I read a blog post recently that touched on the subject of hell (click here to read it). It was a good post with some interesting points that I’m still brooding over. But it wasn’t the post that got my attention and sparked this post here – it was the comments section. In particular, there were these two guys going back and forth over this and that, in terms and phrases that required of me to pull out my dictionary a few times just to understand what they were saying to each other.
What particularly caught my attention was the one guy speaking of degrees of torment in hell, and I’m like thinking “So what”. What if there are degrees of torment or not, whether we are completely annihilated (obliterated) or not? Whether hell exists physically or not, should really not be a matter of grave concern to Christians. The matter of the fact is that hell is a place where God is not and I simply don’t want to be there, regardless of whatever manner of shape or form that might be.
For a long time Christianity was marked by the fire and brimstone messages that made one fear hell more than God. People were ‘coerced’ into Heaven because they didn’t want to go to hell (and burn and suffer for eternity), instead of being encouraged to simply love God and remain in His presence now and in Heaven forever. Then Liberal Christianity took a swing the other way with statements that said hell does not exist, that a loving God would not allow His creation to suffer for eternity. And because there is such a wide variety of thought on hell (read ofdustandkings’ post), I now prefer the stance that hell is a place totally removed (or devoid) of God (period). Whatever else may be said about it, is pure speculation and borders on the realm of the imaginative.
The only reason that I can muster why people talk about hell so much is because they are prideful (in their knowledge) or want to justify their behaviour in disobeying God. As to the latter, they are making hell out to be an okay end of life place to be, just in case they land up there one day. You see, if we focus on what it is like instead of it being void of God, then we don’t mind going there and inevitably start to ‘stray’ from God.
Now, I am not suggesting that we discard or disregard the doctrine of hell as it was a significant part of Jesus’ ministry (read ofdustandkings for references). But what I am saying is that we must be exceedingly cautious of focusing too much attention on it. In fact, for the most part, most people would be far better off talking about how to be getting involved in church life and being equipped to do the work of the ministry (see Ephesians 4:11-12), rather than talking about hell.
When confronted by the question of what you believe about hell, keep it ‘simplistic’ and simply say that hell is a place where God is not.
And then proceed to tell them what Heaven is like (see Revelation 7:16-17, 21:1-7) and how they can get there (see Romans 10:13 & ACTS 4:12).
What are your thoughts on this? Am I missing the boat or do we need to engage more on hell with unbelievers? Should believers be talking about hell? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say
Unless otherwise stated, all references are from the New International Version (NIV)
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Revelation 7:16-17 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. (17) For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 21:1-7 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (5) He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (6) He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. (7) He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Rom 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
A Facebook friend of mine recently posted a picture of what was claimed to be the mummified remains of a fairy, with a comment / caption that fairy remains had been found and that we must decide for ourselves. Well, it didn’t take long for me to determine that the picture / story was a hoax. A very quick and simple search on Google took me to snopes.com with an article wherein which the person who had committed the hoax, had confessed that it was an April fools hoax in 2007.
What surprised the original hoaxer though was that even after he had confessed to it being a hoax, many people were undeterred and still believed the story, including the existence of fairies. What was more interesting though was his statement that a previous fairy hoax (the Cottingley Fairies), had only been determined / revealed to be a hoax after 50 years. That is a long time for a hoax to be active and believed. And this saddened me even more.
You see, if a story (hoax) had gone on for 50 years, it is very probable that there were people who had heard the story and died believing that story. They died believing that fairies were real. They died believing that there was more than God. They died believing a lie.
I simply cannot understand why is it that people run after all sorts of stories that in the end prove to be misleading or false. Why can they simply not just read the Bible and be happy with it? Read the rest of this entry
In my post yesterday (All the right levers and knobs) I made mention of how I battled to get a submersible pump to work correctly and how only after having phoned the hiring company, was I able to get the machine to work correctly. What I did not mention in yesterday’s post, was that I had to phone the company twice.
The first time I phoned, I spoke with the receptionist, who conveyed information to me after having spoken with someone else (whom I assumed knew what they were talking about). Well, when the advice given did not result in the desired outcome, I was forced to phone again. This time, I also spoke with someone else, me not being certain whether it was the same ‘someone else’ who gave the receptionist the ‘unhelpful’ information. He confirmed the lever and knobs thing the receptionist had told me about, but it soon became clear from his explanation, that the lady had gotten the lever functions reversed. After I had spoken with him, I did as he said, and this time the machine kept turning for over an hour, until it ran out of petrol (gasoline). I was euphoric that by speaking to the right person, I was able to move ahead with my project.
Our Christian walk can be very much the same. Read the rest of this entry
I needed to empty my pool and had two options availabe to me; I could scoop it out with a 10 litre bucket or hire a submersible pump. Although the 4000 scoops with the bucket would have done much for my physice, I decided on the submersible pump. So I went to the local plant hire business and hired one. They pulled the rip-cord and it roared to life.
I loaded it into the car, headed back home, got it all set up, and pulled the rip-cord. Nothing happened. So I pulled again. Still nothing happened. I thought that I just wasn’t strong enough or didn’t have the right technique, so I pulled again and again and again. Nothing!!! As I composed myself from the rising agitation, I noticed that there was this red switch on the other side that said “On” and “Off”. I turned it to the “On” position, pulled the rip-cord and it roared to life. Oh, how happy I was.
The euphoria lasted a whole ten seconds. Read the rest of this entry
Well not really!! But this was what the bumper sticker said on the back of a very small bakkie (utility vehicle). I got to thinking of growing up this morning whilst jogging. When I was at school in my senior years, I used to win all the athletic track events from the 200m to the 3000m. Even after school, I delivered newspapers for a living and could run a route faster than the others could drive it on their bikes. I loved to run.
Well, I just started jogging/running again for the first time after 15 years. What happened you might ask? I grew up; I started working, went to gym to bulk up, wooed my wife. All of these took time away, and it wasn’t long before running was the lowest priority on my ‘to do’ list. There were other ‘more important’ things taking my time up. Growing up had altered my life.
This is true of our Christian walk too. God does not want us to remain in our ‘childish’ state only able to consume milk. He is wanting us to mature and to grow up so that we can consume spiritual meat (see Hebrews 5:13-14). In fact He needs us to grow up. Why? Because as people enter the kingdom, they are like babies needing to consume spiritual milk. But if there are no ‘grown up’ Christians to help them, they themselves will never grow up (see Philippians 3:17).
But what does a ‘grown up’ Christian look like?