“It is called ‘Good News,’ is it not?” she asked. “But for me, it was very bad news!”
Those words were spoken by a lovely young woman from France who was visiting my family here in America for a few days last week. She went on to tell us,
“I am the only Christian in my family, and I wept when I thought about my parents, my brothers and sisters, and especially my grandmother who had died. If God is loving and all-powerful, why would He let so many people suffer for so long in hell? It doesn’t make sense!So I told God that if that is the way He is, I could not follow Him anymore. And I walked away from the faith for several years.I eventually came back to Him. But the concern still weighs heavily upon me.”
It’s About People
The discussion about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell is not just theoretical. It’s about people. Real people. People who love and are loved by someone else. And each one of them – like this friend from France – had a mom and dad, and a grandma and grandpa. The vast majority had brothers and sisters, husbands or wives, sons and daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
We often talk of and sing praises about the wonderful, never-ending love of God in our church services, Bible studies, and personal interaction with other believers. But are those songs and words accurate? Does God really love with an everlasting love? Or is His love conditional?
For the moms and dads . . . grandmas and grandpas . . . sons and daughters . . . relatives and friends who have not professed some kind of faith in Him here in this life, does God’s love and mercy end at the moment of death?
Why This Topic?
As we talked around the dinner table, I explained to our guest how my interest in this issue went back more than 35 years to when I was a third year seminary student. I had been on the staff of a major evangelistic ministry for four years before attending the school. As is true today, the standard teaching of the ministry and at the seminary was that most of the people who have ever lived will suffer consciously in hell forever.
Like our new friend from France, that meant most of the people I loved.
But that teaching didn’t fit with what I read in the Bible about the never-ending love and unlimited power of God. So, I decided to look into the issue as the topic of a research paper for one of my theology courses.
What I discovered totally surprised me . . . and even now I’m amazed that most Christians have never been told that the belief in the ultimate restoration of all things was a prominent belief in the Christian Church historically, and it has strong Biblical support.
She listened intently as I explained my conclusion that the Biblical God is not a tender-hearted but ultimately weak Being who would like to save everyone, but is ultimately unable to accomplish what He desires.
Nor is He an all-powerful Despot who chooses some to live forever in luxury beyond description, while others are chosen to experience eternally a degree of degradation that is too horrendous for our finite minds to even conceive.
On the contrary, I became convinced that the Biblical God is far greater, far more powerful, and far more wonderful than you or I have ever thought or imagined. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, He defeated sin and death completely, and will one day restore all of His creation to its original perfection.
“I have never heard this before,” she said later. “This is really Good News!”
Why Is It Important?
Over the course of the last 3 years, I’ve posted more than 30 articles on this subject. Most of the articles have been commented on frequently. Sometimes with insightful comments from people who both agree and disagree with what I've said. Sometimes with little more than name calling.
It's an important issue because it’s about who God really is. And it’s about the people you . . . and I . . . and this friend from France love.
So, what about your grandma . . . your grandpa . . . your mom . . . your dad . . . your husband . . . your wife . . . your son . . . your daughter . . . your brother . . . your sister . . . your aunts . . . your uncles . . . your cousins . . . your friends . . . ?
Does God have a plan to eventually get all those you and He loves into heaven?
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