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Objections to Belief in Eternal Punishment

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2024 12:00 am

Objections to Belief in Eternal Punishment

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Wednesday, May 8. If God is love, why would He punish anyone in hell? Let's find out how to answer that question as the series on How to Choose Your Destiny continues. Is there life after death? Well, the Bible very clearly teaches that there is life after death. And it's interesting that every religion in the world teaches some form of existence after death. And even the atheist deep down inside believes that somehow on the other side of the grave, he or she will have some kind of existence. But on the other hand, there are those people who believe that after all, you know, we're all going to the same place.

So what real difference does it make anyway? The Bible nowhere says that we're all going to the same place, but rather there are two places where we will spend eternity. We either spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven, or we will spend eternity eternally separated from God, banished from Him in what the Bible calls the lake of fire. And in Revelation chapter twenty, if you will turn there for a moment, John in his vision received from the Lord the revelation that he received in the 20th chapter beginning in the 11th verse describes for us what he saw when he approached the great white throne judgment as it would appear in the future when God finally judges all of those who have rejected his son Jesus Christ as their savior. And beginning in verse 11, here's what he said he saw. And I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it from whose presence earth and heaven fled away and no place was found for them, which is his way of saying that in the presence of Almighty God, it is so awesome that neither the earth nor anything else could exist in his presence without his permission. And I saw the dead, the great and the small standing before the throne and books were opened and another book was opened which is the book of life. And the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books according to their deeds and the sea gave up the dead which were in it and death in Hades or torment gave up the dead which were in them and they were judged, every one of them, according to their deeds. Then he says this is the final place of existence for those who have rejected Christ following the judgment. And death in Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.

This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Now there are those people who object to the very idea that there is a hell, that there is a place that we call eternal punishment or the Bible describes as the lake of fire which burns forever and ever and ever.

Whether it is physical like you and I think of flames or emotional, mental, whatever it is, that's not the issue. The issue is there is a place of everlasting banishment from Almighty God from which those will be eternally banished from him who have rejected his son Jesus Christ. But there are objections to that and those people who say I don't believe there's a hell. So that's what I want to deal with in this message and that is objections to the belief in a place of eternal punishment. The number one is this, and that is eternal punishment is a contradiction to the very idea of a loving God. Now, so here's the argument. How can this loving God, how can this loving God have a place of suffering where somebody will suffer for eternity if he's a God of love?

So let's look at it from this perspective for just a moment. Is this God of love a God of love if he overrules man's free will and chooses to take many women who have rejected him all of their lives, who have refused any access into their life, who have chosen by a deliberate act of their will to shun him, to reject his son, to violate his principles and to live a life independently of God? Is it fair for a God who is a God of love to take a person who has chosen to live independently of God, who wants no part of God, no part of spiritual things here on the earth, and God then to take them when they die and place them in a heaven of which they wanted no part of while they were on earth, wanted no part of God, no part of his ideas, no part of his kingdom, no part of his purpose, no part of his plan, and then violate their free will by forcing them to live in a place called heaven for eternity when they didn't want it on earth and wanted nothing to do with Almighty God. It doesn't hold any validity whatsoever because when you and I begin to examine what God says, he says there are two places for men to spend eternity and man chooses while on this earth where he's going to spend eternity and for God to take someone and force them to spend eternity in a place of righteousness and holiness and mercy and kindness and love and tenderness and all of this when everything in them in their lifetime, all of their character was totally opposite, would not be a loving God. And so God does not force them to do so and therefore they must spend eternity somewhere. They spend eternity in an environment which is like the character which they exhibited, which is a place called the lake of fire. They hardened their hearts against God and against the truth and chose to live a life that was absolutely in violation to every principle of God and attempted to destroy the work of God here on earth. No place in heaven for people like that. A place in eternal separation of fire because that's what they chose.

You say, well now wait a minute. They didn't choose to go to hell. They chose the very opposite of what God offered and there are only two places when a man shuns, rejects, defuses, deliberately, willfully says no to one opportunity, he automatically chooses the other alternative which he knows is there. All of the unbelief in the world my friend will never close up, shut down, silence, put the fire out or cool off hell because it is a place that matches the character of those who go there. That argument is a very poor argument against it.

But there's a second argument and it goes something like this. It is unfair for God to punish for eternity those who commit acts of sin at certain times in their life. That is, in the whole span of time it is unfair for God to punish men eternally for temporal sins. You mean to tell me that this loving God of yours is going to allow people to suffer eternally for this?

Well that's a good question. The problem is that's not the issue. The issue is not if God is going to let someone suffer eternally for committing this act over here once in their life or this act over here once in their life or ten times or fifty times in their life.

That isn't even the issue. When you choose to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever reason yours may be, when you choose to reject the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you decide that you're going to live independently of God, you're going to decide how you're going to be saved, you're going to in your mind formulate your own kind of God, you've decided you don't need the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, and you're going to make it somehow anyway. But what you're doing is you're rejecting the testimony of God, rejecting the word of God, rejecting the counsel of God, and you're choosing to live your life independently of the will, the purpose, the plan, the desire of God for your life. My friend, you not only make that decision once, you make it through a lifetime, and when you die, you have chosen by those continuous choices to reject Jesus Christ to live eternally separated from Him. So where do you spend eternity with a character that is fixed against God?

You spend it the only place you can spend it, and that is eternally separated from Him because that was your choice in life. So it isn't that God wants anyone here, it isn't God waiting for you to make just one more wrong move and then you're going, God in His patience is doing everything in His omnipotence to keep you out of the lake of fire, the place of eternal separation from God. But then there's a third argument, and that is the argument, how in the world could people be happy in heaven knowing that their loved ones are in the lake of fire? How could a person ever be happy in heaven knowing that their husband or wife or children or loved ones or friends are in the lake of fire? Well, that is an assumption, first of all, that those of us who are in heaven are going to be worried about them and thinking about them as if heaven is over here and the lake of fire is over here and we're always going to be thinking about each other back and forth.

The Bible doesn't say that. Now, there's no question about the fact that there are going to be some tears and some mourning and some sorrow in that judgment when you and I stand before Him. And more than likely, that's going to be the time when you and I realize our loved ones who didn't make it, who died without Christ, and how often we failed to bear the witness that we should have borne, how few times we really expressed true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the lost people.

You shared with your friends, you fellowshipped with them day after day and week after week and year after year, but you never told them about Jesus. How many people are going to be in hell because we refused or failed or were too weak in our witness, too busy doing our thing? In those moments, there are going to be tears and mourning. There is going to be grief and sorrow. But somewhere in those moments, the Bible says that God is going to wipe away all tears from our eyes. There's not going to be any more mourning, no more sickness, no more death, no more sorrow, no more tears. And God is going to place us into heaven, the final heaven, where we're going to spend eternity loving and enjoying and worshiping and serving God. So the argument of how in the world can there be a place of eternal separation from God and suffering when these folks are suffering and we're over here in heaven enjoying ourselves, how can we enjoy ourselves? Because God, my friend, will blot it all out.

And forever, having served God and made that all-important decision in our life, that's part of the reward of glory, eternally focusing our attention upon Him and rejoicing, listen, rejoicing with the loved ones who are saved and rejoicing with the saints all down through the ages who've placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That argument doesn't hold in the water. Sure, we're going to be able to enjoy heaven. Well, what about argument number four?

And this is a good one that oftentimes comes up. How can a loving God create man knowing that many of them will spend eternity separated from Him? How can a loving God, how could He even create man knowing that many would spend eternity separated from Him? Well, let's think about that for a moment. Can you blame God for that?

Let's see if you can. First of all, when God created man, He created him and put him in a perfect garden. Everything about the Garden of Eden was absolutely perfect. Everything man needed, God had provided.

He placed everything around him that was good. In fact, God said that everything He created was good. The only thing that was not good was that Adam was left alone, so He created Eve, and that made everything good. In the garden, God chose to give Adam and Eve a free will to make a choice. Everything around them was going their way in their behalf for making the right choice. Their position was untried innocence. And so when God allowed Satan to tempt them, God allowed Satan to try to test their untested innocence. Having given them a free will, they made a personal, willful choice. They made the tragic choice of deciding to live independently of this God who had done everything in His omniscient and omniscient power to create the circumstances by which they would have made the right choice.

God could have made us a bunch of robots, but in God's wisdom, He said, that's not a good choice. The best world will be the world wherein man has a free choice. The best world is going to be a world where man has the right to choose to love or to hate. The best world is the world where man will have the right to choose whether to obey me or to disobey me, whether to follow me or not to follow me. The best world will be where men can love and receive love, where they will make choices in the process of their choosing.

They will sometimes suffer, but they will grow in their character. The best world is the kind of world wherein I, by their choices, can conform them and shape them as they submit, as they love in their devotion and loyalty to me, they will be conformed to my likeness. The best world is the world in which I, in cooperation with man, by the free will of man, by the choice of man, by the allegiance and loyalty of man, in cooperation with Him, that I can form Him and make Him like myself.

That is the best world. And I want to say to you, if you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, it is because you willfully choose to refuse the forgiveness of your sin provided by God the Father through the cross, the death of His Son. That is the only way you'll be forgiven. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. And my friend, just this personal appeal to you right now is God's way of saying to you, now, now, now, now, while you've got time, do it now. And if you reject Him, you, my friend, will die and you will spend eternity separated from a God who pleaded with you because He loved you, to trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins. And so I want to ask you today, are you ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in judgment? And if you're not, for your sake and for His sake, I don't care what the excuses are, how many reasons you get today, not tomorrow, not next week, but today and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, Lord and life today, not next week, today. We're talking about you being saved. We're talking about your eternal destiny hanging on your personal decision right here and now. And I want to say to all the rest of us who are believers and many of you who are believers who are church members and you go to your church faithfully every Sunday and you listen to sermons from your pastor and you read your Bible and pray, let me ask you a question. When, if ever, was the last time you took the Word of God or a gospel tract or you just shared from your heart what Jesus Christ has done in your life with the primary purpose of leading someone who is lost to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Has that ever happened in your life? All these people you and I live around and work around who've rejected Jesus Christ, they are doomed because they have chosen, listen, they have chosen to reject Jesus Christ and until they accept Him personally, they're going to the place that I've been talking about, the lake of fire. No argument, no excuse, they're going there unless they're saved.

I want to ask you a question. Why should God allow you or me to live one day longer? Why should He allow us to live one day longer on this earth if we're not going to get engaged in personal conversation with people leading them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Because you see, God loves every one of them. He's left us here as walking examples, not perfect but forgiven. He has left us here. Listen, He has left us here not because He loves us, He loves us. He left us here because He loves them. Anything God wants to do in your life and my life now, He can do it better in heaven. He's leaving you and me here because He loves your lost friends and neighbors and family members. That's the reason He's leaving you here.

Then if we're not going to do it, I want to ask you a question again. Why should God let you live one day longer if you, my friend, are not going to get engaged in doing the thing that God intends for you to do and the reason He's left you here to do it? Why should He allow you to live one day longer? I pray, Father, in Jesus' name, for every single person who's heard this message who's lost, that today, seated in their living room or their den, wherever they are, Lord God of hosts, I pray in Jesus' name, the Spirit of God would so penetrate their heart, creating within them a desire for Christ, a desire to be forgiven, a desire to be saved, a desire to heaven. And I pray, Father, that all the rest of us who know you help us to get serious about why we're alive, to think soberly about what we ought to be at. We want you to become somebody's forgiveness and somebody's life, and we want to thank you that you're going to do it. Thank you for listening to Objections to Belief in Eternal Punishment. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-08 05:26:54 / 2024-05-08 05:34:06 / 7

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