Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



We have studied the Lord and His Word, we have studied sin, and we will soon move on to the great thoughts of salvation, but we need to look briefly at the intermediate topic of punishment.

Punishment comes in several fashions which we need to look at. The lost will receive a completely different punishment than the believer that has strayed. The believer, in this life, may even find himself under the punishing hand of his Heavenly father.

We want to think about trials and chastisements. Just what are trials, what are chastisements? Trials are for the building up of the believer and the stretching of his spiritual being. It is the positive side of the negatives of life.

Chastisement on the other hand is for the bringing back of the believer to his Lord, after a period of sin and rebellion. It is not meant as punishment, though there is a punitive aspect to it. It is meant to draw their attention from their own desires unto the desires of their Lord.

God chooses to chastise, rather than allow the believer continue to go his own way to the detriment of the believer, or of the believers testimony.

What about the person that is living in open sin yet is not chastised. Indeed, at times it seems that the person is being blessed of the Lord. How do you explain God allowing a person to continue in rebellion against Him, to continue walking in sin, and to continue to ruin the testimony of God?

We knew of a man that drank fairly regularly and was very close to criminal in his business life. He was making money, he was building his business, he was making all sorts of progress in the world's eyes. He had seen his business triple in less than a year, yet there was no sign of outward chastisement. Why does God allow this to continue?

There are three reasons that come to mind in this case. Possibly I don't know everything. Maybe there was inner chastisement. Maybe there were serious problems inwardly. Secondly, it is possible that he was not a believer. Heb. 12 is quite specific that God will chastise a son. If there is no chastisement then there may well not be sonship. Then the final possibility is that God was using the man in some way to prove His own case to the principalities and powers of the air. God may do as He wills with His people, and He is not required to do as we feel He should.

God is in the business of doing what He desires to bring about His own glory, and to put down the Devil's pride. He has limitless possibilities, when it comes to allowing, shaping, and molding in the believers life.

I always believed that this man was a believer, and still do. What God was doing in his life is for God and the man to know. It is our place in life to pray for such people, and to assist them in any way that we can. We must assume that they are believers, and continue to assist as if they would some day return to a proper lifestyle. This does not mean that we shouldn't prod them to consider their salvations validity, nor should we become involved in their sin, and/or business practices.

Chastisement is not something that the believer should fear, after sinning. God does not use chastisement to beat us over the head; He uses several other items, much less painful, to draw us back to Him when we stray. Chastisement is the next to last tool in His methods with the erring believer. (Taking the believer home is the final tool.)

When He has exhausted all the other possibilities, He will move on to chastisement. Before this he uses any or all of the following methods of drawing the believer back, the Word, the leading of the Holy Spirit, the prompting of other believers, the small trials of life, and the conscience.

If all of these fail, then He may move on to the harsher, yet loving, chastisement. There may be times when the sin is so outward and damaging to the testimony of the person or God, that God might use more drastic action, yet He always uses any tool, in a perfectly loving manner, for the best of the believer.

Once the chastisement has begun, it is normally quite easy to stop. Confession at any point in this line of reformation will stop the course of things. The believer should realize, however that the effects of that chastisement may flow into the future.

The believer that is walking closely with the Lord will know the moment that he sins that there is a problem, and will immediately confess, before the Lord has to take any steps.

Chafer makes the following comment: "Discipline in one form or another is the universal experience of all who are saved; even the fruit-bearing branch is pruned that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2). The testimony of the central passage of the Bible on chastisement (Heb. 12:4-15) is to the effect that every son is disciplined." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, p 361)

Chafer equates the pruning with chastisement, which may not be a valid point. Pruning, may be chastisement, but may also be other things.

If we don't want to worry about what tool the Lord is going to use on us, we should merely be faithful to confess our sins. He then will not need to use any tool on us. Remember when you were a child? You found that if your father spanked, you soon learned what not to do. So, God teaches His children. God on the other hand has given us the Word and the Spirit to guide us into proper living, so we should never need to learn of God's chastisement.

Chafer mentions that Heb. 12:4-15 teaches that ALL believers experience chastisement. Does Heb. 12:4-15 teach that discipline in one form or another is the UNIVERSAL experience of ALL who are saved? I personally do not believe that it does. THAT ALL SUFFER CHASTISEMENT IS PROBABLY TRUE IN THAT WE ALL TEND TO GO OUR OWN WAY AT TIMES. THAT ALL SUFFER CHASTISEMENT DUE TO A PLAN OF GOD IN THE BEGINNING FOR THE TEACHING AND TRAINING OF THE SAINTS, NO!

A reading of the text will, I believe, show that as we had earthly fathers that chastened, so we have a Heavenly Father that chastens. The fact that we all have sinned now and then would show that we all are chastened. It is because we sinned and not because God planned to chasten everyone that came into His family.

Remember Heb. 12:4-15, for it is important to the doctrine of God chastening the believer, and it also lays groundwork for the earthly father's discipline of the child.

Chafer mentions, "It is reasonably concluded that scourging refers to the conquering of the will and results in a surrendered life." (Chafer, "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, p 361)

In the believers life, this is probably true. In the life of a child, in recent years this has come to be questioned. In past years there were few parents that would disagree with Chafer's statement.

Today there are those that say you must not conquer the will. The strong willed child will go far in this life because of his strength. Indeed, I have observed children that have been raised with this line of thinking.

Is it proper? Their children are very blunt in their disobedience. They will ultimately submit if the parent pressures, but they will defiantly say no several times before they do.

The will needs to be broken, but not the spirit. There is a difference. If the will is not broken in childhood, then God will have to deal with it in adulthood, and it will normally be much harder.

When I speak of breaking the will, I mean that you must break the "I will" attitude and bring them to understand the authority of the family and society.

There are two terms that are used. Scourging and chastisement. The question arises, is there a difference between scourging and chastisement in Heb. 12?

I think that they are similar. Chastisement would be any discipline that is brought to bear on the believer. Scourging would be harsh chastisement aimed at gaining the believers attention after he has ignored the chastisement.

Vine relates chastise to being "paideia" which "denotes the training of a child including instruction; hence, discipline, correction..." He mentions that "mastigoo" is similar to "mastix" which is "a whip, scourge, ... as in the Roman method...." He mentions earlier of the Roman method, "Under the Roman method of scourging, the person was stripped and tied in a bending posture to a pillar, or stretched on a frame. The scourge was made of leathern thongs, weighted with sharp pieces of bone or lead, which tore the flesh...."

There is another term which you may run across. It is not a Scriptural term, yet it describes well the plight of the lost. Retribution is used of the lost and their eternal punishment. What is retribution? It relates to the giving out of punishment after guilt has been proven. It usually relates to eternal judgment. In relation to the lost it is the dispensing of punishment as they deserve.

All forms of trials, chastisement, etc. are used to bring about proper living. There is always an instructional value to the process with the believer.

There is, however, no instructional value in the giving of retribution to the lost, unless their final kneeling before Christ in acknowledgement. This indeed will be a heavy lesson.

There is no instruction at the giving of retribution to the saved, unless it is their final realization of whom and what God is. Again this will be some heavy learning.

Rom. 12:19 tells us, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves but, rather, give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." There is application in this for both the lost and believers.

a. The believer has the peace of knowing that God has promised to repay wrong actions of others toward them.

b. The lost have the horror of knowing that this is coming.

We as believers should realize that when some lost person buffets us, it is not the believer that is being downed, but it is the Lord! Realize that when you are buffeted, the person will answer to Almighty God.

I was doing door to door visitation once and a man came to the door. I told him who I was and that I was just going door to door in the neighborhood to invite folks to church. His mouth opened and the cloud of nastiness billowed forth. As I left, I was shocked at his response, but more than that, I was concerned about that man. He will have to answer to God for his actions.

Since we know that God is just, then we can know that the punishment will be completely just and correct.

Chafer draws an interesting contrast for us in that he mentions that God's chastisement is a show of God's Divine Love, while God's judgment is a show of God's Divine Wrath.

Guess which I'm glad I'm going to be on the receiving end of?

The question that often comes when you are witnessing to some of the cults and isms of our day is the eternal nature of man. How do the cults view man and eternity?

There are some that hold to the total destruction of the lost. Others see the lost as asleep now for a time, and then they will be destroyed. Some, when describing their belief state that at the point of death, the person becomes non-existant. Think about that for a moment. If you become something, can you be nonexistent? NO!

We hold that the lost person, as well as the saved person, at death are conscious beings and always will be. The quality of life will however differ drastically.

How can we prove that those holding to "soul sleep" and total destruction are incorrect? a. Luke 16:19-31 shows the rich man and Lazarus in Sheol, one on the side of torment, and the other on the side of God. Both were conscious of their surroundings, as well as one another. b. Logically why would God put the lost to sleep till the judgment and then torment, or destroy them. It makes no sense. c. The Scriptures never speak of soul sleep, or the total destruction of the lost. Why would anyone assume it?

The lost are going to be just as eternal as we are! They just won't be comfortable.

With all of the emphasis on the love of God, we have tended to shy away from talking about hell. Some wonder why God would ever describe in His Word, the terrors of Hell? It is obvious to many, to give people a proper choice of heaven and hell. The prophets gave God's message of destruction and the purpose was that God was hoping that some would turn from their sin, but they did not.

Hell is described quite well in the scripture. It may well be that God doesn't want anyone telling Him that they would have accepted the Lord if they had known how bad it would be.

Another heresy of our day concerns a place where God purifies the lost in preparation for their time in heaven. The Mormons teach that if you don't accept their teaching here that you will be given a second chance after death. The problem is that you will have to be purified for a while in hell until you are ready for heaven.

The Catholics also have their thought except they call it purgatory. They feel that if a church member is not good enough at death they will go to purgatory for purification. Your relatives can pray and pay you out of purgatory if they desire to. The one big question is, how much paying and praying will it take. You never know if you've done enough.

Is punishment remedial? It depends on what you are talking about. When punishing a child it is quite remedial. You will find that they respond quite well to punishment. Our daughter told us that she had said no-no to an item. Our granddaughter touched it and received a swat with the second no-no. The "little angel" touched it again, and before her mother could do anything, the angel was squinting her eyes and bracing for the swat that she knew she was going to receive. Remember the will we were talking about?

If you are talking about the believer, yes punishment is remedial, in that the chastisement is to bring the believer into a proper relationship with his God.

If you are talking about the criminal, yes there is a remedial aspect to punishment. Not only in the one punished, but in those that hear of his punishment. There is one country that has the death penalty for anyone caught with drugs. Would you believe they have no drug problem in that country?

If you are talking about punishment of the lost, then no, punishment is not remedial. Their punishment is set and eternal.

One further question that we need to deal with. If a person has not heard the Gospel will they be in heaven? Some believe that the lost are lost, because they have rejected the Gospel, however if they have never heard the Gospel, then they are not held responsible. Others say that all are lost, no matter whether they have heard the Gospel and rejected, or if they have never heard.

What is the answer? Are they lost or saved? First of all, if they are saved, then why worry about going to them with the Gospel. The great commission is a foolish thing for Christ to have given. Secondly, Rom. 1-2 shows that God has given light to all of mankind concerning Himself. If a person responds to that light then God will see to it that the Gospel is preached to that person before they die. God could not be just if He withheld the Gospel from anyone that was seriously seeking the creator.

All are responsible to respond to the light that they have. If they don't respond, then God has no reason, nor responsibility to save them.

Well, maybe just one more question. There usually is a question that comes up in relation to punishment. I would like to list some comments on the subject of babies that die. Some believe that they go immediately to be with the Lord as all dead saints, and others feel that they go immediately to the place of eternal suffering. I think that this subject was covered in a previous study, but I will include some thoughts here as well.

I will not answer this question for all readers, but would like to list some information and texts that might allow you to do further study.

A related question is the mentally retarded, or physically deformed, which do not acquire the mental capability of understanding the Gospel message. Those that cannot understand would be the same as a baby that died in infancy. Those that can understand, and that can make conscious decisions, will be held accountable, as every other man woman and child that understands the message and rejects it. On the other hand, if they accept the Gospel, they will enjoy the Lord for all of eternity.

II Sam. 12:16-23 is the key passage of Scripture that relates to our question. It depicts David in the context of losing his son to death. Verse 23 mentions, "But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

This is a very plain and bold statement of David's belief that his child was in paradise.

Job in chapter three laments the fact that he was even born. (11-13) "Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not expire when I came out of my mother's body? For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept; then had I been at rest." This indicates his belief that death as a new born baby would have put him at rest eternally.

Those that believe that babies go to punishment normally set forth the fact that all men have the sin nature, and that all sinned in Adam. If that is true then the only way to heaven is the Lord Jesus, however the question is this. Did Christ die for the sin of the world, including the sin nature? Yes. He did all that was required to bring man to God. The work is done. Those that reject Christ, reject His work on the cross and suffer eternally for their rejection. Those that accept are eternally with Him. The child that has not been given opportunity to say ye, or nay would automatically be included in the work of Christ.

The opposition would say of this then that the heathen are automatically saved. NO! They have rejected the natural revelation of God in nature and in them. They have rejected and are on their way to eternal torment. Their children that have not reached accountability, or possibly a better term would be the age of understandability, will be with the Lord.

Scripture text? Only those that have been given. I have known good, fundamental men that oppose my thought, but many others that agree. Study it for yourself.

We might close with the thought that God is Just - perfectly just. He will not send a baby to heaven if it is not just, nor will He send a baby to hell if it is not just. He will do as His justice demands, no matter what we decide on the subject.

This should be a comfort to those that loose a child, or that have a badly retarded child. God is the God of comfort and He can help anyone through these situations.

Some references that may help: II Cor. 1:3; Luke 18:16; Romans 8:28; I Thess. 4:13, 16, 17.

In a situation where some parent is in one of these situations, it would be best to just comfort them without bringing up the subject. If they ask, then give them the information that you have. The key, however is the comfort that they need.


1. If I believed that God does chastise, why in the world would I continue in sin? If I believed that chastisement turns into scourging, why in the world would I continue in sin? Both are beyond me! Yet, some do it!

I have a very dear Christian acquaintance that related to me that as a young man he had a good business and God started leading him away from that business to go north to work as a layperson in a church. He said no many times to the Lord's promptings. He was on his death bed with pneumonia when he finally decided that the Lord was serious.

He said, yes and went north. He said his job over the years payed better than his business could ever have paid, and that his health was better as well. He was able to retire and spend many years enjoying his life and family due to that simple yes to God's prompting.

2. If we really believe Heb. 12, and what it indicates about chastisement, we would certainly be moved to care for our own physical children in the same manner that our Heavenly Father cares for us. We should seek to break the self will of the child before the Lord has to do it in adult life, when the chastisement will be hard.

3. What do you know of hell? Let me just list some of the topics concerning eternal punishment for the lost.

Darkness: Matt 8:12; Ps. 49:19

Bound: Matt. 22:13

Memory: Luke 16


Lust and Desire: Rev. 22:11

No hope: Isa 38:18; Prov. 11:7

Fire: Jude seven; Matt. 5:22; Mk. 9:44

Companions: Rev. 21:8; 22:15


Isolation: Jude 13


The Bible tells us that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" Rom. 3:23. The lost are sinners and deserve the very best that Satan has to offer, and that is, his eternal repose, that is his eternal dwelling place, that is his eternal destination, that is the eternal burning fire of hell.

The sinner is lost and on his way to hell and nothing can stop that decent into the place prepared for him lest he call on the merciful name of Jesus Christ.

Your choice is heaven or hell.

Your choice is eternal delight or eternal agony.

Your choice is eternal life or eternal death.

Your choice is the refreshing waters of the river of life or the flames of hell.

Your choice is eternity with the Father or eternity with the father of lies.

Your choice is eternal light or eternal darkness.

Your choice is eternal comfort or eternal suffering.

Your choice is eternal joy or eternal sorrow.

Your choice is a glorified body or a tormented body.

Your choice is eternal fellowship with Christ or eternal fallowship with Satan.

Your choice is accept Jesus Christ as your Savior or accept the consequences of following the devil into the lake of fire.

That is if you call that a choice.

To me the choice is obvious to the most casual observer.

To put it as one flippant observer of the Gospel has put it, "It's turn or burn."