Friday, 4 July 2014

" Is eternal torment a just punishment for being wrong? "

I cannot for a moment expect to convince anyone (including myself) that I know everything about heaven and hell and exactly what that will be like, however I do have a trust that the One who has created these as well as so much more that I do not know about has a full understanding of them, and of us and our ways of justifying ourselves when we go against the One who made us.

When God originally created us He made us to be without death. There is a portion or element (that isn't exactly right either, but how to word it???) in us that God created to be like (having similarity to) Himself. Many think that our reasoning ability or our creative ability is that quality, and many think it might also include our physical appearance having qualities that have a likeness to God's physical appearance, which does agree with Jesus being God and Him having those physical and reasoning/creative qualities.

A long time ago when I only saw God as a figment of man's religious imaginings and also viewed each religion having good things to offer, I wondered why the Christian's God would knowingly create a devil and people that He knew would screw up and send us into a situation that would end up with MANY people going to a place of eternal torment. How could that be loving? Why would He do that? The problem of course is that I look at these things from fallen mankind's point of view. When I surrendered to Christ I submitted myself to wanting to understand it from His point of view, and that is obtained by seeking Him out sincerely in His word to us and through the confirmation He gives through His Holy Spirit of what is true and what is false.

Jesus gave us many parables of what the Kingdom of heaven is like. Why didn't God just come right out and show us all directly? Why do we have to work so hard at this and why must it include having a trust in a God that we cannot all see with our physical eyes in our mortality? Why did Jesus have to die and leave so that we would receive the Holy Spirit to have to rely on? Many, many unending questions and God simply says "trust Me", but how? How does one trust anyone? You learn about Him over time and He does promise to reveal Himself to those who honestly seek Him out with passion and conviction of knowing and confessing our weaknesses and shortcomings.

The question "Is eternal torment a just punishment for being wrong?" is a question that I've asked myself prior to being saved and have struggled with after being saved. The difference is that prior to my salvation I thought that my reasonings on this were just as qualified and justifiable as any other on any topic and that everyone has a right to their own opinions on this and anything else, and that would be true if God indeed is a product of mankind's imagination. But then if there is no God, why is there a deep down desire in us to worship (setting aside all of the holes in the theory of evolution and that whole mess, let's just focus on our spiritual inclinations or the opposing spiritual revulsions we as human beings have)? I've heard it said, and I wholeheartedly agree that we all worship something whether it be the God of the Bible, or things in this world, people we admire and set up as idols, the world itself as Gaea the "earth mother", money and the things that it can provide us with, or ultimately we worship ourselves and elevate what we ourselves want to think and want to believe as the highest of what is to be worshiped.

So is THAT a just punishment for being wrong? Eternal hell? Really?

According to what I've learned from the Bible, the premise for that question is incorrect. Going back to the fact that we have inside of us a quality that is like God, a spiritual quality, an eternal quality, then it is reasonable to understand that this quality will continue on without end. If God is the ultimate good, then anything that stands opposed to the ultimate good is evil. The devil was once "good" and then for whatever reason (the Bible said he desired to put himself above God, and I can see this as perfectly logical) he turned against God and took a third of the angels of heaven to be on his side. When God created this devil didn't He know that this creature should not be created? Why did He? We can ask why questions all day long as a petulant child could wear out a parent with incessant "why" questions, and in the end it truly is "Because God said so".

I believe from what I see in the Bible that when God created everything He created it "good" but not "perfect" because only He is perfect. If I were to liken it to a parable that has meaning in our human life it would be that I can create paintings and sculptures etc, but these will never be the equal of what I am and have all the qualities that I have as God created me to be. So God created good things that had a potential inherent in it to be able to go bad. When I create something that turns out to be (in my estimation) a failure, I scrap it, out it goes into the rubbish with all other rubbish. God created us as good with a quality that has a likeness to Himself, and according to the Bible, that likeness includes an eternal spiritual element or quality.

When Jesus died He was on a cross that was just over a giant trash heap that was always burning which was named Gehenna. Everything that happens and is retold of in the Bible has a reason for being so. The pagan symbolism that many might equate with this Christian narrative might be of a phoenix rising up out of it's own fiery ashes of it's destruction. But that isn't the complete story of what is being represented with this occurrence in the life of Christ. The trash heap is a result of the trash that is made by us, by mankind, one of the physical consequences of our decline into spiritual depravity. He provided a way that takes us from this trash, to pay the ransom price that releases us from what our destiny is. Because of the fall we are all destined for that eternally burning trashpile because we are horribly disfigured spiritually by the rebellion against God. God has made a way---only one (like a governor's pardon for a death row inmate) way to be released from a destiny that is absolutely the one we are all justly headed for, and if we do not accept it, it is our one and only ticket out of that certain destination.

So then the answer to the question "Is eternal torment a just punishment for being wrong?" is "yes", and the answer to "why?" is:
               "Because God said so".

If that isn't good enough for you, you worship your own way more than you worship God's way, and you will have no excuse.

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