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The Severity of Hell

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Comments (123)

Charles Spurgeon once advised fellow-preachers, “Shun all views of future punishment that would make it appear less terrible.” Yet another timely word from Spurgeon—efforts to extinguish the flames of hell abound in our day, just as they did in his.

As you listen to popular views about hell, you can test what you hear with a few biblically-discerning questions:

  • Does this view of hell diminish the threat of God’s judgment?
  • Does this teaching soften the urgency of repentance?
  • Is this offering the sinner any hope of salvation beyond this life?

Modern views of hell won’t survive the test of biblical fidelity. They’ll allow the sinner to feel more comfortable and complacent by defanging God, making Him appear less severe.

Challenges to the doctrine of hell start out by questioning what the Bible clearly says, but they don’t end there. Wayne Grudem, recognizing the trend to make hell appear more bearable, noticed a tragic pattern:

The doctrine of eternal conscious punishment…tends to be one of the first doctrines given up by people who are moving away from a commitment to the Bible as absolutely truthful […]. Among liberal theologians who do not accept the absolute truthfulness of the Bible, there is probably no one today who believes in the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

Two of the more prominent campaigns against hell are attacks against its eternality and severity. Travis gave us some help in understanding the eternality of hell; now let’s take a look at hell’s severity.


Will hell really be that bad?

Whenever Jesus described hell, He was never flippant or dismissive. He used vivid, terrifying terms to describe the final destination of sinners, shocking and scaring His audiences with frighteningly graphic metaphors. Hell is a place so bad that you should be willing to cut off sensitive, irreplaceable parts of your body to avoid it (Mt. 5:29-30); even martyrdom would be worth avoiding the torment of hell (Matt. 10:28). He always presented hell as a horrific place of intolerable suffering.

His descriptions are consistent with other biblical writers. Daniel referred to hell as a place of shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. 12:2). Paul called it a place of endless destruction and punishment (2 Thess. 1:5-10). Jude called hell a place of eternal fire and darkness (Jude 7). The Apostle John described hell as a place where sinners suffer everlasting torment, with no rest day or night (Rev. 14:9-11).

Taken together, all those descriptions of hell communicate pain, fear, loss, anger, separation, and hopelessness. It's utter agony, eternal torment.


Agony and Torment

The New Testament describes hell as a place of unimaginable torment. Biblical writers help us picture scenes of unspeakable horror, and most of the time they’re merely quoting what Jesus said about hell:

  • weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12)
  • spiritual and bodily destruction (Mt. 10:28)
  • fiery furnaces (Matt. 13:42, 50)
  • outer darkness (Matt. 22:13)
  • unquenchable fires (Mark 9:48-49)
  • endless torments (Luke 16:23-24)

John Calvin, commenting on those descriptions, wrote, "By such expressions, the Holy Spirit certainly intended to confound all our senses with dread.” Calvin understood the Bible’s appeal to our senses. When you read about hell in Scripture, you can almost hear the agonizing wails, smell the smoke and burning sulfur, see the flames from the lake of fire, and feel the seething anger of the wicked as they gnash their teeth at the Righteous Judge.

Jesus used pictures and metaphors to help us understand the horror of hell. Darkness represents loneliness, insecurity, the sense of being lost and disoriented; fire represents the excruciating pain of burning; and a lake of fire represents the sense of drowning, suffocating, taking the burning sulfur internally. These vivid pictures of hell’s environment should provoke a reasonable sense of fear in a normal, thinking person. No one can come away with the idea that hell is a tolerable place to spend eternity.


Abandonment

While it’s true that hell is a place of untold physical pain and suffering (fire, scorching, being cut to pieces), I think we often overlook the mental agony of being completely forsaken—abandoned for all eternity. After all, the most chilling cry from our Lord as He suffered God’s wrath on the cross stemmed not from physical pain, but from being forsaken by the Father. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).

John MacArthur explained the significance of God forsaking the Son in relation to hell: “This is a reminder to all sinners that while hell is the full fury of God’s personal punishment presence, He will never be there to comfort. He will never be there to show sympathy. He will never bring relief. […] it is both the punishment of God and the absence of comfort. […] That’s hell—punishment without relief (“The King Crucified: Consummation at Calvary”). As the Puritan Thomas Vincent put it, “Not only will the unbeliever be in hell, but hell will be in him too.”


Imprisonment

The New Testament frequently presents hell as a prison—a place of eternal confinement (Mt. 22:13; Jude 13; 2 Pet. 2:9). It’s impossible to understand first-century prison conditions by looking at American prisons today where accommodations include cable television, three square meals, educational opportunities, outdoor exercise, and toilet/shower facilities. In many of the world’s jails throughout history, jailors didn’t just treat prisoners like criminals, but rather as sub-humans, as animals.

But even the worst of earthly prison conditions serve as weak analogies to the eternal dungeon of God’s hell. God will offer nothing to comfort or relieve his agony—ever. In hell, sinners will forever be hopeless, helpless, and powerless. God casts them into hell for one reason—punishment (2 Thess. 1:9).


Look at the Cross

If you want an inside glimpse of the agonies of hell, look at the Savior in Gethsemane as He anticipated the cross. See the bloody drops of sweat falling from his body as He faced the reality of absorbing His Father’s eternal wrath. Hear His agonizing screams from the cross as His Father—for the first and last time—abandoned His sin-bearing Son. Feel His loneliness as He faced those agonies alone.

Hell is a place where God’s full wrath and fury will be poured out eternally on sinners. Possessing in Himself the essence and omniscience of deity, Christ knew what He spoke of. And as our sin-bearing substitute, He anticipated the torments of hell and finally experienced the full outpouring of divine wrath for all those who believe.

Scripture is abundantly clear about the doctrine of hell. Nothing good can come from advocating a view of hell that makes it out to be anything less than a hopeless, agonizing, eternal separation from the good and gracious presence of God. If you reject, diminish, or neglect the doctrine of hell, you undermine the gravity of our sin in contrast to the holiness of God. But armed with accurate teaching on hell, you help the sinner understand why he must flee from the wrath of God to the mercy of Jesus Christ.


Tommy Clayton
Content Developer and Broadcast Editor


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#1  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 9:40 PM

I’m curious about the amount of anguish Christ went through on the cross, was it infinite, and is that even possible considering that evil is technically only the lack of goodness. People who go to the traditional hell have an infinite punishment because it lasts an infinite amount of time so how could Christ pay an infinite price on the cross. This is actually a very hard and old question about the severity of hell (maybe it's to hard). If you say well, Christ was God on the cross and God can do the infinite sacrifice then we get into lots of other problems.

God Bless

#2  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 10:37 PM

Tommy, thank you for your courage to proclaim these dreadful truths concerning the eternal wrath of God directed at the rebellious nature of sin and unrepentant sinner alike. The Holiness of God demands such a response. Fallen finite minds cannot comprehend such Holiness. The testimony of the scriptures concerning hell and the torments which are described by them, indicate that God so hates sin and the unrepentant sinner alike that apparently, at the second resurrection, He issues them a body which can feel the torments inflicted upon them but can never be destroyed.

Christ spoke much about sin, righteousness, and THE judgment to come. The prophets of old spoke much about sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Some, as you mentioned, also spoke about THE judgment to come. The Apostles spoke much about sin, righteousness and THE judgment to come. There was a time when the Church spoke much about sin, righteousness and THE judgment to come. Christian! You and I need to spend more time before the throne of grace petitioning our Merciful and Faithful Great High Priest for enabling grace that we might also speak much about sin, righteousness and THE judgment to come.

God has issued a summons for all to appear. The Day is certain. Judgment can be avoided only on and through God’s own terms. Mercy is the sinner’s only hope. Fleeing to Christ for mercy and surrendering to His terms only can we find deliverance from the judgment to come. –His Unworthy Slave

#3  Posted by Scott Graeff  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 10:48 PM

After reading the post, I read the very first comment and my reaction is to wonder if he (Donovan) read the same article I just read. It's as if the object is to ignore the entire thrust of the article and get into a discusssion of infinity versus God. I think Jesus gives us the best answer anytime we get to thinking for God, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'

I'm also not sure where the notion that 'evil is technically only the lack of goodness' comes from. But so it is with blogs: when you disagree with something, pick a point and go off on a tangent, because in the arena of ideas, liberalism and unbelief cannot compete.

Is the doctrine of Hell hard? It sure is, but that doesn't make it any less true.

#4  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 11:25 PM

Donavan:

I seriously recommend you take a strong dose of humility along the lines of 1Cor. 4:6: do not go beyond what is written, that you may not become puffed up.

What passage of Scripture tells you "evil is technically only the lack of goodness"?

How could you possibly comprehend "the amount of anguish Christ went through on the cross"?

Why don't you acknowledge the difference between sinners who can never satisfy the wrath of a holy God, and the all-sufficient sinless One, the God-man who, according to Scripture, did satisfy the wrath of a holy God on behalf of all who believe?

Are you implying in your last sentence that it wasn't necessary for Christ to be fully God in order to (1) bear the sins of the many (people past, present, and future), (2) absorb the eternal wrath of God (the penalty for the guilt incurred when men sin against an infinitely holy God), and (3) suffer for sins once for all to bring us to God?

Donavan, you may have bigger problems than an errant view on hell. And you are in no position to act as a teacher to the users of this website.

#5  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 11:29 PM

It's been a while, Unworthy Slave...good to see you back on the blog!

#6  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 11:42 PM

Thanks for another fine post Tommy, I have enjoyed following this and reading the interactions. God bless you guys

Micah

#7  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2011at 11:46 PM

Thanks again Tommy.

#1 Donavan

Not an exhaustive response at all, but here are some thoughts.

Christ is God.

5 "To whom would you liken Me

And make Me equal and compare Me,

That we would be alike?

Isaiah 46:5 (NASB95)

Christ is also righteous and not a sinner (who needs Christ's righteousness).

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

Heb 7:26-28 (NASB95)

Christ is obedient not rebellious.

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped , 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2:5-11 (NASB95)

I know these points are basic, but I don't think your question is profound or hard.

The undeserving substitute (Jesus who is God) is not like those for whom He died (sinners, much like myself).

How many have entered the presence of God in heaven who were righteous in and of themselves? One, Jesus Christ the righteous. His atonement and suffering was for obedience to the Holy Father. This is unlike those who go to hell because of the rebellion and rejection of God the Father in the rejection of the Son.

This question of yours makes me think of Romans 9-11 and particularly:

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10:1-4 (NASB95)

The Jews way over estimated their "righteousness" and way under estimated God's righteous. Christ's punishment has an infinite element, infinite unworthiness to suffer any punishment at all (He is God by the way who is the very righteousness of God manifested) which no one else can have. Sinners will have an infinite element of their punishment too, because they are worthy of it.

#8  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 12:26 AM

Sorry to throw out such a hard pitch.

My post #1 was brought up to me in a theology discussion group by Phil Johnson, John MacArthurs editor and basic keep my theology in line person for many years. It seems as though you-all just want to grab your pom poms and agree with each other. Maybe you think it's not ok to challenge people, but I think it's healthy. I'm sure this question doesn't go beyond what is written it does go against a traditional view of hell though. Phil Johnson loves to debate, he is very passionate and he doesn't mind provoking questions I'm sorry you-all do. And bingo again, John MacArthur was the one who said (with many others) that evil is not a thing unto itself but a lack of good, he used the light and shadow analogy.

God bless

#9  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 1:25 AM

# Travis

Way back, you promised us to take up the topic of hermeneutics later. Please, please, please do that :-)

#1 Donavan

Yes, technically evil is the lack of goodness. But it is both active and passive. (Unrighteousness committed, and righteousness not done.)

Jesus is teaching a lot about the Kingdom of God, which is inside of us, being the transformed heart. We would perhaps today call it a worldview, God’s worldview, biblical thinking and acting. God alone defines what is right and wrong, it is not our definition.

Donavan, realize that if you do not get the meaning and intensions right, it affects not only you, but many. So please listen to Travis, be very serious about this topic, it is about eternal consequences.

#10  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 4:32 AM

It's not good to get comfortable about hell.

Jesus is the only way to avoid hell and have life in heaven. Joyful

is the Lord God for he is risen!!

#1

Hell is not a hard question and it's serious thing. It's understandable when we read it in the bible to know it and teach others. Only Christ can help us understand. And Jesus is God too.

#11  Posted by Howard Stanley  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 5:22 AM

Donavan:

I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that scripture indicates that what sins man commits are infinately sinful against an infinitely holy God; therefore their punishment in hell is equally infinite, for they could never redeem themselves. But the God-man, being sinless, CAN redeem, therefore it is not necessary for Him to spend an eternity in punishment. Also, being God, He is able to bear an infinite ammount of our punishment in a finite amount of time - determined by God.

Someone who is more fluent in Scripture can help me out, but that is how I understand it. Besides, why get so bent out of shape because you cannot fully understand a concept in Scripture? It's the word of God, believe it!

#12  Posted by Mark Veit  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 5:33 AM

I have a easier time with Atheists then people who distort the Bible. I don’t want hell to exist. I have unsaved family members. But God says there is a eternal hell, so I know there is. It’s mind blowing how two people can view any one subject completely different. Some people say, “How can a loving God send people to hell”? I never looked at it that way. I think, “How can a loving, just God NOT send people to hell”?

#13  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 5:44 AM

@Donovan #1: It looks like you've incurred the Wrath of Travis, friend. It seems, to paraphrase Edwards, "an angry [Travis] hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor [Donovan]."

[i]Modern views of hell won’t survive the test of biblical fidelity. They’ll allow the sinner to feel more comfortable and complacent by defanging God, making Him appear less severe.

Challenges to the doctrine of hell start out by questioning what the Bible clearly says, but they don’t end there.[/i]

As I've followed this blog, I've seen this assumption played out again and again. Almost anyone who disagrees with GTY orthodoxy is accused of questioning or watering down "what the Bible clearly says." There are a few issues I have with that assessment:

(1) If the Biblical teaching is so abundantly clear, why is there disagreement between so many Christians and Christian leaders?

(2) To take it a step further, I just recently read or heard MacArthur acknowledge that there are those with whom he disagrees that he still considers Brothers (Spurgeon, for example, baptized infants). Why? Aren't they clearly in error on clear teaching?

(3) Given the diversity of interpretations on many of these issues, what assurance do MacArthur & Co. have that they are correct?

(4) Having read extensively and even chatted with many of those whom GTY would label heretics, I can tell you that fidelity to the Scriptures and to Christ are the driving force behind their questioning of some of these traditional doctrines, not a desire to water down or make more palatable biblical truth.

#14  Posted by Greg Gallant  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 6:01 AM

@ Donavan post #1

Christ Jesus is infinite and eternal capable of receiving what is do without the constraints of time.

#15  Posted by Horace Ward  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 7:51 AM

This whole series on hell has been so sobering and it is my desire to share with as many as I can.

A great scriptural truth indeed!

#16  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 7:59 AM

Dirk opines,

As I've followed this blog, I've seen this assumption played out again and again. Almost anyone who disagrees with GTY orthodoxy is accused of questioning or watering down "what the Bible clearly says."

That is because pretty much all those who do disagree with us ARE watering down what the Bible clearly says. You're coming in late to the game. If you would take the time to look over previous posts and read our responses to our detractors, we demonstrate our claim, not merely assert it.

Continuing,

(1) If the Biblical teaching is so abundantly clear, why is there disagreement between so many Christians and Christian leaders?

Really? Disagreement between so many Christians and leaders? Who are they, Dirk? If we take your definition of "leader" I would imagine Bart Ehrman, Clark Pinnock, Gregory Boyd, and any number of apostates would fall into that category. By "disagreement" we're not talking about petty, secondary issues like whether the longer ending of Mark is genuine to his gospel. We're talking about doctrines that define what Christianity is and what Christians have historically affirmed throughout church history.

Continuing,

(2) To take it a step further, I just recently read or heard MacArthur acknowledge that there are those with whom he disagrees that he still considers Brothers (Spurgeon, for example, baptized infants). Why? Aren't they clearly in error on clear teaching?

Here's a prime example. Whether or not Spurgeon accommodated Presbyterian sensibilities doesn't come close to illustrating the "disagreements" we are talking about. I can tell you right now, MacArthur wouldn't consider Anthony Buzzard or Clark Pinnock as "brothers."

Continuing,

(3) Given the diversity of interpretations on many of these issues, what assurance do MacArthur & Co. have that they are correct?

Given your definition, there is no such thing as heresy. Arius just held to a diverse interpretation, as did Socinus, or Servetus, or Bauer, or Ehrman.

Continuing,

(4) Having read extensively and even chatted with many of those whom GTY would label heretics, I can tell you that fidelity to the Scriptures and to Christ are the driving force behind their questioning of some of these traditional doctrines, not a desire to water down or make more palatable biblical truth.

I understand that was Joseph Smith's and Charles Russell's motivation, too.

#17  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 8:36 AM

It “IS” good to see Douglas Grogg back, I was asking Elaine if she knew where he had been.

If this article by Tommy doesn’t make each and everyone of us fall to our knees “constantly” and petition for the salvation of our loved ones, I don’t know what will. And Tommy is soooo right when he says, “If you reject, diminish, or neglect the doctrine of hell, you undermine the gravity of our sin in contrast to the holiness of God.”

I think I will leave it at his statement, because his statement says it ALL.

#18  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:03 AM

#13 Dirk Gentry

You are a very funny guy. I remember you as the guy saying Moses writings isn't the words of God, but human tradition.

#19  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:15 AM

I want to draw out a lesson from Donavan’s comment. Now I understand how these comment threads work. Some (hopefully not most!) people probably don’t give a second thought to how they word their comment(s). Maybe Donavan falls into that category. But either way, “As a man thinks in his heart” applies here, and there’s a lesson to be learned from what he said and how he said it:

Notice the progression of Donavan’s comment.

Curiosity “I’m curious about the amount of anguish Christ went through on the cross.”

Question “Was it infinite?”

Suspicion “Is that even possible?”

Doubt “How could Christ pay an infinite price on the cross?”

Ridicule“This is actually a very hard and old question.”

Error “If you say well, Christ was God on the cross and God can do the infinite sacrifice then we get into lots of other problems.”

Peace Claim & Exit“God Bless”

Here’s the lesson folks, and I say this in all seriousness:

Beware of those who follow that pattern of thinking when talking about the Bible and discussing historic, protestant, evangelical beliefs. Beware of their influence, and be mindful of devoting all your time to answering their questions and addressing their objections, while other sheep--hungry sheep who are eager to receive the teachings of Scripture--go malnourished.

Class dismissed.

#20  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:31 AM

I am clear as a bell, Donavan. Peter in Acts was questioned that

he and the disciple must be quiet about the truth. Peter spoke up that he said I obey God, not man. That's powerful sentence and the right thing to say.

Glad to have you, Douglas and God bless.

#21  Posted by John Rasmussen  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:49 AM

"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understand nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain." (1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV). To use the latest example of Rob Bell, it always seems that such people do so out of a good heart. But they clearly "understand nothing" of what Jesus taught. I would like to ask those of you that come to GTY guns blazing, why are you here? If you don't like that GTY upholds clear biblical principles, why do you read their articles? It sounds like an "unhealthy craving for controversy" to me, and you should check your motives.

On the doctrine of hell - the Lord is described as a "consuming fire", even if hell were not a set place of eternal torment for sin, God's holiness would burn them up anyways. The only reason believers are not burned by this "consuming fire" is the imputed righteousness of Christ. It acts as a 'fire blanket' if you will. Just something that has come to mind during this whole debate.

#22  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:55 AM

Wow, that hurts my feelings, really.

Tommy, I’m sorry that you felt I had some type of hidden agenda. I didn’t. Like I said I was simply reiterating a question of someone that I admire as much as John MacArthur (Phil Johnson) really. It seems to me that you Tommy should not fall into the trap that others on this blog have, and that is the idea that Dirk #13 mentioned, it is possible that I was really only waiting for a respectable answer to my and question. I trust this blog, in that the answers are usually always pointing toward the Bible and that is where I want to point toward also. I will change my view of Hell if someone has a better Biblical argument, but I do not follow every wind of doctrene I love Jesus and the Bible they are the most important things in my life and any question, even hard questions from Phil Johnson can be usually be hashed out.

___________________

With that in mind does this GTY blog community feel that Jesus payed an infinite penalty for sin on the cross and if you do then how is the idea of evil being only the absence of goodness possible?

__________________

When I went to Grace Community Church I loved the teaching, the staff was always great in every way, but I did see the Sunday school teachers in general have a very hostile and legalistic attitude toward provoking questions. I think this is because Grace is a teaching church and the college / seminary students who teach tend to get legalistic and have an ironically ungraceful way of dealing with people. I see the same thing on this blog. So my admonition to the Christians on this group who I trust and admire even if I don’t always agree with (even Fred) is take a breath and answer our questions with grace. If I would have started my #1 question with Phil Johnson mentioned.... I bet the responses would not be so harsh.

Just Seeking Truth

#23  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 9:59 AM

Dirk Gently:

Have you followed this series on hell? Donavan has been arguing an annihilationist position against the biblical teaching on eternal torment. For that reason, I find it ironic that you paraphrased from Edwards' famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Edwards and Donavan Dear are not in one accord. Where do you stand?

And speaking of Edwards' famous sermon, and your application of it to me--Who cares about my wrath? My indignation is a puny thing indeed. What truly matters--which is the point of Edwards' sermon--is the wrath of God. Edwards truly wanted his hearers to "fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

And that's what troubles me most about how you, Donavan, and some others "debate," "dialogue," "converse," and "argue." To many of us, the positions you take betray a lack of fear and reverence for God and His Word. You disagree with orthodoxy, batting profound truths back and forth like ignorant freshmen in a college philosophy class. There seems to be no fear of God before your eyes.

Tommy's comment #19 really makes the point clear, in my opinion.

#24  Posted by Joseph Whiting  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 10:47 AM

@ Tommy #19... Awesome, thank you for exegeting his comment. It was very helpful. It seems like the principle taught in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 would be helpful as well.

#27  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 11:22 AM

I'm not sure what Donovan is talking about when he says the question he is raising "was brought up to me in a theology discussion group by Phil Johnson." But here's a guess:

(I'll break Donovan's question into individual sentences.)

Donovan: "I’m curious about the amount of anguish Christ went through on the cross, was it infinite, and is that even possible considering that evil is technically only the lack of goodness."

Apparently Donovan thinks he is correctly paraphrasing my view in the phrase "evil is technically only the lack of goodness." I have frequently responded to questions about the origin of evil by pointing out that evil is neither substance, matter, being, or a "created thing." Evil is an act of destruction, not creation. When God finished creation and saw all that He had made, he pronounced it "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Therefore evil was no part of anything he made. The point is that no one "created" evil; it's not that kind of reality.

But that's not the same thing as saying evil is not a reality at all; that it doesn't exist; or or that evil "is technically only the lack of goodness." Some of our sins, of course, are sins of omission. Others, however, entail a positive action of the will in active rebellion against God. You cannot say that "is technically only the lack of goodness."

Donovan: "People who go to the traditional hell have an infinite punishment because it lasts an infinite amount of time so how could Christ pay an infinite price on the cross."

This poses a problem ONLY if you assume the only way the value of Christ's death is "infinite" would be for HIM to suffer "an infinite amount of time," and that is patently wrong. The value of the atonement derives from the worthiness and the excellence of the One suffering. That's why ONLY Christ could make atonement for us. I could never pay the infinite price He paid on my behalf, even if I suffered for all of eternity. That is, you might say, one of the chief lessons of hell.

Donovan: "This is actually a very hard and old question about the severity of hell (maybe it's to hard)."

Not at all. You could find an answer to this question in almost any serious evangelical study of either the doctrine of hell or the principle of substitutionary atonement.

Donovan: "If you say well, Christ was God on the cross and God can do the infinite sacrifice then we get into lots of other problems."

No, we don't. Because He is BOTH fully God and the perfect man--fully human. The two natures of Christ one of the most basic of all Christian doctrinal essentials. Other than being a difficult concept for human minds to comprehend, it's not a "problem" at all.

#28  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 11:22 AM

Donovan: "If I would have started my #1 question with Phil Johnson mentioned.... I bet the responses would not be so harsh."

Actually, if you had begin by invoking my name and suggesting I'm troubled by the same question by which you justify your skepticism, I might have come here first thing this morning and given you a verbal smackdown myself. I agree with Travis's and Tommy's replies to you.

We do welcome questions if they are motivated by a desire to understand and learn and sort out real difficulties. The kinds of questions that merely glory in skepticism and attempt to portray truth as unknowable are not as welcome.

There are reams of comment-threads at this blog that prove we welcome legitimate questions from people seeking answers. But when someone comes around trying to muddy the truth with faulty presuppositions that ignore two millennia of Christian orthodoxy; asking questions designed not to solicit answers but to foster doubt; even claiming the questions being raised are too difficult to ever be answered--well, yes, that's likely to get an indignant response or bit of a rebuke from just about anyone who really does believe the Bible is both true and perspicuous.

We don't play postmodern games here.

#30  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 11:44 AM

Incidentally, this one really irritated me:

Dirk Gently: "Spurgeon, for example, baptized infants."

No, he didn't. Unless you're talking about Charles Spurgeon's grandfather. Spurgeon remained a conscientious Baptist from the time of his own baptism until his death.

It irritated me because you imbedded it in a string of accusations that were as far-fetched as your "historical facts." You don't get to play fast and loose with the truth like that and then complain when the guys who moderate this site sometimes have to be sticklers in the comment-threads.

#31  Posted by Dirk Gently  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 11:50 AM

@Phillip #30

I apologize for misstating a historical fact. I meant to say that Spurgeon allegedly tolerated infant baptism. I will try to limit my example to things I have more first hand knowledge of in the future.

#34  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 12:07 PM

Phil

Thank you so much for your answers. I really appreciate your candor. I did understand your view and JM’s view on evil but I oversimplified it and in doing so made it less accurate, It‘s hard to post on a blog in short thoughts and be complete at the same time, I apologize.

I do want to say that I would never intend to say that Christ would have to suffer for an infinite amount of time, of course the atonement is derived from who he is God and Man.

Thank you.

#37  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 12:32 PM

Travis, Tommy, Fred, Phillip, Gabriel,

Thank you for standing firm in upholding scripture. It is the rock foundation on which we can build our lives. Those who would have us believe that God’s truth cannot be truly known are, in effect, portraying it as shifting sand.

Thank you also for the teaching on hell and God's judgment. When God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, there was thunder, lightning, smoke, and the ground trembled. May God help us today to have a greater view of His majesty and glory,and a greater understanding of our depravity and unworthiness.

#38  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 1:04 PM

Phil

I would love to know if you think all men are born with an immortal soul. I was surprised to see that many on the GTY bog do. I call it Platonism.

Just thought I'd ask

#39  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 2:57 PM

Donavan.

Not all of us are theologians, but we are taught by those who are.

Skilled men of God in His ministry.

Have you searched the resources for answers?

#40  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 3:08 PM

Psalm 119;33-40

Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them

to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and

obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of you commands,

for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward you statutes and

not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things;

preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to

your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for yur laws are good. How l long for your precepts! Preserve

my life in your righteousness.

Serious stuff!!! Yes!!! Amen!!!!

#41  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 6:02 PM

Tommy, thank you for another great article!

#42  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 7:18 PM

Calvin was a conditionalist, I inaccurately said he was not, he was actually a very very strong anti annihilationist rarely are people conditionalists and not annihilationists, Just wanted to clear that up.

#43  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 7:42 PM

Part of the question of the severity of hell would be a question about the intermediate state. I think the GTY position is that it doesn’t exist, I could be wrong. What is the GTY position on paradise, sheol/hades? Really an honest question I not trying to argue.

#44  Posted by Garrett Dulin  |  Thursday, May 12, 2011at 10:15 PM

To everyone,

What good would it be if Tommy or Travis or Pastor John posted an article on hell and everyone agreed with them? As I've heard, iron sharpens iron. I consider it a blessing to dialogue with you committed Christians.

I'm an annihilationist. I believe the bible clearly and repeatedly says the wicked don't get eternal life. Most people here don't agree with me. I've had numerous scripture battles and to no avail, on either side. Rather than get into a battle of "my bible verse can beat up your bible verse", perhaps we can stick to the subject, The Severity of Hell.

I believe in the severity of hell. I believe the wicked will be resurrected to face the judgement of a infinitely holy God. God's fierce wrath will be poured out on uncovered sin and the wicked will be tormented in proportion to individual sin and guilt(Luke 12:47, 48) and then they will be executed (Matthew 10:28)...no small thing.

Most people have a view, I think, that God is some harmless old grandfather who is just too nice to send people to hell. Wow are they going to be suprised. Most people, like you all know, don't go to heaven (Luke 13:24 and Matthew 7:13, 14). So which is worst, eternal torment or ultimate extinction?

I know what most people are going to say, eternal torment is scriptural and extinction isn't scriptural, so Garrett, your whole point doesn't matter. That's not what I'm saying though. Is torment then execution severe? I think it is.

Love you all at GTY :)

#45  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 5:28 AM

#44 Garrett Dulin

You said: "iron sharpens iron".

I say: "Only the Truth set us free" (John 8:31-32)

The logical conclusion must be, that if you do not come to the same conclusions, then you are not free - right?

It is not a minor thing not to agree with orthodox conclusions, I think.

#46  Posted by Iggy Smith  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 6:17 AM

Very frightening. A friend once told me "How can God send someone to such eternal torment and punishment after just sinning in such a short time span comparing to eternity?" And his answer to that question was:

"Who said men stop sinning in Hell?"

Ya I saved that text.

Iggy

#49  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 6:30 AM

I used the following analogy when debating with an annihilationist on Facebook a while back...

A few years ago, my daughter had a dresser fall on her ankle, and it split her leg wide open, she was about 3 at the time. My wife and I gave the doctors permission to sedate her and stitch up the wound. Being that she was so small, they didn't want to use general anesthetic, so they gave her some local anesthesia and amnesia medicine. The point of amnesia medicine is to allow someone to go through an operation in a groggy sleep-like state, but feeling most of the pain (usually with a small amount of anesthesia to minimize some of the pain) and forget all about it when they wake up out of surgery. I believe similar medication is used for wisdom teeth extraction, and my father even had it done when he had a leg catheter. I all cases the pain is felt throught the procedure, but when the medicine wears off, there is no memory of any event that took place during that time, including the pain, no matter how intense.

Now, here's my point: if after the medicine wore off, my daughter had no recollection of the pain she had just gone through, did the pain affect me her any way? No! She doesn't remember it at all! The same is true of annihilationism. If you simply cease to be at some point, you obviously cannot remember any pain or wrong-doing, so what was the point of your life, your death or the torment of Hell? It's all for nought! God does not receive glory from nothingness, nor is the annihilation of spirits an eternally glorifying occurence. In the end, with annihilationism, the unbeliever gets the last laugh as they are no longer subject to the holy judgment of their unholy deeds.

#50  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 6:56 AM

#44 Garrett Dulin

To clarify the use of the quote:

The doctrine of Hell is the really, really, really bad news, and must be preached before the Gospel, the really, really, really good news.

So tamper with the doctrine of Hell, and you tamper with the Gospel.

Don't do that!

Blessed be our glorious God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

#51  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 8:24 AM

Iggy, I think the rich man's speech to father abraham indicates that he still rejected. Moreover, i dont think is only a matter of keeping on sinning, but their nature, they are, after all, unregenerated. No one after experiencing hell will repent.

#52  Posted by Wayne De Villiers  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 8:32 AM

#38 Donavan,

You've raised the immortal soul question several times (on the previous blog and this one). Are you asking because you think that one must first prove that souls are immortal before one can believe that hell is eternal conscious torment?

#53  Posted by Wayne De Villiers  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 8:44 AM

#43 Donavan

A search on the GTY webpage for the terms "hades" or "paradise" will take you to your answer. Pastor John gives a fair amount of commentary on the nature of both hades and paradise. If you search for the word "intermediate state" you'll also find his comments this matter.

#54  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 8:51 AM

Garrett said "I'm an annihilationist. I believe the bible clearly and repeatedly says the wicked don't get eternal life. Most people here don't agree with me. "

Here is the problem Garrett. You have argued that "eternal life" means "to live forever". The Bible makes the argument that "eternal life" is not the length of time, but the quality of the existence. "Eternal life" is life with God. So, you bang heads with people because your definition is completely different than others...

The "traditional" interpretation, as you call it, is that those who are not Christians live eternally in hell, forever separated from the love and mercy of God. That is hell. They exist forever there.

#55  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 9:04 AM

I've been reading your comments...everyone's. I'm knee deep in helping with a wedding coming up & a shower today so I probably won't be able to contribute much before this blog is sewed up.

I was raised Methodist but wasted 25 years as a Jehovah's Witness.I had questions in my youth.Tons of questions.Those that claimed to be devout could not or would not answer my questions....except JW's.Not a good thing to happen in your youth. Was I ripe for Satan or what?I don't know why I wasn't answered....maybe some in my family were too prideful to admit they didn't know? In fairness to them, no Internet to quickly search,no google.So for 25 years I remained in that cult. Why so long?I thought the problem was me & that I wasn't a very good JW.I wasn't.

Here's my point.I quickly learned that if you question JW theology, you could be looked at with suspect.I mean, you could feel the chill. Suspect of being an apostate.So I accepted their theology...sort of without questioning.

I started blogging here because it challenged me to search & research scripture.Did I get it right all the time?NO!But I was farther along in my Christian walk & understanding each day than the day before.

When I hear others want to shut some up, I have flash backs.Really makes me uneasy.I have been disappointed at times to see both sides attack the other with "you annihilationsists" or "you traditionalists".It's really just a hair short of going after someone's character.Now,I'm new here.Maybe you know each others' character?I don't know all the players.Maybe this person knows something about the other I don't know?I know,prefacing statements with "you people" or any variation thereof,is rarely good.This should be about scripture.See no need in personal attacks.Feeling a lot of pride seeping in here & really don't believe that our Lord wants His word represented through pride.What happened to gentleness & respect?

Look,I know there are those that debate as part of their profession. Perhaps the rules & ethics are different then?I really don't know. But I have never seen a legit debate where one had a live mic & the other had a mic that was turned off.

I think John McArthur is a man of integrity & is one of the most diligent teachers in our modern day.There was a comment on another blog that said he wouldn't budge on his stance on Hell perhaps because he is so indoctrinated (paraphrasing)with his tradition.Now that was suggestive that JM was not able to be discerning, was not able to break tradition even if he saw an error.That is really a character issue & it was an opinion that was suggestive.I'm glad I'm at the age where I can see holes in that type of statement but it could be a problem for very new Christians.It's wrong to do that.It's unfair.I'd go so far to say it was a cheap shot said in the nicest possible way.

That said,somebody needs to lead, somebody needs to be willing to debate without taking cheap shots or using innuendo.Let it begin with me.

#56  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 10:12 AM

#44 Garrett

"So which is worst, eternal torment or ultimate extinction? Is torment then execution severe? I think it is."

Sure it's severe. But....when I weigh eternal torment against torment followed by execution, it just gives me chills when I think how it will be unending.

I walked big ol' Walmart last night. Foot was hurting, hip was hurting, lower back was hurting. When I finished unloading everything at home and was able to fall into bed, I said,"Lord, thank you for my bed. I'm going to sleep now." I thought about if I could never get relief from those aches and pains that don't begin to equate with eternal Hell...well, I cannot even imagine. Those there would welcome death, execution if that was an option.

When I consider every thing good removed from those in hell, I can only imagine how vile those people will be. We imagine often, people that are pleading and begging and dramatically proclaiming,"I'll be good. I'll believe. I'll change. Just get me out of here." And that they may do. Who knows?

But when I think about the subtraction of all that is good, I think about people that have no way to protect or maintain a bogus image, people that did good things here on earth because there was a pay off for them...tax shelter, image, status, considerations for anything like a raise in income, I think about what will be their authentic selves?

Even the reward of feeling good about what we have done in this life can be quite selfish. Our brain receives pleasure and we want to experience it again. So if helping in the homeless shelter gives us that kind of pleasure without really developing a heart for the homeless...and that can happen, then we keep working at the homeless shelter for what we get out of it. That is not a heart with pure motives. Remove the good that comes about helping others and then what would we do? Take all the good we have experienced, remove it, all the good others have experienced because of our actions, remove it, all the rewards for good, remove that too, what are we left with? No status, no classes or casts, no opportunity,no incentive to be good, I think we end up seeing what has been in the heart all along.

Now mix that with no way out and torture, no relief, I think you get some pretty vile people. People that are so vile, you wouldn't want to look into their faces if you could. Not because of their pain and anguish but rather because of the totality of evil and resentment of where they are. To have regrets, you need a measure of goodness. So no regrets, just deep seeded resentment at the consequence Giver.I imagine savagery as never seen even in the most uncivilized parts of the earth. I imagine those will be beyond being crazy or even possessed. Not even a glimpse of seeing one from afar doing good. That would be at least some relief. This is gnashing of teeth kind of anger. No anger management class will benefit such ones. These are unclean ones that have had their masks removed....I imagine.

#57  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 10:13 AM

#46 Iggy...good point. Very good point.

#58  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 11:00 AM

In college my astronomy teacher told the class that he had a girlfriend whom he was showing the stars to, he pointed out a star that was a little hard to see and she got up and walked a few feed away from him. He asked why did you get up she said she wanted to get a closer look. If you don’t get the funny part of this story it’s because walking 5 feet closer to try and see something 10 million lightyears away is silly.

Once in high school one of my friends who was an atheist and very brilliant in a classroom sense got drunk and said "I could stand it in hell" so he burnt his arm with his lighter. He and I often debated about hell thats why he burnt himself, when I saw him at school after he had done this, his arm was charred with up to 3rd degree burns, it was horrible he was so embarrassed about his few seconds of self inflicted agony he wouldn’t go to the Dr. or get any pain killers.

All this to say that the real Hell for everyone is also self inflicted, but just imagine being burned in conscious torment for even 1 minute. Jonathan Edwards would give sermons about hell where people literally fainted with fear because of the picture he painted with his words. The idea that any view of hell that diminishes the threat of God’s judgement is simply not in the Bible, I love Spurgeon but it’s just not there. Imagine being in fire or any of the horrible attributes of hell that the Bible speaks about for even 5 or 10 minutes, have you ever done anything even run your very hardest for 5 minutes not even an olympic athlete can go all out for that long because the pain would be to great. Now imagine a day, a week, a year, 100 or perhaps 1000 years in Gods fiery judgement. I’m sure none of us can imagine even a fraction of the torment that God’s judgment will require of the unsaved.

Hell has been a term that has been misused in to general a way, I misused it even in this post, this is because the KJV of the Bible really got Sheol/Hades wrong and hell, even though it is a Biblical term has a different meaning in todays vernacular than its actual Biblical meaning.

I believe that God’s justice in his exact measure is handed out to unbelievers after they die in Sheol/Hades (can you imagine continued centuries perhaps millennia of conscious torment, no you can’t). Then at the Judgement the righteous who don’t have to face judgment will go to Heaven but the unrighteous, who do have to face Judgement will all be thrown into the lake of fire and be destroyed forever. At that moment Gods victory over death and sin will be complete.

Please excuse the oversimplification of these ideas.

#59  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 11:04 AM

Thanks Rebecca,

I witness to a elderly Jehovah's Witness lady who came to my

door and she was sad for I was sharing the gospel to her. She

walked away and I wish to sit with her and explain. Yes, pray

is the best. Just letting you know. God bless.

#60  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 11:33 AM

Wayne #38

Thanks for the info about the intermediate state on GTY. Also I have raised the immortal soul question many times mostly because I assumed it was orthodox, I thought the gift of God was eternal life, but in looking back at church leaders on this specific point it seems like there is no orthodoxy. Early church leaders were all over the map about the nature of the soul. I think this is the question that must be answered if one is to come out with even a slightly coherent system of interpretation of any kind.

Wayne asked:

Are you asking because you think that one must first prove that souls are immortal before one can believe that hell is eternal conscious torment?

Yes, but I think your answer to this was the best I’ve heard, that when God said “go to eternal punishment”, that gave them an eternal soul because of his words. Only thing is the hundreds of Bible verses, stories, analogies, and statements like:

Mal. 4:1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

“Not a root or a branch” was a saying that meant total and complete destruction.

Wayne, thank you for your thoughtful answers and questions

God Bless

#61  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 11:41 AM

#Rebecca, I agree with you. We are not fighting against humans. Even I have not been "orthodox" my entire Christian life. But that's only because I have grown and matured in orthodox teaching. It would have been easier if God just have "zapped" us with perfection :-)

#62  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 11:56 AM

I was just reading a really good article on C.S. Lewis, over at wayoflife.org. This man's unorthodox views influenced the likes of Rob Bell. He, too, did not believe in eternal torment. So why in the world do we give Lewis a nod and a wink on his unorthodox views, and hold Bell's feet to the fire?

Many Christians regard Lewis as a well-respected man of letters, and a devout Christian, yet he was anything but grounded in the essentials of the faith. John Piper is a great one for endorsing Lewis' work, which I highly disagree with Dr. Piper about.

It seems when people deny hell in any of the many ways portrayed here on this blog, much of the rest of their theology also runs counter to standard orthodox views. Sad to say, it seems to go with the territory.

#63  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 12:34 PM

Rudi, I'm OK if we aren't pridefully fighting against humans. We need to make sure of that. And I'm OK if we are standing up for God's truths. We need to be sure of that.

Anything that looks or sounds remotely like it is discrediting God's sovereignty is worth fighting for. But we need to always be aware that some are not as far along or as advanced in their Christian journey and or studies. Wonder how many read this blog that never comment? A lot of observing going on, I bet. When we feel a button being pushed, perhaps we need to step away and consider what has us so emotional.....our injured toes, or God's word being abused? Take a little time to get our priorities straight and then answer as the Holy Spirit leads us.

#64  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 1:02 PM

Even with my view as an Conditionalist / Annihilationist I have to answer hellfire questions from non believers:

For the traditionalist a question from an atheist friend.

“Why would God torture people in hell?”

“Because he is holy and demands justice”

“What is just about burning forever in fire?”

“If you understood how bad sin is....”

“Didn’t God make the rules!”

“Yes, but sin...”

“Then why burn people forever, I’d rather have dinner with Hitler!”

For the Conditionalist / Annihilationist.

“Why would God torture people in hell?”

“Because he is holy and demands justice”

“What is just about burning forever in hell?”

“God doesn’t burn people forever just as long as they deserve”

“OK then Gandhi isn’t in hell?”

“Yes he is he just isn’t being tortured like Hitler”

“How do I become a follower of Jesus!!!!”

Of course this is slightly tongue in cheek.

Don’t anyone go crazy about better answers or specific theological fallacies that I may have made in this simple little story. I only wanted to show a very different kind of idea that we Bible technicians often hide from (I do), and that’s the idea that knowing God and seeing how Jesus loved, understood, scolded, and treated other throughout the Bible produces a picture of justice seems right, not in humanistic way but in a just way.

I hope you understand.

#66  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 1:05 PM

When Daniel's three friends were in the furnace. God protect them and

fire never harmed them. Is that awesome! Amen.

#67  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 2:28 PM

Rebecca, I read your comments more deeply, and Mary’s too. It really brings a perspective on the sinfulness of humanity, doesn’t it?

The Bible is clear: No one is a better sinner than others. Only salvation in Christ counts. But to understand your sinfulness, you must hear the law, the perfect standard requered by God. Then you realize you can't keep it! Didn't you youself feel the full weight of the law, which is without mercy? THEN we appreciate the salvation, and sing blessed be our God for His Grace.

Thank you God for the great gift you have provided with the Gospel.

#68  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 2:35 PM

Atheist asks, “Why would God torture people in hell?”

Biblicist answers, “Because that’s what they deserve—hell is what we all deserve. That’s what the Bible says.”

Atheist: “Everyone deserves to burn in hell forever?”

Biblicist: “Yes. God is a righteous judge. We won’t excuse any sin, yours included. He executes justice perfectly. That’s what the Bible says.”

Atheist: “What kind of God is that—sending people to hell without any hope?”

Biblicist: “But there is hope. You’re not in hell yet. God has graciously provided a way for you to avoid hell. That’s what the Bible says.”

Atheist: “Really? Why would He do that for someone like me? I’ve blasphemed God my entire life.”

Biblicist: “God takes no pleasure in the death of wicked people. His grace is sufficient to save even you. That’s what the Bible says.”

Atheist: “Please, tell me more about God’s grace.”

Biblicist: “It would be my pleasure, friend…”

#69  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 3:14 PM

Tommy #68

I agree with your rewriting of my story, no problem. But I think you missed the point.

I’ll be more clear (maybe)

When the Bible speaks of amazing love like in John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not PERISH (Gr. pollumi -means to destroy, destroy utterly) but have eternal life.”

If we let the Bible say what it says then his love shines through stronger and all of a sudden you think WOW it was right there all the time, and I never saw it. That happened to me.

Blessings

#70  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 3:19 PM

Rebecca #55

Your post was very meaningful, you are obviously articulate, with a strong and wonderful spirit. I wanted to say the same thing but couldn’t.

Blessings

#71  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 4:13 PM

Wow, that's powerful words there between them, Tom. Thanks.

Those whom live in the light have light in them. Those whom have

darkness in them live in the darkness. Jesus came to shine through

to redeem us so we may have life, Donavan. It's something inside of us, the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. The world may not understand

us for the world does not know God. John 3:16 .... God bless.

#72  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 6:00 PM

What is vile? Do we really know anyone devoid of good? Completely? I don't just mean spiritually. I mean, living with absolutely no blessings? You might think so. But really no man or child has ever been in this world and not have even a glimpse of good. I mean, a person that has no good in his life? A person that receives not one of our Lord's blessings ever? Never even the sound of a cricket? Or the earth's vibrations? Or texture of dirt.?Or smell...even odors? There are no words to describe the total absence of good in a way that is fully accurate.

You've seen destitute people in destitute situations and you might assume that is it....that's a life devoid of all good. But you'd be wrong. Up until the very second, destitute or wealthy, sick or healthy, evil or good have all shared God's blessings...even if some went unappreciated. Know the saying, "you don't miss it 'til it's gone"?

God doesn't have to punish people in hell forever. Unless......He is a God of justice, then He does. He must. If God chose a lesser penalty than eternal damnation, then it would make sin seem not so significant. Just because we don't understand the seriousness of our sin and others, doesn't mean God doesn't.

Eternal hell is the only way I know how to explain to myself and others of just how truly bad unrepentant sin is. Eternal hell is righteous. It is fair. It is balanced. It is justice and God doing anything less, cheapens justice. You can't have God wink at sin and at the same time declare Him to be consistent and reliable, a God of His word, a righteous holy God, perfect in His justice. Instead of asking why hell must be eternal, we need to declare to others that sin is so bad on God's radar screen that He sends people to hell for an eternity. Might God be saying,"Sinner, what part of that don't you understand?"?

#75  Posted by Wayne De Villiers  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 8:44 PM

#60 Donavan,

There are certainly many verses that describe the destruction of the wicked in the Bible. But as I'm sure you realize, the context of each has to be studied to understand if the author is talking about present or future judgment, and if future then what aspect of future judgment.

In the case of Mal 4:1-6 reference is made to the day of the Lord three times. Furthermore in verse 3 it talks about those who fear the Lord treading down the burned wicked who are described as "ashes under the soles of [their] feet." All this leads me to question the validity of using Mal 4:1 as a reference to the annihilation of the wicked in the sense you are taking it.

There are several significant passages which have been cited by those who have written articles at GTY which, compared to Mal 4:1, are easy to interpret and understand. Certainly any doctrine must stand the test of all Scripture, but we develop doctrine from the verses that clearly teach it, and the verses that Travis, Tommy, and other have cited are clear. Nobody has shown that the interpretation of those verses is incorrect. Instead, disagreements have been advanced by citing passages which are interpreted to contradict (I don't believe they are actually contradictory), or arguing against the interpretation based on a preferred theological framework. Neither approach is really helpful from the standpoint of serious study of a particular passage.

I don't think the reference to "perish" John 3:16 (in post 69) is helpful because of the over-simplified definition you give the word. Many people have pointed this out. Doing a word study will show how wide a range of meaning that word has and how careful one needs to be in interpreting it. Of course, those of us who believe that Pastor John is interpreting the Scripture correctly on this point have no difficulty with understanding that the destruction Jesus refers to is not instantaneous, and that it never reaches a complete end, because the passages that describe the suffering in hell make it clear that the destruction is endless.

Thus, rather than assuming that destruction has to mean complete, ultimate annihilation (based on a preferred theological view), we say, let the Scripture inform us as to the nature of the destruction.

As to the immortal soul issue, I would go one step further, and say that I don't think God gives the wicked an immortal soul when he sends them to hell. I'd prefer to say that because of the Biblical testimony that every person lives/exists either in heaven or in hell eternally, we can say that the immortal and eternal God intended to create human beings to live/exist endlessly. Thus the idea that the soul is immortal is based on God's will and sustaining power. It is therefore appropriate for us to think of the soul of every person as immortal from the moment of their conception.

#76  Posted by Wayne De Villiers  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 9:51 PM

Rebecca #72.

Thanks for the post. I agree in general, but would just add, and I think you'd agree, that justice itself is defined by God, it is not an independent standard by which He is judged. So sending people to eternal hell is not something He is obligated to do by "Justice." It would be better to say that *because God is just* his decision to send lost people to eternal hell is just. He could never do anything unjust.

#77  Posted by Arturo Gomez III  |  Friday, May 13, 2011at 10:17 PM

I am very pleased to hear the doctrine of hell spoken of here at gty's website in such a profound way that I have to reason with my own conscience the reality of such a desensitized culture that we live in. Simply because the actuality of the truth of hell spoken of in the sacred scriptures is just that--the spoken truth. There is a hell and many of the people I know may and will end up there. The reasoning with my conscience really isn't a hard logical thing to grasp. The truth may be hard to believe for the many, yet, what I have been convicted of and what I have sensed within the Scriptures themselves, is a real hell! Christ has made this known (Ephesians 2:1-3;Luke 16:19-31). And therefore, I repent and believe for obedience to the faith. Thank you Father for your grace, for your saving faith.

#78  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 1:53 AM

Hi, Wayne. Of course, God is not obligated to anyone or anything. But because He is perfectly just, He must send people to hell. Not due to any obligation but because of His nature.To not do so, would not be the God of the bible. We say, God cannot sin. That is not to say He doesn't have the authority. It is not in His nature to sin.

Arturo, that was my point too. We are so desensitized to sin that we fail to appreciate God's standards and how much greater His disdain for sin is than ours. I agree, we're pretty numb to it all.

#80  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 9:26 AM

I don't know about the rest of you but I for one completely disagree with the idea and concept of Hell. My argument here is not about the existance of Hell or how severe it is but whether or not it is fair? I find it to be extremely unjust both in a legal and a moral perspective that anybody should be infinitely punished for a finite crime. First of all as somebody who had studied law in the past, I consider justice to be a matter of balance. We have different punishments to fit different crimes and even different degrees of crimes. No judge anywhere would give the maximum punishment to anybody for very trivial crimes because that would be unfair and unlawful, and yet according to you people that is exactly what God does. From what I can gather God's "holy and righteous justice" is about giving everybody the same punishment and the same prison sentence. And it completely disregards the severity and even the quantity of crimes committed, so basically no matter how good or bad somebody is they will still be infinitely punished when they die. How can anybody in their right minds consider this to be just? This is absolutely cruel and malevolent, and God is extremely cruel and malevolent for doing this. Of course all of this is irrelevent as long as you worship God (to suffice his ego). The laws (Ten Commandments) of the Bible are simply a formality and all you really have to do is apologise and continue apologising for the rest of your life. That I find to be even more immoral to the system that is already in place because it means somebody who committed extremely heinous crimes (who deserves to bare the brunt of their punishment) can get off scot free as long as they worship God and repented before they die, but somebody who does not believe in God but is a wonderful human being by character would still go to Hell because they failed to worhip God during their lifetime.

Let me give an example of how unfair God's justice system is: Lets just say there were two men. One of them had stolen something as a child, he was caught and punished for what he did. He learn't his lesson from that day and never committed any other crime for the rest of his life. Then there is this axe murderer, who has killed dozens, even hundreds of people during his lifetime. Whats the difference between the two men? Nothing except the fact that they will both be going to Hell and be given the same punishment and the same prison sentence. On the other hand if the Axe Murderer repents and "trusts in Jesus" he will be off the hook and go to Heaven despite his lifetime transgressions, and the other man will be tortured forever for not worshipping God.

#81  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 11:21 AM

Myself, As I go to church. Alot of times I don't hear the book of Revelations. Seems avoided alot. When I read it, God bless me. Same

with you all when you do so. Thanks for preaching about hell, I appreciate it.

God bless.

#82  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 1:12 PM

If I understand:

Sin - It should be thought of in maximum terms "no one understands how bad it is"

Hell - It should be thought of in maximum terms "no one understands how bad it is"

This is scary in more ways than one. What if parish really does mean parish in John 3:16 for instance. The annihilationist, and I think Biblical, position says the unsaved will pay with exactly the punishment that God demands then is destroyed. The eternal torture people say torture forever period everyone gets the same penalty. Even a hang-nail as punishment forever is an infinite penalty, this goes against our God given sense of justice. Anything multiplied by infinity is infinity (not 0). Hell has been used as a scare tactic for millennia in the church, definitely in the Catholic church, but perhaps in the Protestant church as well.

Just for fun - infinity is not a number it means limitless the math is like this:

( n * X lim-X∞ ) = ∞

any amount of pain n,

lasting for an amount of time that approaches ∞ X,

equals infinity. (Same amount of penalty for everyone in hell.)

#83  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 1:18 PM

#78, "we're pretty numb to it all."

Matthew 24:12 "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold."

Your comments, Rebecca, keeps ringing in my heart. Yes we are living in a world, that are becomming more and more hostile toward God, and we are exposed to all kinds of filth and errors constantly. We are allways in a battle somewhere.

But that's the point. The only hope for sinners is to uphold the truth.

#84  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 2:04 PM

#80 Steven Xue

What would be a fair penalty for Crusifying the Son of God?

#85  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 2:05 PM

#82 Donavan

How high is the heaven?

#86  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 2:13 PM

Steven,

It's fair for God to send ungodly to hell. Why, cause sin is what God hates. Before sin came into the world. There was no sin. I am sure there lots of info on this website will help you. It helps me too.

And in Christ, we are no longer under the Law or live by the law.

Live by Christ and through him as to obey, and repent daily without giving up. Paul mention this in scriptures.

God bless.

#89  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 3:12 PM

Steven,

God is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. We owe all that we have to Him.

In your analogy, the person who stole as a child may not have committed what would be considered a crime by the judicial system, but did commit the greatest sin which is the failure to acknowledge God or give Him the worship He alone is due.

#90  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 3:42 PM

Definition:

Conditional Immortality. The doctrine that immortality was not a natural endowment of man at creation but is a gift from God to the redeemed who believe in Christ.

To sum up some of the discussion about hell:

Destruction -2 Pet 2:6 (Gr. katastrophe -an overthrowing) Using Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the lost. Usually destruction is (Gr. apo -destruction or loss). A direct comparrison of the lost, the “eternal” fire of Sodom and Gomorrah was out the next day.

Perish -John 3:16 & John 10:28 (Gr. apollumi - to destroy, destroy utterly) using perish in contrast to eternal life.

Darkness -Mat 8:12 (Gr. skotos -darkness)

Hell -Mat 10:28 (Gr. Gehenna -The Hebrew expression meaning Valley of Hinnom), also Topheth, which means a place to be spit on or abhorred.

Consuming -Heb 10:27 (Gr. esthio to eat) Consuming the enemies of God.

Etc.

A traditional view of hell means:

Destruction -means non-destruction, die in a spiritual sense. (Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t spiritual destruction).

Perish -means non-perish, die in a spiritual sense.

Darkness -means being in a fire that doesn’t give off any light. (Tough for literalists)

Hell -means eternal never ending torment. (Not in the Bible)

Consume -means not-consuming, die in a spiritual sense.

reminds me of the time indicators concerning the coming of the Lord:

At hand

Near

Soon

Close

Shortly

etc.

All these words in a dispensation system mean far, away, distant, and at least

2000+ year out

It’s been nice discussing this with you.

#91  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 4:36 PM

I have been reading along with this series for awhile. I would like to said that the discussion of eternal punishment not fitting the crime can't be comprehended by us. We don't know what eternity is. We try to understand it in terms of never ending days but eternity is outside of time. God is perfect and what ever eternity is will be perfect and eternal punishment will be perfect as well.

#92  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 6:07 PM

The Lord is swift to judge, for he is Holy and Righteousness.

I wouldn't stand before God, blaming him of unfairness. He did'nt

do anything wrong, for God is blameless and pure goodness is

in him. No sin is found in him. Our Maker. He the potter, we are

clay.

No one is above God. No other. Amen. One God. Our Savior!

#93  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 8:02 PM

Steven:

You need a good dose of the total depravity of man, and the absolute holiness of God, this is where the light begins to shine in the dark recesses of our depraved hearts. And since God is righteous, all His dealings with man are done in righteousness. Man does not get to decide what is fair and just, only God has a right to do that, because He is holy, good, pure, and without spot or blemish. Only a being such as this can fairly and equitably dispense justice. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right (Gen 18:25)?” We are fallen creatures, who deserve only God’s wrath, we have no claim to our next meal, our next breath, our next sentence, and we deserve and are owed nothing good in this life or the eternal life to come.

Your God is too small and man’s ego too big, this needs to be inverted before you can see the miracle of the new birth, and the beauty of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I pray that God grant you this, and that the immense enormity and beauty of God’s holiness AND justice, flood your entire being, as to make you wise unto His great and costly gift of salvation.

And mind this well, this is God’s JUSTICE for you to ponder: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as NOTHING: and he doeth according to HIS WILL in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, WHAT DOEST THOU (Dan 4:45)?” And, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off (Rom 11:22)."

#94  Posted by R.s. Tillotson  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 8:06 PM

R.S.Tillotson

God's Sovereignty.....Man's responsibility........So the Bible states. So does God send people to hell, or do they refuse to believe and therefore send themselves.These two Truths are like train tracks,when you try to reconcile them it's like merging the tracks together and you will get a real wreck. As far as annihilation,in Matt. 25:46,Jesus said"And these will go away into everlasting punishment,but the righteous into eternal life." I'd say that Jesus knew what He's talking about.Also when God created us,and the angels;He created ALL as eternal beings...So it's God's rules and it's a case of the pottery saying to the Potter,Did You really say???????

#95  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 8:19 PM

Mary

Are you telling me that anybody who does not worship God deserves to be tortured forever? How can you in your right minds even consider this to be justice? I find the idea of: “because he created me therefore he has the right to destoy us if we do not worship him” to be absolutely appalling. First of all if God created me for the sole purpose of glorifying him then he has a serious ego problem. I mean why would a perfect god require his creation to worship him? He has to be extremely vain or extremely insecure to make such a demand. Even if God does deserve our thanks for everything he does and out of courtesy we do worship him. He would have to be extremely petty to punish people for not being grateful to him. I mean only a child would throw a tantrum for not being acknowledged for their good deeds.

Secondly if you’re suggesting that because he created us therefore he has the right to destroy us then does this principle also apply to everybody else? For instance I don’t have kids right now but I plan to have them in the future. If in the nearby future, my kids tell me that they hate me and that they refuse to acknowledge me as their father, does that give me the right to: kill them, or disown them or even torture them for the rest of their lives? To be honest if I do have kids and if they disrespect me like that, I would be very heart broken but I wouldn’t harm them in any way. As their father I still have an obligation to feed them, and provide for them and protect them, and just like my parents I would not ask anything in return.

#96  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 8:26 PM

Steven,

Found one might help and this is on this website.

Why didn't God choose everyone to be saved?

John 3; Romans 5

Code: QA182

Hope it helps.

#97  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 9:12 PM

Dan

I really disagree with the Scriptures. I seriously don’t think it is an act of justice in any way to infinitely punish somebody for a finite crime. Nothing can be further from the truth. If any dictator from any country did this sort of thing, we would seriously condemn them and want justice to be brought on them. But since this is something God does therefore it is alright, because he is administering his “holy justice” on people. Also it is bad enough to torture people to teach them a lesson, or to deter others from committing serious crimes. But what God does is torture people forever simply for the sake of torturing them without the hope of rehabilitation. Even our judicial system from time to time gives convicts leeway for their crimes. Our society is merciful enough to parole people if they find their sentence to be too harsh, or if they behaved well while serving their time. If God had any mercy in him at all, he would give sinners leeway for what they’ve done or at least completely destroy them instead of tormenting them for eternity. And another thing is we are above administering this kind of punishment to anybody in our society. The Bill of Rights even forbids cruel and unusual punishment to anyone.

I take it that many of you probably disagree with me on this point. You’re probably going to tell me God’s punishment is “holy and righteous” and that it is “good and just and fair”. If you are willing to admit that eternal damnation is “good and fair” then that is your opinion. But please don’t claim this to be an act of justice because nothing can be further from the truth. But I submit to you, if you are willing to call this an act of justice: Then next time a cruel dictator from another country does this sort of thing, or if your own government sanctions extremely harsh and cruel punishments to its citizens for trivial matters (such as life imprisonment for theft). You don’t have the right to object since you’ve already submitted that it is an act of justice.

#98  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 9:28 PM

#80 Steven,

Regardless of any man's attempt to sit in judgment of God, it will ulimately be to no avail. Giving God the glory He is due is not a choice or option that you or I have. EVERY KNEE WILL BOW. Also it would be wise to repent from thinking God is less righteous than He is and repent from your vain speculations of how He judges that are not what He has said. It would be wise and repent of thinking that you are more righteous than you really are and repent from attempting to judge God in your unrighteousness and from the stand point of what you learn in school from mere men. It would be wise to hear the testimony of the Lord before speaking in ignorance about what you do not really know (Romans 1:18-23).

16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,

But a fool is arrogant and careless.

Prov 14:16 (NASB95)

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped , 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2:5-11 (NASB95)

Judgment is based on the amount of revelation that one has rejected:

29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Heb 10:29 (NASB95)

God is still patience and:

"TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,

AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,

AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,

AND SAID, 'THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,

AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS'; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,

'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.' "

Heb 3:7-11 (NASB95)

Pastor MacArthur has done a great job with these sermons.

https://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermon+Series/80_Wicked-World-Angry-God

https://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermon+Series/197_Without-Excuse-Principles-of-Gods-Judgment

Steven, I hope you will not harden your heart. I perceive that you want to examine things rightly. I hope you read God's testimony and listen to Pastor MacArthur's sermons on why man is wicked, God is angry, and how He judges.

9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 (NASB95)

#100  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Saturday, May 14, 2011at 11:04 PM

R.S. Tillotson

Who exactly are the righteous? Are Christians the only people worthy of eternal life and is it a crime not to be a Christian? Why does anybody deserve to be punished simply because they do not believe? Believing in a god does not make you a better or worse person, there are millions of people around the world who live good lives without the need of religion.

By the way your argument on “people sending themselves to Hell” is just ridiculous. The big flaw in your argument is: I’m choosing not to go to Hell, so God now has the option of sending me or not. If he does send me he can but it would be against my own free will. Also if you think about it: Wasn’t God the one who created Hell? And if he did then doesn’t he make all the rules for it? Let me put it this way: If I held a gun to your head and demanded $100, and you refused to pay, would you have committed suicide for not giving me $100 or did I just kill you?

#101  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 4:08 AM

#Steven Xue

Let me try to cut it out for you:

God is love, perfect love, that is why you don't get it.

Love is either perfect or not love at all. This is the message God is giving us in the whole.

If you don't come to love God, you are guildy of killing the Son of God, who God sent in love to reconcile us to Him.

You are way out of line:

Are you telling me that anybody who does not worship God deserves to be tortured forever?

Is Hitler guilty of killing millions of jews? As far as I know, he never killed one. You see, it is far beyond your simplistic description.

#102  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 4:13 AM

Steven,

Do you believe that it is possible for a created being to be as wise as its creator? Is it not possible that your wisdom is limited in comparison with the Creator and perhaps your perspective wrong? Do you really believe that you know all there is to know, as God does? Is it not true that the one with more understanding and knowledge is the better judge?

When you have children, you will quickly discover that you will anger them because they do not have your knowledge and life experience, and they will be sure that you are being unfair. When they disobey, you will not punish them out of spite, if you are a good parent, but you will punish them out of your great love for them. It is not petty to want what is best for them and to want to protect them from what they desire in their immaturity.

Do I understand everything? No, but I do understand that I am not God. I can understand by looking at nature that there is a Creator God. I can understand by reading all of His Word that He has revealed himself in His Word. From reading His Word, I know that He is just and merciful. I trust His wisdom for what I don’t understand.

Rather than risk being wrong, I would advise you to call out to Him and ask Him for wisdom and insight, and then spend time reading His Word from start to finish to see what He has to say.

#103  Posted by Robert Suttles  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 5:24 AM

Steven (#80, 95, 97);

You have written...

"I for one.."

"I find it to be.."

"I consider justice.."

"From what I can gather.."

"I find to be.."

"I find the idea of: “because he created me therefore he has the right to destoy us if we do not worship him” to be absolutely appalling."

"I really disagree with the Scriptures"

"I seriously don’t think.."

"I take it that many of you probably disagree with me.."

"I submit to you..."

You have a high opinion of your opinion, that much is clear. However, someone outside of us, outside of ourselves, have spoken to us and given us Truth. He has said:

"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." Proverbs 8:13

"One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor." Proverbs 29:23

And this:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." Jeremiah 17: 9-10

And:

"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed." Romans 2:5

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 11:31

Steven, God is showing mercy and 'leeway' right now, by the fact that you are able to read and respond to postings on this blog, to walk around, to eat His food, to breathe His air. That sinners have opportunities to hear the Gospel and respond.

Yes, you have said you really disagree with the Scriptures. Understood. Scripture says "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

Steven, there is coming a day of judgement where you will stand before God and be called to account for every stray thought, every word, every action that was performed in your life. Every secret you thought stashed away safely will be brought to light. You will have no wiggle room, no appeal, and no words to use in your defense. You will stand before the great and ultimate "I AM". He will judge you guilty and sentence you to Hell, and rightfully so.

But he is merciful and patient. He has given us a way BECAUSE he is merciful. Christ paid the price. Christ bore the judgement. Christ stands in the place of those who believe, and the Father can say "paid in full" for our sins. Not based on anything we have done, or will do, but based on the one who came before us...Jesus Christ.

Repent, Steven. Look at your heart, your status before God. No one here can do it for you. Consider what God has done, and is doing even now.

Praying for you;

-Robert-

#104  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 5:43 AM

No, Lord Jesus is not cruel, ok! Jesus died for you..... Did you look at the bible of what Jesus did and how much he loves you?? He rose

so we may have life.

#106  Posted by Will Lindsey  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 8:23 AM

Didn’t this all start off with Rob Bells false teachings and on Hell? I think Paul Washer puts it in words best “False teacher are Gods judgment on people who don’t want God but in the name of Religion plan on getting everything there carnal hearts desires that’s way a Joel Olsten is raised up those people how sit under him are not victims of him. He is the judgment of God upon them because they want the same thing he wants and it not God.” End Quote. They want what he wants an easy life hear on earth living like the world doing the things of the world and not living like Christ or for Christ. Not living in the fear of God and the Love of Christ knowing that he has died for our sins. Living like Christ not because we have to but because we want to because he died for us that we don’t have to take the wrath of God (Hell which is an eternity) that we deserved. Hell is the wrath of All Mighty God it is His perfect justice reviled against men through out Entirety. “The Wrath of God well I just don’t believe that”, just what you believe doesn’t matter what does scripture teach. Justice has to be pored out it has to be. Have you never read in Isaiah 53:10 “and it pleased the Lord to crush Him (Christ)”. He crushed His only begotten Son and you don’t think that He will not send some of you to Hell if he Crushed His only Son for you. The last thing many will hear is all of creation standing to its feet and applauding God because He’s rid the earth of sinful men. You can warn those people all you want but they go to him to get what they want, a way to soothe there conscience so they can get through there week. They don’t want to be held accountable for there actions so guys like Rob Bell make people feel better so they can go home and not read the Word of God, but do what is right in there own mind, and do what is right to them in there deceitful, lustful and immoral hearts. Heaven is an eternity Hell is also an eternity. To Christ alone be the Glory!

#107  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 8:44 AM

#97 Steven Xue

I really disagree with the Scriptures.

So do every atheist.

I seriously don’t think it is an act of justice in any way to infinitely punish somebody for a finite crime.

Justice makes only sense in a Christian worldview. Hell is where God is punishing total depravity. It is not a finite crime. It’s incurable, and can only produce evil.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

God is Truth, so it is truth.

If any dictator from any country did this sort of thing, we would seriously condemn them and want justice to be brought on them.

You are switching the roles. Satan is the one to blame. He is the evil one.

But since this is something God does therefore it is alright, because he is administering his "holy justice" on people.

Yes, God is justly punishing those who refused to receive His gift, that would give them life and love.

I could go on, but I don’t have time to do it. It seems to me, that you are an atheist. Nothing makes sense in an atheistic worldview.

#108  Posted by Tom Jourdan  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 10:55 AM

Steven- My heart breaks for you man. First of all I want to thank all of my brothers and sisters who make this blog possible but especially the staff at GTY. Read alot this is first response. Steven, I have struggled with concerns,issues,ect as you appear to be at this time. It is obvious to me that God is working on you as He has on each of us. You would not be on this blog if that were not the case. You may say/believe (falsely I might add) that you are attempting to set us all straight, those that believe in the God of the Holy Scriptures, that you disagree with. I would argue that you are in rebellion against God and Him alone. See, the Bible tells us in Romans and the Old Testament that there is no one that seeks after God, no not one. I, and each of us that follow Him through His Son , the Lord Jesus were no different than you, before we believed in the Lord Jesus. We(believers in Jesus), placed our faith in the Lord Jesus, repented of our sins, and made an immediate and ongoing attempt to forsake all this world has to offer and follow the Lord Jesus and all His commands - which is the entirety of the Holy Scriptures.

Now, I will attempt to address to the best of my ability your major concern with God. From #97 "But what God does is torture people forever simply for the sake of torturing them without the hope of rehabilitation. Even our judicial system from time to time gives convicts leeway for their crimes." I assume you, as the rest of us also I might add before our conversion, believe God to be unjust and unworthy of our worship. Each of us come up with our own reasons justified in our own "rebellious hearts toward God" to validate our hatred of God and His Holy Scriptures. Your hatred and rebellion towards God is nothing new. It was very real in each of us here on this blog that are now believers and lovers of God. It was simply present in different variations, but none the less present in us as you. I do believe you really need to read Mary's comment above again(#93). It could not be said better. You need to read and re-read and ask God to give you understanding of your own sinful self.

Finally, your comparison of man's justice to God's justice is a mute point. God can and will do anything He pleases. Now before you think that entitles Him to be cruel, think again. God's mercies are new everyday. I do believe what you are missing is the big picture. Yes, God did create man/woman for His pleasure and to be in His presence (See Genesis) But man SINNED. And anyone that sins(breaks God's laws) cannot be in God's presence and receive His love because that is the way God is- simple as that. God is perfect and will not stay in the presence of sin. The Bible says in Romans that God loves us so much..."in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us". He died for us so that you and I could be restored perfectly to God. The key- you have your entire life for mercy and then the JUDGEMENT.

#109  Posted by Tom Jourdan  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 11:37 AM

cont.

The point I am closing with is this - God is eternally merciful to those that place their faith, love, and worship, along with repenting of their rebellion toward Him in this life. There is no way you, I, or anyone can compare God's ways to man's ways. It is inconceivable the Bible tells us. You must quit comparing God's justice to man's justice. Fear God Steven for Jesus tells us not to fear man who can only destroy the body, but fear God who can destroy both body and soul in Hell(Mt10:28). Accept God for who He is. Jesus is the express image of the invisible God(Col1:15) See Jesus and you have seen God. Find out about Jesus. See Him, Feel Him, Touch Him, Eat of His body, Drink of His blood. After that, Believe in Him and Follow Him as your only reason for living. For if you don't - you as the rest of humanity will not receive His mercy that is available to you until your last breath. Don't ever think for a moment that you were not told that God is merciful. God is loving. He is forever forgiving. You must receive His mercy and forgiveness and then you will escape the coming eternal judgement that this blog and the gifted teacher that began it speaks of. If I misspoke or misarticulated any aspect of the gospel it is because of me not His truths. Humbly His slave, Tom Jourdan

#110  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 11:42 AM

Steven

I don’t agree with the GTY idea that hell is constant torture forever so it wouldn’t be appropriate to give advise to you about that on their forum. But what we would all agree on would be that your sense of right / wrong and justice is from God in the first place. If you have a background in the study of justice then you know that without a foundation of meaning for justice in a universal sense it is meaningless, a particular persons sense of justice wright or wrong is arbitrary and therefore also meaningless. That doesn’t mean that every society has a perfect justice system but it does mean that every society does ultimately know the evil that they do, they are without excuse as the Bible says.

What you can be sure of Steven is that true justice comes from God and God will be perfectly just with you when you die and I’m sure you would agree you don’t want to pay justly as you should for every evil thought or deed you have ever done or thought even in the darkest corners of your mind. The answer to that dilemma is the good news of the Bible, God made a way for you to be saved from a truly just God.

#112  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 11:55 AM

Steven Xue: Sounds like you have never been a victim of a violent crime or had someone close to you a victim of a violent crime? Or you have never had anyone take advantage of you financially? Or you have never been hurt in a relationship? Sounds like you might have a hard time relating to the nightly news and all the injustices that go on in the world. Sounds like you have never had anything rock your world in a way that made you weak in the knees? You sound pretty satisfied with the current conditions of the world?

Plus, it sounds like you have never hurt anyone else before? Sounds like you have never needed forgiveness? Don't know. I'm just guessing.

#113  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 12:16 PM

Steven:

"I really disagree with the Scriptures."

I am sorry and deeply troubled at your lack of awe for our Holy, Holy, Holy God.

The scriptures are clear and truthful. The thing is you have your view of people as moral neutral. Well that is plan wrong, before you and I ever except Christ we are destined for Hell because we were in the loins of Adam as sinned against God. God is perfect, I am sorry that you won't admit to that believing that God is either Love or He is not. He is Love and He is Holy, but mind you, He can not compromise himself hence His Son do be our propitiation in only a finite amount of time to deal with an infinite amount of God's wrath.

I can only pray that you see truth in the scriptures about God as He spoke to the people writing them down not only on paper and parchment, but on their hearts as well and on all of our hearts as we are baptized in God the Holy Ghost. I don't think I can say enough or make it any more clear that God is so Holy our mouths are to be stopped when we are judged by Him. He is infinite, sinning against infinite gives us an infinite amount of punishment, an eye or an eye and tooth for a tooth remember? Infinite for infinite.

I am deeply troubled that you deny the Holy justice of our Holy God who made the universe in which there many stars that if the earth were a golf ball, the length of a star would be the height of Mount Everest starting from sea level.

You have to remember we are mere humans and can't understand apart from God himself indwelling in us and testifying to Him who dwelt among us.

Also: "The Bill of Rights even forbids cruel and unusual punishment to anyone," since when does God adhere to the Bill of Rights?

God Bless everyone!

#114  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 12:20 PM

Oh one more thing I forgot to mention Steven, you talk about how someone would not want to be brutalized by a dictator. Well the dictator is a human, therefore he has no right to do so. Judge not and you won't be judged. Of course, these are scriptures we hear quite often, yet follow them not.

#115  Posted by Rick White  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 1:22 PM

#97 Steven,

You are approaching this subject from a purely human perspective. God is omniscient. He knows everything. You don't. He even knows our very thoughts. Our very hearts if you will. You are judging God from your very limited amount of knowledge. When He judges us He judges righteously because He is able to take all things into consideration. You also have a very frivolous view of sin. Those that end up in hell do so because they have not accepted the only thing that can prevent that terrible judgement. They have rejected Jesus' sacrifice for their sins and rebellion against Him. They have actively suppressed God's truth in order to believe their self deluding lie Romans 1:18-25. So, God is not punishing them for some "finite crime" but for their active and ongoing rebellion against Him and his holy law. You would be wise to take some advice from the prophet Job. Job 40:1-9

#116  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 3:32 PM

Steven,

If I had children, I won't spare the rod. If I did, my kid would

hate me. In the scriptures says do not spare the rod.

Peter and the disciples were threaten for they were preaching that Jesus is alive. They said they obey God, not man!

Don't tell me how to believe for I don't believe man's word.

I believe Jesus is our Savior. Give God glory due his name!!!!

#117  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 4:05 PM

Steven,

This is all I am going to say.

Have you forgotten the love of Jesus what he did on the cross. Have

you know the price?? Jesus says whoever is ashamed of me, He will be

ashamed of him before his Father and his holy angels.

#118  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 5:23 PM

Hi Steven.

I am just another choir voice. It's a big choir. =)

I read a couple of your comments, and a couple of the replies. And I wanted to add something beyond what everyone else has said (hopefully, for I not have read everything yet).

God IS. Simple (simple?) as that.

God, as the Creator of all things, created us (humans, not Christians, but humans in general) to have a relationship with Him. And we, in Adam, sinned against God, and that relationship was broken. However, God didn't stop to pursue us, to seek us, and He made a Way for us to be restored to His presence, to be reconciled, and have peace with Him.

The Way is called Jesus. Having no other way to reconcile us to Him, He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for all of our sins, so the ones who will believe in His Son will have eternal life.

I know, it's hard to believe, isn't it? It does not make any sense that such powerful and almighty God, Who can create things with His Word, Who can sustain the entire universe and all living things by His power, would care so much for such unworthy beings, right? Why should He seek us? Why should He give His only Son for us?

There's no satisfying answer other than "because He wishes". And in His love, being demonstrated not only on the cross, but culminating on the cross, He is showing us how good and righteous and just He is. Because, think about it, would He not have the right, and justly so, to "un-create" everything and start over again? Or would the created thing talk back to the creator and tell Him what to do? The real question is not "why would God sent people to hell", but "why not?"

We are all sinners Steven. You, me, and everyone here. There's no one good, sinners can't be inherently "good". We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. And Jesus washes all the sins away, so when the Father looks at you, if you believe that Jesus died for you and repent of your sins, He sees you clean, clothed in righteousness, and that way you can have peace with God and be brought to His presence.

God has reached out to mankind one last time. Look up. He was nailed on the cross, but He is not there anymore. Search your heart, you know who you are. You know you can't save yourself, you can't find the answers in yourself or in the world, you can't have peace in yourself. The answer is outside of you Steve.

I am not sure what kind of "Christians" you have met in your life. I bet they were not very godly, right? A Christian is a follower of Jesus, that's what the word means. So if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn't follow Jesus (I am not talking about works and good deeds, but love), are they really Christians? No. A word, a label, doesn't mean anything if the heart and actions don't follow it. You can see Jesus through His real disciples. But first you need to know Who Jesus is, right? And you will find Him in the bible, in the pages of the Gospels.

I pray that God reveals Himself to you.

God bless!

#119  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 5:48 PM

Rudi

Are you telling me that because I don’t love God therefore I murdered Jesus? That is an absurd statement, how can you even think this way? First of all how am I culpable for something that happened millennia before I was even born? This is something I wouldn’t have condoned or taken part in. In fact if I was present at that time and if I had the power to prevent the human sacrifice, I would have done everything I can to stop it from happening. Of course if I succeeded I would have lost my chance for salvation and everybody would have gone to Hell. Also I feel that nobody has the right or the duty to emulate themselves for me. Although I appreciate Jesus sacrificing himself for me, the issue I take with it is the fact that I didn’t want it, nor did I ask for it but I am bound by it anyway simply because it happened. It is act of extreme arrogance to suggest that what Jesus did bounds somebody even before they are born. It takes away my free will, it takes away my autonomy, and I have no choice in the matter. Its basically saying “I’m sorry the sacrifice is already made therefore you’re committed”.

#121  Posted by R.s. Tillotson  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 6:45 PM

Steven,

1Corinthians 2:14-But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,for they are foolishness to him;nor can he know them,because they are spiritually discerned.

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign.Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything,controls everything,rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the Biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decree."The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all."Psalm 103:19 The truth that God has all authority and that every man will be held accountable to God is the truth that will expose man's rebellion against God faster than any other truth.The Bible teaches that man in his fallen condition is by nature a child of wrath because man is in direct opposition to God and His sovereign right over His creation.The seed that was sown in the fall of man was the Self Indulgent Nature...better known as SIN(it's all about me.) It's like our spiritual DNA; which we can't change, but God does.As it's been said, the only ones in Heaven will be those that know that they deserve hell, because they are an affront to a Holy God,who created them.And without Jesus Christ that is where we all would be headed. Colossians 1:16 states that all things were created by Him and for Him.But our sinful hearts wants nothing to do with God at all.When God created man, He loved him enough to let him reject Him if he wanted to,but He also let him know that the consequences that would follow that rejection.Seeing that God is Sovereign and our Creator,and He came up with the plan of Redemption, not man, then He has every right to do as HE sees right. Psalm 19:9.."The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." We, in ourselves have no righteousness at all, and we realize that to stand before a Holy God and be judged on our own merit will send all of us to hell, because we can not be good enough to pass God's judgment. This is where we see the love of God, that He made the sacrifice for us in Jesus Christ, so we don't have to try and hope that we'll get by on our own good deeds.Seeing the total hopelessness before you as a reality that no matter what your opinion is on this or that, God has shown us what His truth is.He desires that you see the condition you are in and come to Jesus Christ and seek Him as your Saviour and repent of your sin before Him.You stated that you don't want to go to hell, ask God to show you His truth about yourself,then seek God's forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ.I will be praying for you Steven.

#122  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 7:09 PM

Mary

I agree perhaps my perspective is wrong. Perhaps my knowledge is limited and I don’t know all there is to know. But I can tell you I understand the difference between right and wrong. Maybe, just maybe it is wrong to disagree with God because he is apparently wiser than me. But to send people to an eternal torment simply because they disagree with you that is evil, no matter how much you try to rationalize it that is evil. By my own conscious (the one God apparently gave me) I feel there is absolutely no justice to it. But since I question God’s actions and disagree with him wholeheartedly, therefore I deserve to go to Hell.

This attitude of humbling yourself towards God is dictatorial, it’s autocratic. Only a benign dictator deals in such absolutes. For myself, I want to learn, I want to have a better understanding of the world and the people in it. If there is a God who created the universe then maybe he can learn from you and from me. Don’t you learn from your kids? Do you always expect them obey you without question? I admit I don’t have kids of my own but I used to babysit my two cousins for many years. Although sometimes they did become quite a handful to me, I have learnt a lot from them and would like to have the same kind of relationship with my own kids someday. And although I would like my kids to obey my rules someday, I would not want them to humble themselves towards me or to obey me without question. The truth is it is perfectly healthy to question things, and to question authority from time to time. This country was founded on the principal of questioning authority. The reason we’re having this debate is because there are diverse viewpoints and the freedom to have these diverse viewpoints in the free country we are living in. There is nothing wrong with that because that is the whole point in democracy: The freedom to disagree.

#123  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 7:26 PM

Now when I said I disagree with Scripture, I didn't the Gospel alright. There are some things in the Scriptures that I really question. But overall I find great wisdom in the Bible and I agree with a lot of the moral teachings of Jesus. But you have to admit a lot of what Jesus preached are pretty irrational. "Don't plan for the future", "don't become wealthy", "if somebody asks for something give it to them without question", "you have to castrate yourself in order to get into Heaven", "if you marry a divorced woman you've committed adultery" (Sorry I don't have the right wording or references to the verses, I don't have time for that right now). But Jesus did have some good teachings such as "love your neighbour", "do upon others as you would do to yourself". These are the things I live by and I really don't think many of you would be willing to obey the commandments I've mentioned.

#124  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 15, 2011at 9:41 PM

Rebecca

I have friends who have been through a violent crime, I personally have been taken advantage of financially and had my heart broken many times. I've been in these situations and I've learn't to cope and get on with my life. I've also done my best to help those who have been in these rough situations because I care for them. You on the other hand might tell these people to pray and worship God to get better.

I also understand there is injustice in the world and I believe things can be better for everyone. I can handle all that, but what I cannot accept is the idea that anybody deserves to be eternally tortured for not subscribing to a faith. It is one thing to punish those who've done extremely heinous crimes and truly deserve retribution. But for those who have done nothing wrong and have actually been the victims of vicious crimes, why would an all loving, all merciful God send them to Hell?

#125  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 6:14 AM

#119 Steven Xue

Let’s see if I can explain it on this limited space:

You started out with justice. What is just? Taken to the extreme, it is always and only doing what is just. And what then is just? The ultimate authority is God, He created us and thereby He owns us. So to be just, you must be holy and perfect as God is holy and perfect. God gave us the Ten Commandments and told us that if we keep them all, we will be justified by it, but if we break just one of them, we will be condemned. We know it is impossible, we have all violated the law, and that is the point God wants us to realize. No human is able to be justified by the law. We are condemned, and will go to Hell for not being perfect just. God sent His own Son, the second member of the Trinity, to live a perfect sinless live in human form, obedient even to the death on the cross, thereby as the one and only in humanity, satisfying Gods holy justice. And God declares all just, who repent and believe in Him. That is Grace, a gift.

Back to the question – How can you then be guilty of murdering Jesus, when you were not even born?

Let’s look at it from a perfect justice perspective. Who is the guilty, the one committing a crime, one partaking in a crime or one knowing about a crime, but being passive about it, or one not preventing a crime? All of them, because sin is sin no matter to what degree. You know God sent Jesus to die, in order to justify you. If you refuse to receive the gift, you are guilty of not preventing crime, and actually committing crime, yours. So you would be guilty of rendering Jesus dead to no affect, and by doing that actually letting God commit murder, if you change the intended purpose. And you will be held responsible.

That‘s justice. God did all this, to stop every sinner in his track, and turn to God for mercy. Isn’t that wonderful news? The hope of being free at last?

#126  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 7:01 AM

Steven wrote in #80,

... I for one completely disagree with the idea and concept of Hell. ... I find it to be extremely unjust both in a legal and a moral perspective that anybody should be infinitely punished for a finite crime.

Steven, are you a Christian? I would imagine you are not seeing that you state in another post that you disagree with the scriptures. Christians tend not to do that. You speak of just and unjust, but I'm curious as to where you anchor your standard for just and unjust. What I have seen you argue in your comments is extremely subjective.

Man is not punished for a "finite" crime. Sin and rebellion against our infinite, sovereign creator is hardly "finite." We are not dealing with crimes against fellow people, but against God almighty, crimes you commit against Him every day when you flagrantly break His commands. The better question to ask is why sinners still get to live, not whether they are being treated fairly.

Continuing,

Are you telling me that because I don’t love God therefore I murdered Jesus?

Not to put words in the other fellow's mouth, but I would merely clarify by saying, "Yes," as a sinner, you have no fear of God before your eyes, Romans 3:18. Your objection to God's truth is clear evidence of such lack of fear. However, God is gracious, in that he provides an infinite sacrifice in Jesus who paid the penalty for your hatred of God. Though you weren't "present" for Christ's death by crucifixion, you indirectly "murdered" him because the penalty for sin is death, sin that you commit every day.

Continuing,

Although I appreciate Jesus sacrificing himself for me, the issue I take with it is the fact that I didn’t want it, nor did I ask for it but I am bound by it anyway simply because it happened.

You're being dishonest. You don't really appreciate Christ's death because you mock and reject it in your very next breath. You are accountable to God because you are a sinner, and you are "bound" to Christ death because it is the only means by which men can be made right with God.

Continuing,

It is act of extreme arrogance to suggest that what Jesus did bounds somebody even before they are born. It takes away my free will, it takes away my autonomy, and I have no choice in the matter. Its basically saying “I’m sorry the sacrifice is already made therefore you’re committed”.

God can be "arrogant" because He is our sovereign creator. There is no higher authority. He sets the terms, we are to be obedient. As for it taking away your free-will and autonomy, it has done no such thing. You are free, and remain autonomous, to continue in your sin if you wish. But there is no other means by which a holy God can be approached than through Christ whom He has set as a propitiation for our sins.

#127  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 7:28 AM

Let me tell you people something and this goes into the heart of my objections. You see my father is an atheist, he has always been an atheist and probably always will be. He has never forced me to question my beliefs as a Christian (although I have many times heckled him about salvation). But it was his atheism that made me question my beliefs as a Christian. My father is probably the most morally acceptable person I know. He has better scruples on morality than most Christians I know, and he has always been more than willing to help others out and to do good by his fellow man without expecting anything in return. Not to mention he has sacrificed so much for my family, he has gone through hell so me and my brother can get a good education and a good life in this country. You have no idea how hard it is on me, this is somebody I love, who has always been there for me and is a better person than most people I know. For somebody like him to go to Hell for not believing, that is something I cannot accept. I suppose many of you would suggest that I should “save him”. But what gives me the right to proselytise him? To force my religion down his throat and to give him an unjust ultimatum (something he has never done to me), I cannot forgive myself for that.

I have decided, since he cannot go to Heaven then I won’t either. When his time comes and if he is going to be unfairly judged for who he is then I don’t want any part in it. Right now I will gladly welcome Hell because by going to Heaven I will be betraying him, and betraying my conscious for doing so.

#128  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 8:59 AM

I can tell you, Steven, that Sweden is exceedingly beautiful and defies description, and that you would have to see it to believe it. That you would have to be there to taste it, to smell it, to touch it, to relish in the beauty of it, to really, really appreciate Sweden. But that is just it, you have to see Sweden with your OWN eyes, breathe the air with your own nostrils, taste the wine with your own tongue, and be there to take in a panoramic view from the top of the majestic Alps to the valleys of the winding streets below. But “I” cannot make it “real” for you, or paint a post card picture that would even come close to duplicating the bustling city life or capture the quietness of the ever green, countryside. You, alone, must taste and see that Sweden is good.

And so it is with God, He “enjoins” us to taste and see that He is good. This only happens when one is born again from above into the family of God, and then we are given spiritual eyes to see His holiness, beauty, mercy and goodness. But “first” you must repent of your sins and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.

So for me, or anyone here, to discus hell, total depravity, sin, heaven, purity, goodness, holiness, or wrath with you, would be like speaking in a foreign language. All because you have not peered deep into the dark, bottomless pit of your own depravity, you have not believed in, or trusted in a God of “purer” eyes, who CANNOT behold evil, you have not savored the sweetness of the Lord’s tender mercies, or cried with the seraphim’s, singing “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (Isa 6:3).” All of these are as far away as Sweden and spoken in a language that is alien to you. But the good news is: “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is **NIGH** unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that FEAR him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever (Psa 145:17-21).”

I pray that the Lord would reveal His sweet and tender mercies to your heart, because one day soon, the beatific vision will appear before us, and we “Shall see Him as He is ( I John 3:2)”, and every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. I hope to see you there, Lord willing, smiling and rejoicing along with all the rest of us.

And to answer your question, yes, those who do not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior will spend eternity in hell, in everlasting fire. The Word of God tells us so.

Read Spurgeon's "The Beatific Vision." Good stuff!!!

God Bless,

Mary

#129  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 9:15 AM

Steven,

Do you know Jesus loves you and died for your sins. He cares for

you. I had a friend who told me this. The Lord's hand is on my shoulder, the more I pulled away from Christ the longer the arm

gets. Get it?? And more I let him have his arms around the more

closer I am.

Hell is not a place I want to be. Seek God and his tender mercy.

I am praying for you.

#130  Posted by Sharon Kuhn  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 9:45 AM

#127 Steven:

When I read your post I wanted to cry. I too have a father who has always been there for me and my siblings. He is a good, honest, decent man who would help anyone he found in need, but because of the horrible experiences he had while growing up in an orphanage he turned his back on God. He was put in the orphanage along with his three brothers when his father passed and his mother could no longer care for them. She had to decide between keeping the family together and starving or split the family up and give the boys a chance. She took my father's two sisters and moved to the next town to find work. The girls died in a fire and his mother never recovered enough to care for he and his brothers so they were forced to stay in the orphanage.

My mother thankfully made sure that myself and my brother and sister went to church every Lord's day. I struggled thru my teens and at one point took my father's view, leaving the church. God for some reason took pity on me and brought me back. My faith has helped me thru some rough times of my own.

Steven, I know how you feel. To think of my father, who has been thru so much, going to hell is more than I can take some times. I know I can't "preach" at him, he'd only turn away. I do talk to him though. Time has seemed to have mellowed him out a little and he's more open to discussing things. I use every opportunity the Lord provides me to show him how much God loves him. If he was meant to be called, God will open his heart. I just pray I'm there when it happens.

I will pray for you and your father. The position you're in is not easy.

I know one thing for sure. Whatever God sends out does not come back void. He is using even this to bring someone closer to Him. Maybe that someone is you.

Sharon~

#131  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 10:21 AM

Well,Steven, with all the hurt you have experienced,I see you have relied on your own resources.I see no where that you have relied on God's unconditional love to sustain you, to comfort you,to guide.I see you have used some scripture as wisdom, as principles for your own benefit but I don't hear anything about a relationship.You don't even love God & this One whom you criticize still allows you to share some of the blessings I have.Go figure.And that my friend is the thanks He gets?You seem to know about His wrath & nothing about His love....at least,by your own admission,you have called upon yourself in times of trouble even though God was there, you ignore Him and His power and His love.The credit goes to Steven. Talk about arrogance! So you don't really know this God you are condemning.From all you have said, you think you are a pretty good person, one that would not condemn another he does not know.And yet, here you are judging God Almighty and you don't know Him at all.You don't even fully understand His wrath....that is clear.You sure are in touch with your own. But how can you understand his wrath if you have never embraced His love? You rely on yourself.God can't win with you.You are critical of those that allow God to help,you are critical of God who helps.You're critical of hell and probably critical that God chooses to wait in order that anyone wanting salvation will be given the opportunity.Looking at this world,some of us would like to say,"Come quickly now,Lord Jesus." But that would be selfish & God is considering people like your dad.Waiting patiently while being tried like a criminal by you.

You bow down to your dad...the dad that was given his very breath by the creator of the universe.You have made your dad your God.You are worshiping the creation but not the creator.It's such irony,Steven. To declare God unfair, a dictator but love your dad & raise him up even though he is here by God's grace...just doesn't make sense.

Your dad has a standard of living that is good.God's standard is perfect.You want to decide how a person is saved.You or your dad does not set the standard.God does.And you aren't the first, nor will you be the last that can't wrap your brain around the Holiness of God. Not understanding doesn't make it less so or wrong.It just means you don't get it.You're in good company.The most educated of Jesus day didn't get it.

Steven,you are being very public here.You are taking a stand.Maybe you weren't alive back then but I doubt your objections would have been different than those you have today.You are objecting to God and that's all it took to get Jesus murdered.You're either in or you're out.Like a pregnant lady. She'e never a little pregnant.She either is or she isn't.You're guilty by omission.There is blood on your hands!

You don't want to let your dad know of the urgency? Of course not. Your comments indicate, it would be the blind leading the blind. Only a blind man would consider that love.

#132  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 11:00 AM

Sorry if I said this is the last I will write.. Smiles.

Back to the point.

Steven,

You are right that you can't change your dad. Only you can change

yourself. Jesus is there and we will keep encouraging you and pray

for you.

I can't change my dad for he not a christian and when he recieves Jesus someday, I will be happy and glorified Jesus.

#133  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 11:30 AM

#127 Steven

Both my father and my mother was just as you described. Very unselfish and good to the core in all respects, but non-believers. They lost their firstborn, my older brother at the age of 6, in a car accident. It took him 3 days to die at the hospital, so if there is a God, he was unfair they said.

I became a Christian at the age of 17, still living together with my parents. Oh, I enjoyed my newfound Jesus, talked about Him always, until one day shortly after, when my father got angry, and told me to chose between my family or Jesus. I chose Jesus and moved out that same day. My parents threatened me as dead for several years. I once met them on the street, I said "hey", but they passed by me, as was I invisible. Oh, that broke my heart.

Later I got married and we got our first child. One day I said to myself, I'll go to my parents, to let them see their grandson. That broke the ice. But they still refused to hear about God. Then my mother died. She was in the hospital for a week, and knew she was dying. I desperately tried to talk to her about salvation, but she refused to listen.

My father, now 70 years old, moved to my sisters house, to live with her and her Spanish husband and their two children.

Late one night, my brother called me on the phone. The police had called him, and told him my sisters house was burning. My father and my sisters husband was severe burned and injured from jumping out of a window on second floor, and now on the way in ambulance to the university hospital in Copenhagen. That's all he could tell. I jumped in my car and headed for Copenhagen. I have been a fireman for 15 years myself, but was not prepared for that sight. My sisters husband got some third degrees burnings on hands and face, but my father - oh dear - was literally burned beyond any description. He was unconscious and dying. We just stood there, and I only hoped he could wake up for just a few minutes so I could pray with him, but he didn't. 8 hours later he died.

Do I love God? Of all my heart. Is God unfair? No. I am in no position to judge God. We are living in a sin-cursed world. We know it, but we also know it one day will end. Blaming God is wrong.

#134  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 11:38 AM

Steven:

I've followed your thoughtful, articulate, and transparent objections. To the many helpful comments, I'd like to offer a few things for your consideration as well.

Your concepts of good and evil, of justice and injustice, of mercy and cruelty, of love and hate--of everything--where did you get them? They seem intuitively obvious to you, don't they. That sense of oughtness within each one of us, the inner voice that bothers us when we don't conform to it--where did that come from?

If your standards are your own, by nature or nurture, or they are conventions of society, then you have to admit you’re following a standard that is not universal or transcendent. Your standard is nothing to which all people, everywhere, and at all times are accountable. Therefore, you have no basis for calling anything right or wrong, good or evil, just or unjust. And you certainly have no basis for condemning God.

And yet you continue to make moral judgments every day of your life, as you should, as you were created to do. Having rejected the Bible as your authority, what are you left with? Your own judgments? The judgments of some other finite, fallible man or woman? Only the Bible comports with reality.

You need to embrace the standard of Holy Scripture because it is a revealed standard, universal and transcendent. Only the Bible is the truth that comports with reality. Until you accept and embrace the Bible as your interpreter, as the filter for your thinking, you will never find the truth and understand God's salvation, mercy, grace, or justice.

I suspect you cannot accept the Bible as your ultimate, unquestioned authority. I understand that. To accept the Bible as your standard requires you to be born from above. By spiritual rebirth, God gives you eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to receive, and a mind to understand spiritual reality. You cannot be born from above by your own effort, thought, insight, or any human initiative. A birth from above is something only God can do to you. (Cf. John 3:1-15; 1 Cor. 2:6-16)

Where does that leave you? It leaves you to reckon with the person and work of Jesus Christ. You've sorely misunderstood and misjudged Jesus, but He'll forgive you for that if you repent. Study Him and you’ll see He is unlike anyone who ever lived--His claims are outrageous, His works miraculous, His words are divine wisdom, and His bodily resurrection from the dead is undeniable. Reject Jim and there is no hope for you; embrace Him and you'll find hope, salvation from sin, rescue from divine judgment, and peace with God.

We feature the pulpit ministry of John MacArthur on this website. He’s preached through the entire New Testament, and if you click here, you can listen to his expositions on the Gospels and sort out your questions about the person and work of Jesus Christ. It’ll definitely be well worth your time and attention.

Thank you for stopping by. I'm praying for your spiritual rebirth and repentance.

#135  Posted by Philip Vance  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 12:11 PM

Steven,

"My father is probably the most morally acceptable person I know. He has better scruples on morality than most Christians I know"

- I am one is your position and my father is such as yours. However Isaiah 64:6 says "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags"

- We have to understand mortal man is not our example. Are you more righteous than Paul or Moses, after all they've comitted murder. There are many examples of men in scripture that by all rights are more righteous and deserving of salvation than us but by the example set forth in scripture salavation has never been based on some merit in them lest it be by WORKS. "It is by faith we are justifed through Christ".

- Jesus Christ is the standard by which we are judged. He suffered every temptation, and every evil and in all that, he committed no sin. That is why he is the just judge.

- No one can equal his example, which is why he paid our debt and we go free. But we must repent and trust in him. Not on the basis of any merit in ourselves, but on the basis of his promise to use.

- One cannot see a gray smudge on a gray sheet but only by contrast can we see clearly i.e. when we compare ourselves by the standard which is christ's life, we see how imperfect and corrupt and dirty our own hearts are.

"For somebody like him to go to Hell for not believing, that is something I cannot accept"

- Wether you accept it or not, that is what God's word says. Job 34 says "He repays a man for what he has done;he brings upon him what his conduct deserve"

"I suppose many of you would suggest that I should “save him”

- You cannot save him. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This is why we preach the Gospel.

"But what gives me the right to proselytise him?"

- The Lord does, he says go into the nations and proclaim the Good News.

"To force my religion down his throat and to give him an unjust ultimatum (something he has never done to me). I cannot forgive myself for that"

- Look at this another way, there is a sin of ommision and by not telling you about christ, he has is way sent you on your way to damnation. Another way to look at it, can you forgive yourself if he goes to Hell and you did not tell him the Gospel? His rejection of the gospel is on his conscience, but if you don't tell him, his blood will be required at your hands the scripture tells us.

Jesus told us that father would be turned against son and son against father. the house would be divided on acount of his name. Would do you then expect otherwise.

Truth is not easy to hear, it never has been. Jesus was put to death because of what he has to say.

Philip

#136  Posted by Josué Morissette  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 1:06 PM

A passage that I think helps greatly to the understanding of hell, it's severity, eternality, purpose, etc., is the last part of Mat 25:41 "... has been prepared for the devil and his angels". This verse has been looked at in prior posts, but from what I read not in this light. This means that at first hell was not meant for any humans, but for satan and his demons. And since satan fell before Adam and Eve did, it's safe to say that hell was created before the fall of man. And Eve, and Adam shortly after, by choosing to believe satan over God also chose, knowingly or unknowingly, his punishment.

This simple passage can therefore explain the severity of hell, by the magnitude of the fall of satan. Having been exposed to the direct presence of God, all of His glory, His power, His majesty and all that God is, the devil nonetheless chose his pride and rebelled against God. This is worthy of great punishment.

If the magnitude of the fall is not convincing enough to believe the reality of an eternal hell, then the nature of angels should help. Angels were created all at once and they were created to be eternal. As spiritual beings, a fitting punishment for demons has to be outside of what we could conceive or think as just for humans. Eternality of punishment is the only fitting consequence for those rebellious beings. We cannot also ignore the fact that salvation is not possible for demons, even angels would like to look into it (1 Peter 1:12).

Again the purpose of hell is made more evident by looking at who it was created for. The unbelievable apostasy of satan and demons, demands that God punish it with the utmost severity. Not creating a hell that is eternal and infinitely severe, diminishes the amplitude of the demonic fall. Hell, biblically described as eternal and severe beyond our understanding, demonstrate the seriousness of God towards rebelling against Him. The eternal destruction of this sin, first committed by satan, has to be manifested forever in the form of eternal punishment so that it's existence will never be known again.

Mankind, by virtue of man's original sin, has become partaker of that satanic rebellion. Only through God himself, can we be spared the just punishment for our own rebellion against God. By not siding with God, we side with satan and his demons and will incur the same punishment.

#137  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 1:33 PM

Steven,I'd like to point out that not boldly sharing the gospel with your dad which of course is hard to convince him of since you have such little confidence in God but for any other believer to not boldly share this good news & constantly seek for ways to declare to one such as your dad, is showing no mercy for a man you claim has sacrificed so much & been such a good dad & citizen. Being reserved about it is showing him honor? He did all these good things & yet, his devoted son thinks he doesn't deserve to hear about salvation? If the gospel was written on your heart, you'd want to share. When it's just by our own intellect, we don't do it justice at all.

It is obvious that your dad's approval is very important to you. From what I've read, you are more concerned about not stepping on his toes than you are about his salvation. So then....it's really about you. This isn't about your dad and his safety. It's about what you get out of that relationship.

So you and your dad are self starters. You each want to pick up your lifetime achievement awards...for a life that is temporary? If you can't have all the credit then you'd rather sit it out on hell? Problem is you won't even get to share a seat with him. Good thing, cause he will probably be cursing you for not having the chutzpah to warn him.

Here's the real irony. You might die before your dad. He might be left behind in pieces over your death. In his effort to pick up the pieces, God might put someone in his life to help him understand his loss and to walk with him through his grief. Someone that cares about his eternity and where he'll spend it. Your dad might have a need for God's perfect love like never before. And he might believe...for the first time. And where will his son be....waiting for him in hell? And dad goes to heaven? You are literally playing with fire.

I don't think you are on this blog trying to save us.I think you are truly worried about your dad. But you are of no benefit to him until you repent and surrender to Christ yourself....fully. Then you can ask Christ to please rescue your dad. You can ask Christ to use you to reach your dad and to give you the words & courage & to protect your heart in the event he rejects your warning. Could be up until now he thinks it's not such a big deal being that you have done little to heighten the warning. Never stop praying for your dad. Your dad likes to do good. Your dad would find plenty of opportunities to serve in the kingdom of God. There are some really fine Christians. I assure you that your dad would be in good company with some really Godly men. Maybe he'd even be a good mentor for those other Christians you mentioned that are struggling? One of my previous small group leaders is a former atheist. Just remembered that. Small world.

So. Steven, truth is often uncomfortable. But...that is where the light is. You said kids often teach the parents? Repent and turn to God so your dad might learn.

#138  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 2:36 PM

Rudi, very sad, indeed and yet your faith is so inspiring.

How comforting to know that the grief the faithful experience now will one day be completely healed. No more sad hearts. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Thank you for sharing, Rudi.

#139  Posted by Philip Vance  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 2:41 PM

We’re told by Paul, in his paraphrase of Psalm 14:1, that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). So all of us are wicked, and no one is righteous? That doesn’t seem to leave us with much hope or fit what Scripture says about the righteous.

Thankfully, Paul clarified further. It is when we are judged by the law that no one is righteous. But we are no longer under the law. Rather, we have “the righteousness of God apart from the law” (Romans 3:21). God’s righteousness is applied to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ, so that we are not judged by the law.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can be justified (declared righteous) through faith in Him. So those who trust in Christ are no longer counted among the wicked. Believers are righteous in God’s sight.

But those who reject God’s free gift will receive the reward of the wicked. What is their reward? “The wicked shall return to Sheol” (Psalm 9:17, ESV). Sheol is a Hebrew word that literally means “the grave” and is often used in the Old Testament as a euphemism for hell.

Eternal punishment is not a popular doctrine these days. Yet the Bible is unequivocal about the reality of such a future for the wicked. Jesus told us that “these will go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Those who object to this doctrine usually do so because they do not believe a loving God would condemn anyone to such a fate. But the Bible reveals a different perspective. God does not desire “that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Every day is a day of mercy. However, as a just judge (Psalm 7:11), God must punish wickedness. “He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness” (Psalm 9:8). Their punishment is of their own making. “The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands” (Psalm 9:16).

#140  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 2:49 PM

#136

Josue Morissette,

Very well said. An excellent post. The gulf between heaven and hell, between sin and holiness can not truly be grasped by humanity,but we must try.

We must search the scriptures and then let the scriptures search us.

Again, very well said.

#141  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 3:23 PM

God is our Father, 1st person of the Trinity.

Steven,

In the scriptures, God looks after the widow, orphans, and the fatherless. Parents may leave us or etc. God will never leave

his chosen ones. Those whom loves God more than their parents

and give their lives to God, God is the Father to them. Yes,

we must love our parents, but not more than God. Jesus mention

that in the Gospel.

Helps??

#142  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, May 16, 2011at 5:17 PM

Thanks for all the comments and interaction. Time to close this comment thread. We'll post one final article on hell to end the series...coming soon.

-Tommy