For readers and followers of this blog, for this series only if you wish to reblog An Inconvenient God in individual chapters or in its entirety, I am okay with this. I had foreseen this as being a book, but when I reached the end, I had said all there was for me to say and it is clearly not enough for a book.
At different points in each chapter I ask questions. I do not ask them in search of answers for myself because I already know where I stand. I ask them as catalyst for the reader to consider.
Chapter Fourteen – Deal, or No Deal?
Is Heaven a Reward, or Hell a Penalty?
I hear it all too often:
“If there is a God, how could he punish people by sending them to hell, like little children and babies that die, for not believing in him?”
“What about people in remote areas of the world that have never been introduced to Christianity; why would God send them to hell if they have been living a good life?”
People often look at hell as a penalty or punishment for not following God. The thought of an eternity in the fire and brimstone of hell as a punishment is often used as an argument to turn people away from their faith. Sometimes the argument is an internal debate within one’s self that causes strife in a believer. I myself struggled with this at one point in my life and the turmoil it caused was great. The thought that my brother who died at five years old and from what I am told was a very loving and giving child going to hell would leave me perplexed and even depressed.
One day I realized that hell is not a punishment or penalty as my inner demons would have me believe; it is everyone’s normal destination in the trip of life. The Old Testament and the laws of God made hell as the only possible destination for each and every man.
Heaven, on the other hand, is the reward for those who accept Jesus as their personal savior. The concept of hell as a punishment came from old preaching that told people that if you did not accept Jesus as your savior you were going to be condemned to hell. People think of this as a threat “If you don’t accept Jesus, you will be penalized by an eternity in hell.” The way people should see this is “We are all condemned to an eternity in hell except through Jesus Christ who was sent here to die on the cross for our sins and give us an opportunity for everlasting life in heaven.”
Look at it as everyone is driving down the same eight lane interstate highway with no speed limit through the vast desert wastelands with the ultimate destination of hell. Each person has to make the trip alone and there is no picking up hitchhikers. There are plenty of gas stations along the way in the form of sin to refuel you and get you to your destination as quickly as possible.
At some point in the trip, you are given the opportunity to get off the speedway to hell and change your course up through the snowy mountains on a less travelled two lane road to heaven. The down side is it is much slower and you have to pay attention to the rules of the road because it is treacherous with landslides and icy surfaces most of the time. Sometimes you will meet people along the road who have decided it is too strenuous and takes too much time that have decided to turn around and head back down to the interstate. You can offer these people assistance to keep going with you but you can’t allow them to get into the car with you.
If you have the wherewithal to stick it out, you will finally arrive at the gates of heaven and the beauty that surrounds you will never fade. When the view you see for the first time exceeds what you could have ever dreamed, you realize it was well worth the trip.
If you can’t stick the trip out and turn around back down the road, you end back up on the interstate with the others speeding through the desert to your original destination.
- To you, is hell a punishment?
- To you, is hell the destination for everyone who does not take the alternate road to heaven?
- Is it too inconvenient to take the difficult path for the reward?