Anonymous asked:

What are your views on hell? Do you believe it’s real? That a compassionate God would leave his children to burn in eternal damnation? Clearly the bible states so but it’s hard for me to grasp something so harsh from such a loving God.

I answered:

Hell is a deeply unpleasant thing to think about. It is described as a place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12) and as a “gloomy dungeon” (2 Peter 2:4). The definition of hell is: a place totally separated from God. I hardly ever give it much thought to be honest, it has pretty much no impact on my day to day life. But it is in the Bible, Jesus speaks of it on multiple occasions, and it is part of Christianity.

I am not going to try to soft pedal the idea of hell. That is foolish. But I do think that the correct context says something about God different than what you are inferring.

Some people see hell as the place God sends people who screw up even the littlest bit in following His massive list of rules. That is not based on a proper understanding of Christianity though. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” It is not following rules that get’s one into Heaven, it is a relationship with God. So it tracks that hell isn’t about breaking rules, but a lack of relationship.

You say that the idea of God sending someone to hell bothers you, and that is totally understandable. But consider the alternative: someone does not want a relationship with God and yet God forces it on them. That is no more loving. Hell is, in an odd way, respecting the choice that someone has made.

None of that is to say hell isn’t so bad or that it shouldn’t bring up questions. The most important thing about Hell, however is that you aren’t going. If you have put your trust in Jesus, then this world is the closest thing to hell you will ever have to experience. Paradise awaits you, not because you toe the line and keep the rules, but because you have a relationship with God through the blood of Christ.

-Matt from The Bridge

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