Oh, how dreadful the thought — to go to Hell through the church of God!
(James Smith, "The Alarming Sentence!")
"A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it — but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard: For three years now, I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree — and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!" Luke 13:6-7
Let us look at Christ's figure a little:
A fig-tree — or a professor of the religion of Christ.
A fruitless fig-tree — or a barren, useless professor.
A fig-tree with leaves of profession — but not the fruit of holiness.
No place is as dangerous for an unconverted person — as the church of God! It is to be feared that many join the church before they are truly converted; and yet very, very few are ever converted after.
Once under a profession — God expects you to live up to that profession.
If you are planted in His vineyard — God expects you to bring forth fruit.
The owner of the vineyard comes and seeks fruit; He comes again, and again; and if He find none, He passes this solemn sentence, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!"
Concerning every fruitless professor God says, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil! It drains the ground of its nourishment, for no good purpose. Labor is but lost upon it; expectation is disappointed by it; therefore, Cut it down! My patience and forbearance are worn out; I have come three years seeking fruit — and find none; so, Cut it down!"
It is a fearful sentence! God gives the command to some disease — He says, "Go, cut that barren professor down!" He sends death, like the woodsman with his sharpened axe — at length he strikes the fatal blow; and then the fruitless professor falls!
This command of God is fearful — it is full of terror — it includes utter destruction!
This command is irresistible — we cannot evade it — we cannot brave it out — the boldest heart fails — the strongest body yields to God's "Cut it down!"
This command is final! There is all that is dreadful wrapped up in it — even a certain, fearful expectation of God's judgment, and the raging fire that will consume His enemies!
The fruitless professor is to be cut down and committed to the eternal flames of Hell!
Here is wrath — fearful wrath!
Here is justice — inflexible justice!
Here is vengeance — the vengeance of an infinite God!
O fruitless professor. . .
God looks for fruit from every professor. He will certainly punish — if there is no fruit.
Fruitless professor — where will you be soon? The axe lies at your root, even now! The executioner is only awaiting the command!
Divine mercy will soon urge her last plea; the year of reprieve will soon expire — and then, "Cut it down!" is all that remains! Oh, how dreadful the thought — to go to Hell through the church of God! To profess that you are traveling to Heaven — when in reality you are going with the lost multitude to eternal perdition!