But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief. You are all people who belong to the light and to the day. We do not belong to the night or to darkness. So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control. Those who sleep, sleep at night. Those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But we belong to the day, so we should control ourselves. We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet. God did not choose us to suffer his anger but to have salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 (NCV)
“We don’t like to talk about hell, do we? In intellectual circles the topic of hell is regarded primitive and foolish. It’s not logical. ‘A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.’ So we dismiss it.
“But to dismiss it is to dismiss a core teaching of Jesus. The doctrine of hell is not one developed by Paul, Peter, or John. It is taught by Jesus himself.
“And to dismiss it is to dismiss much more. It is to dismiss the presence of a loving God and the privilege of a free choice. Let me explain.
“We are free either to love God or not. He invites us to love him. He urges us to love him.
“He came that we might love him. But, in the end, the choice is yours and mine. To take that choice from each of us, for him to force us to love him, would be less than love.
“God explains the benefits, outlines the promises, and articulates very clearly the consequences. And then, in the end, he leaves the choice to us.”
- Max Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent
I love this Scripture. I love this quote from Max Lucado. But, do you see the difference? In the Scripture, God chooses us. Yet, Max Lucado speaks of us choosing God.
Indeed, we must surrender our will to God, but it is also true that God chose us and loved us long before, at the dawn of time. A lot of folks make a big deal out of that, but God is outside time. He is aware of today as much as He is aware of the day when this world, in both time and space, will be over.
I am baffled, or is it befuddled, with so many well-meaning folk in the church who do not believe in hell. They say, “God is love, so how can there be a hell? Jesus died for all, thus all are saved.” Then why does Scripture say that Jesus said he would die for some? My question to answer their question is, “God sent His only begotten Son to save the world. … From what?”
Before I was saved, I struggled, demanding that God give me Joy. I put myself in such an emotional and psychological state, I basically ran out of choices. To make sense of it all, I had to surrender to Jesus and accept God’s plan for my life.
“So what does Jesus say? It is very difficult to claim to be a follower of the Jesus of the Bible and then turn round and say that either hell doesn’t exist, or that no one goes there. Jesus says ‘They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 13:42). He also tells us: ‘Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ (Matthew 25:41). You cannot claim to follow Jesus and his teachings if you believe that Hell does not exist or that no one goes there. You can argue that the language is metaphorical if you wish – but it is still a horrible metaphor for something horrible.”
- David Robertson, A. S. K. Real World Questions / Real Word Answers
Later in the chapter, David Robertson says that he will go no further than what the Bible says. “Hell exists. Some people do go there.”
God saved us, but we must not just believe that God exists, we must trust God. In so doing, we must trust what the Son of God said. In as many words, he said what Rev. Robertson put in his book, “Hell exists. Some people do go there.”
But can we not focus on the fact that God loves us? He sent His Son to save us. He wants to have a personal relationship with us. Revelation 3:20 says that God wants to enter our house (our soul) and dine with us. A meal between two personal friends is an intimate thing. God wants that deep of a relationship with us.
And with that relationship, we need never fear of hell. As Max Lucado wrote, the choice is ours.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.