In yesterday’s post I looked at living a life with the reality of Creator God present in our minds. Whether you think Him a monster or not, Creator God does exist. Deal with it!
In this post I’m going to look specifically at the issue of punishment in hell for those who refuse God’s offer of peace.
An atheist stated, “god could have created a universe that didn't require death and punishment,”
The same atheist asked, “Have atheists been brought into existence just so God could watch them burn forever?”
I’ll address both of these in this post.
I’ve said that one of the reasons that God allows suffering, pain, trials etc. is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
. Pain takes those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and draws them closer and closer to God.
. Pain takes those who are against God and drives them deeper and deeper into their state of rebellion.
Something to remember, the importance of which is impossible to underestimate is that rebelling against your Creator may feel brave and noble to you. The problem is - that rebellion does not take place in the absence of consequence. Rejecting God carries negative consequences during our time on earth AND in the next stage of life.
. The consequences of denying God while on earth are meant to be CORRECTIVE in nature. Physical, spiritual and emotional pain are meant to be a warning that something is wrong; that something needs to change.
. The consequence of denying our Creator that we will experience after death has nothing to do with correction.
If you want to follow along, then turn to 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-10. Notice in verses 8,9 that:
. The punishment for those who are against God is not corrective in nature. It’s punitive.
. The punishment for those who are against God is not meant to be transforming. It's retributive.
. The punishment that God is going to hand out is “eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.”
. These people will be forever separated from anything good.
. This is what is promised by God for all those who refuse to know God and who refuse to obey the gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Like I said in yesterday’s post, God doesn’t care one bit whether you like this or not. Call Him a monster if you want. The fact is, there is going to be hell to pay for those who reject, deny and rebel against their Creator.
Some people have a mental picture of God that simply doesn’t allow for Justice to be carried out. These people say that Jesus is ONLY a God of love. They ignore the fact that Creator God is also a God of justice.
Notice also that retribution is not the only reason for the punishment of those who refuse God’s offer of salvation. The punishment of those who deny God is also meant to serve as
a counter balance,
a back drop,
to the glorious mercy, grace and glory of those who have accepted the forgiveness of their sins.
Both the suffering (v 8,9) and the reward (v10) will be eternal.
“But,” you ask, “How can a God of Love also be a God of Vengeance?”
There are three reasons why God could not dispense with hell.
Because Creator God is a moral Being who genuinely loves, and because a moral universe where genuine love exists is better than an amoral universe where robotic love would exist, God created a moral universe. Because we live in a moral universe:
1. Those who deny God will be receiving exactly what they deserve. I said a few posts back that:
. Those in hell will understand beyond all doubt that they deserve to be there.
. Those in heaven will understand beyond all doubt that they don’t deserve to be there.
Paul tells us in Romans 2:5 that those who reject God are even now, in their earthly “rejecting” phase of their lives, “storing up wrath for themselves.”
Judgment will be the rule of the day.
2. Because God is Just, and because this is a moral universe with objective right and wrong, God cannot allow wickedness to go unpunished. To do so would be to say that evil is acceptable and tolerable. In a moral universe, evil is neither of those things.
3. One day, God and His righteousness will be vindicated. Right now, atheists accuse God of being a monster. They accuse God of being evil. They accuse God of being responsible for the presence of evil. For now, God allows people to think what they want. A day is coming, however, when Truth and Righteousness will be put on display in such a manner that all will know, and no one will argue about the wrongness of rebellion against God. God will be shown to be Holy and faithful and true.
But the atheist said that God COULD have created a world where none of this is necessary. Actually, in a moral universe where Justice is seen to be carried out, that’s not true. God cannot contradict His own rules of logic, nor can He contradict His own nature. A God who is Just cannot ignore Justice. On the other hand, for believers, the scenario that atheists say COULD have happened has already been carried out. Jesus dying on the cross has:
. Satisfied the requirements of justice (point #1)
. Upheld the moral universe (point #2)
. Vindicated Himself as truth and faithful and forgiving of sins. (point #3)
Yet hell and the promise of eternal punishment remains.
What does this tell you?
The answer should make your knees wobble.
All COULD have been forgiven under what Jesus has done yet God has seen to it that not all WILL be saved.
. Knowing in advance that some would reject His offer of forgiveness, God still went ahead and gave us the freewill choice to reject Him.
. Knowing in advance that some would reject His offer of forgiveness, God put in place a means of forgiveness and reward AS WELL AS a means of punishment for those who maintain a position of rebellion toward their God.
THIS is the reality in which we live and those with wisdom will adjust their lives accordingly.
Your Creator doesn’t care if you don’t like it.
You Creator doesn’t care if you think He should have done it differently
God is justified in bringing this future judgment upon the ungodly and He has chosen to exercise that authority.
God is justified in forgiving anyone of His choosing and He has chosen to exercise that authority.
More than that, as is graphically illustrated for us in Romans 9:22-24, God has chosen to use the DESTRUCTION of some to highlight His grace, and mercy and glory in the SALVATION of others.
It’s difficult for atheists to understand but everyone, until the day that they became followers of Jesus, thought that they would NEVER become a follower of Jesus. God knows who will accept His offer of salvation and He draws those people to Jesus.
Are atheists brought into existence solely for the purpose of eternal destruction? Like the above paragraph states,
Some will remain atheists till their dying day
Some will change their minds and convert
Knowing in advance, those who would deny His existence, God has prepared them for destruction. He has raised them up for the sole purpose of their destruction. He will endure their presence patiently during their earthly life while waiting for all those who are going to come to salvation through faith in Jesus.
In the mean time:
Creator God will rescue those who are not looking for Him,
He will treat with love those who hate Him, and
He will make peace with some of those who are currently His enemies.
The rebellious cannot complain because they are in fact guilty of rebellion.
The saved cannot boast because they have done nothing to deserve salvation.
The question then is not:
Could God have created a world where hell need not exist?
He didn’t - so act accordingly.
The question is not:
"Why did God create billions of people who are destined to be eternally separated from Him?"
The most important question is:
“Why Did God Create and Then Save For Eternity in Paradise, Billions of People Who Should Have Been Eternally Separated From Him?”