Saturday, January 17, 2015

You mean they get away with it!?

I've been thinking about a baffling situation. It just doesn't make sense. So I turn it over and over in my mind, trying to see it from different angles. It just never makes sense.

Here is the conundrum: Sometimes when I share my study about final punishment (and hell) with other believers, they are resistant to the thought that there may not be eternal conscious torment.

That's it. That's the thing that baffles me.

Christian people - actual Bible-believing human beings - who know about God, know they are but dust, are somehow defensive about their belief in an eternal fire that punishes forever. They seem to get almost angry over the suggestion that there might not be such a place.

If I begin to give biblical evidence to show the hope in Scripture against forever torment, they put up a hand to stop it. I've even seen them cover their ears with their hands. "I don't want to hear it. You'll never convince me otherwise."

And what is the reason? If we get past the traditional verses used (but not studied in context) - i.e. Lazarus and the rich man, worm that doesn't die, smoke that rises 'forever' - then a certain attitude of the heart emerges.

They usually say something like, "You mean to say they get away with it?" And I would respond, still incredulous, "Do you think being destroyed and never being able to attain eternal life is getting away with anything?"

"That is not punishment! What about paying for their sins? They deserve hell if they reject Jesus. If they are destroyed in the lake of fire, then they are basically getting off easy! What about people like Hitler who deserve to suffer for all eternity?"

Hitler you say. Okay, let's torture Hitler forever. Now then, what about my brother - does he deserve to suffer for all eternity? What about me, for that matter? And you? We are all sinners, aren't we? All fall short. There is none righteous. Not. even. one.

Dirk Waren, a minister who explains conditional immortality with great clarity, wrote in exasperation about those who think destruction isn't a just punishment:

"Can anyone look me in the eyes with a straight face and tell me that such a terrible and utter obliteration as this is not severe enough? I must ask once again, how much harsher does God’s just judgment on humanity need to be? I’m flabbergasted that anyone would suggest that this is not a severe enough punishment. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say this (with no apologies): Anyone who feels the unrighteous should suffer a severer punishment is sick, sadistic and wicked."1

Even our faith to believe is a gift from God. And those who belong to Satan have been blinded by him. Where does your sense of justice come from? And we, being sinful creatures, don't even publicly condone torture as a just punishment for even the worst crimes. What is the harshest penalty we give out? Death. It is death.

Do you find torture abhorrent in this life? Why would you find it acceptable in the next?

So, what is this all about? How can there be such a willingness to have hell. Even a desire for hell to exist. I don't know. Maybe they have someone in mind that did terrible things and they are comforted believing that that person will suffer forever because of it. Hmmm. Sounds like unforgiveness to me.

What could you possibly gain by the torment of another - and for ETERNITY for that matter! What kind of justice is that? What kind of glory does God receive from that? What kind of satisfaction does a person receive knowing about this kind of 'reality'?

Do we believe that the same Jesus who tenderly asked, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" will soon be throwing (they say millions) into a fiery torturous existence that has no escape? Will He then be pummeling His creation with rocks (that would be a fine torment) for all time, not allowing anyone to die and be able to escape the pain and remorse?

You'd THINK that folks would at least want to hear the biblical evidence (or you could say biblical argument) against eternal conscious torment. At least once - give it a chance. If it is not biblical then by all means, reject it! However, imagine if this tradition of torment is just a doctrine of man! Wouldn't we want to be aware of it and teach accordingly?

And If I am so wrong, friend and fellow believer, then am I not a false teacher? And shouldn't I be told of my sin and shown the ways I have gone wrong? Shouldn't it be pointed out how I have used Scripture out of context and twisted the meanings of our most beloved verses? It would be the loving thing to point it out to me.

Believe me, no one 'gets away with it'. God is not mocked. God is just. He has also told me over and over (maybe He has told you also) that He is merciful and compassionate. May we at least attain to being like our Father. He also told us He is making all things new. (Goodbye evil!)

As I see it, the only ones getting away with anything are those who are rescued and get to participate in the Great Exchange, where Jesus dies in our place.

Now, that is really getting away with something!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Just as...

God gives us a picture for our understanding

'Just as' verses explain to us plainly how it will be at the final judgment. Just as the tares, dried branches, and Sodom and Gomorrah were judged and destroyed by being 'burned up with fire' so will it be in Jesus' great Judgment at the end of the age. 

"So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age… and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:40) See Matthew 3:12 where it is explained, "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Unquenchable just means that the fire is unstoppable - it will succeed in burning up the chaff. This has nothing to do with forever torments!)

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away [just] as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned."  (John 15:6)

"And just as it happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking… but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed."  (Luke 17:28-30)

"…just as Sodom and Gomorrah…, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality…, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7 - the reality of 'eternal fire' is revealed, explained and illustrated in Sodom and Gomorrah's experience of destruction)

Besides the following verses, what else has been or will be 'burned up'? The harlot/Babylon (Rev. 18:8), the old heavens and earth (2 Pet. 3:10), and Edom (Is. 34). God appears to indeed be a consuming fire. And His judgments are true.

Even believers experience a judgment of fire (1 Cor. 3:10-15). God's judgments of fire have nothing to do with some agonizing molten 'hell'.

So, when the Bible states that something is "just as" something else, do you believe it?

If not, why not?

Taken from "Everyone will be salted with fire"