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Questions About Faith and the Bible

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Q. If God is good and loving why would He condemn people to hell and make them suffer for eternity?

Yes I have lost friends and family.  And I am sure people I have known and loved ended up in hell.  There are two thoughts about that from my Christian point of view.

The first one is that hell does not make God any less good or righteous or loving.  Hell is a reality, just as much as jails and prisons are. People don't have to go to prison do they?  Well, neither does a person a have to go to hell.  In fact what makes our civilization good at all is the fact that there are laws, judges and jails.  As bad as things are in our world, can you imagine what they would be like without law enforcement and jails?  So hell does not make God bad any more then jail makes a judge bad, it emphasizes His goodness because it tells the world there is a standard of good and bad.

Now the problem is that the person sentenced to jail might hate the judge, but it isn't the judge's fault the guy broke the law.  Same thing with God.  People sinning and going to hell hate God for standing up for righteousness, but it is their own lack of self control and selfishness that causes them to go to hell. 

The fact is, hell proves God's love for another reason.   God did not want you to go there so he made a way you didn't have to.  The Bible tells us hell was not made for man, but for Satan and his demons.  Man by his own choice will end up in hell.  God has done everything He can to make a way to heaven, men just don't want to take it.  God says he will pardon our sins and forgive our debt, but we must do it His way.  

Staying with the jail example we would think this way:  If I steal something and the punishment for stealing is 1 year in jail, then I have to pay the price (debt/punishment) for my crime.  The year in jail cancels the crime.  But if someone offered to spend the year in jail of me, I am free and the debt is STILL paid in full.  This is called substitution.  Jesus, God's son, took our debt and punishment for us, so we could go free.  This is why God can forgive us.  The debt of death and hell is still paid.  We didn't, "get away with it."  The law is still fulfilled, it was just fulfilled by the merciful intervention of another who paid for us.

The bible is plain in several places: Sin has one punishment - DEATH!   Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Another verse says this: "Jesus became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus."  This means a trade took place.  Jesus was sinless, and therefore did not have to die.  But, He did die a criminals death on a Roman Cross.  So in effect He had a credit on his account.  He paid a debt he didn't owe.  Now, you and I have debts we can't pay.  We have a deficit on our account.  When we ask God to forgive us for our sins and ask Jesus to save us from hell and take us to heaven, our debt is cancelled and  some of the credit in Jesus' account is moved to ours.  God just doesn't take us to zero balance, he actually gives us the righteousness of Jesus for our own.

So you can see that Hell doesn't prove how bad God is, it really proves how good and loving He is, because he was willing to send His son to pay your debt so you wouldn't have to go there.

God simply asks use to do a few things to accept His pardon.

  1. He asks us to believe in Jesus.  That He lived and died and rose again from the dead.  The resurrection is vital to believe in, because if Jesus is still dead, we can have no hope of eternal life.  Romans 10:9-10 says, "If we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that God has raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved."  We must believe Jesus is who he says he is and that he will do what he said he will do, and that is save us if we ask him too.

  2. The second thing is repent.  To repent means to "turn around".  If you do not intend to live a different life and overcome sin, then there is no need to ask God to forgive you.  However if you want to live differently and have peace then God will help you with that.  It doesn't mean you promise never to sin again, it means that you have a genuine sorrow over your sin and that you want to be free from it to live for God.  The Bible says, "The goodness of God leads you to repentance."  God's love for you, not the fear of hell, should be the motivating factor for your desire to connect with God.

  3. The Bible indicates that new believers in Jesus sealed their faith with baptism in water by being immersed.  We are saved by faith in Jesus, but baptism is the public testimony to our faith and an outward sign we have made a decision to serve God.  It is an important step in starting our Christian lives.

You can pray anytime, anywhere and ask God to forgive you by accepting what Jesus has done for you, repenting and asking for salvation.  Again the Bible says, "Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord (Jesus) shall be saved."

The other issue about friends going to hell, is that if I believe in the reality of hell and the love and goodness of God, it only makes sense that I share the good news (that is what Gospel means).  If someone you loved had cancer and you had the cure, you would give it to them.  That's what I am doing right now.  Telling you how you can get the cure to the fatal condition of sin in your life. 

Some people don't like the cure, because the love their sin.  But just as surely as cancer will kill you eventually, sin will eventually take you to hell.  If people choose not to accept the cure, then they have no other choice.  That doesn't make God bad, that proves His goodness.

I hope this answers some of your questions.  I genuinely pray that you will yield to God and ask Jesus to save you and change your life.

Pastor Steve

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