Heaven and Hell

The wisdom of Jesus is that we are to always address our own issues first and foremost and to absolutely avoid addressing another’s issue, because that role belongs to the Holy Spirit. If that is true, then how are we to turn another away from sin as is mentioned in Scripture? This can be done through teaching and proclaiming truth, rather than addressing directly that which might be amiss in another person. We are to be instructors of truth, rather than confront another’s sin. This is the way of Jesus, who rather than condemning mankind for its rebellion and evil, took upon himself the consequences of our sin. If anyone had the right to condemn it is Jesus, he refused to do so, we are to do the same. This leads to another question regarding what we call “hell”.

I’ve been reflecting on hell and what it is. I used to think it a place of punishment, but I don’t any longer. It is a place of confinement where the natural consequences of our decisions are lived out absent of God’s grace and intervention. It is a place where men live doing what men naturally do. They look out for only themselves and only do what is right in their own eyes. Some ask why doesn’t God let everyone into heaven. This question implies that heaven is primarily a geographic location, when in fact, heaven is primarily a relationship with God through knowing Jesus and others who love God. Even though heaven is a place, it is only heaven for those in relationship with Jesus. For a person who has no love for God or even hates God, being in God’s presence constantly would be terrible. It would be like living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and you know absolutely no one. I remember shortly after moving to Florence, Italy and knowing very little Italian. I’d go to pay our electric bill and stand in line with all the others, many of whom knew one another and were chatting it up. I felt extremely lonely because I was in a place where I didn’t know anyone and could not even communicate with the people around me. I imagine this would be just a little taste of what it would be like for a person with no relationship with Jesus to be present in heaven. Since such an individual is not suitable for what we call heaven, the only place for them is a place that fits their nature, which we call hell. Jesus called it a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Why is it that? Because when men live selfishly everyone suffers. Their suffering would be the same exact suffering that would be on earth, if God removed his sustaining grace. The only thing that makes earth bearable or enjoyable is God’s grace bestowed upon all who live upon it. Jesus said that the sun shines upon the righteous and unrighteous and the rain falls upon the godly and the ungodly all the same. Those who don’t know God presume upon his grace and attribute it to the natural order of things and their own efforts. I do not believe God is punitive because some, even many, wind up in a place we call hell. God is not obligated to continue to bestow grace upon those who refuse to acknowledge him. God is not unjust and would not be unjust if he stops preventing individuals from experiencing the natural consequences of their own decisions.

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