Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No Power of Hell

I had a conversation with a fellow rebelutionary the other day in the comments of a previous post about Hell, and its significance in evangelization. Her comment was,

"I think we also ought to be careful when talking about Satan and Hell.
We don't want people coming to Christ just because they don't want to go to hell. That isn't true conversion...that's an excape route."

That's a very good point, and she is absolutely right: we don't want people coming to Christ just because they don't want to go to Hell.

On the other hand, I've had a while to think about it and I came upon this striking thought- as we go further and further back in time and explore Christian thoughts on Hell, there's an interesting trend. The farther back you go, Christians have a healthier and healthier respect for (fear of?) Hell.

That's not to say that they were saved by their fear of Hell, they just knew that it was very real and that knowledge influenced their daily lives. Today, there is a blatant apathy or warm colloquial attitude about Hell. Phrases such as "Go to Hell," "Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company" (Twain), and "What the Hell?" describe a generation that has absolutely no grasp on the true nature of Hell.

Satan isn't Big Daddy down under

Many people have the notion that Satan rules Hell or that he inflicts torment upon those who go there. But this is a dangerous concept, because it is wrong. Consider: Satan committed an evil act and was cast out of heaven. If we sin, we go to Hell. Does not both receive the same treatment for sin against God? Satan will be tormented as much as every other sinner who ends there.

Hell isn't a Block Party

Those who think they will have company in Hell are in a dangerous position. Yes, there is the devastating truth that many will be there. But that doesn't mean that they will all be able to hold hands and suffer together. The suffering there will be unimaginable, and incomparable to anything on this earth.

There will be no body to suffer in, the suffering will happen directly to the soul. Those who reject the "Grace of God... [that] has Appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11) will not just unfortunately get to spend the weekend away from God; they will forever suffer in agony for ETERNITY. There will be no solace or comfort from others who suffer with them.

Hell IS...

Hell is real. Hell is worse than any human tongue can begin to describe. Hell is not just a four letter word, it is serious business. We should use it with gravity even when we are using its correct meaning.

Where does Hell belong in evangelization? Fear of Hell doesn't save, but it does get a human thinking about subjects that are very serious. Life is short, and in this snippet of time we decide to join God in his predestined will for us or we decide to forever depart from it.

So my rebelutionary friend is absolutely right. We do not want people coming to Christ because of their fear of Hell. But I think it is imperative that we have as firm a connection with the truth of eternal damnation as the apostles did. We should live with that truth on our minds, as it will give true purpose to our words and intensity to our evangelization.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease!
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid:
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
Read More:
Romans 6:23 | Matthew 8:12 | Matthew 25:41 | Luke 16:23-24 | Justice, Forgiveness, and Transformation (The Berean Call) | I Hate Christ (A Puritan's Mind)


Lechem Ben HaAri said...

Hell is a pagan concept. There is no underworld in the Bible that is a permanent place of torment. This was a concept long held be pagans that was later interpreted into an alien eastern scripture that they knew little about and cared even less to learn. The Hebrew faith is an eastern faith with its own twist on reincarnation called The Resurrection. I would even argue that a firm belief that our final destiny is in heaven or Hell is an open act of defiance and denial of the Resurrection. Christ performed this miracle twice to stress this very theology.

What hell is as described in the Bible is three very different notion in Jewish cosmology all smashed into a single pagan notion of Hell.

Gehenna - Purgatory as described by the Catholics

Sheol - a place where ALL the dead wait for the Resurrection. Christ even stayed here for three day. It is the grave. But it is also experience differently by different souls based on their level of piety. It is actually compartmentalized.

Then there is final death, when all that refuses to accept God's laws are eliminated from existence. They are turned to ashes and swept away into the wind.

But even if hell existed, just as most Christians believe, that does not justify saying everyone else is going to Hell. For one thing, few or no Christians are literate in any of the Biblical languages, so they really don't understand what is being said in scripture. And then by claiming others are going to hell, they are committing heresy by putting themselves in God's judgment seat. And that is just wrong. It is not their place to condemn others to such a judgment. God is not about to condemn billions to hell simply because they are of another faith or see thing slightly differently than YOU. And it suggest that you do not honor God but yourself by making such claims. Notice how ethnocentric these claims tend to be. Often base on race and not faith. There is a reason for that. It is too often used to bolster yourselves above others and not to glorify God.

Re-Read the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is about the love that god has even for those of alternative monotheistic faiths who achieve God’s love through their own compassion for others. It is you love for your fellow man that determines your salvation, not your so-called faith. You serve God be serving others, not by saying they are going to hell.

Lastly insisting all others are going to hell goes against the good news Christ preached.

And sadly, Hell simply does NOT exist in ALL of scripture. You will find not a single reference to it. But it is a pagan import like Christmas and the Easter bunny.

Seth said...

Hell is separation from God. I remember in "The Case for Faith" Lee Stroebel put it very eloquently as something along these lines:

If you don't believe in what has been done for you (through Christ's death, the Bible and faith) then you can't live a truly spiritually led life and therefore you can't fulfill the plan that God has for you. Essentially this is the same as hell. God created everyone for a reason, but it is each person's choice to follow that plan.

Lechem Ben HaAri said...

You said

"If you don't believe in what has been done for you (through Christ's death, the Bible and faith) then you can't live a truly spiritually led life and therefore you can't fulfill the plan that God has for you."

And what of the AntiChrist? Doesn't he do God's will and fullfill his destiny even as he rejects God? Or what of all those prophesied to reject God? Such as Gog and Magog? Do they not fullfuill thier destiny?

And what of the conjurer who summoned Nathan's spirit from Sheol so Saul may consult it. Doesn't that witch live outside the Bible and God's will and grace? But yet didn't that witch have a spitual life strong enough to summon a prophet of God from the grave?

And What of all the saints that lived before Christ's birth? What of the Samaritan that Christ praised? And what of those non Jews and Non Christians God Praises? Such as Cyrus the Great, the only other individual called a messiah other than Christ in all of Scripture? What of these individuals, are they not with God?

And what of the Bible itself? A work not compilated until late antiquity, centuries after Christs death. And What of those most ancient of Christian Churches like the Syriacs, an Aramaic speaking church, whose canon is radically different than your own? Are they damned?

In the end all you have proven is Solomon's observation, "Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity." That is where your comment eminates from, your own vanity and not from scripture.