Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How is it fair for my Jewish parents to be in hell when they had no chance to trust Jesus as their Savior?


How is it fair for my deceased Jewish parents to be suffering in hell when there was no way they could have accepted Jesus in the culture they lived in?  How can it be fair for Jesus alone to be the way to escape hell fire?

Let us look at this problem and try to think about it carefully and logically. 

The Problem:  How is it fair for Christianity to teach that people will be condemned to hell because they did not trust in Jesus to save them when this was impossible for them to do?

The Emotions around the Problem:

To do that we have to express the emotions such a question brings up in us. 

Almost none of us would ever want any of our loved ones to go to hell.  Regardless of what they did in their lives.  Our love for justice is less most of the time than our love for those people we call family and friends. 

We might not mind if some of our enemies went to hell after death, especially if we felt they had escaped consequences in this life, but few of us if any would be at peace knowing one we loved would suffer eternal punishment. 

This would especially be true if we felt they had not had an opportunity to really consider the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah and Savior.   So the question raises up strong feelings and inner conflictions regardless of our answer.

Even those who might say that such a judgment by God would be fair would most likely admit that they would rather that justice is forgotten and pardon be given in such a case.   So we must answer this question carefully with full awareness of the emotional weight that such a question has within it. 

Now that we have considered the emotional weight of the question it would be good for us to analyze the possible answers that we can give to it

Analyzing the options about hell

The following answers would seem to be possible options to people either being in hell or not being in hell.   

1.  Not in hell because no one is in hell

A.    Hell does not exist
B.    Everyone is saved from hell because God does not punish sin after death.
C.    Everyone is saved because the suffering of Christ has saved everyone regardless if they believe or not.  

2.  Not in hell although some are in hell

A.    Not in hell because some were moral enough to earn heaven
B.    Not in hell because some people had the Messiah Jesus pay for their moral failures and by faith received HIM as Savior.

3.  In hell although some are not in hell

A.    In hell because they were not moral enough to earn heaven
B.    In hell because they were moral but did not trust in Jesus
C.    In hell because they were not moral enough to earn heaven and did not trust in Jesus

4.  In hell because all are in hell after death

A.    All have sinned and therefore all justly go to hell
B.    God sends both good and bad people to hell

Since the question is about the justice or fairness of Christian teaching we need to summarize this here.[1]

1.  God is the moral judge of all human activity.   

Psalms 94:2

“2  Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13  The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
14  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

2.  God will fairly judge each person’s moral actions, attitudes, and words.

Romans 2:5-11

5  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
7  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
8  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
9  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
10  but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
11  For there is no partiality with God.

3.  Those that had much accurate information and opportunity to act upon it will be judged more severely than those who had less accurate information and less opportunity.  The judgment will fit the particulars of the person’s situation, culture, personality, and capabilities. 

Romans 2:12

12  For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

4.  All rational human beings will be found fairly and justly to have acted in immoral ways and failed to live up to their conscience.[2]

Romans 3:9-20

9  What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
10  as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
19  Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
20  because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

5.   An appropriate and proper punishment will be given to each individual person.  The punishment will fit the crimes and no one will be punished more than they deserve.  People will get what they deserve in this judgment unless they are forgiven by God. 

Genesis 18:25 - 25  "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"

6.   No seekers or good person will go to hell.  Only those who deserve hell will suffer hell.

Hebrews 11:6

6  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Matthew 7:7

7  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

7.  Hell is filled with people who continue to reject God’s will.  It is because those in hell never stop sinning that it lasts forever.   There are no truly repentant sinners in hell.

Revelation 16:9-11

9  Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.
10  Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
11  and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.

8.  The only way to avoid hell is to have our immoral actions paid for by the Messiah Jesus as a substitute and HE suffers our punishment in our place on the cross.   

Isaiah 53:6-8

6  All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
7  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
8  By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9.  Because of this the only way to be restored to God is through the Messiah Jesus. 

John 14:6

6  Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

10.  We must receive Messiah Jesus to become children of God and escape the just punishment of our sins.

John 1:12-13

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So the orthodox Christian position is concerning hell is:

People are not in hell because some people had the Messiah Jesus pay for their moral failures and by faith received HIM as Savior.   People are in hell because they were not moral enough to earn heaven.[3]

13.  Why can’t everyone be saved by the Messiah Jesus’ sacrifice? 

God must demonstrate HIS mercy, but also HIS justice.   God saves the maximum number of people that can be saved without compromising HIS justice or  encouraging another rebellion.?

14.  God takes no pleasure in punishment of the wicked.

Ezekiel 18:23

23  "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

How is this view fair?

1.  Most people are only looking to God to give them a fair judgment.  This God will do.

2.  Fairness is impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination.  God does not favor any group over any other group.

3.  It is impossible for God to do anything unfair so It is not possible for my loved ones to be treated in an unjust way with God.

4.   The Christian view is beyond fair in that since all deserve to go to hell the fact some are spared is merciful. 

Contemplation:  I must trust my loved ones into the all wise, good, just, and caring hands of God the Father.   This does seem to be what the Scripture teaches.

Explore:  How can we enjoy heaven knowing if loved ones are in hell?

Revelation 21:1-4

21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
4  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

[1] For a good summary of the issue of hell and how we can answer the question it raises concerning the goodness of God see The Many Faces of Evil (Revised and Expanded Edition): Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil
May 6, 2004  by John S. Feinberg

[2] There are differences of opinion about children before they are able to make understand or make moral choices and those that have the minds of children though adults in age.  My perspective is that God does not hold children or those who are child like in their abilities responsible for their actions and places the blood of Christ over them.  I think this also applies to the 60% of conceived children who are miscarried.  None of these suffer hell from my perspective since how can God judge people morally who never engaged in rational moral decisions. 
[3] All other religions are seen as false and speaking false things about God’s essential nature.  Because of this they are committing blasphemy.   Because of this then people cannot avoid hell through the practice of these faiths.