TORTURING DOUBTS; and EXULTANT FAITH
Why did God Make Men? Merely to Damn Them?
IF THERE IS an eternal hell, no other but God Himself can have called it into existence, for no one else would have the power to do so. Did He make it before or after sin entered the world? If before, we would be forced to believe that He deliberately created mankind for such a fate. Or did He not foresee sin and yet make hell, in order to dispose of sinners in case there would be some? Then why create human beings at all if this was such a risky matter? And if God instituted hell after Satan or Adam had sinned, because He was not able to keep them from sinning, where are His omniscience as well as His omnipotence? If anything in God’s creation can happen apart from His plan, where is there any security in this life or in that to come? Must we not give up our trust and faith in an Almighty God, or assume that sin and hell are a part of His plan?
Why do we study the Bible in vain when we desire an answer to these questions, which are of fundamental importance to every one who wants to know what sort of a God he is to worship? I have searched without getting any light on this subject. I ask why He gives us a book in order to reveal Himself to us and then not even tells us why He had to create doomed sinners. Heart and reason rebel against such a doctrine. It is a direct contradiction to God’s own precept that we are to love our enemies. How can He ask us to do so, if He proposes to torture eternally not only His enemies, but also those who never heard of Him? It seems to me that if we tried to imitate God, as Orthodoxy depicts Him, we would become more like devils. And if He has to act like that for some reason which is beyond us, a whole huge vista of other perplexing difficulties opens up to our view.
One of the worst problems seems to me, why a God, Who has the power to cast Satan into the lake of fire, as He himself says that He will, did not do it before he could do so much damage? Why does He let Satan remain at liberty for thousands of years. Why does He let him deceive and mislead millions? Why does He allow mankind under his leadership to ruin itself as well as the earth, this once wonderful achievement of His creative power?
And if all this had to be for some reason which we cannot fathom, why must humanity multiply at such a rate? If most men are only rushing to an eternal hell, why would not a wise and loving God let only comparatively few come into existence?
I for my part cannot understand how anyone who believes in an eternal hell dares to bring children into the world.
It has often seemed to me that it would be better to be born as an animal than a human being. An animal may have to endure awful sufferings, but there is always the certainty that these will once end, whereas the lost sinner has no such hope.
All the praise and thanks that is being offered to God for His wonderful salvation of sinners through the death of Christ has not been able to answer the following questions:
Why was Christ sent only after thousands of year of sin and death for countless multitudes? Why was He sent without providing that all could immediately hear of His sacrifice? Why has it been impossible to reach whole continents until very recently?
And even today, with all the modern facilities, why is mission-work no triumph? Why all the dreadful handicaps, ill health, want of money, etc., with which God’s witnesses have to struggle, apart from the callousness of the hearts of unsaved men?
The Bible says that God can alone accomplish a change of these stubborn hearts. Why does He not do it, except for a few? To say that He saves all who are willing, explains nothing, for very few realize what it is all about. Besides, the Scriptures teach that God also does the willing. As soon as His spirit reveals to anyone his lost condition and God’s love, his will agrees. Why does He not reveal Himself to all?
When we consider things as they are, it becomes very evident, that Christ saves not even one-twentieth of all men today. Is that the great, wonderful triumph of Golgotha? If a doctor discovers a remedy which saves only five percent of all cases, it is counted a failure. Golgotha’s failure seems even worse. What about the word: “He shall bruise thy head,” if the serpent gets almost all of the spoils?
IS IT BETTER TO DIE AS AN INFANT
OR AS THE IGNORANT HEATHEN?
According to popular evangelistic teaching, there is no salvation apart from Christ and the “New Birth.” We are even forced to believe in the damnation of infants. Who is able to accept that? Nobody that I know of. So let us allow that God will save infants without conversion. Then heaven would be populated for the most part by the “souls” of babies. Myriads of the black, brown and yellow races would be up there, but hardly any of maturer age. The few converted heathen of the last century are a mere nothing compared with the numbers that died without Christ.
Now it may be a small comfort that infants at least are not sent to hell. But if this is so, why prevent their dying? All the efforts of well-meaning people to save the lives of young children would only rob God of their souls, as experience shows that only a fraction are converted later.
And if God can save infants apart from their faith in Christ’s death, why not also the heathen, who know hardly more about right or wrong than they do.
Why does not the Bible give us any definite light concerning the salvation of children? The whole bulky book with all its information does not even tell us at what age responsibility begins. If men were responsible for their eternal fate, at least this question would have to be discussed more fully than others. And what about the responsibility of those who never heard about Christ? What about the responsibility for our bad dispositions, our environment, our education, our inherited alienation from God? I for my part had to come to the conclusion that in the end God alone must remain responsible for all that is possible in His creation.
Who other but God decreed that, after Adam’s transgression, the poison of sin should pass through to all his descendants? Who other but God decreed that, in contrast to this, salvation is not passed on through any such channel, but must be appropriated by every individual? No such choice is left to him when it comes to sinning. He is a slave to sin from the beginning of his existence and cannot help himself and free himself of its tyranny. If responsibility played any part in this matter, God would have had to let every person come into the world as neutral as Adam, and free to choose for himself sin or obedience.
And not only that. Everyone would have to be as enlightened and privileged as Adam, who had intercourse with God Himself, with greater power to resist sin.
Another riddle is, in my opinion, that God never even warned the human beings that an eternal hell would await them if they sinned, and not only them, but all their descendants. He only told Adam that he would die if he ate of the forbidden fruit. Is that not just the opposite of never-ending life in torture, where death would be a mercy?
And as we go on searching in the accounts of God’s dealings with the race after it had been driven from Eden, more and more problems arise. God gives a law on Sinai and tells the people of Israel that He chooses them for His own. He selects an entire tribe to serve Him in His sanctuary. He calls these men holy. How could they be that and yet for the most part be lost? Or did fleshly descent from Levi and temple-service save them? Was it then not rather an automatic, carnal thing that could save a man? Why this radically different way of salvation now? The one under the Old Covenant evidently was more successful. Where do we have a whole tribe of sanctified people today?
The whole Old Testament is a puzzle. Not a word is said about hell before Daniel’s prophecy. Only then do we read about everlasting shame and contempt. All judgments are temporal and earthly. God has pity on people who cannot discern between right and wrong, like the Ninevites, whom He spared. And there it was only a question of a destruction of the town, not of an eternal hell. But today God is supposed to condemn even the ignorant forever.
On this point, something in the later Scriptures must be radically wrong, for how could Christ pray: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and yet hold out no hope outside of the “New Birth”? If we follow one of His words and believe that He will have mercy on those who know no better, we should leave the people as much as possible in ignorance. If we follow His other words, we would be forced to the most frantic efforts to warn everyone, even though we profess to believe that no one can come to Christ unless the Father Himself draws him.
The Bible seems one vast chaos, beyond understanding, full of contradictions. An omnipotent God, from Whom the devil takes almost everything; Who knows all beforehand, yet hinders nothing; Who is even concerned with the cattle of Nineveh, Whose Son is moved with compassion when He sees a mourning widow or a blind beggar, and yet He invents a hell of fire and keeps it going for ever? Where shall we look for light in such darkness?
Christ Will Save All Mankind
and Reconcile the Whole Creation!
After long years of torturing doubts, God had mercy on me and turned my darkness into light, my despair into joy and my misery into exultation. He brought me into touch with His revelation, just as He had written it, apart from most of the mistranslations of well-meaning men, who were bound by creeds and tradition.
SCRIPTURES FOR MEDITATION:
I found out that God is operating “all in accord with the counsel of His will” (Eph.1:11), for all is “out of Him and through Him and for Him” (Rom.11:36). He does indeed “lock all up together in stubbornness,” but it is not to damn the most of men, but “that He should be merciful to all” (Rom.11:32). In order to display His love He brought in sin and sorrow and death, for only so could He be the Saviour of all mankind (1 Tim.4:10). In Adam all are dying, so that, in Christ all may be vivified (1 Cor.15:22). All mankind, through Adam’s offense, were condemned; yet, in Christ, all mankind will be justified (Rom.5:18).
Not only will He bring all of earth’s inhabitants back into the sunlight of His love, but, through the blood of Christ’s cross, He will reconcile all to Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens (Col.1:20). The present enmity toward God on the part of terrestrial and celestial creatures will, in due time, be used as a background to display His love.
Sin and suffering are confined to the eons or ages, as “forever” and “everlasting” should be translated. “Hell” stands for three different words, the unseen, Gehenna, and Tartarus, none of which mean anything like the traditional “hell.” Judgment denotes setting right, not condemnation. Believers in Christ and His sacrifice do not go into judgment. Unbelievers are judged and go into the second death. But all will be made alive when death, the last enemy, is abolished (1 Cor.15:26). Then Christ will subject Himself and all the rest of God’s creatures to His Father, that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:28).
That is why I no longer have torturing doubts, but revel in exultant faith. Would you like to enjoy this with me? We have set forth these marvelous truths in a series of booklets and tracts. Read them! Revel in them!
There will indeed be an awful judgment, but it will not merely “punish,” but set right all wrongs, so that even infants need not fear it. The Judge is the One Who emptied Himself of His glories as the channel of creation and came down to earth to become a Man, and to suffer and die to save all, especially those who believe (1 Tim.4:10). God has raised Him from the dead, and He has ascended into heaven, but He will come again to receive us to Himself to reign with Him over His celestial realms. And after that He will return to earth to restore it and rule over it through His chosen people Israel.
Romans 5:18,19: As it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’ justifying. For even as, through the disobedience of the one man the many [descendants] were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the [same] many shall be constituted righteous.
Romans 11:32: God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all.
Romans 11:36: Out of Him and through Him and for Him is all.
1 Corinthians 15:22,26-28: As in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.
The last enemy is being abolished: death. For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.
Ephesians 1:3,11: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will.
1 Timothy 4:10: We rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers.
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