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Thoughts on Hell

Recently one of the Meditations mentioned hell as being a place designed by God. I received an e-mail response to that which I replied to privately. Since there are others who may have the same question or thoughts, I wanted to share my response here.

READER RESPONSE:
God designed hell??

Why would he send his son to die for our sins and to resurrect after decending into hell to set free the souls there,  and he then took the keys to hell and death.

Jesus came to save all men  God dosent care about sin he wants the best for his children.  The house of God is with men and he will wipe away all pain tears and death.    Come on now who is this God that you speak about.    He is the alpha and omega and what he started he will finish, when he made man he said it is good and this is still his opinion today.  The new covenant that was cut by Jesus was to change the rules of blessings following keeping laws.  The new covenant says believe in me and love others like yourself , simple  and the holy spirit was left here with us to help us to recognise the god portion of ourselves.

Give God a chance to be your heavenly loving father.

God designed hell?  Yes.  That’s what I read from scripture.  Matthew 25:41 said that it was prepared for the devil and his angels, and God is the One who created all things.  Then Jesus warns us through the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus that disobedient humans go there.  He notes that there is torment and flame.  He makes a distinction between two classes of people (not nations, not political systems — but people) and two final destinations for them.
Jesus spoke about hell in the context of judgment more than any other Bible figure.  Jesus is the express image of God’s person according to Hebrews 1.  What I carry away from those passages is that He apparently knows something about eternity of which we are mostly ignorant — Bible passages notwithstanding.  His compassion was such that He was willing to give His own life for our sins to restore relationship with God, but He was also willing to speak what is an unpopular truth, that there is judgment for the wicked.
Another passage to consider is Revelation 21:8.  There we are told that the unbelieving (and others) will have their part in the lake of fire (or burning sulfur).  You can cross reference Revelation 20:11-15 where it talks about the great white throne judgment of the dead.  The end of those who names are not written in the Book of Life is to be cast into this lake of fire.
You have some good quotes in your e-mail and some very good grasp of the love of God, but there are a sprinkling of errors which I would challenge you on.
You state that “God doesn’t care about sin.”  This simply isn’t true.  Sin is what cost the death of His son.  When Proverbs says, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him,” it is helping us to understand the gravity of sin.  There are plenty of other references in scripture which detail God’s thoughts on sin.  I suppose the best way to put it is that He can’t be non-plussed about something which is absolutely contrary to His nature.
You state that God’s opinion still today is that man is good.  Morally?  No.  Does He still value us so much as to die for us?  Yes.  But they are different.  And the choice to follow is conditional.
While Jesus did simplify things quite a bit for the first century Jew, there was something in His teachings about taking up our crosses and following Him, about being willing to die completely to self and about hearing His words and doing them.  He even noted in the greatly lauded Sermon on the Mount that those who profess to know Him but do not follow His teachings will be made to depart from Him at the judgment.
Finally, I have to caution you on your final statement.  The Holy Spirit was sent to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.  He was sent for the believers to remind us Jesus’ words, to lead us into all truth, and to testify of Jesus.  Does He make us partakers of the divine nature?  Yes!  What is that divine nature?  Holiness.
I guess the best way I would summarize what you state in your belief paragraph is that it is based loosely on moral relativism and a sprinkling of universalism.  In the past 20-30 years, there has been a concerted attempt to destroy and remove the foundations.  These are, in Christianity, what we can call absolutes.  TV, news, movies, books, politicians have all been hammering the idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are accepting of others.  “Acceptance” is seen as the greatest good, and the greatest evil is to state, imply or believe that your religion has “the Truth.”  This is labeled “intolerance,” and all of the accepting/tolerant people get a free pass to be intolerant of intolerant people, this meaning that they can hate Christians.  So after 2000 years, nothing has changed.
I’m intolerant by those standards.  I believe that Jesus is the only Way to the Father — because He said so.  I believe in His love and His sacrifice.  And I believe in His harder sayings which grate against my sinful nature.  I believe that I have been forgiven, that I am daily being saved, and that I will be (finally) saved and enter into His kingdom — if I follow Him.  I believe that if I spit in His face by trampling underfoot Son of God, by counting as common or unholy the blood of the covenant and by insulting the Spirit of grace, that I deserve the sorest of punishments.  And I believe that God is just in whatever His dealings are.    The best I can read the Old and New Testaments, these are things which God has spoken about.
If there are scriptures about hell or judgment which you have questions regarding, I would encourage you to study and dialog about them.  But if the main issue is a non-acceptance of the scriptures which are there, I would challenge you to let go of the belief systems which do not match scripture no matter how painful it may be to do so.
I have and do.  He changed my life.  His love is what keeps me wanting to serve Him.  But His Word has to have the final say on what I believe, not my culture.

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