Oh, that we would have more of Paul’s spirit here! Do you grieve? Do you feel sorrow and anguish over your kinsmen, that they are accursed and cut off from Christ? I know that hundreds of you do. That’s good. Nurture that grief with Biblical truth. And remember, Jesus said that we should love not only those who love us, but also our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44). So may Bethlehem (Church) be a place of tears as well as joy. May we be Biblical Christian hedonists! As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
And if anyone should raise the legitimate question: Will we then be sad throughout eternity because of those who are accursed and cut off from Christ in hell? Will heaven be a place of eternal grief? – the answer is no. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). Why? Jonathan Edwards put it like this:
With respect to any affection that the godly have had to the finally reprobate, the love of God will wholly swallow it up. And cause it wholly to cease. (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust], Vol. 2, p. 899)
Those who die in their sinful rebellion – we say it with tears now – will not have the power to hold heaven hostage with their own misery. Here we groan and weep. There we are consumed with the glory of Christ.
Let us learn from Paul. He knows that his kinsmen are lost and ready to be cast into outer darkness forever. But he does not say that with rage or fierceness. He says it with anguish.