God’s Invitation


 

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The question, “How can a loving God send people to hell?” reveals a misunderstanding of at least three things: 1) what love is, 2) what hell is and 3) how people end up in hell. What we are talking about are the words Jesus spoke to these points, to which this question is directed. The question packs assumptions that load the question in the wrong way.

Let me explain.

I previously wrote a piece making the point that God Doesn’t Send People to Hell. In that piece, I addressed the question, but I addressed it primarily from a philosophical view. Below we will examine where these philosophical points come from.

The philosophical view is pretty simple, and flows from the proposition that God is Love.[1] Love doesn’t coerce people against their wills. Therefore, God will not compel anyone to be with Him who chooses not to be with Him because love doesn’t coerce people against their wills.

If heaven is eternal life with God, hell is eternal life without God. If God doesn’t coerce us, He leaves the determination up to us. God doesn’t send people to hell; people choose to go there because they don’t want to be with God.

God invites us to choose Him, but he doesn’t require, coerce or compel us to choose him against our wills.

This proof holds together well philosophically, but does it line up with the teachings of Jesus?

This is how Jesus describes the posture of God toward us:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.[2]

God wants us to open the door, but He won’t crash through the door and come in uninvited. Love doesn’t do that. God desires all of us to open door: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him”. But He won’t force us to open it, and He won’t force Himself upon us.

From this we can know that God doesn’t want any of us to “go to hell”. The invitation is to anyone, everyone. God wants us all to be saved from hell.[3]

To understand salvation, we need to understand what is this hell from which God wants us to be saved? I’ve already indicated that hell is being without God, being “on the outs” with God.

Think about it. If God is love, to be connected to God is to be connected to love[4].  To be disconnected from God, therefore, is to be disconnected from love. If being connected with God is heaven, then being disconnected from God is hell. This hell is not a pleasant business because it involves being disconnected from the source of love.

The stakes are high, but without a choice we could not know love, and we could not love in return.  We all presently feel and sense God’s love to some degree in this life[5], but we also know evil, the absence of love, because God has given us a real choice. This life is no experiment; it’s a life and death opportunity God has given us, and we do not have the choice of remaining neutral.

The sun shines and the rain falls presently on the just and the unjust. We all presently feel and experience the love of God, just as we all experience and feel the sun and rain, but this life will end. This earth will come to an end. If we reject Him, or fail to open the door, respond to His invitation and invite Him in now, while we have this choice, we will lose all connection with the source of love when our opportunity to choose God ends.

People don’t end up in hell, disconnected from the source of love, because God chooses to send people away from Him. All are invited. We choose whether we will respond to His invitation. The parable of the great banquet in Luke 14 is a perfect example of this truth:

A man once  gave a great banquet and invited many.17 And at the time for the banquet he  sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said,  ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in  the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,  none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”[6]

The invitation of God stands. It is up to us, you and me, whether we will respond. The invitation has an expiration date. We may not know the day or the hour when our invitation will expire. That is why the writer of Hebrews urges us not to harden our hearts while we are still living, while it is still called today.[7] Once we have passed from this life, our opportunity to choose God is over.

A subject for another article is the importance of understanding the terms and conditions of the invitation. Accepting God’s invitation involves entering in through the narrow door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1]Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and  whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because  God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

[2] Revelation 3:20

[3] “[God] desires  all people to be saved and  to come to  the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise  as some count slowness, but  is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but  that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. (Romans 10:12)

[4] “But he who is joined to the Lord  becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) This is why Jesus prayed to the Father, “‘O righteous Father, even though  the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love  with which you have loved me may be in them, and  I in them.’” (John 17:25-26)

[5] God calls us to love as He does: Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said,  “‘I say to you, love your enemies and  pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and  sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’” (Matthew 5:44-45)

[6] Luke 14:16-24

[7] “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts ….’” (Hebrews 3:7-8)

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One Comment on “God’s Invitation”


  1. […] A view of the world through the eyes of faith « God’s Invitation […]

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