Monday, July 9, 2007

Hell?

Good Morning America recently ran a story about an evangelical minister who rejected the doctrine of hell and lost his congregation. Bishop Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, OK has come to believe that a merciful God and eternal damnation cannot go hand in hand. In his emotion-invoking words, “How can you really love a God who is torturing your grandmother?”

Let me get this straight ‘Bishop’ Pearson…
*You don’t question the fairness of Jesus Christ suffering on the cross, but you do question the fairness of your family member suffering in hell.
*You don’t have a problem with the wrath of God being poured out on the guiltless, spotless, sinless Savior, but you can’t stand the thought of your sinful, guilty grandmother facing God’s wrath in hell.
*Your heart doesn’t recoil at the thought of the Son of God facing excruciating torments, but you take offense at the thought of a loved one facing the same torments.

If you believe that the Son of God can suffer for your sins, why is it so difficult to believe that YOU will suffer for your sins?

Here are a few things that Mr. Pearson does not understand:

1) The Arrogance of His Denial – Pearson used the grandmother example because we all love our grandmas, and we all know that little old ladies are nice and sweet. But we forget that we can be as sweet as pie all our lives and still be lost in sin. God isn’t interested in how nice we are, how well we played with others, or how much money we donated to the United Way. God wants us to humble ourselves before Him and admit that we are – even on our best days – prideful, selfish, wicked beings deserving of God’s righteous anger.

2) The Severity of Sin – Sin is twofold: Our outward actions & Our inward motives. That means that even when we’re doing “good” deeds, if our motives are wrong, it’s still sin. And every sin deserves God’s judgment. To say that God is wrong to judge us is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of sin and the offense it is to a Holy God.

3) The Justice of God – God must do what is right. It is His nature. If a sweet little old lady stole your identity and spent all your money, should the American justice system just smile at her and say, “It’s okay. We love you”? No! Put granny in jail! It’s the right thing to do.
Sending sinners to face their just punishment is the right thing to do. God would be unjust if He didn't.

4) The Mercy of God – You cannot understand the mercy of God without understanding the wrath of God. Doing away with hell does not make God seem more merciful. In fact, it does the opposite. If there is no hell, then what’s the big deal? From what is God saving us? Without the doctrine of hell, the doctrines of God’s love and mercy are cheap and superficial.

5) The Glory of God – All things are created to give God praise and adoration. When a human lives his entire life (even a ‘good’ life) refusing to give glory to God, it is the worst offense imaginable. A person who will not submit to Jesus Christ is a person who mocks, denies, and rejects the God for whom all things were created. This robs God of His glory! How is this not deserving of God’s eternal wrath?

I, like Mr. Pearson, tremble at the thought of hell. I cringe at the possibility that I have loved ones who are in hell suffering for their sins. I am horrified by the fact that there is eternal punishment for those not trusting in Christ.

And that is precisely why I preach it.

3 comments:

John said...

Where has our theology gone? Where are the men who will stand and proclaim the "entire" counsel of God. As I read this, I prayed for you. We have a people in this generation looking for "ear ticklers." I pray that God will give you wisdom as you seek to preach God's Word. Even the subjects that we don't like to talk about (women in ministry and hell).

Karen Shuler said...

I agree hole heartedly with "John"
That's what I love about you! You speak God's Truth, no matter how unpleasant it is for the world...IT'S WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR AND TAKE HEED TO!!
I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!
KAREN

Josh Culbertson said...

Thank you guys. I really needed to read these comments tonight.