Our Redemption Reveals a Great and Praise-worthy God (Lord’s Day 5)
As you know, God has many attributes. In its first article, the Belgic Confession lists many of these. For example, we confess from the Scriptures that God is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable and infinite. That’s just part of the list. It’s good that we reflect and meditate often on these attributes of God. Scripture encourages us to do that very thing. For instance, in Jeremiah 9:23,24, God says, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me.” Knowing God is not only recommended, it’s also necessary. John 17:3 tells us that knowing God is the essence of eternal life. Speaking prophetically of those Jews who would oppose the influence of the Greeks, Daniel said that “the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” That’s in Daniel 11:32. We find ourselves engaged also in spiritual warfare, we have to constantly do battle with the unholy trinity of the world, the devil, and our own flesh. To be strong in this battle the knowledge of God is essential for us too.
So, last week as we considered Lord’s Day 4, we reflected on God’s justice. Many today don’t care to reflect on the fact that God is just. But Scripture reveals it and so we believe it.
Today as we come to Lord’s Day 5 we can move on to consider some of the other attributes of our God. And we’re going to do that in relation to our redemption. Lord’s Day 5 is the first Lord’s Day in the second part of the Catechism dealing with our deliverance. It’s concerned with how we may be delivered from the temporal and eternal punishment that we deserve. Temporal refers to punishment in this life and eternal refers to what happens after we die. Apart from Christ we deserve punishment both now and forever. But is there a way out? The Catechism follows the teaching of the Bible and tells us, yes, there is a way. Out of his own character and attributes, God makes a way. In this we see much reason to give praise and adoration to our God. Reflecting on his attributes is not an intellectual exercise, but a devotional one. We want to bring greater and richer praise to the God who saves us.
A famous propagandist once said, “If I repeat a lie often enough, it becomes true!” Apparently, the same logic is in use here, as we read once more the completely unfounded assertion that we all “deserve” to be tortured for all eternity!
But here’s the rub–this claim comes from people who say they believe in Jesus, that he was THE Word or Expression of God, which makes no sense because if there was anything Jesus made clear in all his original words and actions, it was that God doesn’t hurt people, not for a second, and most certainly, not for eternity!
I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share one of the many points I make in it to explain why.
If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.
So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!
True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.
Bear in mind that the historical Protestant doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures applies only to the original autographs, not the copies. But sadly, the interpolations that made their way into those copies have provided a convenient excuse for a lot of people to get around following Jesus’ real message.
Thank you for stopping by. I’m curious: do you think that the text of Matthew 11:20-24 is not original to Matthew? If so, prove it. You should be able to provide some evidence. If not, please explain how the day of judgment will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for Chorazin and Bethsaida.