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Theological Book Reviews - Gerstner's Repent or Perish

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Men are depraved. They are bound in sin and in bondage to the unregenerate state. They need to repent or they will spent eternity in hell. Gerstner fights those who hold to annihilationism.

Theological Book Reviews – Gerstner’s Repent or Perish
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Repent or Perish
by John Gerstner
Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Morgan, PA: 1996.
218 Pages, Paperback

The doctrine of eternal punishment has fallen by the wayside in the contemporary church. It is all but lost. Hell is a byword; it has become a fantasy for many. It is led into this false position by men like Edward William Fudge and John Stott who deny the reality of hell and pass it off as a place of annihilation instead of a place of eternal torment. Annihilation of the soul teaches that upon judgment, the soul is destroyed instead of eternally tormented – thus God is ultimately merciful in the act towards the sinner. But in this book Dr. Gerstner refutes the teaching of annihilationism and cogently teaches the true doctrine of eternal punishment. To say that God will annihilate the wicked instead of punish them is to say that the Word of God is lying to us. To say the doctrine of annihilationism is true, you must say the Word of God is false.

In this book, Gerstner shows how God must punish those who have sinned against him, and how the doctrine of eternal punishment and judgment, which took up 13% of Jesus’ teaching, is imperative and must be believed if we call ourselves Christians who hold to the Word of God. Chapters include “The Terror of the Lord,” “Christ’s Teaching about Hell,” “Paul’s Teaching about Hell,” and “How to and How not to Repent.”

I especially enjoyed the last chapter (which was short but poignant) entitled “A Hard Book?” Is it a hard thing to believe the Bible? Is it a hard thing to believe in a wrathful God who must punish sin for all of eternity? We must accept all the attributes and aspects of God without the danger of leaning in to heavily and emphasizing too much one particular attribute which has been the case through the last 150 years. The church would much rather lean upon the love of God than the wrath of God, but to do so is to place Theology Proper in disarray. Though many will bock at the book Gerstner has written, and no doubt Gerstner s placed in an unpopular light with his contemporaries, it is equally true that he has been faithful in his exposition in the Scriptures, and no doubt has been rewarded by God for such a stance.

Some Quotes:
“Let me remind you that there is a place worse than hell and better than heaven. This present world! Because, dear friends, if you are not born again you are now adding fuel for your eternal burning. That is worse than suffering hell now, because it makes hell more hellish when you go there forever.”

“Jonathan Edwards, who is not here cited by Fudge but is the greatest defender that the orthodox doctrine of hell has ever had, insists that God’s presence in hell is what makes hell hell. God is present there to curse the wicked, who exist only by His power, for using that power to sin. The wicked exist in hell eternally only by the eternal power of God. How the damned do wish that Fudge was right. If only God would withdraw His eternal power so that they could pass into nothing as Fudge so fondly imagines.”

“But saying you believe in Christ is not what God requires. Saying one believes in Christ never saved anyone from hell. In fact, merely saying one believes in Christ only to escape hell damns hypocrites yet to a hotter hell.”

“If you are not afraid of hell, you are almost certainly going there. You will then never doubt it again.”

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