Originally posted by Herman
I mean...maybe if there was a short period of time you were sent to Hell as a punishment.... But I don't think that's the case here
That's closer to the true concept, although I don't think it is 'punishment.' Punishment is not a true biblical concept--it is man's.
It is a morality based judgment that is inflicted according to one man's ideas of 'right' and 'wrong' applied to another. It is opinion, and as
such, is an inherently injust concept.
The fact that 'the wages of sin are death' is demonstrative of a consequence--an expected and consistent outcome to a certain situation. God
doesn't punish us--but He does allow us to suffer the consequences of our present situation--and not in order to be mean or teach us a lesson--but in
order to allow us to learn a lasting and valuable lesson that will pay off in far bigger ways than any sort of punitive damage could possibly evince,
for all parties involved. It doesn't do God any more good to destroy any soul which He has created than it does to destroy that soul.
What spamandham said above is absolutely true and reliable--regardless of whether a person views the bible as myth or not does not have any real
bearing on whether or not they are interpreting it correctly. Many people believe the bible is literal (usually in the wrong sense, though--viewing
the allegorical aspects as something else beside what they truly are, which is a material way of explaining spiritual concepts to a
physically-oriented consciousness) yet they prohibit themselves from applying the same rational examination to it that they use in every other
situation in life which requires analytical thinking. As a result, ideologies have been established and accepted as 'true' which are not logical
even within a strict framework of self-validation of the bible with itself. IOW, the things arrived at from such thinking do not even fit in with
other things which are all solely based upon what only the bible, itself, says about them.
The best example is the very thing you are wrestling with--the idea of a just and merciful God being, at the same time, unreasonable unjust, petty,
and cruel. I say this often: people that preach hell don't ever declare that they, themselves, are going to be going there, themselves. The bible
isn't about placing blame (the devil makes us bad) or judging (those who don't see what I see are going to hell). It is about understanding our
inherent dual nature as humans (existing as spiritual beings within a material framework of reality) as well as the dual nature of all our
choices/decisions in life (do we choose things over people? greed over love? the 'evil' of our fleshly priorities over the spiritual 'good' of
loving our neighbor, no matter what?) The ultimate outcome of the biblical lesson is understanding that we are creatures of mixed qualities, and we
can be overcome by the 'evil' or we can overcome the evil (of self) with love (for others).
The inherent flaw in typical christian religiosity is the idea that 'the kingdom of God is within us' yet personifying our own natural inclinations
toward self-orientation ('evil') outside of ourselves in the person of the 'devil.' This results in a hypocrisy that seems to be the pivotal
point of decision for most people--either they can accept this and adopt it without question (which means they are truly unaware of the maladaptive
way they are thinking and so aren't 'wrong' for believing it--their error lies in the reluctance to use their cognitive abilities in the area they
obviously consider the most important part of their lives) or they cannot accept it, because they do choose to apply rational thinking to the issue,
and so then must find their path outside of the worldly 'christian' road. One might become an atheist (like spamandham) or a 'rebel' churchless
oddball (like me, LOL).
I came down rather hard on what Machine posted, and I hope I didn't give the impression that I am criticizing or judging--Machine, I apologize if I
offended you, in any way--but the sole reason for doing so is that I know Machine said what he did out of his own true heart and love for others. I
know he trusts God from what he says in his posts.
But the thing is this: even if 99 people out of 100 believe something altogether about the bible, yet the one who is left over just can't accept it
because it doesn't 'sit well' in their mind and heart--doesn't mean that one person is following self and the other 99 are following God. What it
means is that the 99 are agreeing amongst themselves about what they think the bible says, and the one is listening to the small silent voice of truth
that we all have within us. We all have it
, hardly any of us pause long enough to listen for it.
And I do pray for my friend. I have other friends in similar situations, and I pray for them as well. I just really hope that God answers my
Remember, though, that often our prayers are answered but we don't recognize it due to the fact that we often pray for a specific
solution to a problem (asking for God to perform that which we think should be done but are unable to do ourselves) instead of truly trusting God and
literally handing the problem over to Him for complete diagnosis and resolution. God doesn't see as we see--our solution may seem good in our eyes,
but more than likely it is not for the good of all involved due to our inherent short-sighted human perspective.
God loves your friend just as much as He loves you, Herman--He will no more let your friend fall by the wayside than He will you, me, Machine, or
spamandham. It matters not if we believe in Him--He takes care of us regardless.
I most definitely will continue to read my bible, and I do hope that God will help me increase my understanding. I'll be the first to admit
that I don't know as much as I should about the bible. I really do want to get down to reading the whole thing, but I just...don't. Part of the
reason is that the only bible I have is written in that old-English stuff... I can't even understand most of it haha. I guess I need a newer one.
There is help for that. Go to
and check out what is there--this is a totally free download and will help you study the bible
immensely, if that is what you want to do. It's good software, too--no bugs that I've ever come across.
It also seems like...I wouldn't really be able to live with myself, in Heaven, knowing that so many good people are suffering in Hell while
I'm living it up in Heaven. People who may have lead better lives than I, but simply didn't believe in Jesus. Thanks again for your reply though,
and any future replies, I know it probably seems to you like I'm trying to deny Hell, but I'm really not.
No, you are obeying
Christ's commandments in a very literal sense. You are loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Hold on to that, and hold on to the idea that
truth is available to you--and you've got your part pretty much licked. God will show you what's what. Just remember He leads you from within
yourself, not from within other people.
In all actuality, we will all die in the same 'state of sinfulness' that we were born in. That's why we've been pardoned of that
inevitability--all of us.
We are all sinful, even believers. But it's the belief in Christ that forgives us of these sins, right? And without Christ, we can never be
forgiven, which is why people who don't believe go to a place of Sin... a place without God. Or at least that's the logic behind it.
But is that truly logical? When you have experienced, for yourself, that that idea of belief isn't as easy for others as it might be for you or me?
Most people are totally convinced they 'believe' and trust in God--but what they are actually putting their faith into is established ideologies
formed in the mind of society and presented and accepted as what God is. To truly have 'faith' is to believe, not that God is real, but to take
it a step further and trust that He will do as He said--for all of us, not just those who adopt a certain way of thinking. The only way to perceive
others as God perceives them is to love them, unconditionally. For God so loved the world....
As far as being sent to a place without God---do you actually feel that God is as pervasive in our present world as man, himself, is? Are we not
already, in a practical sense, separated from God in a place overrun with strife, malice, and all sorts of violence and ill-workings manifested by
'man's inhumanity to man?' When Adam and Eve got evicted from the garden, where did they wind up? Right here. 'Hell' means the grave, in most
cases in the bible. When you are dead, you are in a grave. Adam and Eve were told 'they would surely die.' And don't let anyone fool you, they
did. They wound up in the grave, and that is where we all exist until we see through our delusions of 'life' as dependent upon carbon-based organic
function. True life is spiritual---it is a vitality of the mind which is defined as an unrestricted freedom of thought that is never manifested by
anything negative. You are closer to being alive than you are dead, because of the love you have that doesn't allow you to relish the thought of a
future existence of bliss for yourself while those you have formed lasting bonds of friendship with are relegated to a neverending existence that is
anything but blissful.
As far as your question, about our belief being what forgives us of our sins--that is patently false and is a christian ideology that is in direct
conflict with what the bible says.
For if you forgive people their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive people their offenses, your Father
will not forgive your offenses.
--Matthew 6:14-15 ISV
This is not teaching that God still adheres to an 'eye for an eye' (because He never did, that was for us, it is basically karma--a necessary
principle for the maintainance of material balance in the universe). Rather, it is saying that we must trust that God's way is the only 'right'
way (loving each other, and not holding grudges) and that if we do not follow that path, we are headed the direction opposite of His throne.
But I say to you who are listening:
Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who insult you.
If someone strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one as well, and if someone takes your coat, don't keep back your shirt, either.
Keep on giving to everyone who asks you for something, and if anyone takes what is yours, do not insist on getting it back.
Whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them.
If you love those who love you, what thanks do you deserve? Why, even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you deserve? Even sinners do that.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to get something back, what thanks do you deserve? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back what they lend.
Rather, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he is kind to ungrateful and evil people.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging, and you will never be judged.
Stop condemning, and you will never be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Give, and it will be given to you. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your lap.
For with the measure you use, you will be measured.
--Luke 6:27-38 ISV
Note that it specifically says that God is kind to ungrateful and evil people.
Now the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who is touching him and what
kind of woman she is. She's a sinner!"
Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Teacher," he replied, "say it."
"Two men were in debt to a moneylender.
One owed him 500 denarii, and the other fifty. When they couldn't pay it back, he generously canceled the debts for both of them.
Now which of them will love him the most?"
Simon answered, "I suppose the one who had the larger debt canceled."
Jesus said to him, "You have answered correctly."
Then, turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You didn't give me any water for my feet, but this
woman has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss, but this woman, from the moment I came in, has not
stopped kissing my feet. You didn't anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with perfume. So I'm telling you that her sins, as
many as they are, have been forgiven, and that's why she has shown such great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little."
Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven!"
Those who were at the table with them began to say among themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?"
But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
--Luke 7:39-50 ISV
Now, it would appear that because the woman believed in Christ--that she was forgiven. But that's not true--if we look at only what this passage is
saying, without filtering it through the ideas that we already hold regarding this issue, there is more revealed than we find by assumption:
- Simon, the Pharisee, invited Jesus to his home, because he believed Jesus was not just an ordinary person--it seems he suspected he might be a
- Simon obviously did not believe that Jesus was just an ordinary person (sinner), because of his comment regarding the woman being a
sinner--obviously Simon would not feel it was proper to consort with sinners
- We do not have any idea what the woman did or did not believe in regard to Jesus, she doesn't speak and only her actions are given as any kind of
- Her actions, though, are all of a generous and loving nature--she demonstrated her care and regard for Jesus in what she did
- Simon did not do any of these things for Jesus
- Jesus told Simon that the woman's sins had been forgiven, and that was why she was doing as she did
- After saying that, Jesus then tells her that her sins were forgiven--even before He said it to her, obviously it was already fact
- He then tells her that her 'faith has saved her.'
Something important to understand here, is what the word translated as 'faith' truly meant, back when these things were written down. The word is
'pistis' and it is a noun which is derived from another Greek word, which is 'pietho,' which is a verb. What that basically means is that
'pistis' is that which results directly from the action of 'peitho.'
Now, 'pistis' has the following meanings: persuasion, that is, credence; conviction of truth, assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.
And 'peitho' is defined as: to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or
passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): - agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make
friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
To sum it up, peitho is the action of demonstrating to another either the soundness of a particular 'truth' (fact), or to demonstrate loyalty as a
friend which persuades another of one's good faith in friendship, or to place faith in another who has demonstrated his fidelity or in a truth that
has been shown to be sound and reliable.
And so 'pistis' is the concept which arises from that. A realistic example:
Dick and Jane are strangers to each other, and then meet and begin to develop a friendship. One day, Jane calls Dick and asks him if he can pick her
up from work late that evening, since her car is being repaired. Dick says that yes, he will pick her up and says that he will be there at exactly
the time that she specifies.
Jane believes what Dick says, because up until then, she has had no evidence that is a liar or speaks empty words. But what she is basing her
reliance upon is not 'pistis' faith--it can only be described as hope at this point, because she has nothing to base it on since Dick has not yet
had the opportunity to demonstrate that he is a man of his word as well as valuing Jane and her friendship to the point of giving her his word and
Dick does keep his word, just as Jane had hoped.
The next time she might have occasion to ask him for a similar favor, she will then be doing it with good faith 'pistis' in Dick, because it has
been demonstrated that she can rely on him as a friend.
They both acted in ways that can be described as 'peitho.'
But what got Jane home from work was not her hope, belief, or even her later
deserved trust in Dick to get her there. No matter how hard she believed or how fully she doubted in him to keep his word, the only thing that could
possibly get her home with Dick's help is if Dick got himself in his car and got to her job at the appointed time. Jane had no control over that.
Dick did it, not Jane.
Now, say that on another occasion, Jane needed a ride, but for whatever reason did not call Dick to ask for his help. But, being the true friend that
he was, was aware that she had no car that day, and so took it upon himself to be there at her job at the time he knew she got off work. That way,
just in case she needed a ride, she would have one. If she didn't need a ride--well nothing lost and much gained for the friendship. There's not
anything at all that Jane could do to influence Dick's decision to be there for her--even if she didn't even consider he might be there, he would
still be there when she walked out the door of her work.
Now, it is possible that Jane could have refused Dick's ride, even though there was no other ride available, and it was midnight and she lived 3
miles away from her job. Dick could force her into the car (not cool) or let her walk as she insisted upon doing. (I think we can assume that Dick,
being the kind of guy he is, would have driven to her house and waited in order to make sure she made it okay). And so Jane walks home--various
dangerous possibilities exist along the way, but in all probability she is going to arrive there in due time.
She still got there, although a bit later, far more exhausted than she was right after getting off work, with perhaps a ripped stocking from tripping
into a rut she didn't see in the dark, and sore legs from having to run 2 blocks from a mean-spirited dog she met along the way.
It would have been in her best interests to have accepted that ride from Dick in the first place--and she likely would not refuse in the future--but
the outcome is still the same: Dick is still her friend, he has continued to prove himself trustworthy, as well as tolerant, understanding, and
forgiving (of her stubborn refusal to allow him to help her), and in the end, Jane arrives at home, sweet, home.
Does that help?