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The Character of God and Hell

Episode #94 – As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, and so forth. Why? Is it just because that’s what love does? Or could there be more?

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The Jesus Habit: Daily Devotional

Hosted by David Lindner

AUDIO PODCAST

Yesterday we skimmed the surface of some of the attributes of God. Like I said, there is so much more to God than the sketch we can paint in one episode of a podcast. With that in mind, today I’m going to try to draw the connections between who God is and how the helps us understand Hell.

God is eternal, infinite: There has never been a moment when God wasn’t. God Never changes: The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. God is all-powerful: There is nothing more powerful than God. God is all-knowing: There is nothing beyond the limits of God’s knowledge, he knows everything there is to be known. God is all-wise, completely good and perfectly just. God is love.

Everything God does works in perfect concert with everything He is. For instance, when we get angry, it is very likely that we will act out in anger towards a person in a way that contradicts our love for that person. God can’t do that. If God is angry it is never in the absence of His love, grace, mercy, and wisdom.

God never needs to make an apology. He never has to go back to someone after the fact because He made a mistake and ask for their forgiveness. This is incredibly important when it comes to the topic of Hell.

People make mistakes all the time that they need to make right. Sometimes we commit a crime that we need to rectify. Other times we misjudge a person or a situation and we need to seek reconciliation. Either way, we did something wrong and we need to fix what was broken by our mistake.

The example I shared on Sunday about the wrongfully imprisoned man is a good example of this. There are men & women in prison for crimes they actually committed. There are also innocent men & women in prison for crimes other people committed. There was a jury or a judge who made a mistake by putting them in prison. Then, if the judge and jury are no longer able to make the situation right, being that they were the ones that created the problem, what is the right solution? Where is the justice in a life that was taken from someone?

But God never does this. God never makes mistakes. Because God is all-wise (He knows the absolute difference between right and wrong actions as well as right and wrong motives) there is no doubt that His judgment will be accurate. Because God is perfectly Just, no one will be punished who doesn’t deserve to be.

God doesn’t make decisions without all the information. Because He knows everything, He has all the facts He needs to be able to determine what the right and wrong thing is in any and every situation.

Because God is infinite he has an eternal perspective on every situation. Where our perspective is ridiculously limited in comparison, His is perfect. Because God is all-powerful, there is nothing outside his reach. There is nothing he can’t do to make a situation right.

So, when it comes to Hell, God isn’t going to send someone there out of a vindictive rage. He’s not going to overreact and punish someone who chose Him. At the same time, He’s not going to force someone who wants nothing to do with Him to go to Heaven.

We share the C. S. Lewis quote from the book on Sunday: “Hell is the greatest monument to human freedom. All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want, including freedom from himself. What could be more fair than that?”

Also from the book this week Keller says: “The Biblical pictures is that sin separates us from the presence of God, which is the source of all Joy and indeed of all love, wisdom, or good things of any sort.”

Why would anyone who has rejected God and has embraced sin and rebellion against God want to have anything to do with God. All God does in the end is give the person what they really want.

As we will talk about tomorrow, God has gone to ridiculous lengths to show us His goodness. He has more than bent over backward to show us how much better it is to go His way instead of our own. But so many keep choosing their own.

One last thought. Hell, as it turns out is an act of grace. As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, and so forth. Why? Is it just because that’s what love does? Or could there be more? It’s not right to get mistreated in that way, Scripture makes it clear people aren’t supposed to treat one another poorly. So, where is the justice in that for the believer?

Keller says: “If I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right, I will take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation.”

That’s where the justice is. God will make all things right. He will either make them right through His son who paid the price for our rebellion. Or, in the end, He will make things right by giving people what they really want, an eternity without any of the good things God gives.

Hell, as it turns out, can be seen as an act of grace. God wants people to choose Him, but in the end, He will not force himself on them. We all have to choose. The choice is up to each person. He gives us complete agency in that decision. Will we choose an eternity of His goodness devoid of evil. Or will we choose an eternity of evil devoid of His goodness. In the end, it comes back to that stupid tree. What are we going to choose?

 

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The Character of God and Hell
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About the Author

David Lindner is a husband to (the amazing) Bekki (Chasingsupermom.com), Father to four, Pastor at SixEight Church in Vancouver, WA (68church.com) as well as an author/blogger/podcaster (davidlindner.net)