There is alot of discussion going on these days concerning the existance of Hell, if there is such a thing as eternal punishment, and is God really loving and merciful. The arguements for and against are various and sundry. I suppose you could determine a winner by the number of scriptures that the debater has in their column. That’s how it works in basketball, football, and soccer. That all seems mind numbing and without end. So, what about fruit? Which approach bears the most good fruit? Saved by grace v. scared of damnation and number brought into the Kingdom of God. (I personally am a combination of the fear of God approach and the mercy of God approach.) I suppose both have some good points and bad points. However, this only leaves us with a lesser-of-two-evils scenario to choose from if you ask me. What then is the tool used to measure truth from falicy? Is there a way to clear the smoke and find the answer?
Personally, I don’t care for the point system. I don’t play basketball, or soccer. I practice Karate. A sport (though in the classic sense it’s not a sport but a personal discipline) or a match that in ancient times was won by creating a situation in which your opponent quits. This is achieved either by knock out or the creation of extreme pain through the use of a submission hold. Today, there is a point system but, the points go right out the window when you find your elbow and wrist about to be broken by a very painful arm bar. Tap out and quit the match. You can also choke your opponent until they pass out from lack of oxygen. Admittedly there are some people who won’t quit even when their airway is blocked and at that point the ref should stop the match. But those individuals are probably insane and if you find yourself in a match with one walk away. Paul makes a referrence that being a disciple of Christ requires the discipline of a boxer in 1 Corinthians 9: 26. I agree and whats more there is alot of the mind set of a Karateka that directly applies to being a disciple of Christ. Rule no.#1 being that the worst opponent you’ll ever face is youself. Which is what Paul was saying: “I discipline my flesh and bring it under strict control..” 1Cor. 9: 27. With that in mind, let’s take our place and assume our fighting position. What is about to take place is called “sen no sen” in the Japanese language. Fair or equal combat . Everybody ready? The ref drops his raised hand and shouts, “Hajime!” (begin).
Your opponent throws a roundhouse kick to your midsection: “How could a loving God sentence His son or daughter to Hell?” The corner judge cries, “Ippon!” One point. That’s a fair question, every other judge agrees, the point stands. 1-0. That blow without pads would get anyone’s attention. Kinda takes your breath away and your lungs burn. This isn’t American pads and gloves Karate this is 15th century Kioto. The contact is real and remember, we’re not fighting against flesh and blood. Your advisary wants to destroy you. Resume fighting. I don’t do doctrinal debates or theological retoric. I follow Christ and He is my Sensei.
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed, and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life (Christ Jesus not the Bible)” 1 John:1 CSB
“Ippon!” Back fist to the right temple of your opponent. His eyes see the the litle flashes of light commonly called stars and whats more he never saw it coming. It was delivered from below and out of his field of vision. All I know is what I’ve experienced. God has always been merciful to me and loving beyond measure. He has never done to me what I deserved. But He has also been very hard on me when I’ve forgotten that fact and required things of others He has not required of me. His judgements are righteous and true. I have learned to trust His judgement over my own even when I don’t agree with them. “Hajime!” Resume fighting, 1-1.
“Wait, wait, we’re discussing Hell and judgement here. Yet I see people who say they love God, believe the Bible, and follow Christ being mean spirited; bad mouthing Gays and Muslems and rejoicing when they have awful things happen to them. It makes me sick. I thought the Bible says that God is Love. If that’s what being a Christian means then no thanks.” Reverse punch dead center in your solar plexis. “Ippon!” Wow! That hurt! Gee, I’m not sure I want tell anyone I’m a Christian after that. The judges don’t need to say a word I know that was a clean point. 2-1. At this point we discover that trading punches will loose the match if the first one to get three wins. If we’re going for a knock out then, whew! this guy punches hard. (This where the good fighter realises his opponents strategy and adjusts or just forges ahead and looses. I used to forge ahead. Not anymore.) “Hajime!” Get ready here it comes!
“What about guys like Gandhi? He was more Christian than most Christians I know. He was a Hindu. Is he in Hell because he didn’t ask Jesus into his heart? And… Stop! I’m not Gandhi’s judge, God is! We all agree that what you do is the proof of what you believe not what you say. It’s what you do. Talk is very cheap, Pal! Wham! Spinning back kick to our opponent’s midsection. The air comes out of him like a gushing oilwell. Rule No.#2 of Karate: Learn to sense your opponent. Movement should be instinctual. “Ippon!” 2-2 Next point wins but you want a knock out. Go with what you know. Don’t wait go for it.
” Yeah, but the Bible says….” I’m tired of talking about death and Hell, I want to talk about Life….. “Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on High will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” WHAM! Another backfist to the right temple. Our opponent not only sees stars this time but he’s out on his feet. When will you people understand that Christ is the issue and not if there is a Hell. You are being distracted from the real subject and it’s not accept Jesus into your heart. It’s are you willing to give up your selfish, self-centered, and completely unloving way of life and start doing things the way Jesus Christ did and taught? He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the answer to your questions. Is there a Hell? Ask the Master, Jesus Christ. Is God loving? Look at Jesus Christ. If you’ve seen Him you’ve seen God. What about the end of the world? Does it matter? I’m following my Sensei. His name is Jesus Christ. I go where He goes. (Which if you think about it answers part of the Hell question.) He came to bring us a Life and a way of living. He didn’t come to keep me from going to Hell. I was already there. (By the way, if you think that when you die you just cease to exist, you might be right.)
“Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:4&5.
So the question is not, is there a Hell and would a loving God send you there? But is Jesus Christ your teacher and are you seeking to imitate Him? (Gandhi understood this. Do you?)
~ The illustration above is the Archangle Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is going to give birth to the Light of the World.~