merciful justice

yesterday i followed a link in a link in a link and ran across a youtube video of brian mclaren speaking about hell.  he was arguing that the traditional view of hell was wrong.  he said that the gospel is different from other religions because it is a message of mercy and grace, not of coercion and threats.  he said that preaching a traditional view of hell made the cross false advertising – “freely come accept salvation, but if you don’t, you die.”  also, he asked, how can God ask his people to do something (forgive 70 times 7) that he himself is unwilling or unable to do?

his logic seemed sound, but the concept was unsettling to me.  i can tend to cling to tradition for tradition’s sake, so i was trying to figure out if my reluctance to agree was stemming from that or from something more solid.  it occupied my mind for awhile last night, and again this morning.

then, as i was getting out of the shower, i figured out why i disagreed with mclaren – the Bible disagrees with mclaren.  while i have never been able to fully comprehend how God can be both just and merciful, the fact remains that the Bible says he is.  the idea that God must forgive everyone because he commanded us to forgive each other is ridiculous – Jesus himself says that not all will be saved.

Matthew 7:13-14 –

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 25:41-46 –

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

i do not pretend to know how God can be both merciful and just, or what hell will look like.  the Lord is slow to anger and rich in love, but he has told us that there will be a day of judgement.  how could there be judgement without consequences?  how could a holy God allow unrepentant sinners who will not let themselves be covered by the blood of Christ into his presence?

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1 Comment

  1. Can you preach this from the roof tops, please?

    My fear is that men and women will follow the comforting words of “How could God want sinners to die?”

    How could He not want them to die, He is holy.
    He wills it. and yes He’s merciful too.
    I would also direct them to Piper or Chandler’s writings and teachings on the “Two Wills of God”

    love you pretty!


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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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