Why Would A Loving God Send Anyone to Hell?
This has been the universal question asked through the ages by those trying to understand the nature of God and where they might stand with Him.
The idea of hell has troubled all Christians because not only is there a variety of answers about what qualifies a person to get to into Heaven, but also what does a person actually have to do to get the sentence of hell?
Well, this question may have already been answered centuries ago by Emanuel Swedenborg.
Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist in the 18th century who later in life became a theologian after receiving visions. He proclaimed he was permitted to visit heaven and hell through the course of many years and had discussions with angels. He wrote many books about all that he learned from his encounters in the spiritual world.
Many in the Church hierarchies didn't believe that he had visions and visitations and was discredited and called a heretic. However a Swedish court admitted "there is much that is true and useful in Swedenborg's writings." 1
To find the answer to this question, one has to read his book, Heaven and Hell.
Click for a free download of his book Heaven and Its Wonders and Hell
So again, the question:
“Why Would A Loving God Send Anyone to Hell?”
Answer: He doesn’t. We send ourselves to hell.
First understand that there will be a Last and Final Judgment at the End of the Age.
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him "- Hebrews 9:27,28
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. - Matthew 25:31-34
Yet, God Himself is not our judge, but has given all judgment to Jesus.
"For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son," - John 5:22
But even Jesus does not judge us. He came to save us.
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him." -John 3:17
So then who judges us, if the Father or Jesus do not judge us? To understand this, one has to read what Swedenbourg learned during his visitations in heaven.
Swedenborg learned that each person has an outer self and an inner self. As Jesus said, “the outside of the cup and the inside of the cup”.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” - Matthew 23:25, 26
The outside of the cup is our earthly self. The self that is motivated by our earthly existence and interests. The inside is our spiritual self: who we REALLY are.
On the outside we present a certain persona to the world. We have learned how to speak nicely, behave properly and perform our actions as expected so we can survive, advance, function and get what we want in our society.
At the same time what goes on in our hearts, can be the opposite of how we portray ourselves.
We can smile at someone, yet sneer at them on the inside. We can pretend to be interested and selfless, but our inside is seeking benefits, reward, recognition or approval. We can say and do all kinds of outward good things, but on the inside, we can be rotten to the core. We are as an empty shell.
How many of us see a person in need, lonely, suffering, or oppressed, yet have no compassion or concern for them? And how many people appear to be cordial, polite and fair, yet in reality harbor prejudice, judgment and contempt. And rather than following God, how many of us follow money and materialism, casting everyone and everything aside in pursuit of it?
Again, the inside, is our TRUE SELF.
Swedenbourg says that when we die, our earthly bodies are cast away and only our true self remains. Our earthly self is very good at making excuses, putting on a show, pretending to be whom we aren’t, but when our body is gone, only our soul remains before God and we CANNOT LIE to Him. And because we cannot lie, we can only admit that we have sinned and so...we will judge ourselves.
But why would we cast ourselves into hell?
Here is my own analogy that might help you understand this better.
“As a Christian, suppose you walked up to a building and decided to go through the front door to see what is going on inside. There you find a large dark room of wild people, drinking, yelling, swearing, beating each other up and causing havoc. And there you are standing in the middle of all this. What would you do?”
Think about this carefully.
Most Christians who hear this question reply very simply, “I would leave.”
Now suppose one of these wild spirited persons walked into a brightly lit church where there is worship, singing choruses and praises of Hallelujahs to God by the people of God.
What would you expect this person to do?
Again, he would probably LEAVE.
In each of these situations, the match is incompatible. Each person doesn't BELONG.
So in the same manner, those who don’t love the things of God, His goodness, His truth and His love...do not recognize God and cannot bear to be in His presence and in His Light. They don't belong; so go to where they do belong- AWAY from God.
Consider Jesus' Parable of the Wedding Feast. The man who was invited, but was not dressed and was then cast out. He did NOT belong there because he was not dressed in the truth and righteousness of God: Matthew 22: 1-14.
And though hell is painted as a place of fire and brimstone, Swedenborg also describes hell as a place of vast darkness, which is the ABSENCE OF GOD.
Wherever God is, there is Light, and where He isn't, there is Darkness.
The closer we draw to God, the closer we come to His Light. The further we are from God, the more we move toward darkness.
So those who didn't acknowledge God and couldn't stand His presence on earth, in the same way, will move away from Him even after death. They understood what it meant to follow God, to be good, to do the right thing and live in love...but turned it down.
While those who love God and followed Jesus' ways of love, forgiveness and goodness...will automatically be drawn to His light, His angels and His Kingdom.
Swedenbourg says, that the earth is our time to LIVE OUT what is inside of us. This is necessary for our FREE WILL.
We are NEVER forced to believe, love or serve God. It is OUR CHOICE.
By why is there even a choice? Why can't we all just go to heaven?
When Adam and Eve chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that meant humankind now has to choose between the good and the evil. The choice to follow God or follow ourselves. FREE WILL.
And because any form of sin and evil is incompatible with a Holy God, we were ALL destined to be away from God.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23
And because of our fall from grace, we are judged ALREADY.
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" - John 3:17-18
Jesus doesn't come to condemn us to hell, but rather to save us from it. He saves us from a fate that is already awaiting us. It is like we are in a big house that is burning out of control and Jesus has come to say, "The way out is this way... follow Me!" But so many just don't believe it and won't follow Him saying to themselves, "Why would a loving God burn our house down?" When actually it is us who started the fire and are destroying ourselves. Jesus came to save us from ourselves.
He reconciled us by dying for our sin and taking our place on the cross. So now it is possible to be saved and have eternal life with God. Jesus' death brought forgiveness to humankind.
And this is the CHOICE, we have to make. To follow God or follow ourselves.
Everyday we use our FREE WILL to make choices in this life. To do good or do bad. These actions are the FRUITS of our FREE WILL. We have the Free Will to walk with God in righteousness, truth and love. The Way of Jesus.
How many times during the day do we reject the good and embrace the bad? We don’t realize that when we reject the good, we are also rejecting the things of God because everything that is good is of God.
All these choices we make everyday come from our heart and by the end of our lives, it should be obvious, even to ourselves, what kind of people we really are.
Are you a person of God, loving and serving Him and sharing His love with the world because it is what you want to do? Or are you just pretending? You see, if your heart is not with Him now, it won't be with Him after death.
Jesus told us to clean the cup on the inside AND the outside.
So that the words that come out of our mouths and the deeds that come out of our hands, match what is in our hearts because God love is within us.
But how can I know that I am in God's Light?
The one who follows Jesus in heart and action will live in His Spirit and will manifest all that is good and beautiful:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23
So a question for you. What kind of person are you?
Are you a kind-hearted person who has the heart of God? Do you make it a point to take action to be friendly, helpful and a blessing to others? Do you have the heart of God who empathizes with and cares for the unfortunate people of our society? Is Jesus really your Lord?
Or do you shun God and live your life for yourself, using and abusing people and situations for your own benefit? Do you routinely make sarcastic remarks, criticize, make fun of and insult people? Do you take pleasure in faultfinding, anger, pranks, gossip and revenge? When you see images of crime, suffering, violence and pain are you moved with compassion or have no feelings what-so-ever with a heart of stone?
Well, you know, another thing that Emanuel Swedenborg says is that in the same way that people of God become angels in the afterlife...the demons...are also made up of people.
Jesus said, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." - Matthew 7:18.
It is the INSIDE that matters. Our true intention. Who we really are.
"For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7
So, think about that the next time you are sitting in a church service looking at your phone, criticizing the choir or the sermon, judging all those around you with your mind wandering and waiting for lunch time. Are you REALLY there for God or are you there to impress others? When you are in the world, are you a completely different person than who you make yourself out to be?
What are the true intentions of your heart?
It is YOU who will determine if you will be with God, by the intentions of your heart.
And knowing ourselves and how sinful we are, it would seem IMPOSSIBLE for even one person to ever be saved.
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19: 25,26
But it is ONLY because of God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ that any of us can be saved. Amen.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God"- Ephesians 2:8
Heaven Is Where God Is
Part 2 of Why Would A Loving God Send Anyone to Hell?
1. Sigstedt, Cyriel, The Swedenborg Epic: The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg, New York, 1952. p. 408
© 2015 Edrick
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