Hell is real, but God is good

Dear Friends:

Today I read in Revelation that the, “Cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, those that practice magic arts, idolators and all liars, would all be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur”. Yikes!

Several of my pastor friends read these emails, so I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but the notion of burning forever in a fire of sulfur is rather disturbing and sobering. I might go through my whole life thinking that God will eventually get used to my cowardice and forgive me — after all, God is a good God that does not want to see His creatures suffer. He understands and whispers, “It’s okay, everyone messes up from time to time”. And he understands that as a man I have impulses and urges that need to find expression in things that pop into my imagination and, again, there’s the little voice that tells me, “You’re a human being with urges like any other man, it’s not possible to ignore natural impulse”. And yet these words of John, the teaching of Paul, the words of Jesus and the authors of the Old Testament all warn against doing these things — “sins”. These same things separate me from God.

What if that little voice I hear is not God’s voice, but another voice? What if the Bible is true and God really does hate sin and there really is a hell? Jesus believed in a devil and hell and warned about it. So why don’t we talk/preach about these matters much? I ask this rhetorically because whereas I do believe that the blood of Christ covers my sins and allows me to be presented to God spotless, the evidence that that “washing” happened and “stuck” is the transformed way in which I see the new life being re-born in me each day, and not my ability to recognize the struggles and spiritual failures of others.

I am reminded of the parable of the one who had been forgiven on much not forgiving one who owed him a little and the master (God) being enraged. God have mercy on me if I am not patient and forbearing with the immaturity of others who are seeking Him, and my compassion on Muslims, Jews, members of cults, etc. that are also attempting to avoid a fiery conclusion of their lives!

Personally, I think the “angry Christian” does more damage to the cause of Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom than any terrorist, radical, or cult member. My prayer, for me at least, is the same the little nine year girl once made in church: “God, please make all the bad people good and all the good people nice”.

Dean Barley

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