Cruelty In The Bible?
Is the fact that non-Christians go to hell cruel?
THE CLAIMED CRUELTY: he promised to send non-Christians to eternal torture (e.g., Revelation 21:8).
Once again the humanists have worded their accusation in a way designed to speak to your emotions. However, we'll take a rational, logical look at what is being said, and see if it is reasonable.
Revelation 21:8 is one of my favorite verses because it plainly makes clear who is heading for the lake of fire:
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that
burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8
Who is speaking?
And He who sits on the throne said... - Revelation 21:5
This is God speaking... the one who sits on the throne.
Let's define some of the terms used in this verse, so we can be sure we all understand what is being said:
Cowardly - False believers. They are revealed when the fall away from the faith when their faith is tested, challenged or opposed. They "shrink back to destruction." (Hebrews 10:39)
Unbelieving - Those who are not trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Abominable - People caught up in wickedness and evil.
Murders - Read Matthew 5:21-24 to get a deeper understanding of murder. It not only includes taking someone's life, it includes hatred and anger. Jesus said that if you are
unjustly angry with someone, then you have murdered them in your heart.
Immoral persons - Those who have disobeyed God. (For example, broken the Ten Commandments)
Sorcerers - We think sorcery is not a problem today. Unfortunately the occult is alive and strong today. But, there is more to this word. The Greek word used here is "pharmakos." This is the word we get our word "pharmacy" from, and it refers to mind-altering drugs. Sorcery, witchcraft, and drugs are all related, and those whose lives are characterized by these things are not saved.
Idolaters - Those who have something in their lives that is more important than God.
All liars - How many lies have you told?
People whose lives are characterized by any of the above are not saved and their eternal destination is the lake of fire. So, yes, all non-Christians, as well as MANY people who call themselves
Christian (see Matthew 7:21-23), will experience eternal torture in the lake of fire.
In reading Revelation 21:8 above I hope you noticed that everyone is in at least one, and probably several of the categories that are listed. So the question is, "How do I not end up in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death?"
There are only two ways:
1. Not be on the list. In other words, never do anything that puts you on the list. For example, never tell a lie... not even a white lie. Never disobey God in any way. (Obey all of the Ten Commandments perfectly, at all times.) Live your life such that God is always first in your thoughts, words and deeds.
2. If you are on the list (and everyone is), you have disobeyed God and have earned the just and right punishment, eternity in the lake of fire. Your only other option is to get someone else to take your punishment in your place.
There is no living person who can do this. Everyone else must pay the penalty they've earned. Since the punishment is infinite, they are not able to take on a second infinite punishment. They ONLY person who can do this is God... and He did.
Jesus is God. When He died on the cross He willingly took on Himself the sins of everyone... past, present, and future, who believes in Him. And He took their punishment for
those sins on Himself. Those who believe in Him are called Christians... and truly are Christians (as opposed to being false converts). The door is open to everyone... Jesus paid the penalty for sin for ANYONE who believes in Him as their Savior. Jesus is not exclusive in any way... but if you do not take His offer... there is no other option... you are heading for the eternal lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.
Conclusion: It is your choice. As a result of your sin you've earned the lake of fire. God has given you the option to "opt out" through the only possible way... trusting that Jesus Christ literally took you sins on Himself and died in your place. There is nothing cruel, evil or immoral here, just love.
Next example, the humanists write: Besides the unfairness and heartlessness contained in many well-known Christian teachings, the Bible has other violent tales that
are opposed to civilized standards of morality. Among the most shocking Bible passages are those that portray God as ordering or approving the extermination of various people, including children and the elderly. Here are examples:
At I Samuel 15:3, the prophet Samuel gives King Saul this commandment from the Lord: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
I've already answered similar accusations. But, we'll look at each example, one-by-one. Click here for the first one, 1 Samuel 15:3
THE GOOD NEWS
What makes this good news is the bad news about you:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
Sin means breaking the law. In this case God's law. This is bad news because perfection is required by God. Lawbreakers must pay the just penalty for breaking the law. That penalty is the lake of fire (the second death).
All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8
Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'
You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...
Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true, and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.