“A single day in hell” by J.C. Ryle

“Count up and compare, for another thing, the trouble that true Christianity entails, and the troubles that are in store for the wicked beyond the grave.

Grant for a moment that Bible-reading, and praying, and repenting, and believing, and holy living, require pains and self-denial.

It is all nothing compared to that ‘wrath to come’ which is stored up for the impenitent and unbelieving.

A single day in Hell will be worse than a whole life spent in carrying the cross.

The ‘worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched,’ (Mark 9:48) are things which it passes man’s power to conceive fully or describe.”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2014), 107-108.

“The flaming sword” by Jonathan Edwards

“The Son of God himself was pleased to take our guilt upon Him, and in our name has suffered and so satisfied the justice and wrath of God. The eternal and infinitely dear Son of God, when He beheld us fallen, beheld us driven by justice from the blessings of paradise, and beheld us excluded from eternal life, He had a pity and love to us.

He was pleased to undertake for us and take our guilt upon Him and place Himself in our stead, and stand before the Father for us as being ready to bear what we deserved that we might be free. And He came and suffered our deserved wrath, so that wrath and justice was satisfied.

Christ undertook to lead us to the tree of life, and He went before us. Christ Himself was slain by that flaming sword. And this sword, having slain the Son of God appearing in our name, who was a person of infinite worthiness, that sword did full execution in that.

And when it had shed the blood of Christ, it had done all its work, and so after that was removed. And Christ arising from the dead, being a divine person Himself, went before us. And now the sword is removed, having done its execution, already having nothing more to do there, having slain Christ.

There is no sword now, and the way is open and clear to eternal life for those that are in Christ.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “East of Eden: A Sermon on Genesis 3:24,” in Sermons and Discourses 1730-1733, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17, Ed. Mark Valeri (New Haven: Yale, 1999), 346. It may be read here in its entirety.

“Then and only then” by John Stott

“Only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy. All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to His, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it.

When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.

The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.”

–John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 109-110.