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Is it God’s Fault for Sending People To Hell?

Written By Jeremy Hor, Singapore

Most people don’t have an issue imagining a place like heaven, but the concept of hell is something that perplexes many, even Christians. Some of the most common questions that have been asked include: If God is love, how can He turn people away from heaven and send them to hell? If God is all-powerful, why can’t He just banish hell altogether and make everything heavenly?

These are legitimate questions—assuming we are helpless subjects who play no part in deciding our own eternity. But is that really the case? Before we point the finger at God, perhaps we should first ask ourselves this question: Do we really want to be with God?

Given the choice, I know that deep down, my natural instinct is to rebel against God. Why? Because I would rather follow my own heart and try to fulfill my own dreams and ambitions, and live the way I prefer. If being with God means giving up myself and living life His way, then I probably won’t go for it.

What would God do in such a situation? As a loving Father, He doesn’t force us to return to Him, against our will. Why? Because when God made man in His image, He created us with free will. He didn’t make us like robots that would follow Him automatically, but gave us the choice to decide whether we wanted to follow and obey Him or not. So when man decided to reject Him, God “gave [us] up” to sin (Rom 1:24, 26, 28) and allowed us do what we wanted—including facing the full consequence of our choices.

We may have experienced this in our lives, when we proceeded with our own plans, and suffered the painful outcomes that resulted.

Ultimately, God grants those who reject Him the ultimate dignity of their choice by allowing them to withdraw from Him. But what we fail to consider, however, is how terrifying the consequence really is.

Imagine a place devoid of anything good. We can catch a glimpse of it in some countries where there is no authority, anarchy and chaos reigns, and people are free to indulge in their deepest and darkest desires. Imagine the darkness, pain, and sorrow that we would feel in such a place, without an authority or system that would sustain life and bring in things that are good. That is hell—and that is what we choose when we reject God. When we rebel against God, we cannot be with Him, and therefore cannot enter heaven.

So, if you look again at the question of “Why would God send people to hell?”, perhaps the more accurate question is, “Why do we choose to go to hell?”

An Alternative Choice

So, do we have an alternative to hell?

The Bible starts and ends with the picture of a garden. The original Garden of Eden was perfect, but man’s rebellion corrupted it. Since then, we have been living in an imperfect world, in which the consequences of sin are seen everywhere—in broken relationships, injustice, violence, and war.

But Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross means that we can now look forward to a day when all these effects of sin will be reversed. Jesus’ sacrifice means that we can enjoy the eternal bliss of being in the presence of God, where peace, joy, righteousness, and all good things abound.

Instead of destruction, we have a choice of entering the presence of God’s holiness, where we will be able to see Him face to face (Rev 22:4). It will be like returning to the comfort of home and the security of our beloved family members after being away on a long trip. What a wonderful thought!

Why do we need to go to hell? Because we choose to reject God. But we don’t have to make this choice. We can decide to make heaven our eternal home; the choice is ours to make.

Why Does It Have To Be This Way?

Title: Why Does It Have To Be This Way?
Materials: Digital Collage
Description: Life. It’s unpredictable. Some days it’s peaceful, other days it’s tumultuous. Sometimes it’s beautiful, other times it’s dreary. Some of us enjoy good health and long life, some of us suffer continually and die early. Ever paused and asked why?

Creation-and-Ruin

Creation vs Ruin
We revel in creation’s beauty and at the same time, destroy in the name of “progress”. Creation is dying – why does it have to be this way?

 

Life-and-Death

Life vs Death
The birth of a child brings us immense joy. The death of a loved one wrenches our hearts. Death comes to all – why does it have to be this way?

 

Health-and-Suffering

Health vs Suffering
We splurge and try all sorts of remedies to preserve our health. But malnourished children are dying from hunger and disease every day. Humanity is suffering – why does it have to be this way?

 

Peace-and-War

Peace vs War
Some of us are born into peace, others face daily tragedies and calamities. There is no end to trouble and war – why does it have to be this way?

 

Heaven-and-Hell

Heaven vs Hell
Creation is dying.
Death comes to all.
Humanity is suffering.
There is no end to trouble and war.
Let’s stop pretending that everything is okay.
It’s time to ask questions and find the answers today.

Is Christianity just a “Get Out Of Hell Free” Card?

James Bunyan is a bit of a fidget, to be honest. His inability to sit still tends to spill over into all sorts of areas of his life: he loves travelling, good writing, all sports (except Frisbee), the sense of purpose that the gospel gives him, exotic teas and the satisfaction of peeling off a sticker all in one go. He lives in Twickenham (London), where he works as a Christian Union staff worker for UCCF: The Christian Unions, a student mission movement, and he recently married his best friend, Lois. That was a good move.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

Christianity is simple, isn’t it?

After all, don’t Bible bits like John 3:16 show that all you need to do to be a Christian is to believe in God now and then you’ll go to heaven (good place) rather than hell (bad place) when you die? Isn’t Christianity basically a kind of divine life-insurance that mostly affects my (hopefully distant) future?

Well, in short, the answer is amazingly yes! And also definitely no.

You see, John 3:16 explains that the wonderful news of Jesus starts with the truth that anyone who trusts Jesus need not be lost to death but can live forever. And never must we lose sight of what a wonderful truth that is.

Christianity is never less than avoiding hell. But I want to suggest that it is so much more.

In fact, reducing the good news of Jesus to the point that it only has one real consequence is dangerous, because you end up throwing out so many of the incredible gifts that God really offers.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t let you do that.

John’s gospel doesn’t let you do that.

Even John 3:16 doesn’t let you do that.

If we live like avoiding hell is the only important truth in Christianity (what I’m going to affectionately name “GOOHF faith”), then here are just a couple of things that John 3:16 shows we’ve thrown out.

 

“For God so loved the world…”

If “GOOHF” is true, then Christianity is individualistic at best and deeply selfish at worst. After all, heaven is all about me and my comfort, right? Jesus died for me and that needn’t concern anyone else.

And, while we’re at it, why go to church? The only thing I have in common with that lot is that they, too, have bought into the same insurance. I have as much in common with them as I do with other people who get their jeans in H&M. Well done them. Splendid choice. Leave me alone.

Happily, this kind of individualism is not actually an option for the Christian. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world. His purposes in sending Jesus were not to flatter your individualism, but were cosmic in scale: He came so that the whole world might have a chance of eternal life—that’s all kinds of people, of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds.

And out of this multitude of people, God builds a Church family. As London vicar John Stott wrote, “For His purpose . . . is not just to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build His church.”

Christianity is not just about you but is about all people everywhere; they need to have the same chance you had. And it’s not just about dodging hell, either—it means belonging to the new community that God is building in Jesus. It means loving, welcoming, and accepting all those others who believe in Jesus.

For God so loved the world.

 

“…that he gave his one and only Son…”

If you’re a GOOHF believer, then you’ve already acknowledged that God gave you Jesus—after all, He’s the guy that you need to get to heaven. And that’s about as far as it goes, really, because once Jesus has died for you, He has ceased being useful to you.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t merely talk about Jesus in the past tense, as someone who has done everyone a grand service in the past. Jesus is also someone who occupies the present tense—He is the risen Lord who continues to love, build, and shape His people by the power of His Holy Spirit.

And it doesn’t even end there!

GOOHF believers already know that heaven is the place where Christians get to experience the very best that this universe has to offer. And what is the most precious thing to Christians? Is it not the One the Bible refers to as the author and perfecter of their faith?

Indeed, the Bible says that at the end of time, the new mankind of the church will find its rightful place around the throne of Jesus, worshiping Him passionately forever. Heaven is less about a comfortable place for you to retire, and much more a place where you will meet the most important person in your life.

Has it ever occurred to you that one day, you won’t have to read your Bible to see what Jesus is like? At the end of it all, you’ll be able to see Him face to face!

And if that doesn’t excite you, you’ve missed the point of the Christian faith, because Jesus is not the means to an end—He is the point of it all.

 

“…that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.”

Christianity is anything but an insurance guarantee that doesn’t affect your present. Rather, when you decide to follow Jesus, there’s not one aspect of your past, present, or future that will remain unchanged, not one iota of your instinct, priorities, and character that will not be revolutionized beyond recognition, and not one part of your future that will not belong to Him. Eternal life always starts immediately.

It’s uncomfortable stuff, isn’t it? All of a sudden, Christianity becomes costly! How on earth, you must be wondering, can this be worth it?

Well, later on in John’s gospel, Jesus defines eternal life as this: Knowing the Father and the Son He has sent. That’s it. He means that there is simply nothing better than knowing and being known by the One who created this whole universe, who lovingly placed the stars where they are, and who thought of you before anyone else had.

Why is GOOHF faith ultimately lacking? Because it neglects to mention the incredible truth that you were made to know and follow the loving God of everything, and to be known by Him in return.

And that is why it’s not as good as the real thing too.

ODJ: with the Lord

July 26, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

Since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died (v.14).

Everyone wants to know what heaven will be like,and over the past several years a spate of books have promised to tell them. Don Piper was first with his 90 Minutes in Heaven. Following that bestseller, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real were published and enthusiastically received by readers. One book went in the opposite direction—literally—23 Minutes in Hell.

These books that claim to provide firsthand accountsof the afterlife have encouraged many, but I’ll limit my words to what we find in Scripture. Read Luke 23:43,2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:21-23 and1 Thessalonians 4:14, and you’ll discover that one thing Scripture says about heaven is that it’s where we’re with the Lord. This is enough, because the presence of the Lord is what makes heaven ‘heaven’. Why wasn’t Lazarus upset when Jesus raised him from the dead? Why didn’t he complain? I think he may have been glad to come back to life because Jesus was there. Lazarus’ house in Bethany had become a corner of heaven.

We get another glimpse of heaven in Revelation 6:9-11. John writes of the martyred saints shouting to the Lord, “How long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood?” They’re not suffering, for they’ve been delivered from the grasp of sin. But they aren’t entirely satisfied either. As great as it is to be a disembodied soul in heaven, there’s something even better: to be a whole person living on Earth.

And so these saints pray for the return of Jesus and the resurrection of their bodies. Let’s join them in the closing prayer of Scripture, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).—Mike Wittmer
› Matthew 18:10-22

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Read Revelation 21-22 to learn what will happen when Jesus returns to Earth.  
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