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What Is Hell?
Ligonier ^ | 6/20/14 | R C Sproul

Posted on 06/20/2014 5:29:48 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper

We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.

Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.

Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probably that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.”

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: death; hell; rcsproul; religion; sproul
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R.C. is an outstanding teacher. Had the opportunity to meet him once, very briefly...a very pleasant moment.
1 posted on 06/20/2014 5:29:48 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: SoFloFreeper

3 more years of Obama


2 posted on 06/20/2014 5:34:08 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: SoFloFreeper

Read 23 Minutes in Hell. An amazing story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG7WDxBG1WE


3 posted on 06/20/2014 5:34:18 PM PDT by PapaNew
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To: SoFloFreeper
Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

An arresting insight.

4 posted on 06/20/2014 5:36:40 PM PDT by ConservingFreedom (A goverrnment strong enough to impose your standards is strong enough to ban them.)
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To: PapaNew

I can’t imagine what an eternity would be like.


5 posted on 06/20/2014 5:38:46 PM PDT by Vinylly (?%)
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To: Tennessee Nana

ISIS penetrating our border as we speak? I guess we’ll have answered the question once and for all, “Is Obama black, or a secret Middle Eastern operative for the Caliphate?”


6 posted on 06/20/2014 5:42:25 PM PDT by CivilWarBrewing
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To: SoFloFreeper
R.C. is an outstanding teacher.

Yes he is. As far as Hell goes, my guess is that it is a million times worse than the worst thing anyone could imagine in a million life times. I can not understand why anyone would choose to go there, and yet, it is possible those in Hell, would prefer to remain there, rather than serve the Lord in Heaven. What lunacy. Keeping people out of Hell, the soul winner's motive.

7 posted on 06/20/2014 5:48:00 PM PDT by Mark17 (Rudyard Kipling: Liberals be wary, when the SHTF, The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon will clobber you)
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To: Vinylly
I think mostly about God's love for me and the eternity of Heaven.

But when I do think about eternity in Hell, it's hard to imagine. I'm so glad I'm saved forever by the perfect and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

8 posted on 06/20/2014 5:49:12 PM PDT by PapaNew
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To: SoFloFreeper

Standing in line at the Walmart Customer Service desk.


9 posted on 06/20/2014 5:49:29 PM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: tumblindice
Standing in line at the Walmart Customer Service desk.

The article criticizes exactly that sort of humor ... but I had to laugh,

10 posted on 06/20/2014 5:51:48 PM PDT by ConservingFreedom (A goverrnment strong enough to impose your standards is strong enough to ban them.)
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To: SoFloFreeper

What is hell?

The last 6 years.


11 posted on 06/20/2014 5:51:59 PM PDT by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal the 16th Amendment)
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To: SoFloFreeper

“Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.”

Amen, and well said Dr. Sproul. If this were CLEARLY preached in every “Christian” church - as it should be - then maybe the “Fear of God” would be more evident in our culture. Immorality of all forms is prevalent because these truths aren’t fully spread these days, and few take them seriously.

Where there is no fear of God, there is anarchy and all forms of lawlessness, violence, and vice.


12 posted on 06/20/2014 5:56:02 PM PDT by Sola Veritas (Trying to speak truth - not always with the best grammar or spelling)
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To: SoFloFreeper

The amount of sin a person can commit is finite.

Rejecting God is ignorance.

To claim that a loving God would INFINITELY punish someone for ignorantly rejecting Divine Love and therefore committing a finite amount of sin, is absurd.

And therfore I reject this claim AS absurd.

Finite hell, I accept as existing.

Infinite hell, I reject as absurd.

Flame away (no pun intended).


13 posted on 06/20/2014 6:08:34 PM PDT by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: SoFloFreeper
"Oh...crap..."


14 posted on 06/20/2014 6:37:21 PM PDT by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: Talisker
Rejecting God is ignorance.

“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. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

15 posted on 06/20/2014 6:41:49 PM PDT by BwanaNdege ( "For those who have fought for it, Life bears a savor the protected will never know")
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To: SoFloFreeper

R.C has been a blessing to me in many ways. He’s just wrong on this one.


16 posted on 06/20/2014 6:46:25 PM PDT by DManA
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To: BwanaNdege
All that are in Hell, choose it.

That is just not reasonable. People CHOOSE to spend eternity in agony? That does not pass the test of reasonableness.

17 posted on 06/20/2014 6:49:36 PM PDT by DManA
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To: CivilWarBrewing

I hear your justified concern but no one among our highly paid congress critters seems to share in it.

They don’t seem to care or give a $hit.

(I just drink my scotch and shake my head in disbelief)


18 posted on 06/20/2014 6:54:03 PM PDT by 353FMG
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To: Talisker

I absolutely agree. God said if you sin you die. The serpent said God lies.

I believe God, not the serpent.


19 posted on 06/20/2014 6:54:14 PM PDT by DManA
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To: SoFloFreeper
When Going Through Hell... Don't Stop!

Douglas G. Bloch (Author)

20 posted on 06/20/2014 6:56:56 PM PDT by granite (The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left - Ecclest 10:2)
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To: DManA

I told an Evangelical friend that I was a rotten sinner & though I believe Jesus died for our sins if we but believe in Him that even so there was the chance that I would end up in Hell which terrified me worse than any other possibility.

He replied, “If you’re that scared of going to Hell, you probably won’t wind up there.”

Thoughts?


21 posted on 06/20/2014 7:02:09 PM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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To: SoFloFreeper

Nietsche said “Hell is spending eternity with your friends.”


22 posted on 06/20/2014 7:03:32 PM PDT by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
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To: PapaNew

Bump for later...


23 posted on 06/20/2014 7:04:33 PM PDT by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
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To: elcid1970

Hell is Satan’s worst lie about God. And his most productive. .


24 posted on 06/20/2014 7:07:25 PM PDT by DManA
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To: SoFloFreeper
work of Christ and to preach His gospel”’

Work of Christ, to be murdered after horrendous torture so as to die for every sin ever committed just so long as you believe on his name for that salvation.

25 posted on 06/20/2014 7:12:12 PM PDT by liberty or death
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To: liberty or death

True. You evade the question of Hell.


26 posted on 06/20/2014 7:17:57 PM PDT by DManA
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To: SoFloFreeper

The Evil are not relieved from the presence of God. Being in the presence of perfection and infinite love, and then having it taken from you, is infinitely painful and distressing. Agony.


27 posted on 06/20/2014 7:38:50 PM PDT by Hoosier-Daddy ( "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.")
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To: Hoosier-Daddy

So in your cosmos God chooses to live with the knowledge that people He created live in eternal agony. What a horrible god you “worship”

I Workshop a God of Love.


28 posted on 06/20/2014 7:48:59 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Talisker

If you reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will burn in hell for all eternity. The Bible is very clear on this. Ignore at your own peril.


29 posted on 06/20/2014 7:57:55 PM PDT by SVTCobra03 (You can never have enough friends, horsepower or ammunition.)
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To: SVTCobra03

Then we really don’t have a choice do we?


30 posted on 06/20/2014 8:02:19 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

I have struggled with this, too.

If a father told his kids, “Obey me and love me, or else I will throw you into the furnace,” he’d probably have the most well-behaved kids on the block. But they wouldn’t really be choosing to love him; they would be acting out of fear.

I know the Bible is clear on this, but it’s hard to make sense of it.


31 posted on 06/20/2014 8:28:36 PM PDT by Nea Wood (When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.-Sowell)
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To: Nea Wood

It is not hard to make sense of it. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make sense of it. So if this is what you think the Bible teaches then you are misinterpreting the teaching of the Bible.

Listen to me. Concentrate. You claim that every human ever born is given a binary choice - eternal bliss or eternal agony. And you think a significant fraction of humanity is going to freely choose eternal agony?

No.


32 posted on 06/20/2014 8:36:45 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA
If you have free will, then you have a choice. God knocks at your door, you choose to open it or not.

To quote Free Will by Rush: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

I've been doing a lot more reading along these lines for these last few years thanks to obama's fundamental transformation, including reading the stories of those who've had a near death experience.

Most are the good stories where the person usually meets Jesus and one or more dead relatives and are quite interesting.

But in one story, that of an atheist, My Descent into Death: A Second Chance at Life by Howard Storm, he doesn't initially get the UP elevator, but instead is taken to the basement.

I found Howard Storm's story the most compelling of the all and came away with a strong belief that yes, "Heaven is For Real", but Hell and Purgatory are also real. (So did he, btw)

You seem to be saying that the Bible is lying and that God is. Within the Biblical story, from whom/where would such a belief and such doubt come from and to what end?

The biggest lie told is that Satan doesn't exist, some of his most effect work to date. None the less, he still loses end the end, but takes a bunch of souls down with him.

There are plenty of first hand accounts of both to check out, if you want to research your theory first before you put it to the final, ultimate test.

33 posted on 06/20/2014 9:07:20 PM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: SoFloFreeper; MeshugeMikey; Diogenes; Jane Long; madmominct; combat_boots; markomalley; PoloSec; ...

TEA Party approved PC uses of the word “Hell” in casual conversation for NSA recordings of our private emails:

* How in the “Obama” does B. Hussein not suffer from Jet Lag?

* What the “Obama” was B. Hussein thinking when he 5 putts a hole?

* Where are the Military Troops that will follow B. Hussein into the “Gates of Obama?”


34 posted on 06/20/2014 9:21:31 PM PDT by Graewoulf (Democrats' Obamacare Socialist Health Insur. Tax violates U.S. Constitution AND Anti-Trust Law.)
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To: DManA

I “claim” nothing. I am just trying to figure things out.


35 posted on 06/20/2014 9:24:58 PM PDT by Nea Wood (When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.-Sowell)
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To: Mark17
What lunacy. Keeping people out of Hell, the soul winner's motive.

Read some of the threads concerning a prisoner being executed. May he burn in hell" is a common enough expression on those threads. Occasionally a Christian will weigh in with, "I hope he found the Lord before he died" but the former expression is more common than the latter.

36 posted on 06/20/2014 9:29:58 PM PDT by Graybeard58 (If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16: 32)
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To: GBA

I choose Jesus. If I don’t choose Jesus I don’t believe I’m choosing veteran agony. I relive I’m choosing oblivion.


37 posted on 06/20/2014 9:33:16 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

Spell checker.

I choose Jesus. If I don’t choose Jesus I don’t believe I’m choosing eternal agony. I believe I’m choosing oblivion.


38 posted on 06/20/2014 9:35:12 PM PDT by DManA
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To: elcid1970
He replied, “If you’re that scared of going to Hell, you probably won’t wind up there.”

Thoughts?

That is probably about true, because if you know about Hell, and are scared to death of it, as I was, it will most likely drive you to faith in Christ. I freely admit, I was not loved into Heaven, but scared out of Hell. Heaven will not be filled with good people, it will be filled with bad people, people who were so bad, they recognized it, and fled to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. I don't care what motivates a person to come to Jesus Christ, love for God, or fear of Hell, as long as they come to Him.

39 posted on 06/20/2014 11:48:26 PM PDT by Mark17 (Rudyard Kipling: Liberals be wary, when the SHTF, The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon will clobber you)
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To: Graybeard58
but the former expression is more common than the latter.

I know, and unfortunately, sometimes I am guilty of that too. However, a question for you: we can probably be about 99.999999% sure people like Nero, Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, are in Hades, along with the rich man who would not help Lazarus, awaiting the Lake of Fire. I guess it does not matter a hill of beans, because their fate is sealed forever, and forever, but I wonder if we should think that we hope they enjoy the long hard eternity of eternities they will have to endure? I know it is kind of a meaningless question, but I was wondering.

40 posted on 06/21/2014 12:05:57 AM PDT by Mark17 (Rudyard Kipling: Liberals be wary, when the SHTF, The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon will clobber you)
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To: SoFloFreeper

Other people.


41 posted on 06/21/2014 12:06:43 AM PDT by Conservative4Ever (waiting for my Magic 8 ball to give me an answer)
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To: Nea Wood

Worshipping only a God of “love” is worshipping an idol.

God is also a God of JUSTICE. The old and new covenants are crystal clear.

Those who deny this on this thread and others are appealing to EMOTION, not the Bible OR logic.

Trust the Bible (as you do) and not man. If you go to the link, Sproul has other articles that adequately address the concerns of those who object to the reality of Hell.

God bless.


42 posted on 06/21/2014 2:24:10 AM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: DManA
That does not pass the test of reasonableness

People choose to either acknowledge God as supreme or else they choose to be their own god. (e.g. "I Did It My Way" - Frank Sinatra)

Heaven is the result of the former choice.

Hell is the result of the latter choice.

People make unreasonable choices every day, some with more severe and permanent consequences than others. They do so even when they understand those consequences, although usually with the attitude of "Hey, I can beat the odds!"

My wife had cancer a number of years ago. The surgeon cut away part of her body and destroyed the cancerous part. Perfectly reasonable once you understand that the goal of the cancer was to take over the entire body and consume it.

Lucifer decided to "Do it his way".

"How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13"But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Isaiah 14:12-14

Lucifer (Satan - the word means "adversary") rebelled against God and brought Sin, which God will deal with on His timetable, not mine or yours. God will deal with Lucifer's rebellion and the rebellion of individual people.

People do have a choice. As the Knight Templar told Indiana Jones, "Choose wisely!"

43 posted on 06/21/2014 5:09:42 AM PDT by BwanaNdege ( "For those who have fought for it, Life bears a savor the protected will never know")
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To: DManA
I guess we'll have to wait and see.

My Dad was an atheist. He and I used to have these discussion before he died a few years ago. He thought the lights went out and that was that.

I wish I could ask him now.

44 posted on 06/21/2014 5:14:54 AM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
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To: SoFloFreeper

Thank you, SoFloFreeper! God bless you.


45 posted on 06/21/2014 7:21:09 AM PDT by Nea Wood (When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.-Sowell)
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To: DManA

No, I didn’t say the suffering was for an infinite amount of time. It was more about the grief of being so far from God. I certainly hope no one in finite reality suffers for eternity. That would be obscenely cruel.

Not the God I worship either.


46 posted on 06/21/2014 11:44:52 PM PDT by Hoosier-Daddy ( "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.")
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To: BwanaNdege
“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. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Sure they choose it, because they haven't experienced God yet. And that is because they reject even the mention of God, of truth, goodness, mercy and all the other attributes of Divine life. So they never give God a chance - or they experience God as foul because they are addicted to their own foulness.

But God, to me, must be the sweetest, most perfect experience possible. Therefore even those who recoil because God feels like foulness to them, will be purified by the experience, and eventually their own foulness will be cleansed by them from Grace, and then they will choose God.

So it's just a matter of time for everyone.

Unfortunately, some people take... a lot... more time than others...

47 posted on 06/22/2014 6:58:44 PM PDT by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: SVTCobra03
If you reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will burn in hell for all eternity. The Bible is very clear on this. Ignore at your own peril.

"But I [Jesus] say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from someone who takes it. Treat others as you would like people to treat you... You will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked." Luke 6:27-31,35

In other words, Jesus commands us to do exactly opposite of God - Love, do good to, bless, and pray for our enemies... or else God will see us as an enemy and... torture us forever in hell.

Right?

Oh and you saw that last part? "...the Most High [is] he himself ... kind to the ungrateful and the wicked." Now that's strange - I thought he hated the ungrateful and wicked in burning fire forever?

Care to explain?

48 posted on 06/22/2014 7:05:22 PM PDT by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: PapaNew
Read 23 Minutes in Hell. An amazing story.

------------------------------------------------>

I read this book a couple of years or so ago.

It in one of the most frightening books I've read on subject of hell.

I don't think I can reread it because even now it still affects me.

I also read Heaven is for Real - I think that is the title - and as frightening as 23 Minutes is, Heaven is for Real is hopeful. Not sure I should reread 23 Minutes.

23 is frightening beyond words and I guess that is how it should be.

49 posted on 06/23/2014 2:21:22 PM PDT by hummingbird (Mark Levin and Article 5. Period.)
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To: SoFloFreeper

What is Hell?

Bipolar Disorder. I know because I have it.


50 posted on 07/01/2014 9:39:23 AM PDT by POWERSBOOTHEFAN (Well......Bye.)
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