Session 5: The God of Love… Who Burns You In Hell Forever?
In the first four sessions, we have looked at the “Big Picture”; we discovered the framework of the Christian faith, the source that is founded in the Bible that reveals an Ancient God for the Modern Man. We then emphasized that the focus of the Christian faith is on Jesus as we discussed the question of who Jesus was to us – Legend, Lunatic, Liar or Lord? We then looked at the purpose of the faith, which is salvation and eternal life in being connected to Jesus, and in our last session we looked at the culmination of the faith, which is the hope found in the Second Coming of Jesus. This next three presentations will focus on developing a biblical picture of God, and we start today by looking at the Loving God.
1. The Loving God
- Not only did God love us so much that He provided Jesus to die for us so that we can be connected to Him (John 3:16, Romans 5:8-21, Ephesians 2:8,9), the fact is that Bible describes God as love (1 John 4:8).
- This picture of God is very easy to paint, especially in light of verses like John 13:34-35 (love one another as I have loved you), 1 John 3:16 (we know love because he laid down his life for us), Psalm 103:8 (the Lord abounds in steadfast love), Jeremiah 31:3 (He loved us with an everlasting love), Psalm 63:3 (His steadfast love is better than life) and Zephaniah 3:17 (in His love...), amongst many more.
- The ultimate description of love is of course found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
- Take care however to consider prescriptive verses (i.e. Matthew 11:28, Deuteronomy 6:5) vs. descriptive verses (i.e. Matthew 27:5, 1 Samuel 16:14-15) when attempting to paint a picture of God.
2. “The God of Hell”
- However, all this seems to be fine, until we seem to have a picture of a vengeful God who will throw us into hell and burn us for eternity unless we’re on His side.
- This “traditional” picture of God is shunned by the likes of Dawkins and Darwin (see slides for quotes). They of course have every reason to reject this kind of God, which for all intents and purposes, is an oxymoron (a combination of contradictory or incongruous words, i.e. a God of love who will burn you in Hell forever).
- This kind of God is in fact, worse than the likes of Hitler, who “merely” killed 6 million people, instead of torturing them like the “God of love” does.
- The Bible does NOT paint this picture of God; we’re to reason together (Isaiah 1:18, 28:10) and build a picture of Him through the Bible and not through what tradition says.
3. What happens after you die?
- Jesus will come again and the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, John 5:28-29)
- To rise, you have to be “down”; in fact that’s what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Psalm 115:17 and Psalm 146:4.
- Jesus, when He was on this earth, calls death a sleep, when He went to raise Lazarus in John 11.
- Not only that, Jesus Himself did not go straight to Heaven after He died (John 20:17).
- When we die, the body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7)
- The spirit is ‘ruach | x;Wr or Pneúma | πνεῦμα which means wind or breath
- In Genesis 2:7, God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. In other words, BODY + BREATH = LIVING SOUL.
- This is similar to a lightbulb, where the BULB + ELECTRICITY = LIGHT.
- Men and women of God like David, even though long dead, have not ascended to heaven (Acts 2:34)
- God alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16); this concept of the immortal soul (as opposed to a soul that goes out after death) is a Greek concept (see Stump and Meister quote)
4. Misunderstood verses
- Jesus told the thief in Luke 23:43 that he will be with Jesus in heaven today; that’s in fact a punctuation error. Punctuations did not exist in the original manuscripts, and often times our assumptions / presuppositions will affect how we view statements. Consider “a woman without her man is nothing” vs. “a woman; without her, man is nothing”.
- The statement that Jesus made in Luke 23:43, in light of the picture of God already painted should be “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.
- Other misunderstood verses have to do semantics and terminology, such as the meaning of everlasting and eternal (i.e. Matthew 25:46, Revelation 20:10). A cross reference with the rest of the Bible show that these words simply mean “for as long as the thing / person exists” (Jude 7) or even a definite period of time that may seem like forever (Jonah 2:6).
- We can liken it to the expression “love you forever”, which basically means forever until the person(s) cease to exist.
- Go to www.helltruth.com for some in-depth biblical definitions and explanations of more verses as it pertains to Hell.
The ultimate picture of God is that He is not only loving, but is love. Such a God would never even think to torture us for eternity. The God who loved us so much that He would do anything to reconnect us, at any cost is a God that wants us to respond to His love, not to His threats of burning and torturing us forever. This is the picture of God that the Bible portrays, and this is the God that wants to meet you today.