“Eternal Hell Should Be Temporary”

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One day I was talking to a young 17 year-old male about eternity.  He said, “Eternal hell is Cruel!  I have friends who haven’t grown up in a Christian home so how could God send them to eternal hell?  They didn’t get the opportunities I did to learn about the truth growing up!  I think hell should be temporary.”

I said, “Is it ok for a convicted criminal to go to jail for the rest of his life?”  He said, “Yes.”  I replied, “How cruel it is to imprison someone for the rest of their lives!  Their whole life is gone.”

He just looked at me.

I asked him, “Since your friends haven’t grown up in a Christian home have you shared the truth of God with them?”  He said “Yes.”

“Why do they not believe you?” I replied.

He thought for a moment and said, “Because they haven’t grown up in a Christian home like I have.  There are so many things stacked against them believing like circumstances in life and sins they like to do.”

Basically his argument was “Its God’s fault his friends don’t believe since they were not raised in a Christian home, “therefore” its not right for God to send them to hell forever.  A “temporary” hell is needed so they will believe the truth and repent.

The bible says God is all knowing, He knows the past, present and future perfectly.  God knows how long each person will live and where each person is born.  What is the purpose of this?  So that everyone should seek the Lord. While the circumstances may seem to be stacked against some people more than others from a human perspective, God is not far from each one of us in our circumstances.

Acts 17:26-27
26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

Since God has arranged this its wicked to not seek after God.

Psalm 10:4
The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.

Psalm 119:155
Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.

The argument this young man was using was based on the “ignorance” of his friends.  “God wouldn’t send ignorant people to hell because that is not fair.”  The same argument could be said of someone living in the jungle all their life who has no opportunity to hear about Christianity.  Do people in the jungle have no knowledge of God at all?

The bible says in Romans 1 that everyone has the creation to tell them their is a creator.  They can see the birds, the trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, the stars and know somebody built this place.  The invisible things of God are CLEARLY SEEN, being UNDERSTOOD by the things that MADE.  This makes them WITHOUT EXCUSE.  They KNEW GOD but glorified HIM NOT AS GOD, neither were they THANKFUL.  They made a willful decision to not believe in God, to not follow God, to not seek after Him, to worship created things rather than the Creator they already know about.

Romans 1:18-22, 28
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen , being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened . 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…

The bible says in Romans 2 that everyone has God’s moral law written on their hearts, which is the conscience.

Romans 2:15
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness , and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another ;)

The word “conscience” is made up of two words.  “Con” means “with” and “science” means “knowledge.  So when people do wrong they do it “with knowledge.”

So what do people who aren’t Christians know?  They know there is a God because of Creation but they don’t know who He is.  They also know they are guilty before this God because of their conscience.  Granted, this is all they know about God, but its enough to make them “without excuse” on judgement day.  Its also enough information that they may seek after God because He isn’t far from each one of us (Acts 17:27).  The question “How can God send ignorant people to hell” has a false premise.  The question assumes people are ignorant, when the bible says they are not.  The evidence of creation and conscience is enough for people to seek after God, and I would like to add further that both creation and conscience are kindly given by God.

Because of this people are commanded by God to seek after Him.

1 Chronicles 16:11
11 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!

Those who do seek Him find Him if they seek for Him with all their heart.

Jeremiah 29:13-14
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

God rewards those who diligently seek Him:

Hebrews 11:6
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Isaiah 55:6
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Amos 5:4
4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;

Zephaniah 2:3
3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger.

1 Chr 16:11
8 Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 11 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!

There are some verses people use to suggest non-Christians are “unable” to seek after God and they use verses like Romans 3 where it says “none seek after God.”  It should be noted the verse does not say people are “unable” to seek after God… it simply says they aren’t doing that, which is a willful decision.  Obviously some people seek Him because there are Christians on the planet.

Do people go to hell because they haven’t heard of Jesus?  No, if they go its because people have not responded to the information God has already given them.  Do these people WANT to know the true God?  Do they DESIRE to seek Him so they can be made right with Him?  Do they CARE they are guilty before God?  Do they prefer to worship God THEIR way as opposed to what God DESIRES?

God is fair, loving, just, holy and merciful.  People go to ETERNAL hell because they don’t care what God wants, don’t love Him, are unthankful, and want to do their own thing, not because they haven’t heard of Jesus or Christianity. A “temporary hell” wouldn’t solve the problem.

God is not to blame for their unbelief, they are.

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