Question of the day…

When did God create hell?

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56 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matthew
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 16:12:45

    Better question… *Did* God create hell?

    Reply

  2. Verity
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 16:37:05

    I don’t understand – who else would have?

    Reply

  3. guinness74
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 17:29:01

    Hell does not exist. At least not in the form that you are trying to elicit in this question.

    Reply

  4. Matthew
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 18:00:17

    Hell is most simply defined as “absence from GOD”… Heaven is most simply defined as “communion with GOD”… as Heaven and Hell are non-physical “places”…

    GOD would not have created a “place” of his own absence… that “place” came to be when sin entered the world…

    then, of course, we must remember what Sartre said, “l’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people”.

    Reply

  5. pelogifam
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 23:13:49

    Hi Verity!
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while via Miss Raquel. 🙂
    Interesting question….I do believe that Hell is a “real” place as is Heaven. I went to Biblegateway.com and typed in hell. The first 10 verses that came up are all in Matthew and Mark. Seven out of the ten verses talk about hell with a verb in front(example-thrown into).
    When was hell created….not sure, but I can’t wait to hear others thoughts!
    Nice to kinda meet you!!
    Tabitha

    Reply

  6. Jeromy
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 23:35:49

    Two questions:
    Who was Jesus’ words of hell addressed to in the Bible?
    and Where did THEY get their notion of Hell from?

    Reply

  7. raquelamisto
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 12:36:49

    Even if hell is not a place, the notion of being separated from God is possible. Are we at least in agreement with that? Regardless of whether it is a place or not, I am curious as to when we beleive that God decided that some would exist without Him permanently?

    My answer to that would probably be… (scratching head)… since God has no time line I’m sure that He knew before all of creation.

    Reply

  8. Jeromy
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 15:00:47

    “…God decided that some would exist without Him permanently?”

    Decided? Or simply knew?

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  9. raquelamisto
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 16:14:56

    both/and

    If He created everything, then He made a choice, no? If He knew that we would be bad listeners and He is our creator, the result was in His hands alone. Right?

    Reply

  10. Verity
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 23:08:25

    sorry – I asked a question, and then disappeared for a day…

    are we talking about not believing in a literal hell here?

    are we talking open theism?

    Matthew – I am curious where that definition of hell comes from?

    Reply

  11. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 10:04:33

    I was reading in Luke yesterday, and got to the part about the rich man and Lazarus, I just wonder how this fits in with everyone’s understanding of the afterlife?
    (Luke 16 or 17)

    Reply

  12. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 12:28:13

    Regarding Luke, I find it telling that of all the parables Jesus told, this is the one WE like to take literally.

    Another non-literal/literal juxtapose is in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says that we should cut off our hands and poke out our eyes rather than go to hell (paraphrase). We think, “Surely God would not be asking us to literally cut off our hands or take a spoon to our eyes; that would be preposterous—crazy, I tell you—insane.” NO ONE takes that literally (you’d be able to instantly spot anyone who did). But Jesus’ next thought (within the same sentence) we take literally. Ironic. Cut off hands and poke out eyes— surely not. ETERNAL fire, worms, darkness, torture, suffering—hell yes. We all choose what to take literally and figuratively, don’t we?

    Reply

  13. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 12:44:03

    But not all talks of hell were parables.

    I don’t understand at all Jeromy. Where else do unbelievers go when they die? Where are they now? Esau – whom God hated (Romans 9) Sodomites – who will judge Jesus’ generation… Hitler, my neighbor next door who rejects Christ….

    And I do not pick and choose. I take the whole Bible literally. I think visions and stories are visions and stories – but that does not negate the truth of them. I thought this worth bringing in “Notice that all of Jesus’ other stories and parables were true to life. He doesn’t use science-fiction scenarios in his stories.”

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  14. raquelamisto
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 12:56:37

    (giggle)
    science fiction? where did you get that quote?

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  15. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 13:13:02

    http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/pbl36.html

    But that’s not the point (because it is, in fact some random site that came up when I googled parable +rich man +lazarus. : )

    You got the point though, right? Jesus didn’t ever make a point with something crazy abstract – the very fact that He can make a parable about hell, and not Zamunda, is a good indication that His audience understood hell, and eternity.

    Reply

  16. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 13:16:33

    Is the gospel of Jesus dependent on a physical or non-physical hell? Why is the question of hell an important one? Do you think God is residing in an actual “place” called heaven, like his office in the sky?

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  17. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 13:16:59

    Two questions:
    Who was Jesus’ words of hell addressed to in the Bible?
    and Where did THEY get their notion of Hell from?

    Reply

  18. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 13:32:51

    “…a good indication that His audience understood hell…” Was he simply speaking THEIR language, met them where THEY were at, thus not using something crazy and abstract to THEM?

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  19. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 14:09:31

    answer my questions, and I will try and answer yours : )

    people/souls are somewhere right now, where are they?

    Reply

  20. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 14:19:24

    TouchĂ©. 🙂 We’re still thinking in “time and space”. To be honest, I don’t know and I am OK with the mystery/tension. That’s Gods realm, not mine.

    Reply

  21. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 15:45:06

    You can answer my qeustions if you prefer, or not… They were asked more for thought-purposes not answer-purposes.

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  22. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 16:15:38

    no – I will answer. I just need a bit of time : )

    Reply

  23. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 16:17:40

    Reply

  24. raquelamisto
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 18:24:38

    to Jeromy’s comment in 16:

    I think that the underlying theme is whether or not we can take what the Bible says is true to be our truth. We can go off on church history, culture, experience, blah blah blah but those are all just artificial excuses.

    Believing that the word is ALIVE and that God speaks to us through it, I think that the very nature of our relationship with God is reflected by how we interpret what He’s written for us to read. If, let’s say, I question the validity of the Bible, I think that it’s fair to say that I also question the validity of my relationship with the one true God. If I am unable to trust that it’s His living word (even though He said it was) then where do my ‘beliefs’ come from?

    Please don’t tell me the Holy Spirit because that would be speaking through both sides of the mouth. If I trust the Holy Spirit to speak to me personally, then why am I unable to trust that He can speak through others who translated the Bible, therefor the Bible itself? Why isn’t God big enough to do what He said He would do? Again, the root itself becomes obvious. I would be unable to trust my own relationship with God if I was unable to trust that He had written what He wanted written. It questions His authority and strength, and asserts my intellect as more capable. The bottom line is, we are weak and stupid and He is strong and wise. period.

    Whether hell is literal or not is a side issue. I agree. But I do think that how we personally interpret the Bible reflects on how we see God. Do we shape Him into something that we can understand? Into something that condones one sin but rejects another? Into a God that would behave/think/feel like I do or like I think He ought to?

    Hell, sin, our depravity, weakness, vulnerability… none of these things are SUPPOSED to be comfortable. They are supposed to show us how much that we need God. We are these things and we 100% deserve these things. Without belief in Christ, we do not make the cut. To miss that point is to miss the whole gospel.

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  25. Jeromy
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 20:59:31

    Our culture and the meaning WE give words has a lot to do with what WE think the bible means…which has nothing to do with what God intended to say to us, but rather what WE hear. My wife mentioned “fanny-pack” in Australia…what SHE said (or her intended meaning) was not what THEY heard. We are, believe it or not, capable of reading-into, mis-reading, and mis-interpreting scripture. Again, not questioning Gods WORDS, just our ability to perfectly, without error, receive and know them. HELL, by the way, is OUR word. Gehenna was Jesus’. A good historical word-study if interested.

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  26. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 23:33:58

    Everlasting/Eternal punishment were Jesus’ words. (Matt 25:46) It’s not just about some place outside the walls of Jerusalem – Jesus made it very clear that those who are not of His flock will receive eternal damnation.

    I had a great talk about this with my hubby this evening… We discussed the passage you brought up:
    “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
    I think for you to not take this literally is to tragically miss the point! If there were no literal hell, then this would be insane. But, because there is – this makes sense. If your eye causes you to lust after someone, and that leads you away from God, and that leads you away from finishing the good race set before you, and you find yourself in hell for eternity – then of course you were better off without the eye that caused you to sin. What is a blind lifetime compared to a visual, horrible eternity? The insane thing is to believe we are better off with both eyes, hoping to get to heaven.

    Why is hell important? Seriously?? You have one life time to figure out eternity Jeromy – it’s not a whole lot of time, really… we squander it, on materialism, and video games, and tv, and shopping, and and and…. Is there anything more important than being certain what you will do with the rest of forever?

    “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21:33 This world is not forever – but the Word is.

    If you are so uncertain about your ability to understand the Bible, what makes you certain about your understanding of the Bible?

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  27. Verity
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 23:49:00

    why are we allowing our experiences to shape our understanding of Scripture, rather than allowing Scripture to shape us?

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  28. Jeromy
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 02:19:48

    I am not certain. But IF we have twisted Jesus’ words of Gehenna over the past 2000 years of our collective history and have spoken pagan ideas about eternal punishment into them, then cursed be all of us to hell––Because Jesus is going to be PISSED!!

    Nicole, this debate of hell has been going on for the better part of 300+ years, nothing new under the sun. Both sides and every side in-between have good “Biblical” arguments. If you want to believe in a literal place where the majority of humanity is going to spend being tortured, burned, eaten, blinded, weeping, chained, etc. for all of eternity under the righteous and glorious decree of a majestic, loving and just God, so be it. There is nothing I, nor anyone else can say to persuade you differently. Brighter minds have wrestled with this for much longer than either you or I have. Since you take everything in the Bible literally and tend to pull verses out of their context to prove your point (which you did with Matt 25:46)…what if I say that God can choose to simply destroy the soul of those cast into hell and quote Matthew 10:28b, “who is able to destroy both the soul and body in hell.” Or another verse which a friend of mine pointed out encouraging mental atrophy, Matthew 5:17a, “Do not think…” Or Matthew 6:7b which encourages endless talking, “keep on babbling” If you REALLY want to think about this notion of hell, spend the next six months to a year really studying it’s origins, the word Gehenna that Jesus used, why King James (who killed every other translator translating the bible in his day so that HIS would be THE translation) gave us our word hell, how the Jews in Jesus day were using the word, then spend $120 on some books really digging deep into this subject (or find a good library) and give it some time to mull over. After that, if you come to the same conclusion, at least you can say you really looked into it and are the better for it. I am not engaging in this conversation with you so you can pull out your concordance to prove your point. But I can’t make you think about things you do not want to think about. Like perhaps Jesus using the Jew’s imported pagan notion of hell, or eternal punishment, against them…playing on their field with their words. After all, they were using Gehenna as a hammer on sinners to get them to stop sinning so the Messiah would come (because that was THEIR cultural belief), and Jesus comes and says, “You say they are going to Gehenna? If anyone is going to Gehenna, it’s you!” So look at the CONTEXT of Jesus’ words of Gehenna and WHO he was using them against and ask the tough WHY questions. But I can’t make you think abut those things if you don’t want to.

    And yes, Nicole, your experiences and culture DO shape how you understand the Bible. Maybe WE have shaped OUR understanding of the Bible more than we have the courage to admit.

    So I hear you, but I disagree. And if I’m wrong, I’ll go to my mansion and take my lashings from Abba.

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  29. Verity
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 09:15:18

    Gehenna is one word. If you want to interpret that within the confines of the original understanding of the Jews, fine – we will agree to disagree. But, that still does not explain terms like eternal punishment.

    You want my thoughts and feelings on things – and I find that really frustrating. Who cares what I feel, if I am wrong about my understanding of Scripture? This is where we start shaping the Bible, to conform to meet our needs. I try and go to the Word with an open mind, and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me in truth.

    I did not take Matt 25:46 out of context.

    Why are we relying on outside, uninspired words over the Bible? How much context do you need for “eternal punishment”? Matthew 24:31-46 is not just a verse out of context – Christ will come, and He will judge – and some will enjoy His presence forever, and many will not.

    It is not a matter of “pulling out a concordance to make a point”. If I want to know what the Bible teaches, I need to go to the Bible, to see what it teaches.

    Why has this debate only been going on for 300 years, and not 2000?

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  30. Jeromy
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 12:04:03

    Perhaps it has, hence the +.

    Reply

  31. pelogifam
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 13:52:21

    Jeromy,
    If hell is not literal, how do you chose which parts of the Bible are literal? What about the virgin birth? Or Jesus walking on water? The cross? And if all the stuff in the Bible isn’t….real, why waste our time? If there is no hell or heaven, and we are all going to wherever(heaven) when we die, why worry with the Bible or with Jesus or going to church on Sunday.
    And why would God chose to write a book filled half with literal stories and the other half filled with metaphoric stories(ie-hell)?
    I have a 13 year old son from Liberia. He has been in the States for almost a year. He started 7th grade this year, and his reading level is probably at a 1st grade level. One of his first stories he had to read for school was Maya Angelou’s, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. We spend a good 2 hours reading maybe 10 pages of this book. There was so many metaphors in this book. And I was literally having to stop after every paragraph to explain what Maya Angelou was trying to say to my uneducated 13 year old. After we were done he had to answer some questions. One question was, “What did you like about this story?”. My son wrote that he like nothing about this story. It was a chore to read and understand what she was saying.
    My point being, that if the Bible were that hard to understand, only the educated would be able to read it. The regular Joe Schmo’s of the world would be lost trying to figure out what was literal and what was a metaphor.

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  32. susan
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 15:53:58

    “The bottom line is, we are weak and stupid and He is strong and wise. period.” – Raquel

    i like this friend, where did you find her??

    i always say things like this. Good God, Bad Mankind.

    🙂 great discussion Nikk, i appreciate your goal: knowing the bible more. it is a foreign thought these days to try to understand God’s Truth instead of just our own inspiration/feelings/perspectives.

    thank you for always pointing me to scripture and challenging me !!

    Susan

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  33. Verity
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 17:14:13

    I love Raquel too. 🙂 (hugs to both of you!)

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  34. Verity
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 20:27:15

    by the way – this conversation is also being continued on Jeromy’s site: http://mendingshift.wordpress.com

    Reply

  35. Matthew
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 18:21:03

    Way to go, Matty!!! (pats self on back without breaking arm)

    I started a good discussion! (arm hurts a little)

    I don’t believe in a physical heaven or hell, simply because our spirits are not physical. Earlier in this discussion, Jeromy writes, “We are still thinking in time and space” and I think that is an important note. None of us can begin to comprehend the spiritual realm because it is “God’s realm”. Eternal punishment… is being absent from GOD. We western Christians get so caught up in the metaphors of the Bible, ie – streets of gold, pearly gates, mansions. We forget, we are here… on earth… amongst other sinful human beings… we are to be the Light of CHRIST to our neighbors… we are to be GOD’s heaven on earth… that is our job… not to obsess over heaven and hell… would your life change if death was simply the end? would you feel your Christianity was worthless if it didn’t entitle you to admission in the Celestial Country Club and save you from the eternal Ghetto?

    As to what do we take literally and what we take figuratively in scripture? It truly doesn’t matter… the whole of Scripture exists to lead sinful humans back into a right relationship with GOD through Jesus Christ. Period. It isn’t intended as a history or science textbook… it is literature and correspondence and story telling… The Book of Genesis is almost entirely the myths of a nomadic people who passed on their traditions orally, telling stories around the campfire when the kids ask, “Mommy… where did people come from?” or “Daddy…how come there are rainbows?”

    We can have these discussions and, as long as we can keep smiling and hug our brothers and sisters and know we are all serving the same GOD to the same ends, I think there’s nothing wrong with healthy debate. But let’s not write each other off, just because we don’t agree on dogma and doctrine. The scriptures say, “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    I love you all!

    SDG,
    Matty

    Reply

  36. Verity
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 20:53:11

    Why, oh why are we putting human relationships ahead of understanding our God better? How can I love God if I do not know Him? And how can I know Him, unless I seek Him, in His Word? Those who seek Him, will find Him, if they seek Him with all their heart.

    Your post distresses me Matthew…. I love the Berean spirit – that questioned even Paul against the Scriptures in their hands.

    I have not written anyone off – what I have seen of Jeromy is that he is smart, well educated, and has clearly come to different conclusions than I have. I believe he genuinely cares for me, and others, and that he lives that.

    Paul made it clear that he would be wasting his life if he were wrong about belief in heaven, and eternity. It matters, a great deal.
    “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men….If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”” 1Cor 15:19,32

    I hope you are enjoying the high life Matthew – your comments sting – for the sake of friends who risk much to hit the unsafe streets to witness to the unlovable. For family who do not exchange Christmas presents, to give to families they have never met. For others, who fight temptations, and seek to live a God glorifying life, that involves making sacrifices now.

    It is a humling reminder you offer – my life is not as different as it ought to be, given my belief in living for a life beyond this. I am a fragrance of death to almost noone – to my own shame.

    I can not hug and smile, and dismiss doctrine – I love the literal Word, and God, and those around me too much to do so. Love is not always telling people what they want to hear, or giving them hugs to feel better when they should feel badly… It is unloving to give a man a rock when he needed bread…

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  37. Matthew
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 22:03:07

    I did not and do not intend to sting. To you or to anyone I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I believe Jesus’ mission was of relationships not religion. That is my only goal.

    I do not understand your comment about the “high life”. Those who know me know I am at a very low point.

    I am not cavalier about death or about my faith or about the sacrifices of myself, my friends and my family. I did not and do not intend to be divisive or derisive. I also never intended to be accusatory.

    I wish only for Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men. (all men… and all women)

    SDG,
    Matty

    Reply

  38. Jeromy
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 23:47:58

    Matthew – Thank you for your gentle and gracious comments. It is a reminder to me to be a gentle-lover of others, even in disagreement.

    Nicole – Thank you for your kind words. I wasn’t sure how you were taking what I was saying. Peace and grace to you.

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  39. Verity
    Dec 10, 2007 @ 08:01:01

    Thanks Matty – I did not intend to make you feel so awful either! My point was only this – Paul says if he is wrong, and there is no afterlife, then we ought to eat, drink and be merry. Paul lived so much for the next world. And I am meeting others like that – who sacrifice in this world for the sake of the next.

    I have been going to the Scriptures alot with this stuff (good discussion starter – thank you : ) and I see those who denied the existence of the afterlife in general – but not those who believed in the resurrection of the Lord’s children, but not a resurrection for unbelievers… I do not know how one can do away with hell, without doing away with heaven as well – is that where this discussion goes?

    I did not take your comments as accusatory – sorry to make you feel that way as well – but when you ask what difference hell makes anyways, I think of all those who are living eternally minded, and not for today, or the next day… I think of Jonathan Edwards, with his resolutions – bound and determined to store up for himself as much happiness in the next life as is possible. I believe the best lives, the ones that honor God most, are those that focus on their own eternity, and death on a daily basis – those who daily die to self, to live for Christ. I do not know how to do that, without believing in a literal afterlife – for the just and the unjust.

    I am sorry that things are not going well for you right now – and sorry if I added to that…. more later – have to get kids ready for school.

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  40. Matthew
    Dec 10, 2007 @ 11:50:24

    Thanks! I, personally, DO believe in a literal afterlife. I DO NOT believe our existence ends in death. Scripture is VERY clear on that point, as you have so eloquently shown. I think of all the times I was cautioned as a young person to “not be so Heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good”. I believe that we must die to self daily… but more importantly, we must LIVE for Christ… I WILL NOT focus my sole intentions on “Heaven” to the neglect of the people around me, which I have been commanded to love! My “argument” (and I really don’t think we’re arguing) with you is, why focus on death and the afterlife? you earlier referred to not having the stink of death on you (ok, that was a coarse paraphrase) and thinking that’s a bad thing?! Maybe I just don’t understand…

    My way of thinking is this… many are willing to die for Christ, because that gives them instant reward.. how many are willing to live for Christ?

    Thanks again!

    Matty

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  41. raquelamisto
    Dec 10, 2007 @ 16:54:34

    Honestly, that just makes me sick to my stomach Matthew. I appreciate your bluntness but I simultaneously am disturbed by your sentiment.

    Your last sentence/phrase belittles what people of faith have done AND continue to do – die because of their confessing their love for Christ. Your implication appears to be that saints who live out and die for their faith, under EXCRUCIATING circumstances, is a cop-out and a waste. If I understood you correctly, I pity you immensely.

    It appears to me that you may have little knowledge about anything outside of western culture and that you’re living in a state of spoiled superiority. Because you beleive that the Bible is metaphoric and mythic, I won’t bother referencing it to you.

    I will tell you this: My whole life is not to love for the sake of man but it is for the sake of my relationship with God. I want to do what HE ALONE asks me to do. He calls me to love even people who abuse, misuse, misrepresent, and mistreat Him… The point of our lives on earth IS NOT to merely love man. We are called FIRST to love God… everything else is an offshoot of that. When fruit has fallen from the tree, the rot eventually becomes obvious. Without the tree, there is no life. Without the tree, there is no fruit.

    We are to look forward to a day in heaven when He will look at us and tell us “Well done.” YES. THIS IS WHAT I LIVE FOR. To be with my creator, my Abba Father, MY GOD forever. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of what you are missing. I’m not sure what you were doing that was “heaven minded” that people talked you out of. To be heaven minded is to full fill our call as God’s servants here on earth. It is the motive behind the actions – not “instant reward” as you so mistakenly wrote. The motive is relationship with the Living God first and foremost.

    I’m offended that you would scoff at the truth that the Bible carries, at the ultimate sacrifice that people give (their lives) for Him, at every facet of Him that requires humility before Him.

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  42. Verity
    Dec 10, 2007 @ 19:55:17

    wow girl. you really minsed words 🙂

    To Matty –
    Jesus said the servant is not greater than the master – referring to persecution. He promised it. I am not saying there is a direct correlation like those who suffer the most are closest to God – only that my lack of suffering makes me wonder about my closeness.

    My fragrance comment was regarding the following passage: “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” 2 Cor 2:15,16

    If I am only viewed as pleasing to everyone, I am not doing something right. Man does not seek after God – and there are many who are blind, and who hide from the light – we are to be His light in the world – and so if my light is not repelling some, then it is not shining as bright as it ought. I am not on the hunt for repulsion – I just know that in my weakness, I am not boasting in the cross, or denying myself, or living a life wholly pleasing to my Savior….

    How does one decide what is literal, and what is not? Not rhetorical – genuinely curious/concerned. We have a Great God – there is nothing in His Word that He can not do… Why even start with the Bible as a foundation, if you are going to dismiss so much of it? I do not understand….

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  43. Matthew
    Dec 11, 2007 @ 17:11:12

    Raquel-
    I think you did misunderstand me.. It would seem, perhaps, that I am not making myself clear. That my approach or thoughts would make anyone “sick to my stomach” confuses and bewilders me… I do not deny the great sacrifice of the saints and martyrs who have come before us… I do not deny that many people around the world sacrifice and die for their faiths every day, and not just for faith in Christ (70 virgins is a pretty good motivator)… I am not trying to belittle those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of Christ…

    BUT

    My issue is with Christians who are so focused on Heaven, that they miss the work they are supposed to be doing on earth… Matt. 28:19 contains the great commission which is to go into the world and make disciples of all nations… that is our mission… that is the charge Jesus gave us… relationships, not religion… Jesus would never have turned away a follower because of a question of doctrine… In Mark 10, the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked how to gain eternal life. Jesus told him to follow all the rules(religion/doctrine). The rich young ruler said that he had, since he was young. Then Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor(relationship/love for fellow man)… this was what the young man couldn’t do…

    Yes, we are aliens and strangers… yes, this world is not our home… yes, GOD our FATHER will welcome us to HIMSELF and say “Well done, good and faithful servant” and I will bow down and weep on that day… but I’m in no rush for it… I don’t think, “Gosh, I can’t wait to be dead.” I have a responsibility to be a light in this world… to build the Kingdom of GOD by building relationships with my fellow men… I’m not saying we have to be “nice” and make everyone “comfortable”… this was NOT Jesus’ way… but HE reached out, in perfect Love, to those who had been dismissed by religion… and invited them to eat with HIM, to be HIS friends, to spend time with HIM… not so HE could preach at them, but so HE could love them, and have a relationship with them… that’s all I’m trying to say… Jesus didn’t focus on someday being with the Father in Heaven because HE was with the Father on earth… and HE reached out in Love to those around HIM…

    Verity (Nicole is it? sorry)-

    you ask, “How does one decide what is literal and what is not?” That is the eternal question of Biblical scholars… Many more learned men (and women) than myself have researched this question… writing styles are discussed and passages of the Bible are compared with other works written in the same time by the same kinds of people… but I don’t have an easy answer… the canon of our modern Bible (according to the roman catholic church) was established at the council of Trent in 1546 (see http://www.bible-researcher.com/trent1.html) and many other councils met to determine which Christian writings were to be included. Was GOD involved in this process? OF COURSE! Did he speak in an audible voice and say, “These are the books which should be my Bible”… there’s no record of that… these works were written by men and women who were sinful and fallible… the point, to me, is not to take each word/sentence/phrase and analyze it… but to recognize the Bible for what it is… it is the presentation of GOD and GOD’s plan… It tells us this:

    1. Homo Sapiens is/are special amongst all of the creatures on the earth and we are made in the image of GOD.
    2. GOD wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us on this earth.
    3. GOD is unable to have that personal relationship because we choose to sin and GOD cannot exist in the presence of sin.
    4. GOD loves us so much HE provided a way to mend the broken relationship.
    5. JESUS is that way. HE is a gift of the Father, freely given, and through HIS death and resurrection, we can have the relationship to GOD that HE wants us to have.

    and that is the story of the Bible… all the stories and letters and songs and poems and myths lead us to that story… and if one wants to believe GOD created the earth in 6 24-hour periods out of nothing, or if one wants to believe a 600 year-old man named Noah built a big boat and put 10’s of 1000’s of animals on it and the whole world was flooded, killing EVERYONE, and then that man and his wife and kids repopulated the world through incest, I have no problem with him or her believing that… I don’t belive either of those things to be literally true… but that’s not the critical part of the scriptures…

    wow… i’ve really rambled on… i’m sorry if it’s all convoluted and mushy… i know i won’t change anyone’s mind and i’m not liable to have mine changed… it’s a good mental exercise, at any rate

    Peace to all.

    SDG,
    Matty

    Reply

  44. Nicole
    Dec 11, 2007 @ 19:57:52

    For to me to live is Christ, and to die is Gain!!!

    Please don’t refer to the Bible as mythology here anymore.

    Reply

  45. Nicole
    Dec 12, 2007 @ 12:07:59

    As a side note – Thanks for adding to this conversation Tabitha! You are a vicarious blessing to me – and nothing sucks more than carefully adding your 2 cents, only to not get specific responses…. I appreciate your insights!

    Reply

  46. Matthew
    Dec 12, 2007 @ 16:26:41

    ps – we haven’t really answered the original question… *if* God created Hell, it would have been at the time of the Fall of Lucifer… i think most scholars put this pre-Creation…

    just a thought,
    Matty

    Reply

  47. susan
    Dec 12, 2007 @ 17:20:21

    Matty-Your thoughts on relationship are quite true, we are to be in relationships here on earth and make other’s glad in God as we live HERE. However:

    Quote from #43-Matthew : “Jesus would never have turned away a follower because of a question of doctrine…”

    perhaps not, i cannot answer for Jesus, but He gave Timothy some commands in regards to this:

    1Ti 4:16
    Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    …which tells me it is imp’t to have our doctrinal knowledge in order (as much as we can, being human and all) BECAUSE Jesus wants us to be relational.

    Thoughts:( please tell me if i’m way off here )-we need to have a balance. a tension between loving our neighbor and having our doctrine in place. the two cannot be separated. if our doctrine is wrong, our relationships will be wrong in some way as well.

    Reply

  48. raquelamisto
    Dec 12, 2007 @ 18:10:21

    Susan,
    That’s a great point… that doctrine and relationships are intertwined. I was just telling my sil that it’s crazy how the more that I love God, the more that I love my husband, and the better that our marriage gets… It’s all backwards from what I think it ought to be ~ to follow the law of honoring my husband first, almost putting that as a priority ahead of loving God. And it FAILS everytime! But when I’m praising God and spending time with Him, my marriage just falls into place with very little effort. Amazing, really.

    Reply

  49. susan
    Dec 13, 2007 @ 07:23:04

    hebrews 10:26-31

    i love how clear the Bible is.

    Reply

  50. Nicole
    Dec 13, 2007 @ 07:33:41

    Nice dialoging – let me know if you guys want to exchange phone numbers 🙂

    Reply

  51. Nicole
    Dec 14, 2007 @ 14:06:16

    A thought for Matthew from Ravenhill:

    “Someone now warns us lest we become so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use. Brother, this generation of believers is not, by and large, suffering from such a complex! The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use.”

    Reply

  52. susan
    Dec 14, 2007 @ 15:42:22

    i think we are mixed up in our concept of ‘heavenly minded’. To some it must mean ‘to have the mindset of Jesus’ and to others it must mean ‘ to escape from real life’. these debates are often troubled by miscommunication of terms, are they not? 🙂

    ~su

    Reply

  53. Trackback: Gehenna « A Mending Shift
  54. Justin
    May 22, 2008 @ 09:45:16

    Nicole,
    You were right,
    a great conversation. I see it is old, and will not add to it, but just got around to reading it all today! thanks for the link!
    justin

    Reply

  55. Nicole
    May 22, 2008 @ 10:35:05

    Hmmm – there’s nothing about “old” that makes something not worth discussing – or we wouldn’t be talking about the Bible so much 🙂 If you have something to add, type away 🙂 There’s this thing in the blog-world that says you have to add to a new conversation, or your point is moot, or redundant, or not wanted – I think that’s unfortunate….
    I don’t have as much time now to address things as I did even 5 months ago, but I will try!

    Reply

  56. Steve Grove
    May 23, 2008 @ 12:20:20

    I believe that God set patterns from the beginning of the world that would set the stage for the incarnation and the New Covenant. The reason we can talk about the Word in John 1 and refer to Jesus, is because God directed and used the ancient Greeks, etc to set up a pattern that would make the New Coveneant familiar.

    Take a Bronze sculpture. The artist starts witgh some drawings. These are fashioned into a clay model, usually quite small. Then perhaps a small bronze model is cast. Then the final sculpture is then struck. Each of the previous forms were close and represented the final; but they were leading the artist in the final version, which is the one we see today.

    In this sense, the understanding Jesus had of, for example, hell or Gehenna, was influenced by the usage and history of the word itself, but that did not box Him in to His “interpretation” (or maybe better “fulfillment”) of it. He was and did on many occasions go beyond the current sensibility and added something new – He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. So we look at it today, understanding its origins, etc, but see it through the filter of Christ’s finished work on the cross. That makes a big difference.

    Reply

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