Read John 3:17-20
17-18 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. (THE MESSAGE)
Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone was going to heaven in the end? God would finally accept each and every person because he loved them after all. Let’s do away with this nasty and uncomfortable idea of hell. Some do believe this, though passages like this one might cause us to rather believe that there are two destinies and we do have a choice in the matter.
Christians of goodwill disagree on the precise nature of hell (eternal conscious punishment or sheer non-existence). But the result is the same: no relationship with God and no everlasting enjoyment of his pleasures. And yet such a place or state has to exist because of what this passage is saying. Heaven is full of God and full of light. Those who hate the light and prefer the darkness will not want to be there. Heaven would be hellish for them.
We are not going to be dragged kicking and screaming into eternal life with God. This is a life of love and joy, and neither can be enforced by divine order. They are acts and mindsets of free people. God doesn’t force anyone to love him. He gives them a choice and works through his Spirit to persuade them to make the right choice.
C. S. Lewis spoke truly when he said hell was populated by those who are rebels to the bitter end, and that the doors of hell are locked—on the inside.
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