Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stump the Chump Answer....

This week Joey asked the Stump the Chump question:

"If God loves everyone, does he even have love for souls in hell?"

My Answer:

Wow. Good question! You have almost stumped me on this one. First of all though we have to work with what God's Love is really all about. Does God love everyone? If so, it would reason his love would extend to the souls in Hell.

We read in 1 John 4:16, " We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." (emphasis added) I will talk about this verse in a second, but first also look at this one:

"For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee. The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the Lord abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men." (Psalm 5:4-6 emphasis added)

"Hate" is a pretty "hard-cord" word these days, yet this is the word that the psalmist uses. At the same time we have the passage in 1 John saying that "God is love". So if God is love then how can He hate? Before I answer these questions let's look at one more section of Scripture:

"[Jesus] If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

Here again we see the use of the word "hate". Now, I wish I knew some Hebrew (for the psalm at least), because only going back to the original text and *context* can you begin to extract the original meaning. Now, I think the context issue is very important for the last verse that I gave you where Jesus tells us that we must "hate" everyone close to us to be worthy of Him. Now this makes absolutely no sense if Jesus is telling us to actually hate in the sense of "desiring evil for someone" or "wishing death" to someone. That makes no sense since Jesus clearly states many times about how we must have love for all people and that loving our neighbor is the second most important commandment in the world. I believe the word "hate" in Jesus' context is meaning "to detest", in the sense of: "you can't love (hold on to) your mom (or whoever) more than me, so that you would do what she wanted you to do and not what I (Jesus) wanted you to do". We must deny ourselves and place God first. That's what I believe Jesus is telling us there. I think the same context can be applied to the psalm. God detests evildoers makes a whole lot of sense. Obviously those who don't follow Him will not be supported or helped by Him, which brings us back to our first verse in 1 John.

"...whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." This begins to make sense when we come to understand an important principle with how God's Love works. Love is a two way road. I can love someone who hates me, but they will not be able to receive my love because of their hatred for me. They won't give a care if I love them, and they want nothing to do with me, so how can my love do anything for them until they allow themselves to be open? Of course as a Christian I must love everyone, but if someone really hates me my love will not do them any good (excluding the good example etc.), though I would benefit from it. God's love is the same principle. If someone loves God, God's love can pour into their lives, because remember that "God is love". To receive God is the same as to receive love. When we reject God, we are the ones who are rejecting His love. God's love cannot enter if we reject God because again "God is love". So many times people desire to receive God's love, and yet they want nothing to do with God. You can only have all or nothing, there is no in between. So in the psalm where it says God "hates evildoers", it stands to reason that He is not able to give His love to them because they have rejected His gift of love. If they repented of their sin, His love would be able to be given.

"...does he even have love for souls in hell?"

Let's talk about Hell. Hell is not a place where God has fun eternally torturing those who didn't like Him. Hell is simply the place where one is utterly separated from God and His Grace. I like to think of how eternity begins now. Right now, this second we are all either living for God or against Him. We show this through how we live. Jesus said "You are my friends if you do what I command you." (John 15:14) There you have it. Many people have no desire to follow Christ and His ways. These people have rejected God. No one will be dragged off "kicking and screaming" into Hell. Remember that Hell is the place totally separated from God and His love, so therefore Heaven is the place totally filled with God and His love. Those who have chosen to reject God would suffer much more in Heaven, as they could not stand being in His presence. Therefore they would willingly go to Hell, even though Hell is certainly no fun place to be. It is a place of eternal suffering as living without God's love can only be torture and imprisonment. Of course, the Devil will try to paint a pretty picture of sin for us on Earth. Just remember he's on the campaign trail today. So that should answer your question. God is love, but His love can only be received by those who really desire it. Those souls who have chosen to reject God and are now in Hell, have rejected His love, and because our God is a loving God He will not force them to receive His gifts.

I hope that answered it pretty well.

Think you can stump the chump???


Joey said...

Wow! Great answer! That completely answered my question. You're pretty hard to stump. :)


Soutenus said...

This really seemed to be a hard question but you took it step by step and made it easy to follow!
Excellent response and nice scripture review.

PBXVI said...

Joey and Soutenus,

Esther said...

I agree, you did an excellent job on answering this question.

PBXVI said...

Thanks Esther!