Tuesday, March 8, 2011

God and Hell

A fellow minister and I were having a conversation one day about the nature of God and what God does. We discussed a number of topics, which somehow led us to a discussion about hell. The other minister was my senior by more than 30 years, and I initially attempted to be as modest as possible in our discussion.

At one point she turned to me and stated bluntly, “my God doesn’t send people to hell.”
I replied, “I agree.”
She looked at me with a puzzled look and said almost in a question, “You do.”
I said, “Yes.”
She said, “But, I don’t understand. I thought that you said earlier that God sends people to hell?”
I said, “He does.”
After a long pause she said, “Are you saying my God and your God are different?”
I replied, “It certainly appears that way.”
She then spent several minutes saying some comments to me that I would rather not repeat. But her comments did indicate that she might not be regenerate. She even accused me of believing the Bible. Oh, the humanity!

After she calmed down, her intellectual curiosity emerged, and she asked me “what is the difference between your God and mine?”
I said, “You invented your god in your mind. Your god looks exactly like you want a god to look. Your god does exactly what you want a god to do. Your god is just a bigger, more powerful version of you.”
Despite my high accolades, she wasn’t flattered.

She responded in kind. “Your god only exists in a book. If we took away the Bible, then you wouldn’t even know who God is.”
I said, “Exactly.”
She scoffed.
I continued, “Basically, you are saying that my God is revealed, but your god exists in each person’s mind and varies from one person to the next.”
She said, “Well, sort of. God is the same, but we each see her differently.”
I asked, “How do you know who has the correct god?”
She replied, “It isn’t about who has the correct God. Everyone is free to see God differently, and it isn’t our place to judge people.”

I said, “So I am free to believe in the God of the Bible?”
She then said a few things that would indicate that I am an idiot who should never be allowed to speak in public. She ended the conversation by saying that most intelligent people would choose her god anyway.

So, I guess she showed me. We should simply have an election to determine who God really is. Maybe we should only let the “intelligent” people vote in the election. Maybe we could all bring our jewelry and make our own god.

Maybe God doesn’t need us to define who He is after all. Maybe, if God wants us to know who He is, He will tell us. Maybe, He will even say, “I AM WHO I AM.”

The “I AM” tells us the truth about heaven and hell.

1. Heaven and hell are both real. Matthew 23:33.
2. Hell is not air conditioned. Our attempts to make hell more tolerable can’t change the fact that it is place of unspeakable agony and eternal separation from our King. 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
3. Hell doesn’t end. Mark 9:48. Jude 1:7.
4. Sin separates us from God. Unless the separation is removed, we will spend the rest of eternity separated from God. The cross of Jesus is the only way back to God. Matthew 7:13.
5. We choose to sin, and we deserve hell. We do not deserve heaven. Heaven is a gracious gift from God. Ephesians 2:8.
6. God is the judge of the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:5.
7. We reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7.
8. God sends people to hell. Luke 12:5. 2 Peter 2:4.
9. God invites people to heaven. We should too. John 14:6.
10. Hell should break our hearts. It should move us to tears. It should move us to action. Hebrew 3:13.