Some of modern Christians shelter a delusion that the God’s anger, wrath and judgement is inconsistent with His love and goodness, and they have set to banish “these undesired attributes” from their thoughts and sadly also to their listeners, who can not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears as they accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions(2 Tim 4:3).
Coming to the second page of “What About the Flat Tire?” in Rob Bell’s Love Wins, A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell pose a rhetoric questions:
Does God punish people for thousands of years with infinite, eternal torment for things they did in their few finite years of life?(emphases added)
A sinful, unregenerated and itching ears would want to hear “No, because it would not be fair for a loving God to punish finite sin with infinite judgement”. It is the answer that suits a sinful fallen person’s passion.
Is Hell Fair? How is God’s love and wrath describe in the Bible? How does it work? Were are we to begin?
God’s Holiness; Our Answering Starting Point:
In the Biblical times, repetition of words, rose an alarm of the significance of what was told. This will be something like today’s capitalizing, bolding or italic-ing words in writing. So when they read or heard a word repeated, example “Amen, amen I tell you,…” the reader or hearer knew, what came was of great significance.
The more times the word was repeated, the more significant it was, example “Woe! woe! woe! to the inhabitants of the earth”(Rev 8:13), would in our modern day be “ SO DAMNED! to the inhabitants of the earth. “
God is called Holy, Holy, Holy in Isaiah 6:3 and echoed in Revelation 4:8, meaning He is awesomely infinitely super Holy. He is the sum of all moral excellency. It is here were I begin, answering Rob Bell’s question.
Bell, would quickly deny, saying we ought to start with Love, God is Love, Start with His Love, and I would not object. Sure, God is love. But his love is a Holy love. True, God is Love, but we must not forget that God is Light, God is righteous, God is Holy Holy Holy.
John 3:16-17 records how God demonstrated his Holy Love towards us:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”(John 3:16-17 ESV emphases added)
Itching ears, tend to overlook the bolded detail in this wonderful promise: “in order that the world might be saved through him”. Saved from what? The love of God? No! The Holiness of God, the consuming fire that abhors sins, his wrath that is to come.(1 Thes 1:10)
Answering Bell’s Question:
Yes, God does punish people for thousands of years with infinite, eternal torment for things they did in their few finite years of life. Why? Because it is not about the finite sin committed, but to whom the sin is committed against.
Worldly Example: Our own judicial system punish some evil committed in less than minutes, with life imprisonment. Example: A murderer is sentenced to spend the rest of his or her life or until death in jail by a good, loving and just judge.
What can we learn from this is that it is not about the finite sins committed but to whom it is committed against.
Notice that the magnitude of consequence also increases with the position/status of that a person to whom the offense is committed against. Example, If a father lied to his child, he may go way with it, to his wife, might find himself sleeping on the couch, to his boss, he might get fired, to the government, he might find himself in prison. So what happen if he lied to the Holy God, the ultimate of all?
How Serious is Our Sin?
This is how serious it is:
God sent his only beloved and blameless Son to brutally absorb the Wrath in our places shows the magnitude of how sin offends God. (show his Holy Love Romans 3:26).
God forsaking and turning a deaf ear to his beloved Son at Gethsemane as Christ Jesus broke into tears as he prayed for another possible way and at the cross, as his Son cried, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani, drinking the wine of cup of wrath, of the Holy, Holy, Holy God. It’s at the cross were the Father displayed his infinite holiness and awesome love to those whom believes and are found in the Ark, of His Son,(John 3:18 ESV)
We, fallen creatures, cannot understand the holy wrath of God for our sins have blinded our eyes to the magnitude to which our sins offend the infinitely awesome Holy God. At Cross, the Spirit of God awakens us,opening our eyes, as the cross becomes the power of God(1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:24)
Dear friends, may we pray that our God and Lord may keep us from falling into temptation of creating a god of our own desire and passion, a god whose ways are pleasing, sweet and justifiable by fallen men. May the Holy Spirit keep us not to fall prey of taming the untamed fire, that does what is pleasing to Him (Psalm 115:3).
Because, “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up.” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 25)
The wrath of God is a perfection of the divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it.
– A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Baker 2006 p. 108)