Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Response To the Post "Is Nana Burning In Hell?" By John Pavlovitz

The other night, I read a thought-provoking article and I posted it on several social networks.

I woke up the morning after and I saw the response to it. The Facebook user, who presents herself as solidly committed to the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, had problems with this article I posted called "Is Nana Burning in Hell?"

The problem that she had was that the author seemed to be questioning the authority of the Word of God in many ways. Why did I share it anyway? Not wanting anyone to be mislead or confused by this author, I deleted the offensive article. The Nana being discussed in this article is a hypothetical character who is a lovable, generous, friendly, caring person who has little use for the organized Church and was never known to get baptized, confirmed or to say a sinner's prayer. The author did make reference to following Jesus, implying that maybe we define what it means to be saved too narrowly.

The Issue: Would God Send Nice People To Hell?

This article, "Is Nana Burning In Hell?" was written by a layperson who seems to lean toward what is known as "the Christian left." I read the article here and while it answered no questions, I could fully sympathize with his sentiment. The very topic of Hell makes all of us highly uncomfortable and we do not want to think about it, much less talk about it. On the face of it, it seems unjust for God to sentence people, forever and ever, to an eternity of conscious torment for up to 70 years of sin and rebellion against Him. It does indeed, from the viewpoint of our human logic, seem absolutely unreasonable to sentence people to such an eternity. It seems even more unjust to sentence nice, sweet, generous, even religious and noble people to eternal fates in a horrible place known as Hell. Where is justice in that? Where is the justice in sending people who have done good deeds, given to the poor, helped and loved their own families, lived moral and upstanding lives or minded their own business? I think the author was not only asking this question by the tone of his article, which offered no answers, but seems to want us to question God's justice. Myself, I have struggled mightily with the very idea of a Hell where many people will spend forever and ever in conscious torment. This is the one teaching that I would gladly edit out of the Bible if I could do so with a clear conscience! I can understand why false teachings have sprung up to refute this most disturbing teaching of a place of eternal, conscious torment, including teachings like Universalism (the idea that, ultimately, everyone will go to Heaven), Purgatory (the idea that some people will go to a place to be purified to be fit for Heaven), and Annihilationism (the idea that Hell is not a place of eternal conscious torment and that people cease to exist). How comfortable and comforting these teachings are! Unfortunately, all of these teachings are Biblically false. I had posted the article to maybe get someone to think through this issue and hopefully ponder the implications for themselves and where they would spend eternity. But a Facebook user did not think it belonged on a profile set up to exalt Christ, so I took it down. What I could not do by sharing that article, I hope to do with this post.

What If God's Idea of Fairness Is Unlike Ours?

Just a casual reading of the Bible will let us know that God's idea of fairness is wholly unlike ours. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. It may be hard for us to grasp that God simply does not see us or others the way we view ourselves or others. I struggle with that myself! I have to pray that God will give me grace and faith to see things as He does. But it seems that most of the teachings in the Bible have to be accepted by faith, even though they may make no sense to human logic or experience. In the case of the teaching of Hell, we see God's wrath and justice as cruel because we do not see sin, our sin and others,' as He does. To us, sin may seem a minor thing but to God, it is a horrific and tragic thing. He cannot tolerate a speck of sin. He hates it! Yes, to make application to our lives, this means the smallest moral infraction is offensive to Him so that, if we do not have Christ, it separates us from Him. According to Him, if we break the Law in just one area, will are guilty of breaking the entire Law. So nice, moral, upstanding, caring and even religious people are hopelessly lost apart from the Person of Christ. This is what would cause the author to pose the question about whether Nana is in Hell or not. I'm sure many, many other people, given the chance to reflect on this uncomfortable matter, would be asking this very same question. What if Nana was doing the very best she could do? Why can't God accept that?

A New Look At Why Jesus Died: What Were We Saved From?

The truth is, God is infinitely holy and we have lost sight of this in an age where the stress is on His love, His forgiveness and His grace. The Bible declares that His lovingkindness is so good that it is better than life itself! As followers of Jesus, we ought to appreciate and rejoice in His loving forgiveness, for without it we have no hope! But in this age, we have lost sight of His holiness and forget that it is His holiness that is the quality that defines Him, as in "Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty." Read the Bible, even in the New Testament, and you can read many, many verses about the things we leave out in modern Bible teaching in so many of our local churches--God's holiness, justice, judgment, wrath, and Hell and our call to live holy lives and to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and to follow Jesus. Yes, we may not be offended by what we hear, but despite all the talk of "transformation," we are unlikely to be transformed when God is not allowed to move in power in our local churches and we hear only the things we want to hear. Who wants to hear about sin and Hell? The fact is, it is because our sin (the sin of each and every one of us!) that God came to this Earth in the Person of His Son, suffering the physical, emotional and spiritual torments of Hell so that by embracing Him by faith as our Savior and Lord, we can be redeemed from the curse of sin. Jesus Himself warned His hearers about Hell more than any Old Testament prophet or any of the New Testament Apostles. This is because He had come to save us from that place; without Him, forgiveness would not be possible for any of us, no matter how nice we are. With Jesus, however, even the worst of us can be accepted by God, even the worst of the worst--murderers, rapists, pedophiles, crooks, frauds, prostitutes, pimps, and liars. With Jesus, Nana can be redeemed so that she has so much more than "her best" to commend her to God; she has Christ's righteousness, just as any murderer can have by faith in Christ!

What This Means To Us

If we posed this question to Jesus, I am sure that as His usual way is, He would not answer this question. Instead, He would ask His own question. If you are reading this and have not said "Yes" to Him as your Savior and Lord, I think He would pose to you this question: "Now that you know about Hell, are you willing to look to Me to take away your sins so that you never need end up there? Are you ready to let Me take from you the enslaving power of your every sin, including those sins you enjoy?" And, if we are His, I think He would pose these questions to us (and they would be searching and disturbing, also for me!): "With Your knowledge of Me, what I have saved you from and yearn to save others from, what are you doing to reduce the number of Hell's inhabitants? What are you doing to fulfill My Great Commission to make disciples? What are you doing to see that people, worldwide, who have never heard, will hear and believe My Gospel? Will you deny yourself daily, take up your cross, and follow Me?"

Original Article

This photo is provided courtesy of a Facebook friend and can be found here.

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