Lately, the more I think about hell, the more I question the idea of God. It’s a strange thing for a Christian to say, especially one who once held strongly and taught much about hell previously. But the truth is, I haven’t felt much like a Christian, in the traditional sense, lately.
I guess I never truly imagined that I’d end up in a place like hell. The teaching of Christianity is/was simple; believe in Jesus Christ, and you and your household (at least according to Acts 16:31) shall be saved. But in my analytical thinking, I’ve realised that ‘believe’ is a very loaded word, and in fact, not many who claim to believe in Jesus actually believe in Him/God.
When you begin to realise that for many, deception is real, it’s only reasonable to ask yourself if you too are deceived. And the possibility that you could be, that despite all you think you’ve done in the name of God, you might find yourself on the other side of the pearly gates, hearing “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you” (Matt 7:23), the more you start to wonder about the ideology of hell…and the goodness of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I still very much believe in God and in His Christ. I’ve had recent experiences that have reminded me of the existence of a spiritual realm beyond the natural. But my appreciation of the religions that propagate the traditional beliefs about God, salvation, hell etc is waning. I believe there is a whole lot more deception than there is truth in the world. And that is scary.
The idea that a whole lot of people are going to find themselves in hell eternally, when they truly believed they knew and were acting in obedience to God in their lives is beyond heartbreaking. It is horrendous! Hell seems to be justifiable for the really grievous sinners among men, but when Christianity also teaches that all sins warrant hell, except the sinner holds to a RIGHT theology and faith in God, then hell becomes a real trap where error is present. Of course, there are also those among Christians who believe that once you have the RIGHT belief, no matter what you do after, your destiny in heaven is secured. This, however, appears to be a loophole of sorts that abuses the concept of God’s grace.
The truth is, as I’ve shared in a previous post, The Danger of Radicalism, grace cannot simply be applied to those who profess to be Christian alone. We see that even among those who profess Christianity, there is no unity in their beliefs on a number of issues. It is not simply by calling the name Jesus Christ that one obtains pardon. Like I also said in another post, In My Name, it’s really about the things we do that honour and proclaim His name to the world.
But is hell real? According to the Bible, which I still believe to be a true testament, though not infallible, Jesus spoke of hell and said it was a real place of eternal torment. I believe Him and His words. But what I see now is that if any are to make it to heaven…if there is a multitude of saints to be delivered from hell as Revelations 7 speak of, then God has to be far more gracious than we give Him credit for…
At the end of the day, some who were first shall be last, and some who were last shall be first (Matt 19:30). God alone stands as the Judge on who will enter His rest (Matt 20:14-16). We should not presume on our worthiness nor on the rightness of our theology. We ought simply to fear God and love one another, and I believe and pray that the grace of God will find us. Amen!
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