Posts Tagged ‘hell



05
Mar
08

Over the limit

cross01.jpgSo, what’s that magic number of sins that send you to Hell until judgment day? What number of sins, or what kinds, can rob you of your salvation once you accept Jesus as lord and savior?

This is a really divisive issue at times inside and outside the church (the worldwide body of Christ and actual brick-and-mortar worship places).

First, people outside the church structure, and people in very liberal churches, just don’t like the idea of sin and Hell. It’s just too icky. It makes God look mean. Of course, removing sin and Hell from the equation also renders Jesus’ atoning death on the cross entirely meaningless.

Simple fact (biblically speaking) is that it only takes one sin to put you on the road to Hell. We are born with the devil in us, so to speak. Working only toward our own interests is easy and often very satisfying. Serving others and obeying God doesn’t bring that instant gratification. Let’s face it, sin is crack cocaine for the soul.

Now, when you consider the multitude of sinful things, from little white lies where you have your spouse call in sick for you so you can play hooky from work to murdering your neighbors in a cold-blooded orgy of murderous glee, the average human can easily commit thousands of sins in a lifetime. That’s thousands of sins committed by a really, really nice person, by the way. If you’re average…or better yet, a complete asshole…you can bring that up into the tens of thousands and more quite easily.

This is why it was such a big deal that Jesus took on himself every sin ever committed and every sin that would ever be committed in the future. He bore an amazing amount of really bad juju, folks. And in so doing, he had to allow himself to be separated spiritually from God for a time. A guy who had been in touch with his heavenly father every day of his life, cut off until he rose again from the dead. The physical suffering he endured during crucifixion was unbelievable already, and if you ever read about what crucified people went through before death, you would have to be insensitive to the point of serial killer psychosis not to shed at least some internal tears for Jesus and anyone else who suffered that form of execution. And then you add the spiritual factor, and you get some sense of why God wants people to acknowledge His son’s sacrifice and truly accept Jesus in order to benefit from his atoning death on our behalf.

So, that alone is a reason why everyone should seriously look into Jesus, and learn about why he makes sense not just spiritually (how many other religions try to restore a connection between God and humans and provide a savior for us) but historically as well (I highly recommend The Case for Christ, written by a former atheist, Lee Strobel, as a starting point on the logical reasons for believing in Jesus as the son of God). You may decide it still doesn’t make sense, but you have to give serious consideration to Jesus for your own sake. If you reject him after a real and sincere search for truth, I’ll respect your decision, even as I fear for your soul.

Now, how about losing your salvation? There are things in the Bible about how the branches can still be cut away from the olive tree and how certain sinners cannot inherit the kingdom of God and so on. So, a lot of Christians argue that being born again through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t necessarily get you off the hook. You have to reject sin and live like Christ.

Bullshit.

If God made nothing else clear through all those commandments and convenants over the centuries, it was that humans are inherently disobedient, ever since screwing up in the Garden of Eden (thanks so very fucking much, Adam). To make Jesus’ protection over our souls contingent upon our behavior after accepting him is ridiculous. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us is a spiritual thing, and it can moderate and guide us in our earthly activities, but we still live in human bodies that really like sin, be it physical or otherwise. Temptation occurs, and the world presses in on us, and sinning in a multitude of ways is still easy and, frankly, unavoidable. You improve, but you don’t become perfect.

The problem with saying there are certain sins, or a certain number of them, that can cost you your salvation make no sense. Now, saying that failure to accept Jesus and be accountable for your mistakes before everything is tossed into the Lake of Fire is pretty clear-cut. On the other hand, saying you are saved unless you commit too many new sins is hazy as can be. How could you ever know when you crossed the line? How could you know when you are over the limit? That places Christians into more bondage, more confusion, more doubt and more fear than before they accepted Jesus. Being born again is supposed to free us from bondage and fear and the love of sin so that we can do God’s work.

That doesn’t mean that someone who claims to be born again and commits all sorts of nastiness is necessarily born again. But that’s for that person to come to grips with. Someone who kills for the mob for a living, for example, and continues to do so after claiming to have accepted Jesus is someone whose spiritual sincerity I doubt. But that’s between that person and God and Jesus. He or she really needs to look inside and reevaluate but, for all I know, maybe that person is truly born again. It’s not my place to judge, even though an awful lot of people seem to like to set themselves up as God’s earthly judges.

The idea that you might not inherit the kingdom of God for certain sinful behavior, even after being born again refers not to losing your salvation but to the fact that depending on how well you do avoiding sin and sharing the Gospel, you will have varying rewards in Heaven. The idea of differing rewards for the really, really faithful is established in the Bible. But when you get down to it, I’d rather live in the “slums” of Heaven (if one can even say there is such a thing) than have 10 earthly homes to rival what Bill Gates, Donald Trump and any major sheik can boast.

(Image by Joshua Miller, from ebibleteacher.com)

23
Feb
08

End of the line?

I should probably attack things in a more linear fashion, but I have to assume that if God is behind me on this blog thing, I should follow my gut feelings rather than my brain. So, while I plan soon to talk about why Hell (and Satan) are even necessaryand why everyone should stone-dragon.jpgat least give serious consideration to Jesus even if they ultimately reject himI’m going to start with a thorny topic that is weighing on me right now: Is Hell really the end of the life in the afterlife? Let’s be clear here: This post is “learned speculation.” Some logical guesses based on Scripture that, frankly, may not be true. I’m writing this in prayer, but I’m only human, and some of the assumptions of this post could be wrong.

But working on my current theories, it seems highly unlikely that Hell is the endpoint for all those who don’t have Christ backing up their lousy record with His exceptional credit.

First, let’s consider the fact that the Bible says that Hell and death and the fallen angels will ultimately be cast into something called the Lake of Fire. Why bother dumping lost souls into Hell if you’re going to throw them somewhere else later? The universe is pretty efficient, so I cannot imagine God giving souls a pit-stop for no good reason. More on that in a moment.

Also, if you read the Book of Revelation, you’ll see a picture of the future that has a pretty grim 7-year run. Let’s consider the fact that during these “end times” (that big bad period when the antichrist shows up, hell on earth breaks lose, and all that), people will see some pretty amazing metaphysical shit going down, and the Bible is clear that as things get worse and worse, large groups of people turn to God and redeem their souls. So, if folks who rejected Jesus can still turn to Him once the final battle is raging and they see God’s forces at work and they suffer all sorts of wrath (in other words, the clearest-ever proof that God exists), why would people who for whatever reason didn’t (or couldn’t) accept Christ in life not be granted similar benefits? I mean, that would seem to be way fucked-up unfair, don’t you think? Just like the people left on earth, they turned away, they have suffered, and now they see some pretty strong evidence that they were wrong about the way of things.

Here’s what I thinkand again, it’s not biblical canon but my educated opinion, so don’t base your life (and afterlife) on this. I’d rather you found Jesus before you croak. Anyway, what I think is that those in Hell do still have a chance to accept Jesus as Lord and savior before that hunk of damned real estate goes into the Lake of Fire.

Now, that may seem like I’m giving a “get out of jail free card” to folks in Hell. Far from it. For one thing, people are people in this life or in Hell. If they turned a deaf ear and blind eye on every chance to learn about Jesus, why would they feel all that warm and fuzzy toward God and His son in the end? Many might be repentant and feel remorse for ignoring Jesus’ sacrifices and God’s love, but many I suspect will simply blame God. They will insist His universe was pooch-screwed from the get-go and He’s an asshole, and they’ll say “Take your fucking heaven and every last one its damn harps and get out of my sight.” Also, there will be a fair contingent of folks who will try to appeal to Jesus out of fear, but not out of remorse. No one is going to get out of Hell for hating the place or fearing eternity there, but rather for realizing that the reason they are there is because they rejected Heaven themselves. Redemption does not come to those who cannot accept responsibility. Accountability is the first step to accepting and receiving salvation.

Hell is a place of separation from God’s touch. It’s a harsh place but a place for reflection and, I believe, final redemption. But if I were you, I wouldn’t take my word for it. And I wouldn’t wait too long to explore whether Jesus makes sense.

Eternity is a hell of a long time to end up regretting your decisions.

(Image from freeimages.com)




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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