Last week during Institute I asked my class if they were familiar with the term, “fire and brimstone preaching”. You may be interested to know, they had no idea what it was. Perhaps it is because the preaching of today has so drastically changed to emphasize the principle of grace, what do you think?
That wasn’t the case in the 1830’s. During that time period many of the preachers who made the preaching circuit were those who preached of “fire and brimstone”. They used imagery such as a hell, being a place for the wicked, “a lake of endless fire, continually burning but never consuming”. Many of the lessons they taught caused fear and trepidation about the volatile relationship one held between the individual and the Savior. Many people who heard these “fire and brimstone” sermons were simply “scared straight.”
In Section 19 of the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that our relationship to the Savior should be anything but scary. It is here, in this beautiful revelation from Jesus Christ himself, we come to know more about Him and the role he plays as Savior and Redeemer. This knowledge was necessary for those in the early Church because they were on the verge of establishing the organization of the Church itself. It is necessary for us because we need that knowledge to further that work today. In fact, it is so necessary for us today, it is one of the qualifiers for entrance into His most holy place, the
One of the false teachings the Lord clears up in Section 19 is that of the “fire and brimstone” preachers’ verbiage of “endless torment”, this would have been the exact terminology used by those preachers of the time. In a beautiful way He explains:
D&C 19: 6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.
Progression is an eternal principle. The term “Endless punishment” is simply punishment that is given by the Lord who is Endless. Endless is another name for Jesus Christ, therefore the punishment given by Him is Endless punishment. It is not referring to a time frame as the “fire and brimstone” preachers of the day were implying.
This concept, in and of itself, shows us the “Endless” love that the Savior has for His children. For that I will be Endlessly grateful.