Proverbs 5 & 6 “Every word of God is flawless…Do not add to His words or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”
The cover of the April 25th issue of Time magazine caught my eye at the grocery counter last week with its question, “What If There’s No Hell?” It is referring to an article in the issue titled, “Is Hell Dead?”; an article where the author and the pastor interviewed consider how “new thinkers” are coming to the conclusion that “a place of eternal torment seems irreconcilable with the God of love.” The story proves that having an à la carte Bible and taking Scripture out of context is the very reason people can “construct sharply different arguments” as the author states. Scripture explains and proves Scripture. So you need all of it to get the correct understanding. For example, the author writes on page 41, 3rd column, “God will wipe away every tear–not just the tears of the Evangelical Christians but the tears of all.” He is referring to Revelation 21:4, but if you read this verse in context, you cannot come to his conclusion. First of all Revelation 21 is talking about the new heaven and the new earth which Jesus clearly teaches is reserved for those who believe in Him. In John 14:3 Jesus teaches that no one comes to the Father except through Him. And where is the Father? We are told throughout the Bible that the Father is in Heaven. Then if you continue on in Revelation 21 verses 7 & 8 say, “He who overcomes will inherit all of this…but the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” So it doesn’t sound like God will wipe away the tears of these people, and thus the author’s claim cannot be supported if you consider the entire passage and use Scripture to understand Scripture. And that was only one of the places in the article to which one could have applied this principle.
The author did state, “There is, however, no escaping the fact that Jesus speaks in the Bible of a hell for the ‘condemned’.” Do we just arbitrarily decide He didn’t mean it? That is the only way you can come to the conclusion that there is no hell. You either have to believe all He said is truth, or all of it becomes suspect. To be sure, there are matters in the Bible where we do not have a full understanding leaving room for interpretation based on the full Word of God, but the existence of hell and the fact that it is a terrible place is not one of them. We are told in Matthew 24:35 and Revelation 21:1 that the current earth and heaven will pass away and new ones will replace them, but I am not aware of any place in the Bible that teaches that hell will pass away. And for those who question how a loving God could have a place like hell, my question is how could a loving God not have a place like hell. As loving parents, my husband and I have spent our kid’s lives trying to protect them from evil. If we had the power to put all evil in a place where it couldn’t harm our family or tempt them into a harmful lifestyle, we would lovingly do that. How much greater is the Father’s love? The article also includes a survey of art over the centuries depicting hell with the subtitle, “If art is any indication, the concept of hell may not be as frightening now as it was in the past.” That is a frightening statement because whether art is recording or directing culture, the most recent pictures have reduced hell to comical cartoons. Like the article itself, the art is diminishing the importance of God’s teaching on two very different paths for eternity; one of eternal love, peace and joy or one of eternal torment. If we consider the full context of God’s teaching on this, we cannot escape the fact that hell is a real place and neither God nor Jesus take it lightly.
Are you using all of God’s Word to help you understand His teaching? If not, why not?
Where might you be taking Scripture out of context and thus misinterpreting His teaching?