It Is Either Christ or Hell
By T. T. Martin
Texts: Psalm 9:17; Mark 9:43; John 3:36; Mark 12:40; Titus 2:13, 14.
Concerning Psalm 9:17, the plea is made that the word "sheol" translated "hell" means "the grave." It is sometimes translated "grave," but wrongly so. There is a word in the Hebrew that does mean "the grave"; that word is "queber." Wherever in the Old Testament, a place is proposed for a dead body or a dead body is planted; wherever we know that a grave is meant, the word is always "queber" and never "sheol." Substitute "the grave" for "hell" in Psalm 9:17 and we have, "The wicked shall be turned into the grave" - then the righteous will not be turned into the grave but left to decay on top of the ground.
"But I don't believe in a God of wrath," says the objector. The one who makes this objection either has not thought on the subject or is rotten in moral character. I get a telegram that my family has been murdered; -when I arrive at home, I learn that they found my wife with her skull crushed in with an axe, and my oldest daughter who had rushed to the mother's rescue was found with her skull crushed in with an axe from behind; my two- younger daughters had their throats cut from ear to ear, and the baby lay against the wall with its brains dashed out against the wall. The one who does not believe in a God of wrath for such crimes, is fit only to associate with the doomed and the damned in Hell.
A young man in Mississippi murdered a young woman in an automobile at night; soaked his overcoat in gasoline and burned the young woman's body. The man or woman who does not believe in a God of wrath for such crimes is fit only to associate with the doomed and damned in Hell.
A pure, modest sixteen-year old girl was kidnapped on the streets of Los Angeles; some days after, she was found wandering in a dazed sort of way, on a vacant lot. Her body was bruised, and almost all the clothing torn from her body. In the hospital, whenever a man would come near her cot, she would scream and shriek and plead with them not to take her to Frisco. The man or woman who does not believe in a God of wrath for such crimes is fit only to associate with the doomed and damned in Hell.
But those who commit such crimes are angels compared with those who, under the guise of science or religion, take away the faith of the people in the virgin birth of Christ; for these murderers only damn the body; but those who destroy faith in the virgin birth of the Saviour, leave the people without a real Redeemer, and thus damn the soul.
"But," says the objector, "I believe God punishes sin only to reform the sinner." Any honest man would rather be in Hell with devils than in Heaven with such a God. Three men murder my family and are captured; the first is already thoroughly penitent, thoroughly reformed. If you punish sin only for the purpose of reforming the sinner you would not punish him at all though guilty of murder of a woman and four children. The second is a tender-hearted fellow, and by sending him to prison for thirty days, he will be reformed; and that would be all the punishment he would get for murdering a woman and four children. The third is a hardened wretch, so hardened that the more you punish him, the harder he gets. There are many such in our prisons; then you would not punish him at all. Why, if you punish sin only to reform the sinner, all a man would have to do to go to Heaven would be to become such a hardened wretch that you never could reform him by punishment; then give him a harp and put him in Heaven's choir!
"But I believe we get our Hell here in this life," says the objector. On the contrary, as a rule - there are exceptions - the more people sin in this life, especially along certain lines of sinning, the less they suffer. Some sweet, pure girl is teased and nagged at, and in sudden anger, rips out a black oath; she will suffer for days over sin of that kind. There are those who use that oath hundreds of times every day and never suffer; because the more you sin, especially along certain lines of sinning, the less you suffer. A pure girl, under severe temptation fell. For many years she suffered fearfully over that one sin. In Colorado a society man boasted that he had debaunched and wrecked forty-five pure lives. In North Carolina a grocery merchant, once a drummer on the road; boasted that he had debauched and wrecked one hundred and twenty-nine pure lives: These two laughed and boasted over sin. Where was the difference? The more people sin, along certain lines of sinning, the less they suffer in this life. Then there must be a Hell beyond this life, if God is just.
Whatever Hell will be, it will be just; hence, "These shall receive greater damnation" (Mark 12:40). Hence "every transgression received a just recompense of reward" (Hebrews 2:2). Whatever that just punishment is, the Saviour redeems us from it all. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). They cry "Back to Christ!" Well, listen to Him: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Listen to Him again: "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).
"But guilt cannot be transferred from the guilty to the innocent." No, but penalty can be transferred. Every enlightened nation, every judge in every enlightened nation allows the innocent to pay the debt of the guilty, to pay the fine of the guilty.
"But it is morally wrong for the innocent to bear the penalty of the guilty." Is it? Two men are found on the street bleeding and dying from a drunken street fight; the deserve every pang they are suffering. Two other men pay for a doctor and nurse and save their lives. Is that morally wrong? When the Saviour redeemed us from all iniquity, He did the same thing in principle.
But the redemption is from "all, iniquity." "Our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity." Hence, the Saviour said, "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" (John 5:24). Why not? Because the believer is redeemed from "all iniquity."
"But that puts a premium on crime, to tell a sinner that when he believes on the Saviour, he is redeemed from all iniquity." It would be, but for two facts: first, the one who believes on the Saviour as Redeemer from all iniquity is born again of God's Holy Spirit. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (John 5:1). I could stand here till moons should wax and wane and tell of the many men and women who in my work have been led to believe on the Saviour as Redeemer from all iniquity, who at once were completely changed in life. Neither evolution nor "salvation by character" can account for such change of life. There is but one rational explanation - they were really born again.
Second, there is a new motive power in the life of the redeemed. As our Saviour instituted the Lord's Supper, He said, "This is my blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Then He said, "If you love me (not, "if ye are afraid of Hell." nor "if ye wish to be saved"), keep my commandments."
"But it is only a theory: it will not work." It will not work with lost church members; but with the really redeemed it works every time, for the Saviour said,"If a man love me, he will keep my words."
It is either "Christ or Hell."
[Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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