The Observations.net Weblog
The Lord described hell as a place of darkness (Matthew 8:12). He also described hell as a place of fire (Mark 9:48). But fire gives off light. So it's obvious that fire and darkness are symbols.
God is not a psychopath. He does not throw lost souls into literal fire. Such a concept is utterly absurd. Fire is a symbol of punishment. Darkness is a symbol of rejection and aloneness.
So what is hell? First and foremost, hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). It is an eternal prison, a place of separation from God and all that is good (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
For Jesus to make all things new, to make the universe what it should be, to make it a place where we can grow into everything that He meant for us to become, the devil and those who side with him must be separated from the rest of us.
But why was lucifer allowed to become the devil? Why is evil allowed to exist? I take the position that life is a school. It's the school of hard knocks. Jesus created us in His image. He gave us free will. He put us in a hard and brutal world, and He's letting us learn from our choices. We must learn firsthand why good is good and evil is evil. God will then use all of human experience to teach us. *
It's important that we choose good over evil. God hates evil and He wants us to hate it too. He hates evil so much that He decreed that the punishment for sin is eternal separation from Himself. But since God is love, He chose to pay the penalty Himself, for us, on the Cross. **
He bore all the pain and sin and suffering of the entire human race in His own person. Whatever bad thing happened to you, happened to Him. That gives Him the right to forgive any and all sinners. He can forgive the person who hurt you, because they also hurt Him. And whatever hurtful things you did, were done to Him. Therefore, He can forgive you.
The Cross also gives Jesus the authority to make all things new. He Who bore all our sins and all our pains and all our hurts can make things right.
And this may sound blasphemous to some, but the fact that Jesus bore all our pain, allows us to forgive God for putting us in this horrible world. You had cancer? He bore the pain of your cancer on the Cross. Someone you love was murdered? The whole pain, agony, fear, rage of that murder was thrown on Him full force. He felt it too.
This is going to sound doubly blasphemous, but so be it. God's the Creator. That makes Him responsible for everything, including sin and death. In a sense, God died for His own sins (for though God is perfect, He takes ownership of His world, including all the bad things in it.) The Cross not only enables Him to forgive us, it allows us to forgive Him.
So then, what is hell? For God to make you new, you have to choose Him over evil. Some people, clearly will not do that. God respects our free will.
Some people are just too evil and depraved to ever choose the good. In our own time and place, people like hillary clinton, george soros, john podesta, barry soetero, john mccain, lindsey graham, david rockefeller, the rothschilds - these people are too wedded to evil to ever share in God's Kingdom. They're going to hell, plain and simple. And there's a lot of average people who are going to hell, because they choose evil.
What is hell like? I don't know. God's not a psychopath. So it's not a place of literal fire. But it's a place or state of judgment. It's separation from God. It's separation from everything that you were created to be. It's a place of absolute unfulfillment and lostness. Are those in hell conscious? Again, I don't know.
But I do know that it's not something that you would ever want. Therefore, choose Jesus and His goodness over evil. Choose His way and not satan's way.
Does that mean you have to make yourself perfect? Absolutely not. Only Jesus is perfect. The rest of us are evil in our own way. But acknowledge that you are a sinner. Reach out to Him. He will make you perfect in time, in eternity (but not in this life.)
* Can I explain the apparent contradiction between the idea that God hates evil, but still allowed it to exist to teach us? I'll be honest, the answer is "No". The alternative is that God made the world perfect and never wanted death and evil to exist. But two babies named Adam and Eve and a nasty snake foiled His plans. That makes the Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth appear weak. That's an even bigger contradiction. Decide which one of the two makes the most sense to you.
I know of two other explanations, both of which are totally unacceptable. The first of these bad explanations is that God is totally amoral and doesn't have a problem with evil. That explanation is to be found with some new agers and eastern religion adherents, who believe in an impersonal force as opposed to a personal God. It is also found with the moslems and their "Christian" twins, the calvinists, who make God the author of evil. That explanation will get you into spiritual trouble by leading you to the satanic. The second bad explanation is that there is no God. That's a totally idiotic idea.
As long as we live on this side of eternity, and cannot see over to the other side, any of our explanations will have weaknesses and blind spots. Of the four explanations mentioned above, I like number 1 the best. I have believed #2 because that is what I was taught in church. I have never given the time of day to explanations 3 and 4.
** How can that be? How could Jesus the Son suffer eternal separation from the Father? When Jesus was on the Cross, He was separated from His own Godhood, from the Father, and from the Holy Spirit. Since God exists outside of time in the eternal Now, that separation was eternal.
* posted by Robert on Wed 08/02/17
Who is Going to Hell? -
What about the person who never heard the Gospel? This may make me heterodox, but I agree with the great Billy Graham on this one. God knows His own. He knows who would have chosen if they had heard.
Billy Graham said this according to Christianity Today:
The Bible "says all men have some light given by God, both in the creation and in the human conscience. Whoever sees the footsteps of the Creator in nature can ask the God he does not fully know for help, and I believe God—in ways we may not fully understand—will give that person further light and bring him to a knowledge of the truth that is in Jesus Christ so he will be saved. He may use our preaching or he may use any other way he chooses, but ultimately it is God … who saves men."What about the person who rejects the Christian message, not because he is evil, but because he has met so many "Christians" who are self-righteous assholes (e.g. the SBC's russell moore)? God understands. He is loving and kind, and will take this into account. (In fact, such a person may make it into Heaven ahead of the "Christian" assholes, who may not make it at all.)
What about the person who rejects the Christian message, not because he is evil, but because he cannot reconcile the idea of a loving God to a cruel and brutal world? Again, God understands. He is loving and kind, and will take this into account.
* posted by Robert on Thu 08/03/17
What About Original Sin? -
Again, this may make me heterodox, but I find the concept of "original sin" as sort of goofy. Were humans really perfect to start out with and then became imperfect when they ate an apple? The fact that they could rebel shows that they were never really perfect. They were just innocent babies who grew into rebellious teenagers. The whole story of the Garden of Eden sounds like a metaphor for sin and rebellion, and not real historical events. As a metaphor, the story makes perfect sense. As literal history, it sounds cartoonish.
Man was created in the image of God because he was given an immortal soul and the ability to reason, and the wherewithal to choose good over evil; but not to be perfect. Man is frail and lives in a harsh world. Perfection is impossible. (Only the God-man Jesus was perfect, but being God, He had an unfair advantage over the rest of us.) But man never lost the image of God. That quality remains.
Yes, some people such as hillary clinton become so evil throughout life that they reach the point of total depravity. This is what Christ called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They have continuously rejected the Spirit's message until becoming so hardened that there is no humanity left.
Note: James, the brother of Jesus said, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
I know that God did not make me perfect. I have no ability to keep the whole law. Am I, a frail human, capable of loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength every second of my life? Am I able to love others as myself from birth until death? The obvious answer is "No". I have no more ability to be perfect than I have to make myself ten feet tall. It's an impossible demand. And I'm not sure if that is even what James truly meant.
Instead, maybe James is saying that that the whole of God's law must be honored. And since I can't do it, Christ did it for me on the Cross.
I don't believe that God condemns me for not being perfect. He didn't make me perfect. But He did give me the ability to choose good over evil, and to choose Him over satan. If I were to reject Him and choose evil, I would be rightfully condemned. But if I accept Christ, I will be counted as perfect due to Christ's work for me on the Cross.
* posted by Robert on Wed 08/09/17
What About Universal Salvation for All? -
Is it possible that those in hell can eventually learn their lesson and be let out? Jesus spoke of a divide in the afterlife that cannot be crossed. (Luke 16:26) But does this barrier apply equally to everyone or just the really awful people like hillary clinton? Say, what about the guy who was just an average jerk, but eventually comes to remorse and repentance?
As a mortal man, with limited insight, I don't know the answers. I take it that those who descend into hell, belong there. The stories of the Near Death Experience offer some hope for those who were not saved in this life, but have not yet gone to hell. Many NDE accounts report a life review in which the person is brought to terms with his life including both the good and the bad. The life review could be the chance for the average jerk to still find grace and avoid hell. The life review could cause many wayward individuals to reform, and other, more decent individuals to grow to a higher level. This being the case, only those truly wed to evil still go down to hell.
But we can't place too much faith in the Near Death Experience. Many reported NDEs are downright weird with bizarre imagery of demons and goblins. Certain NDEs appear to be fabricated. The subject NDEers of certain books in Christian circles have later admitted that their stories were not real.
Some NDEs are probably produced by confused minds. Along these lines, I can cite the instance of someone I know personally, but will not do so. Book publishers can change the NDEs of authors so as to fulfill an agenda or sell more books. Some NDEers have taken up careers as psychics, making one false prediction after another. And what are we to make of the Fear Death Experience, in which the person merely thinks that he is going to die, and sees visions of the afterlife? As beautiful as some NDE stories are, the NDE is not a reliable source of knowledge. The New Testament remains our best source of truth.
* posted by Robert on Wed 08/09/17