after a person exerts their sincere best efforts to believe the Bible,
but cannot accept it, do they still deserve to burn in hell?"
all have it coming."
See if this explains anything:
we have the biblical text "For all have sinned and fallen short of the
glory of God". We find ourselves corrupted as a consequence of Adam
and Eve's sin, and if that is not enough, we have each committed sins of
our own. The Bible also says, "The wages of sin is death"; that's
the just character of God, and we are each guilty of various degrees of
this a non-believer might respond "Yes, but I really mean well and isn't
God supposed to look primarily on our hearts?"
does look on the heart, and what he probably finds is a critic perhaps trying
very, very hard to build up wisdom and self-sufficiency - but not doing
what he said. Wisdom is great. Knowledge is great. Self-sufficiency, in
many ways, is great. But failing to submit to what has been passed to us
from God is everything.
-- "EMAIL FROM THE CEO" ILLUSTRATION --
if at work we receive an email from a secretary claiming to speak for the
CEO, and it displays the words "Come gather in my office before I arrive",
what do we do?
people would just go to the office, but not me. In my life I said "How do
I know this is real?" I hadn't seen any CEO, and as far as I knew the secretary
hadn't either. I asked around, checked the email's properties, and talked
to some I.T. people. I might have even opened up my CPU once or twice, but
I finally relented and headed for the CEO's office. For all that inquiry,
I'm not going to make the CEO any less or more glad to see me when he arrives
than those who had just gone to his office.
contrast, others doubt as I did, but they are still cross-examining friends
of cousins to figure out if we even have a secretary. Collecting as many
alternate explanations as possible to explain away that email, they are
putting sincere, hard work into dissecting their motherboards and conferencing
about what each chip does.
have finally headed off to different rooms believing those to be the CEO's
real office. Others are still doubting the email's authenticity, citing
it likely to be spam or garbled in transmission, or doubting a CEO exists
at all, or that they themselves even work here. All of those people will
be caught off guard amongst piles of well-worn manuals, diplomas, and 3D
diagrams when the CEO suddenly arrives and tells them, "You're not in my
office - you're fired."
wait, look at these complex circuit diagrams they worked out! Look at how
much more they've learned about interoffice wiring than many others. And
don't forget the spelling mistakes the secretary's sister may have made
in the third grade. Certainly the CEO will understand when they show him
all the different ways the letters in his email can be rearranged to spell
other things. I mean, they worked really HARD! What could they have possibly
done that they didn't do??
thing - what he told them to do.
you say maybe a boss wouldn't be fair, but God's supposed to be fair. He
is, and maybe that's why salvation is not achievement based. It's not how
much you know, but who you love. I'm a geek and I use the illustrations
I do, but life is also a love story. "I never knew you" are about the last
words unbelievers will hear from God. God wants us that close that much.
ahead, check your boards, RAM, and drives, but do it as quickly as you can
and come join the believers by the CEO's office. For he's not coming to
quiz us on our knowledge, but coming to liquidate the business (indeed the
industry!) and split its assets with all his attendees, and you have been
forwarded an invitation just like the rest of us.
-- THE NATURE OF HELL --
for hell, there are a few different ideas on it. The word-pictures Scripture
uses to describe it vary slightly, which suggests to me that perhaps some
classic aspects might better be interpreted metaphorically. Aspects which
are consistent are separation from God and terrible regret.
you ever closed your front door or car door, and just as it latches you
realized your keys were just inches away on the other side? The anxiety,
anger, disbelief: I think hell might feel like that for the first few seconds.
All that might exist is blackness, separation, regret, and an ever increasing
self-loathing for having neglected all that one could have had, things you'll
always know others are now enjoying without end.
hopeless self-loathing starts to feel like after the first ten minutes or
so, that might be what is pictured by Scripture's "worm that will not die"
or "flame that does not cease". The possibility being that, in hell, God
isn't bothering to actively torment people, nor might any tormentor be around
to keep people company in their agony. God has, at the end, simply cast
each of those souls into outer darkness and committed to making a conscious
decision to never consider them again. The hell they will suffer might largely
end up being self-inflicted because, upon dying without Christ, they will
know with certainty they deserve it.
to whether or not flames will actually be present, any degree of suffering
multiplied by infinite duration would seem to equate to infinite suffering.
Of course, for worse sinners Scripture states there will be worse punishment.
So mathematically speaking, although every condemned person will suffer
an infinite amount, worse offenders will accrue suffering at a much faster
rate. You can't say you weren't warned.
What is the Gospel?
What is righteousness?