Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.(Romans 3:19)
The meditation today comes from W.G.T. Shedd in his book on The Doctrine of Endless Punishment (p. 187, 188). The position mentioned has crept into our churches.
The strange position has recently been taken, that the rejection of Christ is the only sin that brings eternal death. “No one,” says Dorner (Christian Doctrine, IV., 167), “will be damned merely on account of the common sin and guilt. But every one is definitely brought to [guilty] personal decision only through the gospel.” Says a writer in the Andover Review (Dec., 1885, p. 574): “No one can be lost without the knowledge of Christ.”
This implies that man’s sin against the moral law is not sufficient to condemn him to eternal death. He must sin against the gospel before he can be so condemned. Neither original sin nor actual transgression, neither evil inclination nor outward crime, both of which are sins against the law, expose a man to hell.
This is an entirely new position, not to be found in the past history of eschatology, … The objections to it are the following: 1. It contradicts the whole tenor of scripture. Christ teaches that he came to call actual and guilty sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32); that he came to seek and save that which was really and truly lost (Luke 19:10); that he did not come into the world to condemn the world (because it was already condemned), but to save the world (John 3:17, 18). St. Paul affirms that the whole world, prior to redemption, and irrespective of it, are guilty before God (Romans 3:19). St. John asserts that the whole world, Gentile and Jewish, unevangelized and evangelized, lieth in wickedness (I John 5:19). … The rejection of the gospel adds a new sin, and a very aggravating one, to the already existing sin against the divine law (John 15:22), but it is not the primary and original ground of condemnation. Men are punished, first of all, because they have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).