Sunday, January 04, 2015

Four Views of Hell - Part 1

Another Look Away Sunday Post
(If this topic is of no interest, feel free to look away. 
Polite and gracious discussion always welcome.)

Here's the outline of the sermon I'm preaching today. More of a review and modified bible study, rather than a sermon, but you get the idea. I wanted to lay the foundation for a series of talks on four or five different views of hell. As you can see below, I didn't even get to what those views are this week! So if this is of interest, tune in next Sunday as I try to dive into this topic with a bit more depth.

First, Four Assumptions Most Christians Have About the Bible

Truthful – We believe the bible speaks truthfully and authoritatively.
Relevant – We believe the bible speaks to modern questions and concerns.
Applicable – We believe the bible’s message can be applied and followed.
Clear – We believe the bible’s message is essentially plain and straightforward.

Second, Some Key Biblical Assumptions About God

1. The concepts of love and justice are not incompatible.
a) God is love – loving, kind, merciful, gracious, etc.
b) God is righteous – holy, just, pure; loves justice, is jealous for holiness, etc. - These are some of God’s attributes, divine qualities.
Both of these truths are held together in the bible.

2. There are 3 attributes that speak to God’s nature, 3 “God is” statements in the bible.
a) God is spirit (John 4:24) – not just: “God is a spiritual being.”
(This quality speaks to God’s eternal, infinite, unchanging nature.)
b) God is light (1 John 1.5) – not: “God is the light within us.”
(This speaks to God’s holiness and opposition to sin and darkness.)
c) God is love (1 John 4.8) – not just: “God is a loving God.”
(That is, love is more than an attribute, love is God’s essence, God’s nature.)

3. A word about God’s wrath, human emotion, and God’s ultimate plan.
a) While the bible is clear that God is love, it never states that God is wrath. Though the bible speaks of God pouring out his wrath against sin (e.g., Rev. 16.1), God himself is not wrathful. God is not ‘angry’ the way we use the word anger.
b) Wrath (and God’s anger) is not an emotion, it is a judgment against evil. God doesn’t get mad! God’s anger is directed toward sin and death. Neither is God’s wrath eternal. When sin and death are destroyed, God’s wrath is ‘satisfied.’ This is in fact what propitiation/atonement means. (See 1 John 4.8-10.)
c) God’s ultimate plan is to reconcile all creation to himself. God is a God of creation, not destruction. (Scriptures to consider: See Colossians 1.19,20 and 2 Corinthians 5.18,19 and 2 Peter 3.9 and 1 Timothy 2.1-4.)

Intermission: A Sermonette from the Book of Jonah. (Note: I may post this later this week. But the long and the short of it is that Jonah didn't want to preach against Nineveh because he knew that if they repented, God would show mercy and 'relent' from pouring out his wrath against the city.)

Conclusion: God is pouring out love. Our response determines what ‘pours down’ on us.

Next Week: Summarizing Four Views of Hell and Some Cautions On Our Part

(Hint as to what not to expect: A rendering of Dante's Inferno a la Botticelli's The Abyss of Hell.)

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