Cruelty In The Bible?
Is the fact that non-Christians go to hell cruel?
THE CLAIMED CRUELTY: he promised to send non-Christians to eternal torture (e.g., Revelation 21:8).
Once again, the humanists have worded their accusation in a way designed to speak to your emotions. However, we will take a rational, logical look at what they claim and see if it is reasonable. Revelation 21:8 is one of my favorite verses because it plainly makes clear who is heading for the lake of fire:
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that
burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8
Who is speaking? We need to go back a couple of verses:
And He who sits on the throne said... - Revelation 21:5
This is God speaking, the one who sits on the throne. What is He saying? Let's begin by defining some of the terms used in this verse, so we can be sure we understand what God is saying:
Cowardly - These are false believers. People who think they are Christians, but in reality they are not trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior. They are revealed when they fall away from the faith when their faith is tested. They are called cowards because, when they are tested, they are afraid to stand up for the faith. They "shrink back to destruction." (Hebrews 10:39)
Unbelieving - Those who do not believe God (for example, humanists) and are not trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Abominable - People caught up in wickedness and evil. People who are disobeying God.
Murders -Read Matthew 5:21-24 to get a deeper understanding of murder. It not only includes taking someone's life, it includes hatred and anger. Jesus said that if you are angry with your brother, or in anger call them a fool, then you have murdered them in your heart. God looks at your thoughts as well as your actions.
Immoral persons - Those who have disobeyed God. For example, those who have bro-ken any of the Ten Commandments.
Sorcerers - We do not consider sorcery a problem today. Unfortunately, the oc-cult is alive and strong and includes New Age practices, mysticism, and some charismatic practices. However, there is more to this word. The Greek word used here is "pharmakos." It is the word we get our word "pharmacy" from, and it refers to mind-altering drugs. Sorcery, witchcraft, New Age, and drugs (including alcohol) are all related, and those whose lives are characterized by these things are not saved.
Idolaters - Those who have something in their lives that is more important than God.
All liars - How many lies have you told?
People whose lives are characterized by any of the above are not saved and their eternal destination is the lake of fire. So, yes, all non-Christians, as well as MANY people who call themselves Christian (see Matthew 7:21-23), will experience eternal torture in the lake of fire, which is the second death.
In reading Revelation 21:8 I hope you noticed that everyone is in at least one, and probably several of the categories. That means the question that should come to mind is, how do I not end up in “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death?"
There are only two ways:
1. Not be on the list. In other words, never do anything that puts you on the list. For example, never tell a lie... not even a white lie. Never disobey God in any way. (Obey all of the Ten Commandments perfectly, at all times.) Live your life such that God is always first in your thoughts, words and deeds. The problem is none of us can do this.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” - Mark 10:18
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” - Romans 3:23
2. Since you are on the list (everyone is), you have disobeyed God and have earned the just and right punishment: eternity in the lake of fire. Your only option is to get someone else to take this punishment in your place.
There is no living person who can do this. Everyone else must pay the penalty they've earned. Since the punishment is infinite, they are not able to take on a second infinite punishment. They ONLY person who can do this is God... and He did.
Jesus is God. When He died on the cross He willingly took on Himself the sins — past, present, and future — of everyone who believes in Him. Those who truly believe (trust) in Him are called Christians.
The door is open to everyone. Jesus paid the penalty for sin for ANYONE who believes in Him as their Savior. Jesus’ offer is not exclusive, and there is nothing you need to do (e.g. baptism, join a church, do good deeds, etc.). However, if you do not take His offer, there is no other option. You are heading for the eternal lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
What Exactly Is This Punishment?
The “torture” the humanists refer to is eternal separation from God. In other words, God gives those who reject Him exactly what they want. However, you need to understand what that means.
God is the source of everything that is good. Without God there is nothing that is good. In this life our sin separates us from God, but God gives us grace and continues to give us good things.
“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” - Mark 10:18
However, when we die without trusting Jesus Christ, we become totally and permanently separated from God. That means we have nothing good. Anything you can think of that is good, you will not have. Freedom from pain. A cool drink of water. Light. The company of another person. You will not have any of these… forever. That is hell. Separation from God.
God does not torture people. He gives them the just punishment they actually asked for. Separation from Him forever. It is called the lake of fire because that is what separation from God is like. The worst part there is no hope. It never ends.
Conclusion: God does not send anyone to eternal torture. It is your choice. Because of your disobedience (sin), you have earned separation from God. God gives you the option of life… if you trust that Jesus Christ literally took your sins on Himself and died in your place. There is nothing cruel, evil or immoral here, just love.
Next example, the humanists write: Besides the unfairness and heartlessness contained in many well-known Christian teachings, the Bible has other violent tales that
are opposed to civilized standards of morality. Among the most shocking Bible passages are those that portray God as ordering or approving the extermination of various people, including children and the elderly. Here are examples:
At I Samuel 15:3, the prophet Samuel gives King Saul this commandment from the Lord: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
I've already answered similar accusations. But, we'll look at each example, one-by-one. Click here for the first one, 1 Samuel 15:3