Written by Evi Idoghor
I recently came across a post by a professed Christian that stated, “God does not burn people in hell eternally.” His argument could be summed up in a single phrase: how can a loving God send people to hell? The subject of hell, its location, its meaning, and so on, is not new. Those who do not believe in God typically portray him as a harsh being who takes pleasure in tormenting those who are “smart enough” not to follow his “archaic ways.”
Some who claim him as their God, because of the love and mercy he has shown them, and possibly because of a half-baked theology that fails to paint the full picture of who God is, cannot understand how a loving God can also be a just God. As a result, they conclude that hell does not exist.
When I read the post and the caption, my heart broke for the person because he was attempting to reconcile both of God's attributes and in his mind it was not adding up. We cannot pick one side of God and reject the other simply because we are uncomfortable with the way he has decided to exercise justice forever.
While I understand that our natural mind may be trying to make sense of how a loving father can allow people to burn in hell forever by humanizing him and concluding that it is impossible, we must first understand that God is not a man, God's ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts.
Instead of trying to rationalize or transform him into something he is not, thus twisting biblical narrative to fit ours, his truth should unnerve us and prompt us to warn those who do not believe in him so that they do not end up in hell (Matthew 12).
2 Corinthians 5:11 (NLT) says, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”
It is also revealed in scripture that he is a consuming fire, just as much as he is love and merciful. The scriptures frequently remind us of how he judged the people of old, and we are warned that we will not escape his judgment - for good or for bad.
Jesus told his disciples to always pray so that they would be able to escape the things that were to come and stand before him. If hell were not a real place, Jesus would not have spent so much time discussing how the end of the age will be. In Matthew 13, after speaking about the parable of the weeds, he later explained what it meant to his disciples.
“The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of age. The son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
While we are busy going about our daily lives, let this be a constant reminder to us: Christ will return one day to judge the world. It is my hope that Christians who genuinely believe that hell does not exist or that a loving God would not send people to hell will reconsider their beliefs and ask God to show them where they are being misled by the enemy.
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