I want to tell you about a wonderful woman I know. I have known her fairly well for about fifteen years. She is genuinely kind and good. To put it another way, she is a very personable lady. She is a church attending and is also happily married.
Now I want to switch to an important man to me as a teenager. I attended First Baptist Church in San Diego. The church sponsored various outreaches like Youth for Christ. First Baptist Church of Coronado, CA where I attended when my Dad died.
Leon was my Sunday School teacher at First Baptist San Diego when I attended there. After my dad shot himself Leon came to visit me. In one way Leon’s visit was wonderful and comforting. In another way, his visit was horrendous.
One reason Leon came to visit me was his love and compassion because I was pretty well wiped out emotionally. Another reason he came was he had something to tell me he thought was very important. He Said “George, after much prayer and Bible study I am confident your Dad went to heaven”.
I am sure that Leon said that was dad was in heaven in the kindest manner possible. Leon was a very loving man. I am also sure I accepted what he said with a show of acceptance and may be even thanked him. However, when he left I considered what he said with agony and terror. Until he said what he said I never even considered that daddy might be in Hell.
My my kind woman friend and Leon had a common problem in my eyes right now at age 81. They both believed in Hell.
As a boy I was time and again taught Hell was where people people burned in an eternal flame. One evangelist preaching at The Annual Evangelistic Meeting at the church I attended compared Hell to being trapped in a burning house. Motivated by the fear the sermons on hell created in me I bet I have accepted Christ as my savior dozens of times maybe even a hundreds of times
One time in a meditation I had because of my inability to get back to sleep I was thinking about the doctrine of Hell. I thought of Joan Of Arc dying by fire. Dying that way must be horrific in ways which are beyond my ability to imagine. The saving grace about her dying that way is that it doesn’t last very long maybe only a few minutes.
In my late night night meditation I then I thought about burning in a house fire that was going to last forever. I could not think about burning to death forever for long.Burning to death in a few minutes was horrific beyond my ability to comprehend but burning to death continuously, forever was unimaginable.
I felt a terrible shock to my system. It was one long and powerful collapse inside of me. I have no memories of what happened in me after that powerful shock wave passed out of me.
That shock wave is the problem for my woman friend and Leon. Hell is maddingly horrible concept. If my woman friend stopped to consider that most of the people she loved so dearly at the meeting she attended were going to suffer eternally like being trapped in a house fire she would go crazy. If she thought of things in that way she could not maintain her belief in Hell and neither could Leon.It is just not possible.
In the Book of Acts, Paul is preaching in a city where there seems to be an endless supply of Idols. Paul notices There is even an idol to the Unknown God. Paul preaches and argues that Jesus has made the unknown God known.
In his sermon Paul points out that since tha the Unknown Godt god has been made known by Jesus so they were going to have to abandon all their hundreds of gods and worship the God of Jesus. It must have been a great sermon.
The point here is that Paul tells them they do not have to feel they are abandoning there ancestors. Paul tells them that God has winked at all those people who worshipped false god’s in the past.
What a thing to say. What damage that is to Born Again doctrines of Hell. God took care of that problem of all those thousands of ancestors going to hell. He just winked and it all went away.
I am now creating a make believe picture of me presenting my problem to God. I say ” I was preaching in the city yesterday and I think most of the people would have accepted Christ except for one thing. They were worried about abandoning all their ancestors to a unsaved eternity. They lived before Christ and had no picture of Christ so how could accept Christ.
God Says George you worry to much. You are worried about all the unsaved ancestors of the new converts you had yesterday. I will easily take care of that. Then God winked and the whole problem was solved.
I Think we need to constantly remind ourselves that God “So loved the World” the whole world past, present future, me you and all of the people connected to us. God is love and can deal out his love without the born again preaching. God offers love with all his creative genius so he can guarantee that all the people that ever lived can celebrate his love forever.,