Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Too bad to be true?

I was invited into the gentleman's home because he wanted to talk about his problems with the Bible's teachings. (He was a pleasure to talk to because he actually wanted to talk with me about his objections rather than rant to me about his objections.)

The big issue was the subject of hell - his point was that he felt 70 years of sin didn't deserve eternal punishment - it just seemed to him like it was totally disproportionate - maybe it seems the same to you. The objection as put is an example of confused reasoning, think about it - punishment for crimes is never based on how long it takes to commit them, for example - how long does it take to murder someone? How long should that person be imprisoned? See the problem? The punishment is not based on the length of time it took to commit the crime but on the gravity of the crime. People may then say that the sins we commit are not serious enough to merit eternal punishment. But when we consider that if God exists then He must be absolutely righteous and infinitely holy, (if that weren't true then it would mean that there is some standard of holiness that He falls short of and a level of righteousness that He fails to meet - where would that standard come from?). It is therefore a crime of infinite gravity and seriousness to sin against such a God. So just reflect on this, how could there be a finite time set on the punishment?

My host then asked me would annihilation not satisfy God's requirement because it is an eternal punishment? My answer was no, for two reasons - my first objection is moral - it wouldn't be righteous because then there's no differentiation in the punishment for different sins – those who have committed most sins would have the same treatment as those who have committed less sins. My second objection to annihilation is scriptural - the Bible simply does not offer that as a possibility. The teaching of Scripture in general (Old Testament and New Testament) and the teaching of the Lord Jesus in particular is clear – there is eternal, conscious punishment for those who don't have their sins forgiven.
Although hell is what we deserve, it isn't what God desires, and you don't have to go there (1Timothy 2 v 4-6; 2Peter 3 v 9; John 3 v 16.)