A Few Words on the Punishment of Sin.

1869 346 Can a sinner atone for his sins, either in this life or in the next?

"Without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb. 9:22.)
"For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11.)

Our sins and iniquities have separated us from God. (See Isa. 59:2.) How can they be put away? Can any amount of working or suffering on our part blot them out? No must be the answer of all who know any thing of God as taught of the Spirit. The death of Christ atones for the sinner: "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3.) Christ alone could meet God's claim on the sinner on account of his sins, and that only by dying in his stead. His blood was shed. What a sacrifice! How great the debt to need such payment! The life of the Son of God, His only Son, His beloved Son in whom He was well-pleased.

But what is taught by the doctrine of the non-eternity of punishment? Why, simply this: That a few years (more or less, as the case may require) of suffering in hell will meet the claim of God on account of the sinner and his sins! The teachers of this non-eternity doctrine acknowledge that the sinner does suffer. But why? I ask; unless it be to meet God's claim. Why is he found in hell? Why in suffering? They say, he must burn out. But do his sins burn out? are they atoned for? If not, he and they are still joined, for they are not put away. And can any one believe that the sinner, by suffering in the place where he deserves to be on account of sin, does make atonement? We have already seen in scripture that the sacrifice needed was none other than the Lamb of God. What can be their estimate of him and of His atoning work on the cross, who can attribute a like result to the sinner's torment? But if the sinner in hell, by suffering, meets the claims of a righteous God against him, does not justice demand that he should be reinstated in the condition of man before the fall? When Christ met the claims of God, and satisfied Him fully on account of our sins, God raised Him from the dead; whereas the sinner, after having suffered for his own sins to God's satisfaction, is to be obliterated, say they.

It is a question of man's sins which make him a sinner; without them he would be fit for enjoying the blessing of God, as was Adam before the fall. But sin came in, and death by sin. Again I ask, How can these sins be atoned for? how can all the righteous claims of God be met in the case of any one sinner? Christ, indeed, on the cross has fully satisfied God; and those who believe now see in Him the One who became their ransom, who has paid their debt to the uttermost. But the unbeliever is found in hell; and is not hell the prison where those go whose debt has not been paid by Christ? Let us be simple. Have any of us doubted this? What says the scripture? "Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." Can he do it? Can he work it out? Can he suffer it out? From whence does the sinner get life beyond the grave if his soul be not immortal? From God, they say. What, I ask, is this life then given for? Their doctrine gives but one answer — That the sinner may settle the account standing against him by suffering for a time. What else is this than atonement? Where in scripture will you find an atoning work for the sinner beside the atoning work of Christ, of which Old Testament sacrifices were the type? Will any one contend for such a doctrine as this? Alas! yes. Satan would make man think little of his sins, and still less of Christ's atonement for sin.

"Without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Heb. 9:22.) Let the servant of God warn the sinner that in hell there is no ransom, no sacrifice, no shedding of blood, no putting away of sin, none there to pay his debt, none then to help. He and his sins remain joined: they are his; they belong to him: Who can separate them? "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." S. P.