Monthly Archives: December 2009
On 10/13/2009 I wrote a blog entry entitled: What if I’m wrong and there is no God? In the comments section of that blog, I wrote:
"Hell" as commonly believed and pictured is not Biblical. My hubby has been studying Hell in the Bible, and much of the time it is mistranslated from a word meaning "grave". My God did not create people knowing they were going to suffer for eternity. X
Last night, I received a response to that comment by a visitor:
Lorraine F wrote:
“To X-Evolutionist : I am quite surprised that you do not believe in Hell. If there is no Hell, (or no Hell for humans, as you imply), then what reason was there for Jesus to die on the cross?” (see blog comments for rest of entry)
I’m not going to try to answer her question in my comments. I’m going to write this post, then put a link to it in the comments.
The topic is of “Hell” especially close to me because I did not believe in God until I was over 40. If I had died before the day I finally came to believe in God and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior 13 years ago, I would be in Hell now, burning for eternity, according to what most of Christendom teaches.
In my travels through the internet in the years since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen message boards where atheists and agnostics would ask Christians questions similar to this:
Why would a loving, omniscient God create someone knowing they were not going to believe in Him, and then send them to suffer for eternity in a fiery Hell because of that disbelief.
That question would make me squirm in my seat, and I would avoid answering it. After all, I would wonder, why WOULD a loving, omniscient God do something that horrible? But, always, some Christians would step up to the figurative podium in the message board and explain why the unbeliever got what they rightfully deserved.
I am not a Bible scholar, but In my heart, I just knew that my Jesus would not do such a thing.
It turns out that my hubby, who was raised in a Christian household, started rethinking the subject of Hell after my grandmother died some years back. Grandma was a wonderful person, but not a Christian. According to what my hubby had been taught, Grandma was now in Hell, suffering for all eternity. That did not set right with him. He began to study the topic in earnest.
Over the course of the last year, my hubby has been talking with me about what he learned. Now, neither of us believe that the Bible says that unbelievers suffer in the eternal fires of Hell.
In the “King James” version of the Bible, translated in 1611, words were inaccurately translated as “hell”. Some more recent translations of the Bible, using older manuscripts found after 1611, have the correct translations, some in a footnote:
- The Hebrew word “sheol”, used in the Old Testament, was correctly translated “grave” sometimes, and incorrectly translated as “Hell” other times.
- The Greek word “hades”, used in the New Testament means “grave” but it was incorrectly translated as “Hell”.
- The word “gehenna” is also translated as “Hell” but it was just the valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem where the trash was piled up and burned.
“Hell”, the place for eternal torture, is not in the Bible.
Here is a Bible verse that most people are familiar with, whether they are Christian or not. This is Jesus talking as he teaches a Pharisee named Nicodemus who came to see him in secret:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16 (NIV)
I’d like you to noticed a couple of things about that verse:
“whoever believes in him shall not perish”.
It does not say:
“whoever believes in him shall not suffer for eternity in Hell“.
Here is another thing to notice:
“whoever believes in him shall … have eternal life”.
So, according to this well-known verse, you only have “eternal life” with Jesus. How then can somebody suffer for eternity in Hell if you only have eternal life with Jesus? You can’t suffer if you are dead.
The apostle Paul teaches:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
Here is the first mention of death in the Bible — in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:15-17
There was no death before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, before they “sinned”: Here is part of the punishment for their sin:
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19
Later in the Old Testament, God gave specific instructions with atonements for each sin. Animals were sacrificed to pay for the sin. But, in the New Testament we learn that God came to earth to be born a baby named Jesus (as celebrated on Christmas, which was a few days ago). He came from Heaven to be born a man, and then to die, on our behalf, to pay for our sins.
Jesus died to pay for our sins and to give us everlasting life with God. That, Lorraine F, is why Jesus died on the cross.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16 (NIV)
There is no fiery pit of Hell that unbelievers go to. In fact, here is further evidence:
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (NIV) 1 Timothy 4:9-10
Notice that it says “especially” those who believe, not “only” those who believe. But, that’s a topic for another day……
We had a blizzard yesterday in Oklahoma City. This was the view out my back door at sunrise this morning:
Over 14 inches of snow fell in one day yesterday, December 24, 2009. This was two and a half inches above the record for the amount of snow in one day. The record was set way back in 1914. (Pesky "Global Warming"!)
I posted a video taken yesterday when the blizzard first started. This video was taken a few hours later, when it was worse:
I was very surprised when I saw the view below: Somehow, the snow not only blew sideways, but also got under my screenroom roof through the screens on the back patio. We built the screenroom last spring. It is outside our siding glass doors to the patio.
In this picture, you can see my futon, covered with snow. In the background, you can see that my pond is frozen solid.
Being a long time California Girl until 13 years ago, I am totally oblivious about the topic of “snow”.
Sadly, the snow is making it very difficult for many people who were travelling yesterday. There was a weather advisory for people to stay home and off the roads. The airport and the freeways were closed. People who were travelling were stranded and were staying in shelters last night.
As I said, this is a record snowfall. It is too bad it happened on a day when so many people were travelling.
Today is Christmas. It is the day of the year set aside to acknowledge the birth of Jesus. So who is/was Jesus? Was he just a great moral teacher?
Here is what C.S. Lewis said about that possibility:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 3, The Shocking Alternative
Who does the Bible say that Jesus is? Here is an excerpt from chapter one of the book of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was john. he came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14
In summary: In the beginning was the Word … the Word was God … the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
The Word was God. And, The Word became flesh. Therefore, God became flesh. According to the Bible, Jesus is God.
My first blizzard! That’s what the weather forecast called it: “Blizzard”. It is snowing cats and dogs outside. It started snowing a little while ago, and how! The forecast is anywhere from 8” to 14”. But, forecasting the weather in Oklahoma City is an exercise in futility. It is said:
“If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma City, wait five minutes.”
My wonderful hubby went outside to get my bunnies. They are in a pen, romping in the dining room. Actually, God designed bunnies to live outside, and my bunnies love to romp in the snow. But, my hubby and I worry about my bunnies if they have the potential to get wet. They have a wooden house, under an overhang, with a pile of hay they burrow and snuggle together in. We worry if they went out in the snow to eat and go potty they would get the hay wet, and not be able to stay warm.
I get a thrill when it snows. Before I moved to Oklahoma City after I married my hubby, I had not seen snow very often. When I did see snow, I had to drive over an hour to see it. Oh, it snowed a couple of times, but it would melt within an hour. Having all this snow in my own backyard is fun for this born and bred California Girl.
Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it, and a Happy New Year!
Edited to add two hours later: I have to change my mind. It’s not fun now. It is scary. Driving is hazardous and freeways are closed. This is not good since so many people are “going to Grandma’s house” for Christmas. The whole yard is white, even my screened in porch is covered with snow. People are advised not to drive lest they get stranded. The rescue personnel are spread very thin with all of the bad conditions. Our power is flickering on and off. I’ll bet the power will be out by the end of the day.