My fellow brother, thank you for your intriguing response. I've heard this argument before, and as much as I want to believe in it, I just can't. I don't have time to present a compelling case, right now, but to me, simply being cast out of existence is not a punishment. I mean, if all I had to worry about was ceasing to exist when I die, I have no worries about living in sin. I just find it hard to believe that Jesus died to save me from non-existence, I mean, how will I know what I'm missing out on in Heaven if I have no thoughts? Even if I had to suffer a temporary burning and then, book, I'm dead, that still does not necessitate needing a savior (at least from my view.) You are correct though, if this interpretation of "Hell" is true, then yes, loving Jesus would be much easier.
Okay, well, I can only tell you what the scriptures say. If you're not a Bible-believer, then I guess that won't help you.
It almost sounds like you WANT to be motivated by the fear of escaping an eternal torture, rather than by the reward of eternal life in the presence of God--as if that is somehow not enough for you.
Sin is nothing more than separation from God. The only worry than anyone EVER has about living in separation from God, is being separated from God. It really doesn't get any worse than that.
A loving God isn't about "punishment," He's about overcoming the separation between Himself and mankind and giving as many people as possible the gift of eternal life in His presence.
I disagree. He is ALL ABOUT PUNISHMENT but I don't have time to go into a Scriptural debate with you now or really ever. I'm long past those days. I have no reason to be a right fighter about the Word when we're both living for the same Savior through the same Spirit. Be blessed
I agree. Francis Chan wrote a book on Hell which one day I'm going to pick that sucker up & read. But in the meantime, it's lying on my book shelf. I must say, I pretty much take Francis' words as gospel.
God is saving us from something.. Eternally He's saving us from being separated from Him. In the here and now He's saving us from condemnation, guilt and shame while we're here on earth. He’s also saving us TO something. We're being saved into an Eternity reconciled and in fellowship with our Creator. To be in heaven means to be with Jesus. However, being a Christian is for right now in our every day lives too. We aren’t Christian so that we’ll avoid hell, we’re Christians because we’re sinners and we know we need a Saviour, we want to be in right relationship with God. We’ve fallen in love with Jesus and trust in Him. When we were physically born, we were born separated from God, we need to be born again. This means that we are born ‘In the Spirit’ because we trust in Jesus. It’s a Spiritual change of heart transformation for those who trust in Jesus. Generally, when you’ve been born again (spiritual eyes have been opened) fear of hell dissipates because fear involves punishment, and God’s perfect love casts out all fear.
We must know our identity In Christ. It’s possible that a believer In Christ may still be living in fear if they are not taking the time to learn their new identity, and what their purpose is here on earth. As Christians we have work to do. It’s not easy, but it is better, and it is worth it. It would be easier to just keep living for ourselves, but I’d rather live in peace.
Our identity In Christ is:
John 1:12- Children of God
Eph 1:5 – Adopted to Sonship (daughters too)
Romans 15:7 – Accepted by God
Colossians 2:9-10 – Brought to fullness In Christ
1 Corinthians 6:17 – United with the Lord, therefore we are one with Him in Spirit
Romans 6:6 – We are no longer slaves to sin
Genesis 1:27 – Created In God’s image
1 Cor 12:27 – A part of the body of Christ
1 Peter 2:9 – Chosen by God. We are His special possession
Galatians 3:27,28 – We are all One In Christ Jesus
1 Cor 6:19,20 – We are temples of The Holy Spirit. We have been bought with a price.
1 John 3:1,2- Children of God, we will be like Jesus
Colossians 3:1-3 - We’ve been raised with Christ, and our lives are hidden with Christ In God.
Isaiah 43:25,25 and 1 John 1:9 – Forgiven
Psalm 34:8 and Matthew 25:34 – Blessed
Exodus 15:13 and Galatians 3:13,14 – Redeemed
1 John 4:7-11 – Loved
In short, we are, Blessed, Chosen, Adopted, Accepted, Redeemed, Forgiven and Loved.
Are you close with your parents? Do you want to know that your parents think of you in this way? I realize it’s a weak analogy, but it’s the best I can think of right now. Father God is our Heavenly Father. As His children, this is our identity. This opportunity to be His child is open and available to EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON who will repent and believe the gospel.
Your focus and preoccupation with hell may be distracting you from what really matters.
If we’re going to talk about the punishment of God, that is referring to His discipline. As a good Father should, He disciplines those He loves:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons,”
However, perhaps the concern or question is more around the Justice of God.
The question seems to be: Is God JUST in creating Hell? The answer is yes.
God is Love, He is also Just and fair in all His dealings with humanity. It is true that hell wasn’t created for humans, but rather for the devil and his demons. God is Creator of us, He is the Law Giver to us, and only HE can determine if we have broken His laws or kept them. There is consequence for breaking God’s Laws. HE IS GOD. Not us. His Love gives us a way out of the consequence, that is by the sacrifice of His son.
John McArthur says it better than I can:
"Imagine you’re a judge. Your job is to uphold and execute the law. It’s the only standard you must adhere to, and you must do it unflinchingly. One day a man stands before you—a vile, wicked murderer. The evidence against him is ironclad. There’s no doubt about his guilt—he openly admits it. He confesses what he did and says he’s very sorry. Then he asks you to forgive him. And in spite of what the law says, in spite of your responsibility to dispatch justice, you grant him complete forgiveness and let him walk free. We’d certainly be horrified if human judges operated that way.
But that’s exactly what our Judge has done. In spite of the clear standard of His law, and in spite of the overwhelming evidence of our sin and corruption, He sweeps aside our crimes, washes away our guilt, and sets us free from the due penalty of our sin. How can He do that and uphold His own holy law?
Paul gives us the glorious answer in 2 Corinthians 5:21— just fifteen Greek words that sum up the entire gospel and encapsulate God’s ministry of reconciliation. Paul writes, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That is the doctrine of substitution, and that’s how God can be both our just Judge and merciful justifier.
God “made Him who knew no sin”—which can only be a reference to Jesus Christ—“to be sin on our behalf.” As we’ve already seen, Scripture testifies over and over to Christ’s sinless perfection. The writer of Hebrews calls Him “holy, innocent, undefiled” (Heb. 7:26). Pontius Pilate—who had every incentive to find some flaw in the character and reputation of Jesus—said, “I find no guilt in Him” (John 19:6). The Father even spoke of the Son’s implicit sinlessness, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). That same perfect, spotless, undefiled Son was “made… to be sin on our behalf ” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Don’t make the mistake, as some do, when it comes to understanding how God made Christ to “be sin.” Many preachers in the Word of Faith movement, for example, teach that Paul is telling us that Jesus actually became a sinner on the cross. They say His sin forced Him to go to hell for three days, and that after He had suffered sufficiently, He was released through the resurrection. That is a blasphemous, ludicrous heresy. Ephesians 5 tells us Christ surrendered Himself without spot or blemish (vv. 25–27). On the cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). If He was a sinner, He would not have had to ask why He was punished.
So what is Paul saying when he tells us that God made Christ “to be sin on our behalf”? It means God treated Him as if He were a sinner. More than that, actually—God poured out on Him the full fury of His wrath against all the sins of all the people who would ever believe, as if Christ had committed them Himself. As a righteous Judge, He had no other choice. The just God of the universe had to punish sin justly—He had to pour out the full penalty on His Son to grant forgiveness to His elect people. And His justice demands that every sin that has ever been committed, by every person who has ever lived, will be punished—either in the eternal torment of hell or on Christ at the cross.
It’s a humbling and profound thought that God treated Jesus on the cross as if He had lived my life and punished Him for every sin I have ever committed or ever will commit, to the full satisfaction of His justice. And for all who were included in the atonement—provided by the sacrifice of the Son by the glorious grace and mercy of God—the same is true.
All the judgment, all the torment, all the excruciating punishment was poured out on Christ as He died in our place. Christ paid for all the sins of all those whom God would one day reconcile to Himself. In the span of a scant few hours, He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). First Peter 2:24 sums it up simply but powerfully: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Through His suffering, Christ purchased our forgiveness. Through His sacrifice, He cleared the way for our reconciliation to God. He is our Redeemer King, our Lord and Lamb.
Second Corinthians 5:21 concludes that God made Christ to be sin for us “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Not only has God imputed our sins to Christ, He has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though He was not, so that He could treat us as if we were righteous, though we are not. In the most personal terms, God treated Christ on the cross as if He had lived my life, so He could treat me as if I had lived His life. That’s the beautiful glory of the gospel. God sees us covered with the righteousness of His Son.
Many people—including some Bible scholars—wonder why Christ had to live through the humility of the incarnation for thirty-three years. Why didn’t God just send Him down for a weekend—to be crucified on Friday and return to heaven on Sunday? Why wouldn’t that suffice? Why did the Lord have to endure all the stages of life—most of them spent living in total obscurity?
The answer is the glorious truth we know as the doctrine of imputation. The writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Christ had to live a complete life, fulfilling all righteousness, so it could one day be credited to us. The comprehensive nature of God’s reconciliation is staggering. When God looked at the cross, He saw us; when He looks at us, He sees His Son. Our Lord did not just take on the punishment of our sins—He lived a holy, blameless life credited to us by faith. And we now stand before God fully reconciled to Him, cloaked in the righteousness of our blessed Redeemer."
Here are some other quotes;
"The justice of God means that he administers his laws fairly, not showing favoritism or partiality. Only a person's acts, not his or her station in life, are considered in the assignment of consequences or rewards…Not only does God himself act in conformity with his law, but he also administers his kingdom in accordance with it. That is, he requires that others conform to the law...His justice is his official righteousness, his requirement that other moral agents adhere to the standards as well. God is, in other words, like a judge who as a private individual adheres to the law of society, and in his official capacity administers to the law of society, and in his official capacity administers that same law, applying it to others."1 – Erickson
"The justice of God means that God is entirely correct and just in all His dealings with humanity; moreover, this justice acts in accordance with His law. The justice of God, therefore is related to man's sins. Since God's law reflects God's standard, then God is righteous and just when He judges man for His violation of God's revealed law.2 – Enns
"But the character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday; when ‘the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed’ (Romans 2:5) arrives, retribution will be exact, and no problems of cosmic unfairness will remain to haunt us. God is the Judge, so justice will be done... As Judge, he is the law, but as Savior he is the gospel. Run from him now, and you will meet him as the Judge then—and without hope. Seek him now, and you will find him (for “he that seeketh findeth”), and you will then discover that you are looking forward to that future meeting with joy, knowing that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).3 – Packer
Hello Carla, Though I like MacArthur, I have somewhat of a disagreement with his analogy of a judge.
We know the wages of sin is death, Ro.6:23, Though Jesus has born all of our trespasses, yet there are consequences for our sins, though sounds like a contradiction, when he says that He is not imputing our trespasses against us. Ro.4:6. But let us consider the man that has committed murder, he finds God while incarcerated, still he goes to the electric chair as a Christian. I believe he will go to heaven if he has confessed Christ as his savior, then he has been forgiven and escape the second death, Rev.2:11, Rev.20:6, Rev.20:14, Rev.21:8 but he will suffer the consequences of his actions here on earth.
Now lets take the person that has committed a crime that is not punishable by death, lets say running a stop sign and getting caught, he goes before the judge, and he notices that the judge is a friend and he is excited, because he thinks he will be exonerated, however the judge being a just judge is obligated to pass judgement for the crime that has been committed, and the judge ask him if he is guilty, and of course he admits that he is guilty, thinking he will be freed, but the judge says that will be $150.00. But the judge steps down, takes off his robe, takes out his billfold and says to the clerk, here I will pay his fine he is one of mine.
This is just the way I perceive what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Not to be controversial.
Though your response is great. Blessings
I really like the way you explained it.
This is very profound. Thank you!
Brandon; How can one say “in my Christian walk” when one doesn’t Love God, the Father of Christians, the believers? all I can say to you is, you must be born again. Your spirit, not your flesh, You are trying to understand the Word of God with your intellect, and that is impossible, 1Cor.2 Pretty much sums it up.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (KJV) 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect:[Mature, or Full age] yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Another in Hebrews 5:11 (KJV) 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
Matthew 13:15 (KJV) 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
John 16:12-13 (KJV) 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
2 Peter 3:16 (KJV) 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
1 John 4:19 (KJV) 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
I guess I'm in trouble then. It's like I'm not able to believe, even though I want to. Honestly, I feel like I'm in a trap. Must be nice to be able to really love God and know you are forgiven. No one understands what I'm going through and God won't help me, even though he can see me. If I came to God, it wouldn't be out of love because I'm not able to love...it's just not there. How fortunate you are that you can be reached.
I know your comment isn't directed towards me, and I'm sure JB will respond, but I'm wondering what it is that you're not able to believe?
Do you believe that you've sinned against God?
Do you believe that without Jesus you will be separated from Him in Eternity?
Do you believe that Jesus died and rose again back to life to defeat sin and death for you?
Do you believe that his suffering, death and resurrection is enough to save you?
If the answer is yes to these questions than you are saved. You're not saved by the things you do or by your feelings. You're saved because you believe and trust Him. We are saved by Grace thru faith, not because we 'feel' saved, but because we believe God's word that we are saved. Our feelings are unreliable at best...like a rollercoaster....they are up and down all over the place based on our circumstances, emotions, stresses in our lives etc...
The bible says it like this in Romans 10: