Pastor Greg sometimes encounters people who think Christians are crazy for believing in God. Perhaps you do too? They ask things like, “Why would anyone become a Christian? Why should anyone place their faith in Jesus Christ – a man who lived over two thousand years ago? Can you prove that Jesus is real? Can you prove that He is God?” The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:14-15 was writing to those who were being persecuted for their faith at varying degrees, up to and including imprisonment and martyrdom. Peter reminded us that we need to be ready to give an answer to our critics. With gentleness and reverence we are to be able to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ. We need to know and communicate the evidence for our faith when people demand that we PROVE IT! Christian apologetics is both the science and art of defending our faith by using reasons and evidence. Pastor Greg will spend most of June and July teaching us some evidence for our faith.
apologia (απολογία) ~ “defense”
… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence … ~ 1 Peter 3:15
God has not yet, but will, one day soon, get rid of ALL evil, pain,
suffering and injustice in the world! There is no justice without judgment!
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9
How Can A Loving God Send Anyone To Hell?
(This question is built on two faulty premises.)
1) God does not “SEND” ANYONE to Hell!
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14
God does not SEND anyone to Hell. Those who end up in Hell, only end up in Hell because they CHOSE the path to Hell and REJECTED God’s offer of a different path that leads to PARADISE.
2) Hell is not the kind of hell you have envisioned or been taught by people over the years.
For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,” declares the Lord, “they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind. ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31
“Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place. The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. Then I will make to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become a ruin. ~ Jeremiah 7:32-34
Topeth = The Valley of the Son of Hinnom = Ge-Hinnom (HEBREW) = Gehenna (GREEK)
If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. ~ Mark 9:47-48
… [Those who are] guilty enough to go into fiery Gehenna. ~ Matthew 5:22
Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 25:30
Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” ~ Acts 3:22-23
ψυχή (psuche) – GREEK
It refers to the vital breath, the breath of life, the seat of our thought, affections and will. A person’s distinct identity, personality or self.
Nephesh ~ (HEBREW)
A living spirit, a living soul, a living being.
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a nephesh. ~ Genesis 2:7
These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:9
“Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” ~ Jesus
Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. ~ Jesus
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~ John 14:6
A proper reading and study of the Bible shows without a doubt, our loving God will not SEND any human being to hell but many billions will actually CHOOSE to go there themselves even though that is the very last thing God wants for them. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. He desires for everyone to be saved. ~ Pastor G
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no hell. ~ C.S. Lewis
QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
AND ALOHA GROUP DISCUSSION
READ: Genesis 2:15-17 AND Matthew 7:13-14
1) What do these two passages have in common? What choice is being made? Depending on the choice made what destination will those choosing reach? You are also faced with this choice? What choice have you made? Why?
READ: Jeremiah 7:32-34, Mark 9:47-48 and Matthew 25:22
1) Now that you have read the history of Gehenna, why do you think Jesus uses this as a symbol of eternity without God? Up until now, did you believe in Hell? Why or why not? In your understanding until now, what have you always believed about Hell? Do you still see it that way? Why or why not?
READ: Matthew 25:30, Acts 3:22-23 AND 2 Thessalonians 1:9
1) What place is Jesus describing as “outer darkness?”
2) What is outer darkness? Why will there be weeping and “gnashing of teeth?” What does it mean to gnash teeth?
3) Some groups interpret these passages to support a doctrine of “annihilation.” ~ Where if you are not saved, there is no hell, no state of eternal separation from God. You just cease to exist altogether. Luke uses the term “utterly destroyed” and Paul uses the term “eternal destruction.” Do you agree with annihilationism? Is that what they are referring to or something else? If we are annihilated, how can there be weeping and gnashing of teeth?
READ: John 14:6
1) Do you believe Jesus when He says He is the ONLY way, truth, life, path to the eternal kingdom of God and the Father? Why or why not? If you don’t agree with Him that there is only one true faith, that ALL religions do not all lead to the same God, should you be considered a “Christian?” Why or why not?
READ: The Final Quotes by Pastor G and C.S. Lewis
1) What do you think of these quotes? Both of them say all those in Hell will be there only because they have chosen it, not because God SENT them there. Do you agree or disagree? Why?