Each week, we will be releasing one of the student blog posts from the Thinking Series Online Course that we find excellent. Today, we share with you a post written by Roy Berryman. Her original article can be found here.
It is hard to understand that a God who is so full of love and compassion would seem so cruel as to send those he has created to an eternity of torment and anguish, or as we call it, hell. But is he actually so cruel?
I believe in a God that is shown as love [1 John 4:8]. As much as we want to see God as a fuzzy compassionate teddy bear, his own character does not allow it. If a father is to truly love his child, he must exact both compassion and justice. For God it is the same. If God is only compassionate and blinked his eyes at sin, he would not be just and would not be good. I worship a good God and he is compassionate and just. Both are necessary for love.
So, what is hell? Is it a place of torture chambers and monsters punishing you for eternity? I believe it is not. The Bible states that those who choose not to know God, “…will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” [2 Thess. 1:9]. Hell is eternal separation from God. It is the separation from what is good, lovely and beautiful. I believe that is enough punishment for a person.
We come to the question, why would a good God allow people to go to hell? C.H. Spurgeon states, “It is the will of God that saves – it is the will of man that damns.” God is good in the fact that he desires everyone to come into relationship with him, but it is we who choose not to. Hell is not a place full of people who do not want to be there, it is a place where everyone present chose to be. People have free will to choose, God has given us that choice. It is up to us to figure out if we want to be brought back into relationship with God or to follow our own selfish desires and separate ourselves from him forever. Hell is a place where people get what they want, heaven is a place where people get what they do not deserve.
“It is the will of God that saves – it is the will of man that damns.”C. H. SpurgeonThis leads to the other option, the alternative to hell. God made a way for humanity to come back into right relationship with him through the most famous person in history, Jesus. “The love and the justice of God kiss at the cross and are reconciled in Christ’s atoning death” (William Lane Craig). The goodness of God is fully shown at the cross where he carried out the act of unleashing his justice and wrath upon himself. How can this not be good? God made a way for humanity to avoid the punishment of sin by bearing the load himself. He made a way to, in all sense of the phrase, live happily ever after. We are able to enjoy eternal love, beauty and goodness in his presence forever. Everything that is good in the world will be fully realized when we are able to enjoy everlasting life with God our creator and saviour. “Heaven is not some kind of bribe to get us to love God, instead it is love perfected. It is the one place where things are the way they should be – wholly good” (Stieger, Thinking?, p.136).