A Merciful God and Hell Matt 23: 33 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
How many times have we heard people say, “I just don’t see how a merciful God can throw people into hell.” Or they will ask, “How do you reconcile the love of God with the wrath of God?” I’ll grant you, for many people this is a dilemma.
Right now, most people who aren’t saved see God’s wrath as something we preach to manipulate them into “getting saved.” And many resent that pressure. They experience the same resistance to that pressure as they do when they are pressured to do other things. When you are being pressured by a salesman, for instance, you feel the resistance to his pitch welling up inside of you. You resent being pressured to buy, even if its something you want. You push back against the pressure applied by hawkers and beggars.
Likewise, some people push back against the pressure of preaching on hell, when they feel like they are being pressured by the threat of spending an eternity in hell. “You better decide tonight or God’s gonna throw you in hell,” some preachers may be inclined to say. And then they’ll quote Matt 25:41 with a vengeance. They might throw in Ps 9:17 or some similar verse for good measure.
Now, I’m not against preaching on hell. But I am against pressuring and manipulating people. So, I believe it will help us to get a different perspective on this subject of hell. Then maybe we’ll have a different perspective on our merciful God and his mercy. And the two may be much easier for you to reconcile.
First, I believe we must understand what happened when Adam and Eve sinned. Sin entered the universe and death came in with it [Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12; Jas 1:15]. Adam and Eve weren’t the only ones affected by death when they sinned. Death affected all of creation [Rom 8:20-22]. You know that everything dies and continues to die, even to this day.
The only thing that will remedy the effect of Adam’s sin is fire. This universe is heading for a major melt down after Jesus reigns on tis earth for 1,000 years [2 Pet 3:10-13]. And the devil and his angels are heading for the lake of fire [Matt 25:41; Rev 20:10]. And because all men are affected by Adam’s sin and all have sinned, they’re all heading for fire, as well [Rev 21:8]. That’s the way it is for everybody and everything. All men are condemned and under the wrath of God, because of sin [Jn 3:18; 3:36]. That’s the consequence of sin, God’s judgment against sin and God’s remedy for the effects of sin.
So, what God did is that he became flesh. Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life and then took our sins upon himself and died to pay for all sins and the effect of sin. He even went to hell between his death and his resurrection. And then he rose from the dead. And what God did is that he has given you the opportunity to trust what Jesus did for you to escape the condemnation and wrath that are already in place, that came as a result of what Adam and the devil did. That is God’s mercy.
So, we don’t wave you over the flames of hell to pressure you. We preach hell so that you will know what is already going on and what is going to happen in the future of every human being. God intervened and gave you the way out through his mercy. That’s why we ask what Paul asked in Heb 2:3.
You’re not being pressured by us to do anything. You have been informed about the truth and about the mercy of God. The decision is yours to make whether you want to continue under condemnation and certain destruction or whether you want to accept God’s mercy and escape the damnation of hell [Jn 3:18, 36]. Hell and mercy are both reality; they are both in place right now. You may argue about it, if you like, but those are the two options. There are no other, no matter how many different ways the devil tries to confuse you and distract from the truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” [Jn 14:6]. He is the only one to pass through this sin saturated universe unaffected by sin, who then died to remedy the sin problem and rose from the dead to prove his victory over sin and death and hell. If you want to reject his remedy, no one is going to stop you. You have the freedom to decide as you please. We pray that you will decide to accept his mercy in Jesus Christ.