Why Would God Send Good People to Hell?

I’ve been blogging recently on the existence and nature of Hell and, unsurprisingly, I’ve received tremendous response from Christians and non-Christians alike (much of it hostile). The topic polarizes believers and unbelievers. Many Christians struggle to correlate God’s mercy with a place of permanent justice, while others prefer to believe God would annihilate rebellious souls rather than assign them to Hell eternally. Non-believers often point to the apparent unfairness of God related to those who either reject Jesus or haven’t heard of Him. After all, there are millions of good people in the world who are not Christians. Is it fair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good? A good God would not send good people to Hell, would He?

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More Than One Way to Jesus?

Jesus insists and Christians believe that he is the only way to God (John 14:6), but is it possible that there are many ways to Jesus? Theologian Peter Kreeft asks the question this way: “What subjective relationship must one have with Jesus in order to be on the right way?”

Some insist you merely need to say a prayer inviting Jesus into your heart. Others suggest it isn’t enough to reduce your salvation to a “magic formula,” that there needs to be true repentance, or a desire to turn away from sin. But was the thief on the cross next to Jesus sorry for his sins? All we know from the text is that he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” to which Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).

What about the Old Testament saints? How were they saved? James the apostle, writing about the kind of faith it takes to please God, said that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (James 2:23). Abraham didn’t know Jesus, but he experienced the righteousness of God extended to sinful people through Jesus.
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The Brief Biblical Case for the Eternal Life of the Soul

What happens to our souls when our bodies die? Do souls “sleep” until the final resurrection and judgment? My Seventh-Day Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness friends accept a doctrine known as “Conditional Immortality”; the notion that the soul ceases to exist after the physical death of the body.  In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses call this “soul annihilation”; only those who are redeemed will have their souls recreated by God at the Second Coming of Jesus. In order to accept such a notion as someone who uses the Bible as their source of information related to the soul, people who believe in “soul sleep” must reject the following Biblical proclamations:

Souls Are Alive With God Immediately After the Death of the Body
See Luke 23:39-43 and Ecclesiastes 12:5-7

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Confessions of a Worldwide Spiritual Mutt

Recently, someone asked me to outline my faith journey. In a sense, I am grateful for the question because usually it’s asked in a static manner such as ‘when did you ask Jesus in your heart?’ to which I don’t honestly remember (which disappoints those anticipating a time and date).  The idea of an outline, though, smacks of highlights and turning points and those are things I do actually remember. Yet, as I reflected on my own outline, I kind of smiled at how this was also going to be a bit difficult for some to swallow. But, I took a deep breath anyway and said something akin to the following:

Growing up outside the church, I was sort of turned on to the sacred elements prior to knowing what they meant. I loved reading the Bible, but I also devoured Greek mythology, poetry, and all kinds of stories with a point.

Good News in Bad Times

During this tragic time in surfing community, with the loss of World Champion Andy Irons, our souls cry out that something is wrong. Not only is something wrong in the world around us but it feels as though something is wrong inside each of us. This is what many have called the God shaped hole in each of us. Saint Augustine said that our souls will always be restless until they find their rest in God.

I would ask you to commit to pray for the Irons family during this extremely painful time. Pray that God's comfort would be very real in their lives. Also, pray that God would recycle the pain in the surfing community and draw people to Himself. Pray, too, that God would give the members of Christian Surfers great wisdom as they live as the Light of the world and bring grace and truth to the surfing communities of our world.

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Living With The End in Mind

Time is such a precious thing.

For most of us, it is precious because with live with the knowledge that we do not have a limitless supply of it.  We all wish we could find a 25th hour in the day.  I have petitioned the Lord for such to no avail.  On a larger scale, however, we are oblivious to what "not enough time" really means.

As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:24, the end WILL come.  Time eventually runs out.  The odd thing is that I often live in ignorance of that truth.  I live as if I have all the time in world to do the things I really need to do - things like loving my wife well or building Christ into the lives of my children.   I live with a youthful, though misguided, notion that I am in control of my days and my time.  William Henley's concluding words to his poem, Invictus, resonate somewhere deep within me:

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Jesus: What's in a name

So, you're a yak herder in Nepal and one afternoon you fall asleep on the mountainside. Whilst sleeping, you have a dream and in your dream a messenger tells you that he's going to show you that worship is much simpler than you thought. You're excited to hear this, and he promises to show up in a vision every day for a little while. He does, and each time he unfurls a scroll with the names of many different Hindu gods. Each day though, he scratches a name or two off the list as he says, "you don't need to bother with this one." He keeps doing this until there's only one name left on the scroll. It's at the bottom of the list, a god of which you know nothing, named Jesus. The messenger tells you that this is the only God you need to worry about, the God above all gods and, as well, the God who became a man, died, and then beat death by exiting the tomb arisen. The messenger tells you that two men will come to your family and tell you more about this Jesus.
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