biblemike wonders

There isn't anything new in what I have to say, but I do see life from an unique perspective. As my body is shutting down, my soul is opening up to a greater and greater relationship with Christ. I am sharing the things I learn as I go through my trials so that those who read what I write will be encouraged in their own walks by how gracious God has been to me in mine. Ask me questiions, dispute my views and most of all pray for me. www.ucfm.net
UCFM Evangelistic Association

Monday, February 21, 2005

 

A Truly Loving God Wouldn’t Send People to Hell, Would He?

Wanna Bet?


Atheists often claim that Christianity could not be true because a truly loving God would not send billions of people to hell. Although this seems somewhat sensible at first hearing, it makes assumptions about the God of the Bible that are not true. Many claim that those who have never heard of Jesus Christ should not be forced to go to hell.

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

First, we must note that the Bible says that God will judge all the people righteously.

“And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” Psalm 9.8

Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity.” Psalm 98.9

It also seems that God will judge those more strictly who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ than those who have never heard.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on Him.” John 3.36

“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; That very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” John 12:48

Paul speaks on this issue specifically so that there can be no doubt as the teaching on the matter of God’s judgment. Paul tells us that those who have never heard of the law are not imputed sin under the law. He also says that those who follow the law (Jews) will be judged by the law. People who have never heard the law will be judged by God’s.
“For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation.” Romans 5:13

“For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law.” Romans 2:11-12

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Laws, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” Romans 2:14-16

A further indication that the judgment of God is based upon what we know what we have been given can be seen in warning by James:

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1

Those who know the Gospel, study and teach it will be under stricter judgment, since they have the ability to guide others or lead them astray. Jesus, in the parable of the master and the slaves (Luke 12:41-48) talked about the difference between those who do not know the law and those who know God’s Law and His will.

“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, much, of him they will ask all the more.” Luke 12:47-48

There are many Christians who say that all those who die without faith in Christ will be relegated to hell, even if they have never heard of the Gospel. However, I think Scripture takes a slightly different approach. This is not any sort of ecumenical gospel, God forbid my name should be coupled with any such nonsense. Those who have heard of Jesus and His Gospel but have refused to believe have rejected Him. As such, they will fall under the condemnation of God, because they have rejected His provision for repairing the damage caused by their own disobedience. Therefore the atheist is still without excuse in rejecting God. Those who perpetrate evil, even without knowledge of the Gospel, will likewise be condemned, since they have violated their God given conscience. In the same way those who play “Church Roulette” by going to church on Sunday and living apart from God the rest of the time will be condemned.

“And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abided in him. 1 John 4:16

The first inaccuracy is the concept that love allows the object of that love to do whatever they want. This permissive kind of “love” isn’t really love at all. Any parent will recognize that allowing your children to do whatever they want is not loving at all. If you did this, your children would grow up to be selfish brats, much like the people who brought us our current cultural problems. They would be incapable of truly loving other people. Pagan gods were caught up in their own intrigues and so allowed humans to do whatever they wanted. However, the God of the Bible wants us to love Him and other people above everything we care about or do. When Jesus was asked about the most important rules, He replied they were about relationships.

“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul’ and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these commandments depend the whole law and the prophets” Matthew 22:36-40.

The Creator God of the universe is obviously a God of order. The laws that govern the physical universe are so precise that we can calculate the future positions of planets, stars and galaxies thousands to millions of years into the future. Would a God of such precision create a moral law that was random or frequently changing, for that matter, changing at all? It does not seem likely or consistent with the character of the God, who we know from the reality of creation. Thus it appears that unchanging moral laws are the more likely expression of the Creator God. The Bible claims that the unchanging moral laws are absolutely the work and expression of God’s character. Therefore the purpose of the moral laws are to show us and teach us about what is required in order to enter into God’s kingdom. They also allow us to live with each other on earth without causing injury to one another. If we all perfectly fulfilled the moral laws of God, we would all be living in perfect harmony with each other. Our failure to fulfill the purpose of God’s law is why we seek Him as the source of our salvation for we have condemned ourselves.

“Vindicate me in your righteousness, my God and Lord; do not let them gloat over me.” Psalm 35:24

“And the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge. Selah” Psalms 50:6

“Your righteousness reaches to the stars, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You?” Psalm 71:19

God created spiritual beings for the purpose of expressing His love, those beings must have complete free will in order to express that love. Of course, that same free will allows for those beings to disobey and even challenge God. The fact is that most people don’t like God’s rules and don’t want to live by them or even by the concept of trying to live by them. The vast majority of people want to run their own lives without submitting to God or anyone else. Somehow they reason that despite this attitude God should let them into heaven because they have been as good or better than most people. The problem with this is that God does not grade on a curve. He grades on a pass/fail system where passing is 100%. All who enter God’s kingdom must be holy as He is holy and that means without sin, that is with no violations of God’s Law. They must also be willing to have God prevent them from ever sinning again as there can be no sin in heaven. This means that people must be willing to submit themselves fully to God’s will. All humans fall short of God’s moral requirements. However, God has made a provision to erase all sins we have committed in this life so that we can gain entry into heaven. That same provision makes us perfect so that we will never sin again. It is only found in the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Jesus took the punishment and gives us what we do not deserve – eternal life. In accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, all our sins are erased, and Jesus works to change us into His image, if we will allow Him to do so.

So why doesn’t God change everyone into perfect beings incapable of sin and let them into heaven? Actually, the question is asking God to be cruel not kind? Many people prefer hell to the alternative of submitting to God. All people who end up going to hell will do so because they chose to go there rather than spend eternity submitting to God. People like to savor their favorite sins and answer to no one about that. They know if they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, He will expect submission and change and they will have to give up some of their autonomy, so they deny Him either with rationalizations or outright refusal.

At this time in history there is more evidence demonstrating the existence of God than at any time in the past. There are many traveling throughout the world and proclaiming the “free gift” of salvation in Jesus Christ. The gift is free, but you will end up having to give up your pet sins, your selfishness and your pride. Since none of these character traits are allowed in heaven, holding on to any of them guarantees you will be bared from entering heaven by your own choices and will be eternally separated from God in the place we call hell. Therefore those who go to hell do so voluntarily, preferring hell to complete submission to a holy and just God.

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