Hell Yes, Hell No

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. His message was one of condemnation and wrath and it tore him up to have to preach it. He wept as he contemplated the certain end for his people since they were unwilling to repent and change their ways. I felt like weeping at the end of today’s sermon. What a terrible topic to have to preach on! I tried to end the sermon on a high note but somehow it didn’t feel like we quite made it. It is exceptionally good news that Jesus went through hell so that we could enjoy new life now and eternal life forever! However, the whole message of the cross is entirely unfair. But isn’t that the true nature of love? Love doesn’t ask what is fair, but what is needed. What a Savior!

Several people told me I had succeeded in raising more questions than I answered in the sermon (which I warned you might happen). The best that can be said for the traditional view of hell is that it wraps everything up in a neat package. Biblically, however, the traditional view is full of gaping holes. God simply does not give us enough information to know everything we might want to know. However, if you would like to dig deeper I would recommend Edward Fudge’s book, The Fire That Consumes. Edward is an elder at the Bering Drive Church of Christ and has done a great service to the people of God in writing this well researched book. You can read my review of Edward’s book by scanning through my brief book reviews. Just follow the link on the left side of my home page.

On another note, this is the 100th blog entry that I have written. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been doing this that long. Also, did anyone notice the picture on last week’s blog? It gave a date for Mother’s Day in March. I almost changed the picture but decided to leave it to see if anyone noticed.

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.

Comments

4 Responses to “Hell Yes, Hell No”

  1. avatar JAPierce says:

    That Plato, man, he’s everywhere.

    It is a tough topic to preach on and to listen to, but it does give us some insight as to how to live now.

    What I found encouraging about the teachings about Gehenna is justice. I believe that is the ultimate goal of the end punishment. All those mentioned in Rev. 21:8 are going to reap what they have sown e.g. destruction.

    This is also an issue that many non-Christians have in their arsenal. How can a loving, caring, just God punish people who were evil for less than a hundred years for an eternity? Does that seem just to you? Good questions.

    I love that you mentioned Jesus’ quote from the Psalms while he was on the cross. I do wonder, however, if we extrapolate this text a bit. I do not think that God ever forsake Jesus. It was part of the plan and God had plans afterward. Jesus was not left out in the cold, left alone without the care, concern, love, and grace of his father. The psalm that Jesus quotes is actually a psalm of hope. The crying out is only a small part of the psalm, the majority of the psalm is voice in praise and hope. Here is how it ends:

    24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
    25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
    26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him — may your hearts live forever!
    27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
    28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
    and he rules over the nations.
    29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
    30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
    31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.

    Sounds like a man who is certain of the power and love of the one who can save him from the grave.

  2. avatar JAPierce says:

    Strawberry icing?

  3. avatar Byron says:

    Sorry for strawberry icing-less donuts Sunday. Maybe next time.

    In regards to Jesus’ words on the cross: you are correct that Jesus quoted the first line from Psalm 22 perhaps indicating that the entire psalm was applicable to his situation. Like you I don’t think we should stretch this quotation too far to insist that it means God turned his back on Jesus; although the arguments in favor of this are worth pondering. Since Jesus himself became sin and God’s wrath was poured out on him, it does seem that God momentarily abandoned his son to suffer the sinner’s death. However, Jesus’ quotation simply shows that, regardless of the reality of the situation, Jesus FELT abandoned just as David did when his first wrote the psalm. Regardless of whether or not Jesus was ACTUALLY abandoned by God or not, he, like the psalmist, never lost hope. He put his complete trust in God that the end result would not be complete separation from God but that somehow God would raise him from the dead.

  4. avatar Jeremy says:

    I agree. But for the most part, IMO, I think that Jesus’ statement on the cross is more a commentary on humanity rather than theology. For me, it is yet another way of showing his depth of human emotion and suffering.

    I don’t think the psalms are a great source from which to build theology. They were not written for that purpose and when we do use them in that manner we paint ourselves in various corners (sinful from my mother’s womb).

    That being said, I agree that the idea of God abandoning Jesus at that moment has some merit and is worth entertaining. It is just hard for me to see that as part of God’s character. To abandon the one he loves at his greatest moment of need just does not seem to jive with the God that I think I know.

    I just thin of what ever happened to never leaving or forsaking? If God left and forsook Jesus at his most vulnerable moment, what keeps him from deciding to leave me? What if I become to sinful for him to bear? Will he leave me then? (I know, I know, Jesus took my place, but I still have a hard time thinking that God would turn his back on his own son, no matter what the circumstances.)

    Just another one of my struggles I guess.

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