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Questions and Answers

Has anyone ever told you you come across like a rigid fundamentalist hell fire and brimstone preacher? Jesus shows compassion for human frailties even to those who don’t deserve it.

Outline of the Answer
• The First Christian “Fire and Brimstone” Preacher
• The Dire Consequences of Sin
• Coming in Compassion
• The Second Coming

 
Apparently, you have the idea that someone who speaks about “fire and brimstone” doesn’t have any compassion for the weaknesses of others. But do you know who was the first Christian “fire and brimstone” preacher?

  

. . . on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

  

—Luke 17:29–30

That’s right. Jesus. He who “shows compassion for human frailties even to those who don’t deserve it” nevertheless warns us of the dire consequences of sin.

 
The Dire Consequences of Sin

To help you grasp this point, read the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). Jesus did not condemn the woman. But He told her, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” In other words, He did not just pat her on the head and say, “There, there. It’s all right to shack up with someone as long as you believe you ‘love’ him.” No. He told her quite plainly to change her ways. Why? Because if she didn’t, she was in grave danger of the same fire and brimstone rained down on Sodom. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore,” He warned her.

Now that, however “rigid” it might sound to many persons in today’s world of secular humanism, is compassion.

 
Coming in Compassion

Christ came into this world because of His compassion for our slavery to sin. Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, He emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7). And though He was in the form of God, He taught us gently and compassionately. He took all His enemies’ hatred and insults patiently, without retaliating—and without calling down “fire from heaven,” as James and John once asked Him to do (Luke 9:54). He did this all to redeem us from sin, to show us that true love is a matter of wanting to help even our enemies to be saved from their sins, all because of our love for God.

But that’s not the end of the story.

 
The Second Coming

Jesus didn’t call down fire from heaven when James and John asked because Jesus wasn’t here to judge us; He was here to warn us about sin and to show us the path to freedom from it. We were (and still are) given a fair chance to renounce the ways of evil.

Nevertheless, Christ will come into this world again, in judgment. In this second coming, though, Christ will come in glory, not mercy, and He will be wearing a blood-stained cloak (Revelation 19:13) to remind us what our hatred and insults did to Him the first time. And at that time those who have refused to acknowledge and repent their sins—that is, those who have rejected His gentle mercy—will find out what fire and brimstone is all about.

  

Tell sinners that no one shall escape My hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands.

  

—told to Saint Faustina by Jesus,
Diary (1728; see also 1146, 1588)

  

His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.

  

—Matthew 3:12
 

But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.

—Matthew 5:22
 

Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

—Matthew 7:19
 

The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

—Matthew 13:41–42
 

Then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

—Matthew 25:41
 

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.

—Mark 9:43
 

Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

—Luke 3:9
 

. . . on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

—Luke 17:29–30

 

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