About Hell

Jun 06, 16 About Hell

Intro:

What is God’s foremost goal at this time for mankind and for each person individually?

What is the definition of Hell?

So what Did Jesus state about Hell?

Why would God make Hell?

What is God’s wrath?

Why do we go to Hell? (Or the cost of not hanging with a Holy God.)

How can a loving God send people to Hell?

Why did God show such Wrath to certain people in the bible, if He is love?

What is Salvation?

What is the big deal about Jesus? Or How did God make a way for people to avoid Hell? 

Hey, wait a minute! Doesn’t a person only have to be good to get into Heaven!?!

Am I really that Bad?  I mean, my “sins” aren’t that big!

What is necessary to become “saved”? (Or “gift exchanging” with a Holy God.)

How do we accept the gift of salvation?

Heaven – another blog 😎 

“What the…?!? Or my INTRO TO THE HELL SERIES:

Okay, before writing this series and while writing this series, I SO know that my conclusions will tick some people off in a mighty way.  That DOES make me uncomfortable, but for me to hold this information back would be the ultimate in disrespect… so here goes 😎 :

First off: although a lot of unchurched and sadly, some churched people, believe that Jesus was just a nice and cozy guy and just a great example for us to follow on how to be nice and cozy to each other, you have to realize if you read the New Testament part of the bible that Jesus spoke about Hell.  IN fact, Jesus spoke A LOT about Hell.  And he warned us against going there because it is not a nice place to be and we are in real danger in going there.

When I finally came to the Lord (became a born-again Christian), I had not really thought about the Hell and Heaven concepts (my former worldview doesn’t believe in them). It was only after I was a believer in Christ that I started the process of wrapping my mind around the concept of Hell, recognizing the terror of what I would have suffered if I had not accepted God’s gift of ‘grace’. Mainly though, it has become my concern because I know a lot of non-believers.

What is God’s foremost goal at this time for mankind and for each person individually?

To save us from CERTAIN eternal separation from Him.  Through the Apostle Peter, God states that he does not want us to perish: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

I used to think, “And why is separation from your crazy Christian God a bad thing?!?”. It was a flippant attitude but thankfully, God is gracious. I came to realize that EVERYTHING we know about goodness and Love is because of God: it is evidence of His existence.  Only Christianity teaches such a God: the perfect expression of both Goodness and Love.  Remove Him and we remove the ability to tap into some form of good, which really means our world’s broken forms of His perfect Goodness.  It is not just the removal of Good, it is the establishment of only Evil.

What is the definition of Hell?

Bible scholars differ on the details but all legitimate scholars agree that it is eternal separation from God.  Eternal separation from God is painful.  God did not intend us for Hell; we are not designed for it.  We see glimpses of Hell on earth: It is the outcome whenever a person places themselves above God and others.  It is our acts of selfishness and it has ramifications on us, on others and everything we touch.  Although we are also guilty of doing this, evidence of it still rankles us.  We know inherently that it is wrong, whether we believe in God or not.  Somewhere inside us, we feel that this is NOT how it is suppose to be.

Some great minds have stated this before.  I can think of one recent: C.S. Lewis in his inspiring book: ‘Mere Christianity’.  In a nutshell: In our world, people are selfish.  So why is it that we feel that that is wrong?  Why do we have a sense of right and wrong?  It is because Mankind recognizes that there is an ideal.  Lewis calls this “The Moral Law”.  He believes that this Moral law is outside of our selves so something that Mankind didn’t make up.  And we keep striving toward it.  In fact, the only way mankind can know when a human law is unjust is because we recognize in our very being that there is a divine law which our human law does not measure up to.

Or to state it as we did when we were children when we reacted inherently to an injustice, “This is NOT fair!”

So… Hell will be the absence of Good and the establishment of only Evil.  So?  Well, think about it.  That’s what God helped me to do.  I asked God to bring it home to me, to help me recognize the urgency: could there really be a Hell?  Almost instantly after praying that, I had this thought:

You think mankind does incredible acts of Evil in THIS world? Remember the 20th century examples: the Nazi holocaust, the Stalin massacres of between 25 to 60 million humans? (We don’t know how many for sure because people were of absolutely no value to this monster so there is no record of how many he destroyed.)

Throughout man’s history, we’ve seen incredible acts of evil but just think of the possibilities when Good is not around to combat against expressions of evil and when Good is not the ideal; or that there is even such a thing as Good. What is Evil? Is it the opposite of Good? No, it is the absence of God (who is our only true representation of good). And that is the definition of Hell.

Do you see that a lot is at stake? So does God and that is why His goal is to save us from Hell.

So what Did Jesus state about Hell?

As stated, most definitely, Jesus believed in Hell.  In fact, most of what we biblically can reference about Hell is taken from what Jesus stated in the New Testament.  Jesus often stated truths to his listeners wrapped in stories called parables.  In Jesus’ parables, he included descriptions of terrible duress in a place we refer to as Hell.  Here are just a few bible verses in which he describes a place of outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth: (This NT phrase characterizes a person undergoing extreme regret, pain and anguish.)

Matthew 8:12: while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

22:13: Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Referenced as a place of torment:

Luke 16: 23, 24, 28:

23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

A few more bible verses when Jesus was speaking directly to some men who seemed hell-bent (pun definitely intended) in exercising their free-will choice of hardening their heart against him by willfully ignoring the obvious of who Jesus was …

Mark 3:29

but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

Matthew 23:31-33: Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Mark 12:40 & Luke 20:47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

And if you conduct an Internet search of “Jesus Hell bible verses”, you’ll find more…

Why would God make Hell?

God is pure Goodness and He is the absolute perfect expression of good and of love.  There is no evil in Him.  A perfect analogy is to recognize that God is light only and contains no darkness.  There are no “dark corners” in Him.

God created eternal beings, which we call angels and like mankind, they have free choice.  One named Lucifer became arrogant & prideful and he decided to rebel against God’s authority or influence over him and in so doing, removed himself from every aspect of goodness or the ability to do good.  His name is now satan; we also call him the devil.  With him, one-third of the angels in heaven rebelled against God.  Because they removed themselves from God’s authority, these created beings chose to no longer have the capacity to do any good and they revel in doing only evil, especially against mankind because God loves us so.

So this “Darkness”; a presence called Evil, now exists in God’s universe.

Matthew 25:41 ESV: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

This is God’s universe so it cannot permanently contain evil because it is contrary to His nature, which is Holy.

God created a permanent “place” to hold evil.  Whatever is in that place is entirely removed from His presence. God holds back His justice or rightful judgment, which is known as God’s wrath, against this evil.  He is allowing evil to exist in His universe for a time but one day, evil, and whatever it embodies, will be placed in Hell.

Come again: What is God’s wrath then? 

God hates anything that has the potential to destroy a person’s soul.  (“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28)

That “hate”, in a nutshell, is a description of God’s wrath: His justice or rightful judgment against the “cancer” that is evil.  God’s wrath cannot be held indefinitely.  Like any good, reputable judge, He has to deliver a sentence eventually.

Why do we go to Hell? (Or the cost of not hanging with a Holy God.)

Mankind inherited what is called a sin nature.  It means that our nature has the capacity to sin.  It is our tendency to want to sin, which means it is our tendency to not want to do good.  (Face it, we don’t have to try to be selfish; that comes very naturally, but we have to really work at not being selfish.)  Sin can be defined as being arrogant and prideful, placing our own selves as more valuable than God and than other people.  This is our natural state. On earth, when we act selfishly, someone is always hurt by it.  Someone is always “pained” by it.

The person who chooses the road which eventually leads to Hell has chosen himself above all else, which is like choosing a vapor to enjoy because there is nothing soul sustaining in any of our selfish choices and we do not have the capacity to sustain our selves.  (Need food?  Well, we need spiritual “food” too.)  We did not create ourselves. God permeates his entire creation.  When a person rejects God, they reject every aspect of Him. There is nothing left but the pain of that absence.  Everything good belongs to God’s nature.  Some bible scholars think that the Pain, which Jesus describes a person in Hell feels, may not be physical but instead spiritual, so internal and more painful than a physical pain can be.  I tend to think it will be both physical and spiritual so both external and internal, because we won’t be alone and we won’t have God to protect us. (Remember that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels.)

Just a side note: Yes, the word: “hanging” in the parenthesis above is a not so subtle reference to Jesus hanging on a cross because Jesus does ask us to carry our cross daily:

1 Corinthians 15:30,31: Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!

Luke 9:23 “And he (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Why do you think Jesus states this?  It’s because throughout our life, our selfish nature is something we will always battle so he calls us to make it a daily action to follow him and not our selfish desires.

How can a loving God send people to Hell?

I’ve heard the argument that a God that loves us, wouldn’t send us to Hell. (I used to use this argument often myself.) Think of it this way: God doesn’t send us to Hell.  We walk ourselves to Hell. He, in fact, made the biggest sacrifice possible in order to deter us & give us THE only way to turn back from our self-appointed journey to Hell. (Wake up!  He is trying to rescue us!)  And He did this because He IS Love.

Why did God show such Wrath to certain people in the bible, if He is love?

God’s love – He can’t do anything outside of it.  By His nature, everything He does is an expression of His Love.  So, those times in the Old Testament (OT) and even in the New Testament (NT), when even some of us Christians get uncomfortable because His wrath is very evident, we have to recognize AND rest in the assurance, that God CANNOT do ANYTHING contrary to His love for us.

So why were whole races of people destroyed in the Old Testament (OT) by God’s chosen people and at God’s direction? Because the SALVATION of mankind was at stake, period.

Let’s look at an OT example that seems so harsh because God demanded that His chosen people, Israel, destroy a tribe: the Amalekites. That destroy-demand by God seems pretty extreme, doesn’t it.

Well, there was a span of years before God exercised his judgment (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Sam. 15:3) because God always offers mercy with his justice as he states to the Jews: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” Ex 33.11

In this case, God gave the Amalekites 400 years.  400 years elapsed between the time the Amalekites first attack the Israelites at Hormah (Num. 14:45) and Israel’s eventually destroying most of the Amalekite people, through the battle by Saul and Samuel in 1 Samuel 15. Unfortunately, Israel didn’t exactly do what God commanded because some survived.

The Amalekites were not good people on any level and their evil was so insidious that even their seed, their children were tainted.  Solution: have to wipe out the entire line.  If you don’t, they will influence God’s chosen people and their ability to follow God and His truth only (AND worse).  We see throughout the OT that Israel weakened and compromised God’s Truth, anytime they accepted another people within their ranks who had not first turned from their Idolatry, their worship of Evil.  Yes, there is truth in the adage: “One bad apple spoils the barrel.”

You might be thinking, “Okay, that could be a point if you go for that kind of logic.”

But the Amalekites offered far worse than just a corruption within Israel, which is bad enough.

Let’s look at the REST of the story with Israel and the Amalekites because history is never compartmentalized; there are consequences on future events due to the outcomes of past events.

Our example of one of these future events is in the OT book of Esther, which is the account, beginning with a beautiful woman, both “inside and out”, named Esther, a derivative of the Persian name Satarah, meaning ‘Star’.  The King of Persia, who is looking for a new queen, and recognizes her attributes, approves her and so adds her to his harem.  Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, is her nearest kin and he counsels her to not advertise her heritage because she is a Jewess and there is some anti-Semitism in the culture.  Mordecai has a trusted government position to the King.  It seems that things are going well for Mordecai but he has an enemy by the name of Haman, who hates him with unrestrained jealousy, because Mordecai does not give homage to Haman as Haman thinks he should: bowing down to him.  Mordecai instead gives this type of homage to his rightful king, God.  Haman, in an incredibly devious plan, sets the King up to make a decree, which would result in every Jew being destroyed in his extensive kingdom.  The way their system was set-up, such a Degree could not be revoked, even later by the King who had made it.  Haman is gloating, nearly unable to contain himself, because he finds his plan so delicious.  The outcome in the Book of Esther is incredibly good, because the Jewish people seek the safety of God, and He delivers them from this evil.  Haman does get his just reward.

What bearing does this have, you may wonder, on why God commanded a whole people to be destroyed?  Remember that God had commanded Israel to destroy all Amalekites but they didn’t.  The account of Esther occurs about five hundred years later.  Haman was an Amalekite and his trickery would have resulted in all Jews being destroyed in the whole Persian empire, which was, as mentioned, extensive: from India to Ethopia.  Well, the Savior of the World came from a Jewish line.

This takes us now to another point, which we may not like or understand at all, but I believe it is the crux of the matter.  As mentioned, there is an enemy of God and of his human creation: satan. In the NT book, John 8:44, Jesus says of satan to the people, who have allowed satan to have influence over them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

As Jesus says, this Evil-being is a liar. The Liar has influence over this broken world and is the cause of this broken world.  God created Adam and Eve and gave them stewardship over the earth and all of its creation. Through satan’s trickery and their own free-will, they transferred their stewardship to satan.  The earth is now under his ‘stewardship’.  We continue to live out his best lie: stroking our pride, we deny God; He isn’t the God we think he should be after all and in believing this lie, we exalt ourselves and satan.

How could God foresee that every Amalekite would be evil, totally lacking the will to have repentance, and therefore, completely under satan’s bidding to try to destroy the entire Jewish people?

There is a view in Christianity called, “Middle Knowledge”1, which is basically this: Being the creator of time, so outside of the confines of time, God knows every possibility (this is SO cool).

In humankind, there are those people who have a gift of perceiving the ramifications of a specific set of circumstances, prior to the implementation of those circumstances.  I like to think that this is a God-given gifting, which is a ‘mirroring’ of our Creator’s ability to see every outcome.  What this means in the scheme of things is that God has set-up our world to allow every single person, the ability to accept His Truth, in their best condition for doing so.  We are each given the right set of circumstances, which reveal His Truth to us.  Our reaction to that revealing is ours though.  God will not override our Free choice/Free will but it seems He will “stack the deck” toward Him.  Remember, He is a loving Father who loves us unconditionally, so fears for our safety which means He is doing everything He can to keep us from walking ourselves down a Hell-bent path.

Endnote:

1: Middle Knowledge (source: http://www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/bk_amalek.html)

What is Salvation? 

God’s “dilemma” was: how does He rid evil from his universe without ridding his beloved creation: humans, who are tainted and do evil ourselves?  Somehow, we needed to be saved from the wrath of God.  We also needed to be able to relationship with God: bridging our un-holiness to His holiness because without Him, we stay spiritually dead and eventually, suffer Hell.  So salvation is: 1) the way not to experience God’s wrath and 2) having a life-giving fellowship with God.  Salvation isn’t automatically ours.  It is a gift.  We have free-choice so we can either accept it or not.

IF the created man chooses not to accept this gift, he can go his own way but that is the way of death, which is defined as destruction.  Why? Because only God offers life.

There is a ramification of sin, a sentence which can’t be revoked and mirrored by every human court of law, it is a sentence which must be served.  God’s mercy is tied to his Justice.

What is the big deal about Jesus? Or How did God make a way for people to avoid Hell?

Salvation is only through Jesus, so he is a very big deal.

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 3:16:” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When we read the OT, we see over and over again, how God continually reached out to his chosen people before finally, at times, allowing them to “feel” his wrath and suffer the ramifications of their “selfishness”.  Time after time, God let their sins go unpunished.  This is contrary to his holy nature so could not be a permanent reaction.  God had a plan from the very beginning and it cumulated in Jesus Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross.

While on the cross, shortly before he expired, Jesus quotes an OT verse, which is the very beginning of Psalm 22 which is a prophecy reference to the MessiahMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

It was prophesied that Jesus would state this and he spoke it not only so his listeners would know that although he was dying on a cross, he was still claiming to be the Messiah, but also because he was undergoing what he stated: an incredibly painful experience: the rending of himself.  Jesus actually experienced absence from the Father; He served our sentence. He was utterly alone as he bore our sins.  A holy father could not be in contact with something so unholy so Jesus suffered a removal of all that is Good.

And we are back to the definition of Hell.  Think about it: Jesus took the cost/sentence/wage of our sin and suffered the ramifications: everything that is Good, gone.  Absence from His father.  He went to Hell for us.

Every person must choose for themselves: do I want Good or don’t I?  Because, truthfully, we can’t have it both ways.  God’s universe is not and cannot be set up permanently this way because He is ONLY good.  Eventually, His universe must again contain only Holiness.

Hey, wait a minute! Doesn’t a person only have to be good to get into Heaven!?!

This wasn’t a concept in my previous belief system so I didn’t think about or consider it. It never was an issue for me though I realize that a lot of people do think that they just have to be “good” to get into the Heaven referred to by Christians and in the bible.

I have not explored or researched where this premise started or what pseudo-Christian belief systems adhere to this but I can tell you unequivocally that this premise has no leg to stand on biblically. It just isn’t in the bible. There is no scale in which our “good” deeds can be considered to outweigh our “bad” deeds.

Perhaps someone at sometime took a few bible verses completely out of context to arrive at this but again, there is NO biblical basis for it. The root of this premise is far more likely to be just one more effective lie perpetuated by satan. Under this lie: “I just have to be good”, he again diverts our attention away from God and His glory onto ourselves and our sufficiency. “All I need to be is good!” (I can tell you by my experience that my being able to be sufficient used to make perfect sense. It appealed to my sense of superiority and pride. My glory over God’s; I just didn’t recognize at the time that that was the real issue.)

Who gets to define “good” by the way? Can man? No, as man we define “good” in regards to our behavior and actions by our passing fancy; the definition changes as quickly as our passions and desires change. We are such finicky creatures 😎 so our definition of “good” becomes our slippery creation; something we are unable to secure with permanence and certainty.

Without an absolute compass outside of Man, we have no transcending concept of what good really is.

Is anyone Good? No, as recorded in the New Testament by both Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (The Pharisee Jesus was talking to wasn’t quite seeing Jesus’ point: “Are you calling me God then?” – that is actually a really good bible study in itself: the way Jesus perfected the Jewish mode of answering questions with questions, trying to draw the inquirer into a deeper understanding for their benefit, if they allowed it… I’m digressing 😎 but try an internet search)

Another New Testament bible verse is this one by Paul: (he’s referencing the Old Testament bible verses: Psalm 14:2-3)
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10

And this from the Old Testament:
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away
” Isaiah 64:6

Am I really that Bad?  I mean, my “sins” aren’t that big!

Well, yes.  THAT used to rankle me too! How could the same judgment of Hell be leveled against me for, let’s say, lying, as opposed to murdering?  As a person, I measure sin, thinking one is worse than another.  But to a perfect God, sin is sin is sin.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” Psalm 139:1

It goes back to that middle knowledge idea: if God knows the perfect conditions for every person to choose life, he knows our heart even before we express the extent of our potential sin.  It is the concept that the seed is there to sin and gives root to “greater and greater” sin.  Perhaps I just haven’t had the circumstances in which I would commit murder but the seed is there anyway. God sees our heart, which holds the seed, which under the “proper” circumstances would flower into complete evil and doing every evil, without repentance.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:15.  This is in the NT letter written by James, who was the half-brother of Jesus (same mother, NOT the same father 😎 )  This verse, to me, is a great example of that concept.

Another idea, which really used to rankle me was how could a sin in one lifetime, get a person a sentence of eternal damnation? (This is when I believed in reincarnation of course.)

Well, our sin is not on a point system with God.  It’s more like unholy versus holy, period.

Why would my experiencing multiple lifetimes change my ability to “pull myself together” so I could attain perfection (that belief system’s word for “holiness”)?  Do we see anyone remotely close to becoming holy?  Now define that as without selfishness.  Given the “right” circumstances, I don’t care how “nice” a person seems, we will act in our own interest, placing ourselves above other people’s welfare and above God eventually (for most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, this is all of the time).  When I used to believe in reincarnation, why didn’t I wonder why I couldn’t accomplish perfection in one lifetime?  Why did I place more value on multiple lifetime experiences over just one?  Could a change of circumstances really change my soul from being selfish? Could I really ever learn to be perfect?

Time after time, slip after slip, I’ve finally been able to prove to myself that I am in no way holy and I don’t see any real way (His Holy Spirit helped me see this: my heart – Ouch!) that I could EVER become holy.

Not only could I commit “enough” sin in this one lifetime per a no point system, I don’t even have to live a certain amount of years before I did it.  There is no quantitative sin.  One is enough.  Remember, he sees our heart.

Lastly, what if I had never heard of Jesus Christ? Does that mean I’d go to Hell without a chance to be saved? The NT bible passage, Romans 1:18-20, states that we are never truly ignorant of God. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Quite honestly, I have to fall back on Faith on this one.  I know with all of my heart now that God is a Good God.  I trust that He has this all worked out in a totally perfect way in a way that I as a created being cannot in any way comprehend.  That said, I DO NOT believe that that means that He will somehow save everyone though I believe with all of my heart that He wants to.  The belief system that somehow everyone will eventually be saved is called Universalism.  If that is true, why should I even write this?  If a person dies as a non-believer, oh well… they’ll get saved eventually, somehow…

Universalism just doesn’t make sense with Christianity’s history.  All but one of Jesus’ Apostles died horribly, plus many of his followers, including one of his brothers.  They would NOT be compelled to leave off “preaching the gospel”, telling people to turn to God, and only through life-saving faith in Jesus Christ.  They pursued the spreading of the Gospel with URGENCY!  To me, this is another evidence that Jesus is who he said he is and that the message he brought and continues to bring is true.  And another thing, followers of Jesus did not face death just before being put to death.  They suffered continuously, harassed, even tortured and some for YEARS for this message that they were trying with everything they had to get out to everyone around them: Turn to God through Jesus Christ before it is too late.

What is necessary to become “saved”? (Or “gift exchanging” with a Holy God.)

What is this gift? It is Jesus Christ’s payment of our sin.

Basic Christianity teaches that Jesus, the very essence of God, in a plan known and progressively revealed in the Bible, was born of a virgin in paradoxically poor circumstances; he revealed himself as first the expected Messiah (Christ is the English word based on the ancient Greek word) and then as God incarnate.  He was crucified (death on a cross) by the Roman government on charges of sedition, which were falsely brought by the religious of his day.  On the cross, before expiring, he said, “It is finished” (in John 19:30) which literally means, “It is accomplished, fulfilled, completed, paid up”.  In three days time, Jesus rose which means “resurrected” from the dead.  He continued to teach his followers and his last earthly instruction was to share this gift with the world: Jesus took the “wages” of our sin, conquering Death forever. The outcome is that once again, we have full access to our Father because, forever; those sins are “forgiven”; our debt has been paid.

How do we accept the gift of salvation?: 

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Through “Faith”; it is our gift exchange with a Holy God and it is all that is required.  Thankfully, he places a “belief” in us and we respond. And that is His paradox, even the Faith we bring to him, comes from him 😎

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Faith is beautifully defined in the NT in the Book of Romans 10: 8-11: But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

A “heart” faith is a “saving” faith.  It is the belief that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient; that you can do nothing to add to it and that you really, really feel your own lack of sufficiency.  That feeling is provided compliments of the Holy Spirit and is called “conviction”.  More on that later.

Using our Free-will choice, those who accept this truth, this gift by faith, have life eternal in the presence of God our Father and that begins as soon as you accept the gift.  Those who don’t accept will continue to experience life and then eventually, when they die, reside, outside of his life-giving presence.

Our pride has led us to think that if we are only good enough, God will accept us.  We can’t be good enough. Salvation through any effort of your self is not possible (the bible refers to this as “works”).  But that’s okay because the solution is even better: Jesus is salvation.

There is a very simple type of prayer in which you give your life over to Jesus Christ.  There are many variations but the gist should be a very heart-felt appeal, something like this: “Jesus, I give my life over to you and want you to be Lord over my life.  I believe that I have sinned and that you paid my sentence; help me to believe.  Thank you so very much for loving me so much.”

There is a next step: a little scary but you’ll feel compelled to take it. Tell someone, preferably someone who can help you in your new walk as a Christian.  That’s right: you are now a Christian!

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 10:32

Personally, when I went through this process, which is known in Christianity as the Justification, I just finally felt and recognized the weight of my trespasses (another word for sin) against God.  I felt the pain of the hurt my sin inflicted on Him and I was really ashamed.  My sin was no longer hidden from my “internal eye”.  I never had been ashamed at such a level before so this was really eye-opening because it was such a different sensation and it literally “laid me low”; I was on my face crying out to a Holy God that I was so very, very sorry.  I’ve since read that this experience I had is not unusual and whether yours is as dramatic or not, it is actually part of the process absolutely necessary to being ‘saved’.  It is called “conviction” and the Holy Spirit, though gentle, is really good at it! 😎

Jesus even told his Apostles before his crucifixion (his death on a cross) that the Holy Spirit would do this:

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world (satan) is judged.” John 16:7-11

As mentioned, the Holy Spirit convicts you that you are not holy but God is.  The next step is “repentance” which felt right to me to be physically “on my face”.  I felt God’s love in spite of my sin and I recognized that only He could make my condition right, by forgiving the penalty that my trespass created.  I finally accepted that I could not work off my own debt and exercising my free-will, I “laid” my will and my life down to Him (my ‘gift’).  And thankfully, the next step is not ours, it belongs to God to bestow as His ‘gift’, which He does without exception: and the person who has literally or figuratively fallen to their knees in front of a living God in recognition of who Jesus is and what Jesus did, is ‘saved’, which in this context basically means having our sentence legally revoked even though we are guilty.  That is another way of defining it and this is known as God’s “Grace”: even though we do not merit it, we are able to experience His favor because Jesus Christ took our sentence.  He suffered the penalty of our sin.

Although, Christianity has been criticized as an intolerant religion because it believes that it is only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that a person can come into God’s holy presence, ANYONE who approaches God with humility, true repentance and faith (not to be confused with positive thinking) in his son Jesus Christ can become a Christian and as already stated, without exception; Christianity is never intolerant of the person.

Faith is also sometimes believing when your mind doesn’t really know how to believe.  In fact, there is a perfect example of this in the NT account as recorded in Mark 9:14-29 when a man asks Jesus to increase his faith in verse 24: “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Be assured that there will be times when you wonder if you have Faith – that’s when you turn to God and ask for help.  We often confuse Faith as an emotion or feeling and it isn’t.  Faith is Trust.

In my own experience, during the process of when I became a Christian, I finally took “a leap of Faith”, deciding to stop believing in reincarnation and to just accept the salvation message at face value.  He filled in the knowledge once I did that.  He gave me a basis for my faith.

Because of my own experience, God has created in me a deep concern for people who specifically believe in reincarnation so do not recognize that the ‘karma’, which they believe they have created in this and in past lifetimes, is actually the ‘sin’ of one lifetime, sin which will lead them into an eternal separation from God, unless they accept the “propitiation” which is what Jesus Christ paid, thus recognizing that He is the only person qualified to do so.

The definition of Propitiation: This is an incredible rich word which means Jesus’ gift of sacrifice (the price paid) and should we desire to receive it, allows us to become consistent with God’s Holy character, so that he can pardon our sin and even bless us, the sinner (Greek: hilasterion) so that when Jesus said, “It is finished” it means: Paid in full.

A great bible verse about propitiation is Romans 3:25-26: (Jesus) “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

In ending, I’d like to finish up with a few more bible verses, starting with and a repeat of one already mentioned: John 3:16 which is so often stated by Christians to non-believers.  It conveyed absolutely nothing to me before I was a Christian but now it is the entire message in a nutshell.  (That’s another thing, which the Holy Spirit helps believers do: resonate with scripture.)

” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(Jesus stated about satan) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 9,10 (Note: “sleep” is a 1st Century expression which means Dead)

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10

Nothing hidden here, folks.  It is really a very simple message and this is why Jesus came.  We will be lost to God unless we accept the Son who bestows life.

As you probably noticed, this is in no way an exhaustive or sophisticated study on Hell.  I’ve really just touched on it and there may be much in my presentation, which remains dissatisfying-ly absent in the way of answers for you, if you are wondering about these things.

If you are not yet a Christian, I challenge you, encourage you to “wrestle” with God then.  (It is what a very important man named Jacob did as recorded in Genesis in the OT and God allowed him to and loved Jacob for it.)  God loves hard questions and He is very able to answer you or give you the peace when it seems that an answer is not wholly understandable or even forthcoming.  You’ll have to trust me on this but if you are not already aware of how God works, I pray that you soon will encounter Him.  He is truly amazing, beyond words.

What about Heaven? What is that like?

Well, I stated at the very beginning of this series that I hadn’t given either Hell or Heaven any thought before becoming a Christian so I am terribly wanting in the “knowledge of Heaven” area.   SO, for now, that will have to remain to perhaps be the study of a future blog. 😎

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