Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God is So Good --Nevertheless!

Something I wrote at another blog which will be moderated out --where the liberal muck-raker was saying Christians --the real believing Christians whom he calls "fundamentalists"--don't know the stories of the OT with all the violence, immorality, etc. or they couldn't believe in such a God:

You just don’t know the Religious Right, Mudrake, when you say they don’t know the OT. Yes, they do. MANY of them read it through annually. They have S.S. classes covering the OT and its difficult stories as well as the more positive ones.

The thing to remember is that our God allowed death. He allows hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, volcanos, earthquakes, cancer, birth defects, and man’s inhumanity to man. He allowed His son to die on a cross. His word says there is a Hell –either a place of eternal death and/or torment. I’m hoping it’s just a metaphor to deter us from choosing the path to eternal death when God has offered us a glorious future if we simply repent of sin and believe in a risen Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Shake your puny fist at Heaven and Bible-believers for what YOU are sure is right –which is that we Bible-believers are all wrong. You need to consider that maybe we’re not. My hope is that God’s Word is Truth, that Jesus saves, that there is an eternal happy life for believers. It bugs you that we are ‘sure” of what we believe –but that’s what FAITH is –and “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

Dr. Paul Walberg spoke at our church this A.M. as our minister is on a mission trip in Costa Rica with Rob and 8 others from our church –and a contractor from Fla. Paul’s text was the temptation of Adam and Eve –and how Satan starts out persuading Eve to question and doubt what God had said –and how doubting led to disobedience through sensuality –the lust of the forbidden fruit. In your case, your doubt has led you to be consumed with hatred –like your father was.

It’s going to be hatred by people like you that brings our nation down–not what you see in the believers. Yes, many on the Right backed Bush in his pursuit of the terrorists and attempt to forcibly civilize the middle-east with our intrusion there. I don't believe we would have been better off to do otherwise. Some Christians did NOT support the war in the Middle East. Some are conscientious objectors to all wars. Because that would seem consistent with “Turn the other cheek.” So these are things that believers grapple with –and about which they form separate churches sometimes.

There is the pacifistic theme in the NT –but also the justice theme to consider. We don’t let a bully terrorize his neighborhood –we believe we need to restrain evil in the world by force. And that’s why we went to Iraq. And because they wanted us there earlier to rid them of Saddam.

I do wonder what all those soldiers would be doing to make a living if they were not in the military. I’m not saying that justifies war –just that you can have different problems if you reduce military–including a greater threat of terrorism.

For many in the middle-east, realistic knowledge of the West was lacking–few tv’s, e.g. One thing our military does is make friends and take western values and Christianity wherever they go. I believe Japan and W. Germany are both better off for the years we spent there —also So. Korea. And we remain as the country to which so many others want to come. Our majority Christian faith has more to do with the positive aspects of our national personality and character than you will ever admit.




"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

14 comments:

Jeanette said...

"His word says there is a Hell –either a place of eternal death and/or torment. I’m hoping it’s just a metaphor to deter us from choosing the path to eternal death when God has offered us a glorious future if we simply repent of sin and believe in a risen Christ as our personal Lord and Savior."

Barb, I certainly hope you do not have doubts as to whether or not there is a real hell.

Jesus told a story, not a parable and this is important, it was a story of Lazarus and the rich man.

Long story short Lazarus died and went to Paradise (since Jesus had not yet died and risen there was a "holding place" for the souls of the dead.) The rich man had also died and saw Lazarus from across the divide between Paradise and Hades. He begged for just a drop of water to help relieve him of the torments he was in.

Abraham told him it was impossible for Lazarus to go to him or for him to go to Lazarus. The rich man then asked that Lazarus go back to earth and warn his brothers so they would be saved from the torments he was suffering. He was told they had Moses and the prophets and if they didn't believe them they wouldn't believe a dead man who had risen.

The reason it's important that it is a story and not a parable is that Jesus told parables to illustrate things. He says there is a story of Lazarus and the rich man. Not a metaphor to learn a lesson, but something that actually happened after the deaths of two people who knew of each other in life.

Hell is not a metaphor. It is a real place and there is a physical consciousness of being in one place or the other.

John 3:16 says plainly that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If there is no hell and no consequence of our sin then why did Jesus come to earth, die and rise again?

If you have doubts then those doubts would leave one to believe we all die and that's it. Or we all end up in heaven eventually, which is what the Catholics teach with their doctrine of purgatory.

This is Christianity 101. If you have doubts and hope it's a metaphor to get people to live right but there are no consequences after death then you need to seek counsel from your pastor and if he has the same doubts you need to pray and ask God to reveal it to you so you can understand it.

I don't know if what you are saying is your own doubt or the teachings of the Methodist church. Either way it is not biblical.

Barb said...

I have a little hope and wishful thinking, Jeanette, more than doubts.

Hitler and all his executioners --these killers, rapists, kidnappers, robbers, pedophiles, swindlers who wipe out people's pensions and savings on purpose --all deserve a lake of fire.

But there are some who simply won't hear the Gospel --or will reason their way out of faith --whom I would not want to see suffering fire forever. Eternal death and non-existance is severe enough.

But what do I believe? I certainly believe that the real Hell as described in Jesus' "story" is possible --I just wish it were not for the majority of unbelievers.

I don't see how you determine that the story of Lazarus is a "story" and not a "parable" just because Abraham is in it --the Father of the Jewish nation.

But admittedly, I have not studied this --and I certainly am not going to go around assuring people that there is no eternal lake of fire for all unbelievers. It is my hope that the "everlasting destruction" is everlasting death after a judgment day --in a lake of fire, yes, but I can hope that everslasting suffering is not the lot of people who simply have wrong doctrine and unredeemed life choices --rather than a legacy of unbelievable cruelty and indifference to life --such as abortionists and Hitler and Chinese abortion forcers cause --and the stoners and beheaders, etc. People with no regard for the lives, feelings, and wellbeing of others may deserve a lake of fire if they never truly become remorseful.

For sure, we know God is just and merciful --and His Son says there is eternal destruction --as chaff is destroyed by fire after the harvest --but the chaff is no more.

Jeanette said...

"I don't see how you determine that the story of Lazarus is a "story" and not a "parable" just because Abraham is in it --the Father of the Jewish nation."

Because Jesus Himself said it was a story and not a parable! Look it up and see for yourself. He differentiated it from a parable and called it a story.

Being in Abraham's bosom is not the reason it is a story. Apparently that's where the Old Testament Saints went until the rising from the grave of Jesus.

We have choices in life. We no longer have choices in death, and God does not promise anywhere to redeem the dead. Though He is not willing that any should perish but that all may come to redemption, it is during our lifetime that we must make the decision.

That's why we cannot pray for the dead. Their eternity is sealed. We make the choice.

Barb said...

I don't see where Jesus distinguishes between parable and true story as you say.

For sure it is true that there will be an uncrossable divide between the saved and the lost.

I certainly want to be saved from the finality of the grave --and from any eternal torment. I only HOPE that while the DESTRUCTION of lost souls is everlasting, that the torment of eternal fire will not be eternal --even if the fire is. That they will be destroyed like chaff but not stewing in a hot tub for eternity.

Jeanette said...

Barb,

You know that Jesus would say "listen to the parable of..." and then tell the parable of the prodigal son or of the fig tree (representing Israel in its new formation as today) but in this passage He says "there is a story". This is important.

And, though we like to think God would not allow anyone to suffer eternal torments and punishment, hell is eternal. It was made for Satan. Do you think Satan will just burn up and go away? No! He will suffer forever, just as those poor souls who chose to ignore the salvation message of the risen Savior will suffer eternal torments.

It's not all about fire. It's torments so bad they will be aware of no one but themselves. People joke and say they'll see each other in hell, but they won't because they will be so consumed with their own misery they won't notice.

I picture hell as a dark place with absolutely no light. That's my conception of hell. That, and the knowledge that they could have been in heaven if they had just obeyed. The eternal separation from God would be hell by itself.

It is a spiritual death and no one can escape it once there. Otherwise, why try to convert the lost? To save them from a dirt nap? It's not that easy, and it bothers me to hear a fellow Christian express doubts that hell will last forever. Heaven lasts forever. The difference is those of us in heaven will not see nor remember those in hell or it would make us cry and there are no tears in heaven. The ones in hell, however, can see those of us in heaven and that is one of the torments. How many times will they say, "If only I had believed..."?

Go to Luke chapter 18 starting with verse 19. It says "There was a rich man..." No parable starts that way. Jesus always made sure people understood it was a parable. I made a mistake when I said He said it was the story, but it was a story and not a parable.

Barb said...

In Luke, I didn't see the phrase, "This is a story."

And even if it's there --parables are stories with a teaching --a moral --and so are "stories", too.

I certainly agree that the choice is made this side of life regarding eternal destiny. That wasn't the issue.

The issue is this: might eternal destruction, eternal damnation, the 2nd death after the Judgment Day, be destruction in a lake of fire forever --but not eternal LIFE in a lake of fire, burning forever and aware of the pain. Not eternal suffering --but eternal END, eternal non-existance --never to exist again.

That's bad enough --though I haven't any sympathies for sociopaths like Hitler. Yes, the "story" suggests eternal existance in this place of firey, hot torment --but actually doesn't really suggest burning --since the fellow was thirsty instead of screaming his head off as he floated in flames.

The illustration of the chaff being burned up --it exists no more. That, too, is a biblical "story" or image of what will happen to the damned.

It doesn't really make Heaven any less of a choice and reward --and shouldn't incline anyone to say --"O --if there's no lake of eternal firey torment that I will exist in forever, then I'm going to reject Heaven in preference for eternal destruction and existing no more."

What may be difficult in evangelism is teaching pagan people whose parents and children died without christ that their relatives are now suffering eternally in a lake of fire. Better to focus on the positive of everlasting life in Christ in an even better place than earth for all who believe in Him, repent, etc.

No, we don't pray for the dead. Yes, our choice is made in this life. Yes, we are condemned already if we do not accept the Son.

Jeanette said...

I never said hell was all fire. Maybe that's reserved for Satan and his demons, but there are torments for the rest as well as the aforementioned Satan and demons.

Being where you never have light on your face, where you thirst from the heat or just from being thirsty, realizing those you loved are still on earth and lost must be horrible, because no one will come up from hell and tell our loved ones what it's like.

And you have to remember to think spiritually about this. The body is physical and, yes, it would burn and go away just as it does with cremations. But the soul, the spirit of the person lives on for eternity. Spirits do not get consumed until destroyed by fire.

All I know for sure is hell is a place of torments (plural) and it is eternal. What else happens is unknown to me and I'm not so sure I'd want to know for sure what it is. It was made for Satan and the fallen angels; not Man, but Man chose it the day the serpent tempted Eve and she ate of the forbidden fruit.

Barb said...

We certainly don't want to take chances --when the option of eternity with God/Christ is ours!

Ana said...

I wish I had a background in ancient Greek to properly decipher (first hand) whether the hell fire is more appropriately interpreted as symbolic or literal.

Whilst I certainly believe in the reality of an eternal hell (the place), and certainly believe it is a place of torment, I do not yet have a position on what will constitute as the "torment".

What is curious, is that (in English anyway) the connotation of the word "torment" is something relating to the mind, some kind overwhelming mental unrest.Whereas the connotation to "torture" is physical, prolonged exruciating pain endured by the body.

Suppose for a moment that the hell fire is symbolic -- fire is a mighty vivid imagery -- whatever torment the fire represents, is probably worse.

Barb said...

Welcome, Ana. Thanks for sharing thoughts on this mystery --the nature of Hell.

It certainly is not desirable and we have a better alternative --I have faith that this is so.

I'm guessing you probably linked here from my son Rob's comments at another blog on your long list of blog interests at your profile? (Don't mention which blog here or my blog troll will go there and be insufferably obnoxious. I don't go there myself.)

You look young and cute and have philosophical/Christian interests--come meet my single handsome son!

Barb said...

Suppose for a moment that the hell fire is symbolic -- fire is a mighty vivid imagery -- whatever torment the fire represents, is probably worse.

At least as bad --and I can't think of anything worse!

The other question I raise is the difference between eternal destruction and eternal torment. Jesus refers to Hell as both, I believe. Translation may affect that difference. Destruction would be finite, the end of a soul (He said to fear the one who can kill the soul and not the body); torment implies ongoing, eternal suffering rather than an eternal end as in destruction like the chaff being burned up after the harvest.

Jeanette said...

Barb, speaking spiritually, isn't the soul dead until or unless the person asks Jesus for salvation?

If so, perhaps that's what Jesus meant when He said to fear the one who could kill the soul and not the body.

I believe hell is a physical feeling of pain, remorse and separation. Separation from those we knew and loved in life, from God, Whom they will all get on their knees and confess before being cast into hell, and the worst place imaginable. Worse than anything we can imagine.

A lot of it might be mind also. For instance, I am deathly afraid of snakes. If I were in hell, wouldn't a punishment for me logically be snakes? Maybe it's not physically so but my mind would think it is real and would fear the snakes just as if they were there (which to me they would be).

It's interesting to brainstorm these things.

Ana said...

Oh! I thought you were Rob R =)

See, I've interacted with Rob before (on the blog that shall remain nameless) and also on my blog-- in an earlier post-- and indeed, when I clicked on his profile I noticed that "The Barb Wire" was listed under the part that says "My Blogs".

Nevertheless, I'm glad I came across your blog, Keep up the writing!

Ana said...

As to the distinction between destruction and eternal torment -- very keen thing to pick up on that I imagine many Christians overlook (they probably intuitively synonymize the two).

I highly recommnend this podcast: Unbelievable? 8 Aug 2009 - "Hell - two different views debated - 08 August 2009

Which is found here:

http://ondemand.premier.org.
uk/unbelievable/AudioFeed.aspx

And the Unbelievable radio show in general -- very good topics. I listen to the shows on podcast since I am not in the UK.