Why Hell Persists

May29

Psalm 83.1
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah 

In The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis says he would pay any price to remove the doctrine of hell because of its difficulty — to teach, understand, and grasp as reality. A few pages later he reveals the startling reality about hell that is often overlooked:

“I said glibly a moment ago that I would ‘pay any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem:

“So much mercy, yet still there is hell.”

Heaven and hell, for Lewis, were destinations for courses set in this lifetime. Good people aren’t simply people who are morally superior, but people who have found their life in Christ. Bad people are those who have rejected their greatest good — the love of God.

“Both processes begin even before death,” Lewis said of heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.

“And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”

It’s difficult to embrace the reality that present choices have effects that extend beyond our present world. This is one of the chief reasons we need God’s grace every moment of every day.

The cruciform life — of laying down our selfish desires, self-interest, and pride as we follow in humble obedience — requires extraordinary grace and rigorous discipline.

“If Christianity was something we were making up, of course, we could make it easier. But it is not,” Lewis concludes in Mere Christianity. “We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”

Prayer

Father, we pray for your grace on our lives and the lives of those who reject you. Show us your mercy. Use us as instruments of your love so that those around us experience you in profound, even if simple, ways. 

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 2 (Listen – 5:05)
Psalms 83-84 (Listen – 3:20)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings
Saturday: Deuteronomy 3 (Listen – 4:33); Psalm 85 (Listen – 1:25)
Sunday: Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 7:22); Psalms 86-87 (Listen – 2:16)

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Fearless in Judgment

May28

Psalm 82.1
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 

TBT: Fearless in Judgment | by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

First, let us consider the assurance that there is a moral government. There is a Judge over the race of men: we are not as the locusts, of whom Solomon says that they have no king.

That being announced, we have to go on to say that there will be a day of final account. I need not stop to quote the numerous passages of Scripture which assert that every one of us must give an account of himself before God, for “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

All reasonable persons will conclude that there must be a judgment, if they will only consider the character of God. Being the ruler of the world, he must do justice. We should count any man who was made a king but a miserable counterfeit of a monarch if he never administered justice at all. 

There will come a day in which he will judge the acts of men, because his character is not such that he could or would trifle with evil. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sow, that shall he shall also reap.” He will “render to every man according to his deeds.”

And O, my brothers and sisters, you all know how quickening this doctrine is to Christians. We do not fear the day of judgment; we do not dread the thought of standing before our Lord Jesus, because we have a plea which we know will answer every purpose. 

Our plea is this: we have been tried, condemned, and punished already. Behold, in your hands the nail-prints which are the witnesses that you bore our sins in your own body on the tree. Behold, at your side you wear the ruby gem which tells how thine own heart made expiation for the guilt of all that trust in thee. 

We are not afraid, for there is no judgment for him who is judged already, no punishment for him who is punished already in a Substitute whom God has accepted. Yet this expectation of judgment quickens us to holy duty; we feel that since the Master comes we would be as men that look for their Lord, and stand with our loins girded, doing service, expecting to hear his footstep at any moment.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 1 (Listen – 6:27)
Psalms 81-82 (Listen – 1:42)

Life and Death Apart from God
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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