Monday, January 30, 2006

On Hell

Recently, I've entered into a discussion concerning hell and the idea of universal salvation. I've been accused of refusing to accept God's authority and rejoicing in the idea of people suffering forever simply because I question this "prophet" and the teachings he brings. So, I would like to open this up to anyone who would care to respond.

I'd like to make it clear that this is not a personal attack against one person, but an attack against teachings I believe to be un-Scriptural. If you disagree, tell me why. And here we go.

Eternal punishment doesn't happen as a result of God's pickiness. He actually uses it as an instrument to lead us back to Him. "I tell you the truth, He will certainly not get out of jail until he has paid the last penny." God uses it to make us as holy as His Son. Otherwise, it's just an unjust cause, and He'd be better to leave us alone altogether. He's not out to get vengeance for vengeance's sake, He loves us as His children, and He has plans not to harm and destroy us, but to plans to prosper and hope for a bright future.
- The "prophet"

This quote was the initial spark of conversation, though admittedly we have disagreed on other things as well. I asked him to clarify what he means, as I've heard from other people that they don't believe hell to be eternal. Rather they think it is something God uses to refine/ purge us of our sins to make those who didn't accept Christ on earth ready to accept Him in the future. The problem with this is that the Bible uses the word "eternal" as well as the word "everlasting" to describe hell and the punishment taking place.

Another issue I have with the ideas being espoused by many like this young man is the fact that they say that Christ came to save EVERYTHING, all of creation is going to be redeemed. The problem with saying things like that so broadly is that "all of creation" includes Satan and all of his followers.

Revelation 20:10-15
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This idea that EVERYTHING will be redeemed goes completely against scripture. The above verses say that anyone who is not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, this then implies that there will be people who aren't in the book. If this weren't the case, why mention it? Another verse from Revelation correlates with this idea very well.

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

This young man went on to say at one point that the Bible may not flat out say everyone will be saved, but that it implies that this is the case. When I asked for his reference points he didn't provide them. So this makes me wonder: Does he actually have any Scriptural backing for what he is saying? I doubt it. I also disagree that the Bible implies that everyone will be saved based upon the two verses quoted above as well as the following verses.

Matthew 25:41-46
41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew 7:21-23

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I cannot help but wonder why people are so afraid to talk about hell. I realize this is not a comfortable issue, but is it supposed to be? If we claim to love the lost and want them to accept Christ but undermind His teachings concerning the afterlife, how then can we say we love Him. When we reject His teachings we're rejecting something of Him, we behave as if we are ashamed of Him if we avoid something He clearly felt was important enough to discuss on more than one occasion.

Luke 9:26
26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

I must make it clear, however, that I'm not advocating beating people over the head or trying to scare people into a commitment to Christ. I don't believe, despite what anyone may think about me, that hell is the focus. I agree very much that we shouldn't follow Christ simply because we are afraid of hell. That's a very selfish, and superficial, motive for claiming Christ.

We should worship Christ because He deserves it. It is by His hand all things were created for His pleasure and His glory. He appointed the stars to the sky determined when they should die, ect. In the same manner He has appointed a time for our conception, our births, our deaths, and everything in between. We worship Him, not for fear of punishment, but in appreciation for Who He is. This does not, however, change the fact that hell is a reality that millions, if not billions, of people face.

No comments: