Reconciling a God of Love with Hell
bearbear (#28)
670 Plays

Many Christians struggle with reconciling a God of love with a God who is not only wrathful but is okay with eternal damnation and torment of souls. Some, such as Rob Bell and other Universalists have taken the view that an eternal hell and a God of love is incompatible and hell must only be temporary or it must not exist.

However, hell cannot be ignored or explained away because Jesus spent one third of his teaching ministry warning about hell. Yet I believe it is possible to reconcile a God of love with a God of wrath who judges with eternal damnation/torment.

I've grown into a view of God as an incredibly powerful and holy but misunderstood being who has trouble controlling his own holiness, though not to any fault of his own-- I like to conjure the picture of the incredible Hulk, or even the Sun which sustains life but can be indiscriminately powerful and kill.

Incredible Hulk

Scripture says God is a consuming fire (Deut 4:4) and he dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:6). The Old Testament is full of examples of God's wrath being poured out on unrepentant beings. He even almost wiped out the Israelites, the very people he chose and called out (Exodus 32:10-11), if not for Moses' intervention and intercession.

God's holiness even wipes out good, well intentioned people who are not aware of his power such as when Uzzah touched the ark to steady it but got zapped to death (2 Samuel 6:7). Does God delight in such wanton destruction?

The answer is no. Scripture says God does not delight in suffering and does not willingly bring affliction (Lamentation 3:33).

The Hebrew word picture for love is "the heart of the Father revealed". Deep inside God's being is a heart of love, the source from which all love in the universe emanates (1 John 4:7)-- and Jesus was the very expression of that love (John 14:9).

The problem of hell is really a problem of God's wrath and holiness which burns against sin, including all vessels which allow the sin to manifest and operate (1 John 3:8). God realizes this and because he loves us he did everything he could do to take care of the problem of his own holiness that would work in the system that he operates in. (Actually God's holiness is not the problem as He can never be wrong, the problem is sin and our own wickedness, yet the issue of God's wrath had to be dealt with)

The only thing that could appease God's wrath is something of value, no amount of silver or gold or works is enough as money has no value to God (Psalm 49:7-8), but only the sacrifice of a perfect life-- something that only God himself could accomplish by becoming a man. So God did not spare his one and only Son that he loved dearly to become the sacrifice that could appease His own wrath. This was the only solution to God's own holiness, as there was no other way. Jesus even begged the Father to find some other solution at Gethsemane, but there was none (Matthew 26:39)

So God did everything he could. The rest is up to us as God cannot violate our free will or force himself on us.

But for those that God has mercy on it gets even better. Not only are we saved from his wrath, but by Jesus' blood we have access to the Holy of Holies, the Holiest place (Heb 10:19) and we will be able see God face to face (1 Cor 13:12).

We all should have been objects of God's wrath (Eph 2:3) but in His grace God considers us as his own children (Eph 1:5-10)!

It's impossible to fathom the depth of God's love and grace without also understanding the depths of his holiness. Rather than contradicting each other, God's holiness actually complements his love.

1. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
2. Ephesians 2:4-7 (NIV)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
3. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
4. Deuteronomy 4:4 (NIV)
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
5. 1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
6. Exodus 32:10-11 (NIV)
Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?
7. 2 Samuel 6:7-8 (NIV)
The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
8. Lamentations 3:31-33 (NIV)
For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
9. John 14:9 (NIV)
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
10. 1 John 3:8 (NIV)
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
11. Matthew 26:38-39 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
12. 1 John 4:7 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
13. Psalm 49:7-8 (NIV)
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
14. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
15. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
16. Ephesians 1:5-10 (NIV)
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.