We must teach our people doctrine. As we do so, we must also apply the doctrine well- thoroughly, convincingly, pastorally, searchingly- so that it cannot be no mere mental exercise but having addressed the mind it moves the heart bringing about conviction, joy, repentance, worship, etc.
I am currently teaching our church’s Sunday School class on the Doctrines of Sin, Man and the Person of Christ. This week the topic was the doctrine of Hell with an emphasis on its reality and eternality. Here is the portion of my notes dealing with applying this sobering truth.
What are the practical, pastoral, every-day implications of this truth that those who die in their sins will suffer eternal torment as their judgment?
1. Evangelism– If you care about people, and realize the truth of this doctrine you cannot help but labor, pray and speak the gospel so that souls might be saved from this result.
2. Pity on the lost– In addition to seeking their salvation, this truth should cause us to have extra pity on unbelievers, even if they mock, mistreat, or abuse us. It is this truth which will allow us to forgive them as we see that they will be judged.
3. Don’t envy the unrighteous– Psalms 73 & 37. It will seem at times that those who ignore God get ahead, but as the Psalmist notes, contemplation of their final end will keep us from dishonoring God by envying the wicked.
4. Forgive- We can forgive those who wrong us, not hold grudges, and forego retribution because we know that God will punish all sin, even those which go unpunished here & now. This is what enables people to go on when justice is not meted out.
5. Greater awareness of Christ’s suffering on the cross- If the punishment deserved for an individual’s sins requires eternal torment, what must Christ have suffered as he received in his body the punishment deserved by thousands/millions in a period of no more than three hours?
With this in mind we are all the more prepared to sing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and many more of or hymns.
6. Worship- The more you realize the horror of what we deserve and see that God has graciously rescued you from that, your heart should well up in worship! Regardless of what troubles beset us today, this greatest of our troubles- receiving the fury of God’s righteous wrath- has been removed by the cross of Christ! Let us then exalt the Lord our God. Let us bear this in mind as we come to the Lord’s Table this morning.