W. A. Criswell about something. I don’t remember what it was about, but I still do remember what W. A. Criswell said to her. He said, “Young lady, every time I see you always tell me who you are all over again because I want to remember you”. Even with the thousands upon thousands of people that attended W. A. Criswell’s church. W. A. Criswell still wanted to remember her. In 1971, my family moved away from Dallas to another state. In 1976, I went to college at a school in Texas at a time when my family lived in Roanoke, VA. I heard several of W. A. Criswell’s church members at that college saying that W. A. Criswell was old and senile. I always defended him. Those comments made me mad. While in college, I worked out in the weight room with a son of a minister who worked for W. A. Criswell. At one point, I told him that he didn’t know what a great privilege he had to grow up in W. A. Criswell’s church. He paused for a second and cried. Then, he said, I had forgotten how blessed I was. I can still remember what W. A. Criswell said to us when my family first joined First Baptist Church of Dallas. W. A. Criswell told my parents that they needed to put a book on my brother’s head because he was getting way too tall. In 1978 or 9, the Southern Baptist Convention was held in Atlanta, and I took the opportunity to speak to W. A. Criswell about going to Seminary. W. A. Criswell said, “Come to mine in Dallas!” I wish that I had listened to him. Before W. A. Criswell’s death in 2002, I heard W. A. Criswell speak for one last time when he was still in his early 90s. It was at Highland Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. As I listened as he spoke, W. A. Criswell’s mind was still crisp, clear, and his face still shown like a light bulb. In the crowd, there were only about 50 people, and I thought about the thousands upon thousands of people that W. A. Criswell had spoken to throughout his life. Even, with only 50 people, W.A. Criswell still radiated love. Just as he had to me when I was 12. W. A. Criswell loved people. Young or old. Rich or poor. Many or few. It didn’t matter. Here is W. A. Criswell’s last sermon on Youtube  Note: Each link is a brief part of the whole. 

Hell & What the Bible Says About It

The Bible Doctrine of . . .


By Evangelist Robert L. Sumner

Robert L Sumner

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.”

– Matthew 25:46


The late Len Broughton told of a family in Jersey City enjoying food and fellowship around the breakfast table when their tranquility and contentment was punctured by the sharp, pungent smell of smoke followed by a piercing scream of “Fire! Fire!”

In a matter of moments the house had been evacuated and the family reassembled in the comparative safety of the front yard. Watching the fast-leaping flames eating away at the second floor, the wife lamented, “How I hate to lose my lovely dining room cabinet. I don’t mind losing the entire house and everything in it as much as I hate losing that cabinet.”

“Well,” responded her spouse, “I think we might have time to save it.”

So he and the biggest boy rushed back into the house through the front door and into the dining room where the beloved sideboard was. The father got on the front end with the son at the back, pushing and pulling until they had it halfway through the front door. There, alas, it became wedged in such a manner they not only were helpless to get it out, neither could they get it back in.

With the door blocked, the son was trapped in the burning building without any chance for escape. The father rushed around to the side of the house where, through a barred window, he could see his son standing with the flames all around him, screaming in fear.

Do you know what that dad did? He seized those bars of iron in his hands and, with the supernatural strength borne of desperation and love, jerked them off. He then reached into the burning building for his son, helped him out to safety, and delivered him unharmed to his mother.

Broughton said a preacher friend of his heard that story and felt it would make a fine appeal to the lost with which to close his sermon the following Sunday night. He used it, as planned, but in the telling he omitted one important fact.

He pictured the family at the table, the confusion and panic as they raced outside to the safety of the yard, the mother’s lament about her dining room cabinet, the father’s offer to get it, and the return of the lad with him to the house. He vividly pictured the struggle to get the sideboard out, how it got jammed in the door, trapping the boy inside. With enthusiasm he portrayed the frantic father ripping the iron bars from the window, reaching in for his beloved son, and then delivering him safely to his mother.

The effect was anything but what the preacher expected. Instead of being moved or impressed with biblical truth, everyone appeared perplexed, looking at one another in surprise and amazement.

Later that evening, when he arrived home with his family, the preacher said to his wife, “I thought that was a terrific story. Why didn’t it hit home? I’ve never seen such a poor reaction to such a good story. Not one single soul seemed moved by it. What was wrong?”

“Well,” she replied, “It was a good story all right, only you forgot to say that the house was on fire!”

No wonder people weren’t moved! What point was there in fleeing the house, then racing back in and hurriedly, frantically, trying to remove a treasured piece of furniture, or tearing apart a window to get a son out . . . unless the house were on fire? Remove the fire and you have eradicated the motive!

It is true today in the matter of salvation. If there is not an eternal Hell, why get excited about the salvation of the soul? But on the other hand, if there is an eternal Hell of endless horror awaiting all who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, salvation instantly becomes the most vital and important issue a human being can ever face, one that should be settled immediately. As another expressed it, “If there is no place like Hell, then to alarm people with such an idea is wrong. But if there is actually a place like Hell, then to keep silent and fail to warn people about it is worse than neglect of duty. IT IS CRIMINAL!”

One time a man who considered himself an “enlightened atheist” was with a group touring a seminary. When the visitors had completed the inspection of the grounds, the atheist turned to the minister who had served as guide, rather smugly observing, “Just think now. If, as I maintain, God doesn’t exist, you will have wasted your entire life.”

“Ah,” just as smugly responded the cleric, “but if I am wrong, I will have wasted only 50 years or so. On the other hand, if you are wrong, you will waste an eternity.”

How true!

And the house is on fire! There is an eternal Hell of indescribable horror. As our Lord insisted in our text, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Well did Alvah Hovey, writing more than a century and a half ago (1858), begin his “The State of the Impenitent Dead” with the words: “No topic within the range of human thought is approached by the majority of good men with greater reluctance than the topic of this essay.”

Yet reluctance must not stop us from facing truth, no matter how harsh or bitter. Consider first,



Perhaps no other Bible truth has been fought so fiercely, denied so consistently, ridiculed more effectively, or defamed more falsely than the doctrine of eternal damnation. Who are some of its major foes?

First and foremost we are forced to list,

A. The Archenemy of the Bible,

God, Truth, and Holiness: SATAN

His original argument, back in the Garden of Eden, is stated in Genesis 3:4, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” His philosophy then, as now, was one of no punishment, no retribution, no separation from God, no settling for wrongdoing.

He has not changed his approach one iota in 6,000 years. He is still seeking to convince man that he can sin and get away with it, that he can do wrong and get by without retribution. Probably this is the most popular of all Satan’s approaches – the one he uses most frequently. And, need we add, the most effectively!

Yet we would be remiss in our duty if we failed to remind you he is a liar of the first magnitude! As Jesus told the lost religious leaders of His day, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

B. Satan’s Churches:


Think of any or every false cult you have known or about which you have heard, and without even bothering to check you can be almost certain that they deny the doctrine of eternal damnation. That highlight in their theology – “No Hell!” – is standard with these historic deniers of the faith, a staple of their teaching. It is one of their identifying marks – a badge of boasting to be featured in their official literature.

For example,

1. Universalists

In The Universalists’ Book of Reference by E. E. Guild, released by the Universalist Publishing House of Boston, discussing Hell as a place of eternal torment, we find: “God never informed mankind that He had created such a place … He has nowhere in the Bible informed any man that He had created an endless hell.”

Later in the volume the reader is assured: “The doctrine of endless hell torments is built on poetry, parables, metaphors, figures of speech, fancy and imagination. The heated imagination of ancient poets first conceived the idea of endless torture. And the advocates of the doctrine at the present day, so far as they rely upon the Bible to prove it, appeal to the parables, metaphors and figures, which abound in that book, rather than to any plain positive or direct testimony.”

Is it not amazing, that men, claiming to be authorities on the Bible, can be so completely ignorant about it and about what it teaches? The Universalist finds himself in the embarrassing position of frantically rushing from a house that is not on fire!

2. Seventh-Day Adventists

This cult, which has striven so desperately in recent years to convince the Christian public that it is evangelical and orthodox, one not to be classified with the cult-world of isms, nonetheless vociferously and repeatedly has sought to bank Hell’s fires, assuring one and all who will listen that there is no eternal damnation in fiery flames to fear.

The high priestess of the movement, Ellen G. White, admitted by some of the S-DA leaders to be a mass plagiarizer, spoke with a claim of absolute authority for the teaching of Seventh-day Adventism. While some of today’s Adventists deny they accept her writings on the same level with the writers of the Word of God, it is nonetheless incontrovertible that, in practice, her interpretations of the Word of God are accepted as infallible. Nowhere will one read in an official Adventist publication, “Mrs. White said …, but she was mistaken, clearly wrong in this matter.” Instead, on the same par with “The Word of God says,” one will repeatedly find, “Mrs. White says.”

In her book, The Great Controversy, which Adventist leaders tell us “has been sold by the hundreds of thousands in English, and has been translated into French, German, and Spanish,” she scornfully declared, “How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy, and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone in an eternally burning hell …”

But it is not a question of whether or not such teaching is repugnant. The issue is limited simply to one single consideration: is it true? War is repugnant. Disease is repugnant. Death is repugnant. Poverty and a thousand-and-one other matters are repugnant, but they are nonetheless factual realities.

No one denies that the teaching of a soul being damned in Hell for ever and ever is repugnant. It is! And that is why the Son of God left Heaven’s glories to provide a deliverance from that place of punishment. Yet the Seventh-day Adventists, in effect, would have us think the house is not on fire.

3. Jehovah’s Witnesses

Like the cults already listed, the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” advertise widely – often featuring the fact in their newspaper and radio releases – their absolute denial of the doctrine of eternal damnation. They are proud of it.

In Make Sure of All Things: Hold Fast to What is Fine, for example, we are told, “The false conception of eternal torment after death was introduced into apostate Christianity, and by the fourth century after Christ was firmly entrenched in false religion.”

In the work pushed by Witnesses more than any other perhaps, circulating in literally millions of copies, Let God be True, summing up a discussion on Gehenna, a Greek word for Hell, all blinded followers are assured: “The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true …” Once again, the house is really not on fire!

4. New Thought

While this cult does not enjoy the popularity of some others, we list it here merely to show how universal is the anti-Hell teaching of Satan’s churches. In that organization’s magazine, Revealer, followers were told: “New Thought is a philosophy teaching how to bring heaven down upon earth, and banish barbarian conceptions of hell.”

Chalk up another cult seeking to convince mankind it should flee a house not on fire.

5. Christian Science

Some years ago, after we had written a brief article exposing this cult, one of its leaders came by our office to personally give us a copy of the work, The Cross and the Crown, the History of Christian Science by Norman Beasley. The latter wrote therein: “As any examination of its literature will show, God and the devil were the supporting pillars of the Christian church. Heaven and hell were places, heaven somewhere above, and hell somewhere down below. A personal God was the ruler of one; a personal devil was the ruler of the other. Eternally these two – God and the devil – struggle for the souls of men. Mary Baker Eddy would have none of such theology.”

He wrote again, “In refusing to admit any reality to hell and the devil, Christian Science denies the claim that God cooperates with and makes use of evil.”

So the Christian Scientists join the other enemies of eternal damnation, denying the house is on fire.

6. Mormonism

This false cult is getting a lot of press lately thanks to a prominent member, Fox News icon Glenn Beck. What does Mormonism say about Hell? Gordon B. Hinckley, in What of the Mormons? writes, “There is nothing of … a hell of hot flame in Latter-day Saint philosophy.”

In The Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage, this teaching is enlarged: “The false doctrine that the punishment to be visited upon the erring souls is endless, that every sentence for sin is of interminable duration, must be regarded as one of the most pernicious results of misapprehension of Scripture. It is but a dogma of unauthorized and erring sectaries, at once unscriptural, unreasonable, and revolting to one who loves mercy and honors justice.”

Another leader of the cult, Elder John Morgan, in The Plan of Salvation, explained still further: “We hear the question asked, ‘Do not the scriptures say that it is “eternal punishment”?’ We answer, ‘Yes.’ But let us not put any private interpretation on these terms, but correctly understand their meaning. Eternal punishment is God’s punishment; or in other words, it is the name of the punishment God inflicts, he being eternal in his nature. Whosoever therefore receives God’s punishment receives eternal punishment, whether it is endured one hour, one day, one week, one year, or an age.”

How inane can a religious leader become in his effort to eradicate Bible teaching? Away with such silly talk of “eternal one-hour punishment!”

But Mormonism is another of Satan’s churches talking about fleeing a house not on fire.

7. Armstrongism

The infamous father-and-son duo of Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong eventually split, both saying the other was wrong (and both deceased now), the father accusing the son of immorality and gambling; the son accusing his ex-coworker and father of alcoholism and skimming church funds for personal use. But one thing both Herbert and his followers in the Worldwide Church of God – and the followers in the scores of splits forming new cult factions after his death – and Garner Ted and his followers in the Church of God International he formed – had in common was the same identical teaching about Hell, joining Satan’s other churches in denying any doctrine of eternal damnation.

A writer for the Worldwide Church of God, in one of its official releases bluntly stated, “The concept of ‘hell’ is part and parcel of the folklore and mythology of the whole world.” Later in the same article, speaking of everlasting fire, he made the amazing statement, “the translation ‘everlasting’ is misleading, since the fire itself will not burn forever.” But if the fire does burn forever it is not in the least misleading, right?

Garner Ted Armstrong, the founder and head of the Church of God International taught the same. In discussing the Greek word Hades, translated “Hell” in the Authorized Version of the Bible, he wrote: “No, Jesus did not lie – neither did He go into a burning HELL – but into ‘hades’ which NEVER, by the wildest stretch of the imagination has anything whatsoever to do with eternal fires, but means, simply, ‘the GRAVE’” (emphasis his).

So the Armstrongs, with their Worldwide Church of God and Church of God International, joined Universalists, Seventh-day Adventism, New Thought, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism and all other of Satan’s churches in eliminating the necessity of fleeing for safety. The house, according to them, is not on fire.

8. The Way International

One more cult we will mention is the movement launched by Victor Paul Wierwille, a strong anti-Trinity, anti-Deity of Christ organization. Joining such cults as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Armstrongs, and the Seventh-day Adventists, The Way sees ‘hades’ as simply the grave. This ignores the fact that in the New Testament hades is described as a place of torment, fire, memory, prayer, vision, speech and a spirit of hopelessness. As for Luke 16:19-31, the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable, merely a “figure of speech” TWI followers are told.

The Way has a different twist from some of the other cults, however, simply turning the lost into nonexistence at death. According to Wierwille, the dead sleep until after the Tribulation, then the unsaved are raised to “die a second and final death.” That’s it. There is no Hell as historic Christianity has always taught.

There are other enemies of the doctrine of eternal damnation, for example,

C. The Ungodly: ATHEISTS,



“Colonel” Robert G. Ingersoll, the agnostic who got rich touring the country giving lectures on what he did not know, said in his book Skulls, “If there is a hell, God is a fiend …”

On another occasion, Boasting Bob, as he was known, gloated, “Ladies and gentlemen: The idea of hell was born of revenge and brutality on the one side, and cowardice on the other … I have no respect for any human being who believes in it. I have no respect for any man who preaches it … I dislike this doctrine, I hate it, I despise it, I defy this doctrine … This doctrine of hell is infamous beyond all power to express.”

Perhaps it was an occasion when he was giving this lecture that the drunk cried out, “Make it strong, Bob! A lot of us fellows are depending upon you!”

However, it is not necessary to look to the past for depraved voices crying out in defiance to the Word of God about Hell. The noted spokesman for atheism in our day, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, before her murder by a fellow atheist stealing her ill-gotten gains, went on record as saying: “We find the Bible to be nauseating, historically inaccurate, replete with the ravages of mad men. We find God to be sadistic, brutal, and a representative of hatred and vengeance. We find the Lord’s Prayer to be muttered by worms groveling for meager existence in a traumatic, paranoid world.”

In light of which we can only echo the poet Brooks’ sentiment:

“On earth are atheists many,

In Hell there is not any.”




Who upholds it? Who defends it? Who insists it to be the clear teaching of God Himself?


A. The New Testament Church

That the original position of the New Testament Church – and continuing to be such down through the centuries – included the eternal conscious suffering of the impenitent dead seems indisputable to any who examine the evidence. Dr. Charles Hodge, the scholarly Presbyterian theologian at Princeton during its strongest fundamental era, said: “It is an almost invincible presumption that the Bible does teach the unending punishment of the finally impenitent, that all Christian churches have so understood it. Any man, therefore, assumes a fearful responsibility who sets himself in opposition to the faith of the Church universal.”

Another theologian, Dr. John Hunt, writing well over a century ago in the prestigious Contemporary Review of that time, pointed out: “If there be any doctrine ever taught in the name of Christianity which can claim to be really catholic [that is, universally believed and taught] it is the doctrine of never-ending punishment. This has been believed by the majority of Christians in all ages, in all Churches, and with very insignificant exceptions, in all sects. Fathers, School men and Reformers, zealous Roman Catholics and ardent Protestants, have agreed that this is an undeniable portion of the Catholic faith.”

This is true.


B. Great Men of God Have Defended it


All down through the ages the very noblest of God’s servants have not only preached it, they have defended it from the attacks of its enemies. That gracious stalwart of the Church of England, Bishop J. C. Ryle, known chiefly to 20th and 21st century readers for his timeless devotional writings, notably his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, declared: “Let others hold their peace about Hell if they will – I dare not do so. I see it plainly in Scripture, and I must speak of it. I fear that thousands are on that broad way that leads to it, and I would fain arouse them to a sense of the peril before them … if I never spoke of Hell, I should think I had kept back something that was profitable, and should look on myself as an accomplice of the devil.” The devil has a lot of accomplices in our day, preachers with zippers in the closed position on their lips, doesn’t he?

Ryle’s coworker, Bishop Handley C. G. Moule, explaining the meaning of the phrase “forever and ever,” said: “The idea conveyed by the phrase here is of circles of duration consisting of embracing other circles ad infinitum.” And the Cambridge Bible has a note about the phrase: “Lit. to the ages of the ages, as strong an expression for absolute endlessness as Bible language affords.”

W. L. Watkinson, waxing with the eloquence of an orator, declared: “Although the New Testament is renounced, sin, devils, judgments, hell remain potential in the human conscience. To take away hell is to reject the physician and leave the plague, to overthrow the lighthouse and leave the hidden rock, to wipe out the rainbow and leave the storm, to take away the fire light and leave the fire to rage, to take away the vaccine and leave the smallpox. To take away hell is to meet the tragic blackness of sin with a candle gospel, to make a mild twilight out of eternal retribution, to take away the trumpet and open the gate to the enemies, to take away the roses and leave the thorns, to take away gold and press bankruptcy upon human life.”

The scholarly contemporary of Dwight Lyman Moody, Dr. R. A. Torrey, wrote: “The future state of those who reject the redemption offered to them in Christ is plainly declared to be a state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment and anguish. This conception is an awful and appalling one. It is, however, the Scriptural conception and also a reasonable one when we come to see the appalling nature of sin, and especially the appalling nature of the sin of trampling under foot God’s mercy toward sinners, and rejecting God’s glorious Son, whom His love has provided as a Savior. Shallow views of sin and of God’s holiness, and of the glory of Jesus Christ and His claims upon us lie at the bottom of weak theories of the doom of the impenitent. When we see sin in all its hideousness and enormity, the holiness of God in all its perfection, and the glory of Jesus Christ in all its infinity, nothing but a doctrine that those who persist in the choice of sin, who love darkness rather than light, and who persist in the rejection of the Son of God, shall endure everlasting anguish, will satisfy the demands of our own moral intuitions.”

And Moody himself insisted: “The same Christ that tells us of Heaven with all its glories tells us of Hell with all its horrors; and no one will accuse Christ of drawing this picture to terrify people, or to alarm them if it were not true. The same Bible that tells us of Heaven, tells us of Hell. The same Savior that came down from Heaven to tell us about Heaven, tells us about Hell. He speaks of Hell, and there is no one that has lived since that could tell us as much about it as Himself.”

Surely all intelligent mortals should accept the word of Jesus Christ!

Norman F. Douty, in his book refuting the errors of Seventh-day Adventism, points out: “In [Matthew 25:46], the awful sequel is recorded: ‘and these shall go away into eternal punishment.’ The verb form of the Greek for ‘punishment’ occurs in II Peter 2:9 and Acts 4:21 … Now what is punishment? It is suffering inflicted for wrong. Whatever is not painful, one way or other, to the wrongdoer, is not punishment. When the suffering ceases, the punishment is at an end. How long is this particular punishment to last? Christ answers that it is ‘eternal punishment.’ The sentence and the execution agree. The sentence is: ‘Depart … into eternal fire.’ The execution reads: ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment.’ Eternal punishment in eternal fire is the doom of the wicked as they lie under the curse of God.”

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards thundered: “It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery … your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it gives but a very feeble faint representation of it, it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For who knows the power of God’s anger?”

The venerable Methodist of yesteryear, William E. Munsey, penned: “The Hell of the Bible is horrible beyond description, and the hypotheses of this hour cannot exceed it. Its miseries are as far beyond description as the joys of Heaven are. Be it better or worse, oh let us not go there!”

And Evangelist L. W. Munhall, writing in the renowned The Fundamentals on the subject, “Doctrines That Must be Emphasized in Successful Evangelism,” wrote: “Sin separates and estranges the sinner from God; and he becomes an enemy of God by wicked works (Rom. 8:7), has no peace (Isa. 57:21), is polluted (Eph. 4:17-19), condemned (John 3:18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). Oh, the curse and ruin of sin! If unrepenting and unbelieving, the future has for him, first, inexorable and awful judgment … Second, the wrath of God … and third, eternal torments … The preacher who ignores these three awful and inexorable truths preaches an emasculated gospel, be he ever so faithful in proclaiming other truth. He who preaches the love of God to the exclusion of God’s justice and wrath proclaims but idle sentiment.”

For our final testimony in this grouping we offer the statement of Dr. Robert G. Lee: “We dare not look upon His words [referring to Christ’s comments in Matthew 10:28] concerning Hell as something allegorical, metaphorical, poetic, or as a flagrant contradiction to the goodness of God. If Hell is not fire, it is as severe as fire; and if it is as severe as fire, it had just as well be fire.”

But we are most certainly not limited to the church of the centuries or the giants of the faith over the years. We also have

C. Inspired Defenders Who  Taught It


This is a truth revealed through men moved by the Holy Spirit of God, penning the very pages of sacred Scripture itself. Note a mere sampling.

Daniel declared, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Shame and contempt which will last forever are included in the portion of the unbeliever and every Christ-rejecter, Daniel insisted.

Isaiah lamented, “The sinners of Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14).

Malachi quoted the supreme authority when he wrote, “… thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever” (Malachi 1:4). His wrath, His indignation will not be a temporary thing; it will last forever.

Peter spoke of the Lord’s action in “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemning them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (II Peter 2:6). The smoke rising from those wicked twin cities wafts down as a warning to sinners today.

Jude added his voice in the same light, noting: “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 6, 7).

Paul, just to give a sampling of his many declarations on the subject, wrote in II Thessalonians 1:8, 9, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

And the illustrious apostle of love, John the beloved, writing from exile on Patmos, witnessed: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb; And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night …” (Revelation 14:10, 11). That same expression, “for ever and ever,” is used in the Bible to describe the everlasting existence, glory, praise and dominion of Almighty God. The possibility of God ceasing to exist is every bit as valid as a claim that the tortures of Hell will someday be terminated.

But contrary to a debater who starts his attack with his strongest arguments, we have saved our most telling witness until last.


D. History’s No. 1 Advocate of the Teaching of Hell: JESUS


Our gentle, kind, loving Lord said more about the doctrine of eternal damnation than came from any other single voice in the Word of God. Here are just a few samples:

Matthew 10:28, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Mark 3:29, “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”

Luke 16:19-31 is an awesome passage about Hell from His lips but we note verse 26 as an emphasis upon its endless duration: “Beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.”

John 3:36 sums up His teaching: “… he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

Dear friend, if you die without Christ and end up in Hell, it will be for ever and ever! What a startling, awesome thought to entertain.

Unitarians, since they do not accept the deity of Christ, reject His teaching and the teaching of the rest of the Bible about Hell. Probably the best Greek scholar they ever numbered among their group was Theodore Parker. On one occasion Columbus Green asked Parker, “Not as a theologian, but simply as a student of the Greek, tell me what the Bible teaches about the final condition of the impenitent.”

And Parker responded immediately. “There is no doubt that Jesus Christ taught the endless suffering of the wicked, but I do not accept the doctrine of His authority.”

That sums it up succinctly, in a nutshell! Those who accept the authority of Jesus Christ are compelled to accept the doctrine of eternal damnation.

As Keble put it,

“The fount of love

His servants send to tell

Love’s deed, HIMSELF

Reveals the Sinner’s Hell.”

But consider next,




Without belaboring the point, consider quickly


A. The Evidence of REASON


Dr. Robert G. Lee put it like this: “There is a Hell, though some people – with the blandest of smiles – come to tell us that all alike, saint and sinner, will turn up in Heaven at last. The murderer, the seducer, the hater and the hated, the robber and the robbed, to their surprise, will all find Heaven at last. Nero and Paul, Jesus and Herod, Judas and Peter, Cain and Abel, Elijah and Jezebel, Tom Paine and Murray McCheyne, will all come out of the same side of the judgment throne. A strange Heaven indeed! – with all the hypocrites and whoremongers and drunkards and backbiters and blasphemers standing on the glassy sea. I say in the name of reason, the thought is blasphemous.”

And so it is!

Bishop Joseph Butler, in his work published almost a quarter of a millennium ago, The Analogy of Religion, argued: “Gentile writers, both moralists and poets, speak of the future punishment of the wicked, both as to the duration and degree of it, in a like manner of expression and of description as the Scripture does. Reason did, as it well might, conclude that it should finally, and upon the whole, be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked.”

Yes, that is the only logical conclusion, the only possible finding of reason!

On the other hand, we are not so foolish as to base our conclusions on reason alone, remembering the words of Luke 16:31 on this very subject, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” The Word of God is our main line of evidence.


B. The Evidence of RELIGION


To reason we add religion because God, in His mercy, has placed an innate fear of punishment for wrongdoing in man, a consciousness that all will not be well with him because of his sin. This is why Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Chinese and all other nationalities have had their own equivalent of Hell in their native religions.

Josephus, the oft quoted Jewish historian of the first century, wrote: “… [A Paradise] is like the opinion of the Greeks, that good souls have their habitation beyond the ocean, in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain, or snow, or with intense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathing of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing from the ocean; while they allot to bad souls a dark and tempestuous den full of never-ceasing punishments.”

The same line of thought was followed by Junius B. Reimensnyder, writing well over a century ago (1880) in his Doom Eternal. He observed, “A remarkable proof that the tenet of eternal punishment does no violence to reason, but contrariwise finds support in it, arises from the fact that it was commonly believed and taught by the ancient Pagan world. Those who had no revelation yet derived this truth from the light of Nature alone. It is a precept of the Natural Religions.”

Yet there is a greater, more supreme evidence than either reason or religion. In fact, it is unanswerable.




No infidel, no cultist, no enemy of the doctrine of eternal damnation has ever been able to adequately answer the argument of Calvary. John 3:16, the verse our late friend Dr. Ed Morrell called “The Golden Text of Sacred Scripture,” puts it like this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If there is no Hell, no eternal damnation to miss, why did our Lord Jesus Christ have to pay such a tremendous price on the cross? Why? Why?

There is no answer!




There is only one way we can sum up a message like this one: Are you sure you are on your way to Heaven, that you cannot end up in Hell with its eternal horrors?

Our text spoke of two classes, two groups of people facing God in judgment. It said, “And these [one class] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous [the other class] into life eternal.” In which class are you? Are you among those who have life eternal? Or are you numbered with the crowd awaiting everlasting punishment?

The house is on fire, to use the symbolism of our opening illustration, and you should flee at once to safety. The one who loved you and died for you at Calvary will welcome, receive, forgive and save you the very moment you turn to Him.

John 1:12 expresses it: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

That is it! Receive Him! Believe on His Name! If you will, He will make you a home with Him in Heaven … forever! Why not stop right now and tell the Savior you are willing to receive Him into your heart and life once and for all? Do it on the basis of His promise in John 1:12, thanking Him for it at the same time.

Then, let us know of your decision to receive Christ. If you prefer, write us a letter in your own words, telling us about it. Or, if you are one that has difficulty expressing yourself, use the following form:

Dr. Robert L. Sumner

5717 Pine Drive

Raleigh, NC 27606

Dear Dr. Sumner:

I have read your message about eternal damnation. I do not want to spend eternity in Hell and so I am right now receiving Jesus Christ as my own personal Lord and Savior, claiming His Word about salvation. I am so thankful He loved me enough to die on the cross of Calvary to pay in full the awful price of my sin, was buried and rose again so I could be saved by personally trusting Him.

I want to love Him and live for Him forever. Please send me some information about how to live the Christian life.


Name: ___________________


Address __________________


City: _____________________


State: _________ Zip: _______

Tolbert Moore on Web

Dr. Tolbert Moore is one of the faithful men of God who has been on the firing line for many long years.  He publishes a fine Christian paper, The Eagle Magazine.  Now it is published here on the Web.  You can subscribe for free and here is the Link.  Discover rich blessings through Dr. Moore’s preaching and Gospel missions work.



A short Gospel video by Dr. Moore


Dr. Tolbert Moore
Dr. Tolbert Moore

Dr. Robert L. Sumner Preaches the Word

A Special Message for You!

By Evangelist Robert L. Sumner 

NOTE: Dr. Robert Sumner just celebrated his 92nd birthday on August 3, 2014.  He is still writing, editing his fine Christian paper, The Biblical Evangelist, and preaching.  

 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent …   

      “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

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                                                                “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified b                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              – Acts 13:26, 38-39, emphasis added

 Note especially the words in the above text we have emphasized: “to you is the word of this salvation sent.” It is not alone a message to the “children of the stock of Abraham,” but it is for anyone who fears God. In other words, it is a message of salvation directed by God to you!

It is a “sent” message. God sent this message through His Son. In I John 4:9, 10, we read: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

It is also a message sent by God through His Word. In II Peter 1:19-21 we are assured: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” This message of redemption is one divinely inspired, directed with the accuracy of the Holy Spirit of God Himself.

Yet God not only sent this message to you through His Son and His Word, but it is sent through His servants. That is why we are told in II Corinthians 5:18-20: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

If you have never received the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, if you are not absolutely certain that if you were to die this moment you would step immediately into His glorious Heaven, then God is sending this message to you today through this writer. I am, in His stead, pleading with you to be reconciled to God.

You see, not only is this special message a sent one, but it is a “salvation” message as well. As Paul told the people at Antioch, “To you is the word OF THIS SALVATION sent.” In other words, it is a message about how to be saved, about how to miss Hell, about how to gain Heaven, about the wiping out of all your sins and transgressions for eternity! No greater or more blessed message was ever announced to anyone than this message to you from Almighty God!

Note some simple truths about this salvation message God is sending you.


      Verse 38 announces: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” The one described as “this man” is the one Paul had already announced as the Son of David, “A Savior, Jesus” (Vss. 22, 23).

A. Salvation Only In Jesus Christ

There is absolutely, positively no salvation apart from Him! How strong was Peter’s statement to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:10-12 where he thundered: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Nothing could be plainer than this!

The entire issue of “condemned” or “not condemned” is settled by what an individual does with the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 3:18 we are told, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” And in verse 36 of the same chapter it is emphasized again: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

This issue of redemption only in Christ is summed up plainly in words no one can miss in I John 5:12 with divine insistence: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” That’s it. Regarding eternal life, you either have it or you don’t have it according to your relationship to God’s dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation rises or falls, is confirmed or denied, though Him and Him alone.

Dr. Lee Roberson told of a German statesman approaching death, a man who had been an agnostic through his long life of service to his beloved country. There was a Christian minister in the community for whom he had respect, however, and he invited him to come to his home and talk to him about God.

There was one stipulation to the invitation, however: he must not mention the name of Jesus Christ a single time in the discussion. While he welcomed teaching about the love of God, he did not want it to include Jesus of Nazareth.

Strangely, the minister agreed and in the first session he discussed at great length the love of God. Since God has manifested His love in so many ways, this was not difficult to do without referring to Jesus Christ. After an hour or so he closed the discussion, still without mentioning the Name of Christ, and left.

On his second visit the minister talked about God’s power and wisdom, still discreetly refraining from a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. His third visit discussed the holiness of God, His hatred of sin, and the absolute necessity of righteous judgment being poured out upon every sin. The clergyman called attention to the fact that God could not condone sin in any form and still be holy Himself.

At the conclusion of that discussion the statesman turned to the preacher and noted that he had said strong things, indeed. He added, “Isn’t there a solution? Can’t anything be done to escape the judgment of God against sin?”

When he returned he readily realized that the Holy Spirit had been working in the dying man’s heart and the latter greeted him, insisting, “You must tell me the whole story. In these past few days you have talked about God’s love, about His wisdom, and even about His judgment. Is there no solution? Is this all there is to God’s message?”

The preacher stood by his bed and looked directly into his eyes, replying, “No, I have not told you the whole story, but it is all I can tell you under the circumstances. You have forbidden me to mention the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and apart from Him there is no solution.”

Immediately the statesman responded, “Sir, I apologize. Please tell me how my sins can be forgiven; tell me about this One who can pardon my iniquity and release me from the judgment of Hell which hangs over my head. I do want to know God’s truth.”

Naturally, the man of God opened the Word of God and explained the redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ to the dying sinner, who then happily placed his faith in Him and received the divine pardon. But the preacher was right: there is no message, we have absolutely nothing to say, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ! This special message of salvation to you hinges totally upon the Son of God.

B. All Is Based Upon Him!

There is nothing about this salvation which does not hinge upon Jesus Christ. Everything about it rests upon what He has done to provide a redemption.

It was His WISDOM that thought it. We are told in Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” no mere mortal could have ever even planned – to say nothing of provided – such a salvation.

It was His GRACE that bought it. Paul declared in Romans 3:24, 25: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

What the psalmist said about others is true of ourselves: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 59:7). We simply had no price to pay, so He provided it for us.

Too, it was His LOVE that offered it. We are told in Romans 5:6-11: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” William R. Newell expressed it so beautifully:

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!

Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!

Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span

       At Calvary!

C. Amazement Upon Amazement– Christ Rejected!

How strange it is that, in the light of the above, wicked men will not accept Him, preferring to go on in sin and risk spending eternity in an unending, conscious Hell. This is especially strange since man by nature wants something for nothing; he is always seeking a bargain.

A case in point is the “Washington’s Birthday Sales” which have become so popular around the country every February. The craze started in 1919 when a haberdasher in our nation’s capital offered some shirts, which had been in his store window so long the sun had faded them, for 50¢ each. The crowds came and an annual sale was launched, one which soon spread beyond the confines of theDistrict of Columbia, every February 22. Eventually the merchants were pricing their specials at 22¢ or $22, capitalizing on the day – or $17.76, taking advantage of the year our forefathers declared their independence from England.

The late Tom Olson described what he called “the zaniest of all” zany birthday sales. One merchant offered a power mower for 22¢ and an elderly man shivered outside the store all night long in order to be the first customer. So excited was he over his accomplishment that he rushed off without getting change from his $20 greenback!

This gentleman was not alone and others either stood in line or slept on the sidewalk all night to grab the bargains when the stores opened. Among them was a 14-year-old lad, wrapped in blankets, whose diligence was rewarded with a 22¢ typewriter. In one suburb of Washington, a lucky buyer purchased a 12-year-old automobile for $17.76! And in another suburb, a man spent the night in an automobile being offered for $22 (he brought an electric blanket and plugged it in the lighter socket).

After recounting these incidents Olson remarked: “It is amazing what strange things people will do in order to get bargains! But when it is a matter of accepting gifts, the values of which infinitely outweigh all bargains, they ‘haven’t the time’! They would not think of losing sleep, or of inconveniencing themselves in the least.

“Multitudes of people will watch TV, listen to radio, and peruse newspapers to learn where merchandise will be put on sale at bargain prices.

“Comparatively few persons will read the Bible or listen to preachers to learn that they can be ‘justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24).”

Yes, this salvation is for you!

Again, it is,


      This offer is not for the cancellation of a note on a new automobile or the payment of a mortgage on a home. No, this is an offer outweighing anything and everything else.

A. “Forgiveness of Sins”

Note again the statement: “through this man is preached unto to you the forgiveness of sins.” Here is something all need, since all are sinners. Romans 3:22, 23 express it like this: “…for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” In this respect – the fact of sin – there is no difference between the down-and-out and the up-and-out.

Solomon, in his wisdom, rightly concluded: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

How admirably the psalmist evaluated the situation when he wrote: “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.” (Psalm 4:1-3). Not one individual is excluded or excepted; here is a mini-biography of us all.

Not only is forgiveness of sin something all need, but it is available for all who want it. Remember what Peter told Cornelius and the crowd assembled in his home, waiting to learn how they might be accepted by God. He declared, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). And then he added in verse 43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Ah, that is the key: “whosoever!”

That is why even Isaiah, ministering during the dispensation of legalism, could boldly announce: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Paul, in the dispensation of grace, could only confirm Isaiah’s truth: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).

No wonder the Bible concludes with the invitation: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Yes, it is “whosoever will.”

Dr. R. A. Torrey tells a beautiful story which illustrates this matter exactly. During the days when he pastored what is now the Moody Church in Chicago, one of his godly ladies invited a fallen woman to the services. The latter bluntly refused, insisting that going to church was very definitely “not for the likes of me.” She declared that there could be and would be no welcome for her. The child of God insisted that her church was different and she would, indeed, find a warm welcome. The fallen woman lamented that such couldn’t possibly be true and so all of the Christian lady’s pleas fell on deaf ears. Even the offer to accompany her was rejected. Finally, however, the saint’s persistence paid off and the sinner reluctantly agreed to attend one time, stating the conditions under which she would do so. Saying that the Christian’s testimony would be impaired if seen walking with such a sinner, the latter demanded that the saint proceed up the avenue several feet ahead. And up LaSalle Avenue they went until they reached the intersection at Chicago Avenue where the church was located. Part of the agreement was that the two not enter the church together, so the Christian lady went in and took her usual seat. The other looked in the door and saw an empty seat in the last row, under the balcony, went to it, then settled back to listen. The service was already in progress and Dr. Torrey had just announced his text, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). He passionately declared, “If the vilest woman in Chicago should come into this church this morning, and should here and now accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, that very moment every sin she had ever committed would be blotted out and her record would be as white in the sight of God as that of the purest woman in the room.” Torrey knew nothing, of course, of the fallen woman on the back row. But the Spirit of God took the words and drove them into the heart and soul of the hungering, thirsting sinner. And when the message was concluded, down the aisle came the sinful woman, tears streaming down her face, to claim the Christ who loved her and the redemption He so freely offered. Yes, this salvation is one of “forgiveness of sins.” 

B. “Justified From All Things”

It is one thing to be pardoned; it is still another to be declared righteous. So our text adds in verse 39, “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

The word “justify” means “to reckon righteous,” or, “to declare righteous.” Our record of sin is completely wiped out when we come to Him; we are absolutely blameless before Him! It makes absolutely no difference how vile or how vicious our iniquity has been, the Word of God insists, “all things.” Glory to God!

Some time ago a friend in the ministry wrote to rejoice about a revival in his church. Among those saved was a 40-year-old man who had been seeking his father for 26 years, hoping to find him and kill him. Now the man wanted to find his father to tell him about the Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin available through Him!

To be justified means that the one forgiven can never be brought to account by God for his or her sins. As Jesus said in John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Never, never will the one in Christ be brought into condemnation; his record is forever wiped clean!

The Apostle Paul enthused about this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit … Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:1, 33-34).

Our friend and former columnist, the late Bill Harvey, wrote about this so beautifully:

I came to the River, destruction,

   And the bridge that went over was Law,

My burden too large for the crossing,

   Kept me from that City I saw.

I wept, in despair, for deliv’rance,

   My burden was all of my sin.

Then Jesus took all on His shoulder!

   And told me, “You’re free! Enter in!”

I’m JUSTIFIED, I’m happy in Jesus, today.

   The sins I have committed are all in

           the past,

They will never condemn me, for He holds

           me fast!


           happy in Jesus, today!

There was a lovely, moving, sweet illustration of justification which took place in Dallas nearly three-fourths of a century ago. A Methodist minister’s wife, Mrs. W. E. Hawkins, had just turned on to Tenth Street from Edgefield when she heard a honking behind her and looked back to see a gruff looking policeman with brass buttons all over his uniform motioning for her to pull over. Her heart began to pound and she found herself so flustered she had difficulty blurting out a question as to what she had done. 

As he wrote on the pad he responded, without even looking up, “You ran a stop sign at the boulevard.” And he handed her the pad and indicated where she should sign her name. The officer informed her that in five days she was to appear in court and pay the fine for her violation. With tear-filled eyes she managed to drive home, where she went immediately to the one she knew loved her devotedly. She handed her husband the ticket and confessed her guilt in the matter. When he saw how troubled and upset she was, he assured her that he would take care of it for her. He tenderly said, “Don’t worry about it. Just turn it over to me and I will handle it for you.” Thus it was that five days later, when Mrs. Hawkins was supposed to be in court, her preacher husband was there in her place. When her name was called he answered and approached the bench. The judge inquired, “Are you representing Mrs. Hawkins?” “Yes, your Honor.” “Is she guilty?” “She is.” The judge sternly responded, “She’s fined $3.” That may be an insignificant sum today, but it was big money back then. Mrs. Hawkins’ substitute told the judge, “I will pay it for her,” and he took out his billfold and removed three $1 bills, laying them on the table. An hour later he was home again, placing in Mrs. Hawkins’ hands her pardon – signed, sealed and delivered!She was free from the claims of the law! She had not done a thing nor paid a thing to gain that pardon, but it was hers through the grace of one who loved her. As sweet as this story is, it pales almost into insignificance when compared to the message and justification available in Christ. Because of our sin, we deserved the judgment and condemnation of the law of God. We could do nothing; we could pay nothing. Yet the holy Son of God came to this earth – and died in our place – to settle the claims of the divine law once and for all. Galatians 3:13 expresses it, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”

 Have you claimed this forgiveness and justification in Christ?


      How simple it is to be forgiven and justified by God! Verse 39 of our text says, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things ….” God’s offer is all-inclusive!

A. Only Way Any Saved in The Past

How were the Old Testament sinners forgiven and justified? They were saved by grace, through faith.

Consider the case of Abel. It says in Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”

Consider the case of Enoch. In Hebrews 11:5, 6 we are told: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” In other words, it was true of Enoch and what was true of him is true of all. Faith is a “must.” 

Consider the case of Abraham. In Genesis 15:6 we are told: “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” And the Apostle Paul expanded on this by telling the Church at Rome: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:1-5).

What was true of Abel, Enoch and Abraham was equally true of David. Romans 4:6-8 tells us: “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

No one in the Old Testament obtained forgiveness of sin and justification before God in any other manner than by grace, through faith!

The same was true of those concerted in New Testament times. The woman who was a sinner, in Luke 7, was told by Jesus, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Vs. 48). Then He explained to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Vs. 50). What saved her? Her faith!

On the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached to the multitudes and explained the salvation available in Christ, he quoted the Prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Later, during the persecution at Jerusalem which followed Peter’s second sermon, we are told: “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).

At the time of our text, when Paul preached his sermon at Antioch, he told them, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38).

Who was included in that “you” here? The Jews were included, of course; verse 39 says, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” This was an offer to the “men and brethren” of Israel who were under the Law of Moses. They could receive forgiveness and justification simply by believing.

The same was true of the Gentiles, and we read in verse 48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” That is, the Gentiles who were “found disposed to eternal life,” as the text is literally saying, believed and the salvation was theirs that very moment!

B. The Only Way Any Saved in Our Day!

Not only was believing the only way Old and New Testament sinners were able to receive forgiveness and justification, but it is also the only way to be saved in our day.

 Recall the trembling warden who fell down before Paul and Silas, following the earthquake, and then pleaded, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts16:30, 31). There has never been any other answer to that question, nor is there at this hour.

 A quick look in the Gospel of John confirms the way in its simplicity: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name… And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life … Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 1:11, 12; John 3:14-18; John 5:24; John 11:25, 26).

 The Apostle Paul emphasized the same truth in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Because so many are under the erroneous impression that one can obtain forgiveness and justification through good deeds, Galatians 2:16 emphasizes, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

And in the next chapter, the apostle pointed out, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” He did not say that all are the children of God; he said that all are the children of God “by faith in Christ Jesus.” That is the way it has always been and that is the way it is at this hour.

Decision for Christ

We started this message by reminding the reader that this is a special message for you – sent through God’s Son, His word, and His servant. Our text tells us, “… that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

 So the message is “unto you … that believe.”

Will you accept this “special message” to you from God? Like a registered letter, there is a sense in which it must be “signed” for.

As a minister, I am simply God’s mailman, His delivery boy. Don’t make me report in your case, “Refused – Return to Sender!” Instead, this very moment, claim the forgiveness and justification available to you through the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you will surrender to Christ today, write and let me know so that I can join in Heaven’s rejoicing. If you will do so, we will send you a letter of counsel and instruction about a right start in the Christian life. Either let us know in your own words, or, if you prefer, you may use the following form:

Evangelist Robert L. Sumner


5717 Pine Drive

Raleigh, NC 27606

 Dear Brother Sumner:

I have read your sermon, “A Special Message For You!” Since God sent this message through His Son, His Word and His servant, I would be both foolish and wicked not to accept it. This very moment, believing that Jesus died for my sins on the cross of Calvary and was raised again for my justification the third day, I claim Him as my Lord and Savior.

 I am willing to trust the promise Peter quoted from Joel, “And it shall come to pass, that whosever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” and I call upon Him right now to save me. This very moment I place my future destiny, both for time and for eternity, into His hands. I trust Him to give me a life worth living down here, and a home in his Heaven forever. Please send me some information about how I can make my new life in Christ effective.   

(Signed) ________________________________

Name __________________________________

City ___________________________________

State _________________ Zip ______________

Boldness of Peter & John

Two Bold Men

By George Matheson

George Matheson
George Matheson

  “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

These two men drew one quality from the same source; they had both become bold from living with Jesus. Yet it was not the same kind of boldness. Peter and John were both courageous; yet the courage of Peter was as unlike the courage of John as the sun is unlike the moon. When Christ gives the same quality to two men He does not thereby make them the same man. The light which shines on the wall comes from the same source as the light which shines on the river; but no one would mistake the light on the river for the light on the wall. Even so, no one would mistake the courage of Peter for the courage of John. They are not only different; they are in some sense opposite. Peter has the courage that strikes; John has the courage that waits. Peter is a force of action; John is a force of bearing. Peter draws the sword; John lies on the bosom. Peter crosses the sea to meet Jesus; John tarries till the Lord comes. Peter goes into the sepulchre where the body of Jesus has lain; John merely looks in–keeps the image of sorrow in his heart.

Christ needs each of these types. There are times when His kingdom requires the courage of the hand–the power of actual contact with danger. There are times when it needs the courage of the heart–the power to wait when nothing can be done, and to keep the spirit up when the hand must be let down. Life has both its Galilee and its Patmos–its place for work and its place for waiting; and for both it requires courage.


George Matheson, who died in 1906, was a great devotional preacher and his books blessed many. He had very poor vision when only a child and then early in childhood became blind. Congregations were hesitant to call him as pastor, but when one did it was a blessing and almost an immediate success. The man had power with God. His public prayers in the congregation often brought strong men to tears. The man spent hours in study and meditation on the Scriptures. He had to memorize his text and it was said he never missed a line. His sister was his great helper. George never married. In fact, he said he had never been in love. Look at what he wrote about this song:

My hymn was com­posed in the manse of In­ne­lan [Ar­gyle­shire, Scot­land] on the ev­en­ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar­ri­age, and the rest of the fam­i­ly were stay­ing over­night in Glas­gow. Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self. I am quite sure that the whole work was com­plet­ed in five min­utes, and equal­ly sure that it ne­ver re­ceived at my hands any re­touch­ing or cor­rect­ion. I have no na­tur­al gift of rhy­thm. All the other vers­es I have ever writ­ten are man­u­fact­ured ar­ti­cles; this came like a day­spring from on high. Note: It is not often you get to read the words of a song that seemed to the author as though the song was dictated to him and it was written within about 5 minutes. Divine? You decide.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson FRSE was a Scottish minister and hymn writer. Wikipedia
Born: March 27, 1842, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Died: August 28, 1906
Education: University of Glasgow

Words: George Ma­the­son, in the Church of Scot­land mag­a­zine Life and Work,
Jan­u­a­ry 1882.

Music: St. Mar­garet (Peace), Al­bert L. Peace, 1884 (MI­DI, score). Alternate tunes:

Hampstead (Davies), H. Wal­ford Da­vies, in In hoc Sig­no, 1915, num­ber 31 (MI­DI, score)
Wyke, Les­lie H. Hew­ard (1897-1943) (MI­DI, score). Hew­ard is said have writ­ten the tune while a choir boy at Man­ches­ter Ca­thed­ral.