God’s Love and Eternal Punishment….Some Thoughts

I heard a man say that to be punished for eternity doesn’t really sound like love. Eternity is a pretty dang long time, (forever in fact) and he asked about someone who is a good person, by normal human standards, but is not saved; how is that really loving, the kind of love that comes from the true source of love, God? Of course there are proponents that think and feel that the only way to salvation is through Christ is not fair. And to them I reply what has been said before. God created this universe and He runs it. If you don’t like it, then you can run your own universe one day when you get one.

But what this man said indeed troubled me. If He is so loving and forgiving then why eternity? I feel that the search for truth should never allow us to shy away from difficult questions and hard answers. I did not have an answer at the time but I do now. If we look at the Bible, Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” He came into God’s presence and was struck by the uncleanness of his lips, and he knew right away that it meant death. I don’t know about all of you but my mouth and the words that it has spoke, pale in comparison to my deeds and actions. If he was to die for merely unclean lips then there is something to be said there.

Of course people automatically think that that is not fair. But again keep in mind that we do not run this universe and we don’t decide what is fair. Though we sure do try. Our God is so Holy, so Righteous, so Loving, He is SO far above us and pure and good that simply a pair of lips that are not clean, in His presence deserves and warrants death. This is not something we can wrap our heads around. Oh we can know it. But we cannot know it experientially until that day comes when every knee will bow. This can be observed with an honest inspection of emotions and people and how guilt works.

As far as is it loving to do that. In a way I feel like I should not have to defend God or His word. Take for example a scenario. Would you as an honest reader, praise a judge for letting a guilty child molester go after doing obscene and utterly detestable things to your child? Would you consider a jury moral and good if they did not hold a murder accountable? If there is no justice there is no love. Now people often times confuse the two as it is easy to do. But do not let yourself follow a double standard of forgive me but hold my enemy accountable.

This happens all too often I am afraid. Mankind likes to think that he sets the standard. In fact this is evident by some of the justifying that we do. How many times have you looked around at other people and thought, well I’m not as bad as them? Or something along those lines. I know I sure have done it. But the standard is not other men, but God alone.

If love is the ultimate virtue, then how does an unjust judge be considered loving? There is a connection between justice and love. Justice with love is nothing but law and rule, and is depicted by the antagonist in Les Miserables. Love without justice is evil. It would have no right and wrong and no moral code. They are inseparable. Yet we try to separate them as we see fit. If we want to not pay up for our wrong, then we demand love and forgiveness, but if someone has wronged us, we have a tendency to want justice or revenge. I believe that those who have trouble accepting that God would be so loving and yet punish people for eternity, are those that have trouble seeing the pure righteousness of our Lord and feel the real weight of their sin and iniquity. Love is good as is justice, they are inextricably combined, and if we can understand this, our next obstacle is understanding and seeing that God is so perfect that well fall short.

Of course the good news is that we can be forgiven, His mercy and grace is just as great. So take to heart, though there are things that our beyond our intellectual grasp, we can know for certain that God is perfectly loving, in spite of our views. All we have to do is ask forgiveness, repent, and then follow Christ.

About Daniel Mason

I write from the historic protestant worldview, that is, Reformed, specifically the conservatism within that tradition. That noble line extends from Edmund Burke to F.J. Stahl, Groen van Prinsterer to Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck to H.R. Rookmaaker. View all posts by Daniel Mason

13 responses to “God’s Love and Eternal Punishment….Some Thoughts

  • Jackson Baer

    It’s funny how the Apostle Paul took time to write about men having short hair and women remaining silent in the church but he never talked about Hell. He talked about judgment and punishment for sins but he never used the word Hell. It’s amazing the things we believe our loving God will do to those who reject Him. Does His love & mercy endure forever like the Scriptures teach or not?


  • masondan

    Are you suggesting that Hell does not exist? The fact that the Apostle Paul does not mention Hell means little when Jesus Christ Himself did. By all means I will, if given time read your book. And naturally, I am open to honest theological discussion and debate. No where in the bible does it say anything, explicitly or implicitly about people going to hell, and then later being reunited with God. The universal reconciliation process is not biblical, but none the less I am interested in your views.

  • masondan

    Are you suggesting that everyone will be saved automatically and that an All Loving God has no sense of Justice? He does indeed talk about about Gehenna…but if you want but He doesn’t talk about seeds or farmers either, He talks about the Hebrew or Aramaic versions of those. Now I understand that the Anglo-Saxon version of Hell may not be the accurate one. But please tell me how eternal punishment is unloving. I must admit that this whole Hell doesn’t exist thing is fairly new to me and I can’t say that I am well read or knowledgeable about the subject.

    I would like to suggest that we, as humans often times are so quick to point out that things are not fair, in fact we do it all the time. IF the bible says what it says, then that is what it says. But I do not want to believe in something just because I don’t think that it’s “not fair”. Many try to claim that Jesus Christ being the only way to the Father and Heaven is “not fair” and yet, noone will argue that that is what He said. So this is something that is very important and I hope all take a good look at. And if I may echo Francis Chan’s words…we can’t afford to be wrong on this matter.

    • Jackson Baer

      There is a very real judgment from God for those who reject Him. He will punish and correct- as He sees fit. He will not write people off forever. Please read these verses carefully and tell me why they don’t mean what they say.

      Titus 2:11- For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.

      1 Timothy 2:3-6- This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

      1 Timothy 4:10- This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

      Romans 5:18- Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

      John 10:14-16- “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

      John 12:30-32- Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

      Philippians 2:9-11- Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

      Colossians 1:19-20- For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

      1 Thessalonians 5:9-11- For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

      1 Corinthians 15:24-28- After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

      Psalm 22:27- The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him.

      Romans 8:38-39- And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

      Luke 3:6- And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.

      Luke 6:27-36- “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

      1 Peter 4:5-6- But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

      Psalm 103:8-10- The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

      1 John 2:2- He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

  • masondan

    I have briefly looked at those, and I think am confident that some of them need to be taken in context, and the Bible as a whole needs to be taken into consideration. I am afraid that I don’t have much time right now to check them out in depth, but I assure you I will get to them. In the mean time tell me, in this parable that Jesus gave, do you think the Master of the house is going to decide to unlock the door later? Because it has an air if definitiveness about it. And there are plenty more…

    Jesus was teaching in every town and village. He continued to travel toward Jerusalem.
    Someone said to him, “Lord, how many people will be saved? Only a few?” Jesus said,
    “The door to heaven is narrow. Try hard to enter it. Many people will want to enter there, but they will not be able to go in. If a man locks the door of his house, you can stand outside and knock on the door, but he won’t open it. You can say, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you. Where did you come from?’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you. You taught in the streets of our town.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I don’t know you. Where did you come from? Get away from me! You are all people who do wrong!’–Luke 13:22-27

    • Jackson Baer

      I’m sorry but saying you briefly looked at them and yet you are confident you are right shows me that you aren’t trying to find the truth. Rather, you are trying to defend what you believe to be true. Email me your address and I’ll mail you a free copy of my book or send you the Ebook now. Then you can read it and write a review on it.


      • masondan

        If we take a look at the “eye for an eye” part of scripture with out context and taking the whole bible into account, it would appear that Jesus contradicts the Old testament, or at the very least people will not understand what the ‘eye for an eye’ was supposed to mean. Also you talk about how the Greek and Hebrew words don’t actually refer to hell….this means you are taking a deeper look. So my friend do not tell me that because I have not had time to take a deeper look, and yet refuse to take your word for it, that I am not truly seeking the truth. My confidence will stay, because the so far the bible as a whole indicates such a viewpoint, from what I can see.

        It is all too easy to twist scripture around…it has happened many times before and will continue…I do not change with every wind of new doctrine.

  • jwswift22

    As we have a historic orthodox faith which has been handed down to us, it serves us well to look at such an important issue through a lens that considers how these doctrines have been settled in the past?

    There is a pail of orthodoxy and these discussions are not new. ( Heretical views were cast aside) Christianity also has a worldwide scope (Just as God has planned it to have). How has the Church maintained it’s view of the matter around the world and through History?

    Go back only to the Reformation ( as a good start) and see if Hell was a doctrine that remained in the pail. This discussion is bigger than any private interpretation. The word applied through faithful men in History has a track record. Maybe we need a “Council of______”. To re-settle the matter.

    • masondan

      Actually you are so right, I really hadn’t thought about it that way, though I knew at had been dealt with in the past, I had really thought about avoiding the ‘reinventing the wheel’ pitfall so to speak. Thanks, that really is such a great point, I know it originally started with Origen, but I don’t recall which council it was. I’ll have to look it back up. Thanks for you great input, it’s truly appreciated.

      • jwswift22

        It’s easy to get caught up in the discussion at hand or only quote certain scriptures un-contextualized.
        plainly stated the doctrine of Hell, like it or not, is a thoroughly biblical concept. It is one of the doctrines that you find denied in many cults however. I am curious how the Whatthehell book has examined the historical debates and councils from the long Christian heritage. I hope that their work has not all been chalked off to ” The traditions of men” simply because what these men of the past have established has become part of a long standing heritage. ( That is the view of the Jehovah’s Witness on many Orthodox historical stands) They misapply the words of Jesus In Mark 7:13 and stretch it out to apply to any tradition of orthodoxy.

        Don’t forget the correct place of history. Hell is a reality, it serves a function in God’s economy and Jesus rescues sinners from the wrath of God ( including eternal punishment).

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