I had the opportunity to talk briefly with a young man who has a beautiful understanding of the gospel. It is BEAUTIFUL. His passion is incredible, and his grasp of the character of God is a deep, deep loving well.
From what I can see, he is unlike anyone I’ve met before. And I do NOT say that lightly. He has the potential to be used by God to impact and change lives in incalculable ways-for His Name’s sake. I am confident that his gospel ministry could bring countless to the throne of God to better know and worship the King of Kings.
However, he is currently at a bit of a stand still. He is wrestling with God. Wrestling towards God, yes-but also unconfident in God’s complete goodness according to orthodox Christianity. He is dissatisfied with God’s justice being rooted in eternal damnation-it doesn’t sit right, and doesn’t seem to make sense. He so badly wants to be able to trust our perfect God as presented by the Bible and the church today, but wishes that one lifetime of sin against a holy, just (don’t forget: good, loving, gracious, merciful) God did not merit endless, eternal torment upon torment.
In many ways, you probably agree with him. I know that I and C.S. Lewis agree with him. Concerning hell, Lewis once wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power”. I told the young man, I would love it if when I get to heaven I could run up the Father and ask Him, if one day he will break into hell, the way He broke into earth, and do what only God can do-redeem sinner to himself, so that EVERY knee bows and tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, and He responds with a smile, “Shh…don’t tell the angels, they don’t know yet—it’ll be a surprise, but yes, my wrath is satisfied at the cross and in hell, and now my mercy will once again extend to those who do not deserve it, and can do NOTHING to receive it.” WHAT A DAY OF REJOICING THAT WOULD BE! But, I told the young man, if I get to glory, ask that question, and my Father says, “Sweet, daughter, no. My perfect, just wrath will not allow for that.”—that I believe and must trust that in that moment He will somehow give me new eyes to see His holiness and His beauty in a way that brings peace and praise. Though today, I cannot see that clearly, by faith I seek to train my heart to trust His goodness and His perfection even if that is the case.
BUT this young man (and I!) really, really wants love to win in the end, and for after spending even billions of years in hell…God breaks in and His glory and goodness and grace and love and mercy are seen again like never before. That’s our God! And the angels, and we as his redeemed people praise Him and are able to love Him even MORE because of His incredible character and steadfast love and mercies that know no end!
But, unfortunately, that’s heresy.
Rob Bell was “crucified” for thoughts like this.
Doctrinally strong churches won’t hire a pastor who thinks like this.
So this left me asking, what should a young man who deeply, passionately adores the gospel, is clearly anointed for ministry, but wrestles with this “anti-evangelical” ideology of hell one day coming to an end, do?
I know the short answer-PRAY. Pray for eyes to see truth and a heart to receive understanding with gratitude, confidence, and peace. But, can you think of anything else to help this young man? Any other words of wisdom? Remember, it’s not HELL he has a problem with-he totally sees its reality in Scripture–it’s the eternality of hell that is more of the hang up.
Thanks so much!
Soli deo Gloria.