Franklin Graham recently appeared on highly popular conservative US talk show, The O'Reilly Factor hosted by Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly wanted to take the opportunity to call on Graham to respond to Rob Bell's latest book (Love Wins) which denies the plain Scriptural teaching of a place of literal conscious eternal punishment widely referred to as hell. Franklin got asked seven hot button questions/assertions on the subject of hell. Before I give my responses let's take a look at the video again:
There has already been some pretty spicy debate in the comments section on the previous post. Hats off to Andrew for some excellent biblical reasoning.
Ray Comfort emailed me concerning this video and said:
God bless Franklin for not compromising. However, when the Law is left out of the equation, “sin” degenerates into “rejecting Jesus.” This is something any reasonable person sees as being senseless and totally unjust. Millions have never heard of Jesus, and therefore never rejected Him. God rather holds us accountable for violation of His Law (1 John 3:4). The Law makes Hell reasonable.
Ray's point here is the major thread in my answers to all seven questions. I'll number the questions and put my responses in italics. Here goes:
1. There cannot be a hell because God is not a monster and He could never assign any human being to a place of eternal damnation.
This question reflects a wrong view of man's depravity and God's Holiness. If God is good, loving, just, and righteous then he would be corrupt if he were not to pass righteous judgment on the actions of all people. The reality of hell maintains God's just character and serves as the backdrop for mercy - being spared from what we deserve.
2. Isn't it a cruel action for God to throw people into hell?
It can be a dangerous and damning practice to spend more time gazing in the direction of a world full of sinners who far exceed your own "small and petty sins". Pause and consider the outrage you felt when Bin Laden's responsibility for the September 11 atrocities was revealed. Now go and multiply that outrage by infinity and load it into the cannon of God's wrath that is aimed straight at you (John 3:36) . . . unless you are clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is not just the magnitude and volume of our rebellion against a Holy God, but Who we have sinned against. If I lie to my daughter she can do nothing to me. If I lie to my wife I'll be sleeping on the sofa. If I lie to my boss he can fire me. And if I lie to the government they can throw me in jail. The higher the authority we sin against - the greater the consequences. What if God is an infinite authority??? Then His righteousness would deem our crimes against Him as infinite.
3. What about people who've never even heard of Jesus Christ?
Once again this question is based upon a faulty view of humanity. If you jump out of a plane without a parachute do you die because you weren't using a parachute or because of the law of gravity? It is the law of gravity but a parachute can save them. Likewise, people don't go to hell because they never heard about Jesus but because of the law of sin and death. But Jesus can save them. All of mankind are guilty sinners without excuse as Paul accurately pointed out:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 which Franklin Graham also alluded to)
4. Are you saying that if someone believes in the goodness of the Creator then they can be saved?
Not at all. Believing in the goodness of the Creator does not provide payment for your sins. You need a righteous substitute to take God's wrath for your sins and to credit you with his perfect righteousness. There is only one of those and His Name is Jesus Christ.
5. But what about the Jews who suffered and died during the holocaust. They didn't believe in Jesus but they were good people. How could they possibly be sentenced to eternal damnation?
The Bible says that there is none who are good. No matter how much of a victim we are in life, it still pales in comparison with our crimes against God. If some of those Jews were trusting in Jesus Christ to save them then they will not be damned. It should not amaze us that God damns people - we should be amazed that God saves anyone:
"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is(S) an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10-23)
6. If innocent people were killed without any revelation of Jesus Christ or were never taught this by their parents - how could they possibly be damned?
Same answer as question 3.
7. I believe it's all about free will. We are free to make choices in this life but we will be held accountable for all of them.
Yes we have free will. A will that is sinful and continually freely chooses to rebel against God. We need to be born again, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and to become a new creature in Christ in order to even be able to obey Go:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44a, words of Jesus)
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
So there are my responses. Feel free to respond to this whether you agree or disagree. We need to be ready with an answer to these questions.
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