I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:2–3)
Hundreds of millions of men and women who have rebelled against the sovereign glory of God have never heard about the saving grace of God. So what does this mean for our lives? And what does this mean for the church?1
If there is any Scripture at all, this is true — that those who stubbornly refuse to submit to the gospel, and to love and obey Jesus Christ, incur at the Last Advent an infinite and irreparable loss. They will pass into a night on which no morning dawns.2
Oh, who of us can even begin to grasp the everlasting horror of hell? We are not just playing games here. There is real, everlasting wrath awaiting lost sinners before a holy God. We cannot be ignorant of this and we must not be indifferent to this. We must refuse to be numbed by the temporary pleasures of this world in a way that prevents us from feeling the eternal weight of heaven and hell.3
If we aren’t moved at the thought of people perishing in eternal hell, let us not assume that it’s because we simply can’t comprehend it and so it’s okay. It’s not okay. What dulls our thinking and reduces our emotional capacities is our indwelling sin, our profound selfishness. That’s what numbs us.
That’s why Paul prays that we may “be strengthened with power through [God’s] Spirit in [our] inner being” and “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:16, 18–19). We need strength to comprehend the things of God.
Refuse to be numbed! Resist indifference! Fight it! God will give you power to overcome it. The most important things to know and feel in the world are things we need strength to comprehend. Pray for strength and read books like this one that help you see and feel what is real.
Jesus died to save people from perishing in hell and give them eternal life (John 3:16). The church on earth continues his mission. And it will be finished by those who not only “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19), but also have “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (Romans 9:2) over those who are perishing.
Let’s lay hold of God for the strength to have both.