Summary: Questions we would we must like to ask God if given the chance.
God: How could a Loving God send someone to Hell? Matt. 5:22; 28-30
1. We are in a middle of a series that we have entitled ''God, I have a question! Today we are going to take a look at a hot topic (again no pun intended) that when discussed generally generates more heat than light. It is the topic of hell.
*** Recently, hell was in the news in the trial of Scott Peterson. After he was found guilty, Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha spoke directly to him in the sentencing phase of his trial. She looked him right in the eye and spoke these words. ''The fact that you no longer wanted Laci did not give you the right to murder her. She was my daughter. I trusted you and you betrayed me...you betrayed everybody.
Did you look her in the eye Scott as you killed her? Was she alive when you put her in the bay?
I think of Conner (Laci's unborn son) saying: 'Daddy, please don't kill us. I promise I won't take her away from you. Daddy, please don't. Stop.' Now it is time for you to take responsibility for murdering Laci and Conner, your son, your own flesh and blood....Now Scott Peterson, I say this to you: 'You deserve to burn in hell for all eternity.'''
2. Mrs. Rocha's last statement raises some huge questions. Is there a hell? The predominant 21st century world view is that hell is a myth. It is not a real place. Does anybody really deserve to go there--forever? Even those that may concede it is a real place say that very few people (if anybody) deserve to go there for all eternity.
*** For example, many more Americans believe in heaven than believe in hell. For every American who believes they are hell-bound, 120 believe they are heaven-bound.
3. Many of us wonder, “Why would a loving God send people to a horrible place like that? Doesn’t it seem cruel and unfair that God would sentence people to an eternal damnation?”
*** The late Chuck Templeton, former evangelist, turned atheist once said, “I couldn’t hold someone’s hand to a fire for a moment. Not an instant! How could a loving God, just because you don’t obey Him and do what He wants, torture you forever-not allowing you to die, but forcing you to continue in that pain for eternity? There is no criminal who would do this!”
*** As Mark Driscoll pithily puts it, ''Apparently Hell is for the other guy-the terrorist, the relief pitcher that gives up a lot of walks, and anyone who wears a suit and works in Washington DC."
*** John Lennon, the former Beatle, had a smash hit in the early 1970s with a song that included these words.
''Imagine there's no heaven; It is easy if you try
No Hell below us Above us only sky.''
***Mark Twain once expressed this view by saying, “I’ll take heaven for the climate and Hell for the society.”
***Ted Turner has said something similar but adds that he thinks Hell will actually be fulfilling and challenging. He said, “Heaven is going to be a mighty slender place. Most of the people I know in life aren’t going to be there. Plus-we must remember that Heaven is going to be perfect. And I don’t really want to be there. No-I’m looking forward to dying and going to Hell because it’s a mess and when we get there we’ll have a chance to make things better. Heaven is perfect. Who wants to go to a place that’s perfect? Boring. Boring.”
*** Others think of Hell as nothingness. They think people who reject God will just cease to exist. C. S. Lewis was once told of a gravestone in which the occupant obviously held to this belief because carved on the stone were these words: “Here lies an atheist-all dressed up and no where to go.” Lewis quietly commented, “I bet he wishes that were so.”
3. That is exactly what many people say - there is no hell. Lennon expressed perfectly and poetically the popular sentiment of many-there is no hell. Hell is the figment of some "hellfire and damnation'' fundamentalist preacher who sweats profusely, slings spit, and screams at the top of his lungs, "Turn or burn!"
*** It may surprise you to know that Hell is indeed a subject that is on people’s minds. In fact, a poll conducted by U.S. News And World Report back in 2000 revealed that more Americans believe in Hell today than did in the 1950’s, and they take very seriously the implications of its existence.
*** I’m reminded of the story of a chaplain who reported to a new duty station. Upon arrival some of the soldiers came to see him and asked him if he believed in a literal Hell. When he said that he did not, the men asked him to resign and he asked why. They said, “If there is no Hell then we don’t need you-and if there is a Hell we don’t want you to lead us astray.”