August 2, 1994
Did Dr. Spock start it? Or was it the flower children of the hippy generation? Who popularized this laid-back, passive “love” that does not bother itself with trying to correct anyone’s behavior? Who decided that love accepts anything anyone else does?
Whoever did it, the concept is a far cry from what many of us from an “older generation” experienced in our growing-up years. Our parents loved us... so much so that whenever we rebelled, we received correction—bent over their knees. Some of my friends, who were never spanked, complained their parents didn’t care about them!
This soft, look-the-other-way brand of “love” probably contributed to another popular concept. It goes something like this: “God loves us too much to send anyone to hell.”
Putting that alongside Biblical descriptions of God, one must conclude those who deny the reality of hell and deny that anyone will go there, have a false concept of God and of love.
That does not mean God is unloving, not at all. Remember John 3:16; “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son....” But God is also holy. Holiness is wholeness, perfection. Christ demonstrated it: He was “in all points tempted like we are but was without sin.”
Does sinlessness mean that God is so good, so pure, that if anyone entered His presence with their sin it would somehow pollute, violate, or ruin God?
Not at all. His holiness does not depend on the purity of anyone or anything else. Again, Jesus demonstrated it: He walked this earth and rubbed shoulders with sinners yet none could entice Him to do wrong.
However, sin did violate God in a sense. It was imputed to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “God made Him (meaning Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us...”
That means that God put all our sin on Jesus, much like a judge, if so disposed, could write the crimes of another person to my account, thus forcing me to pay their penalty. In Jesus’ case, Isaiah the prophet said it would happen, yet Jesus was not forced to take our sin; He did it willingly. “The Lord laid on Him the iniquities of us all... yet He did not open His mouth...” (Is.53:6). Why would God do that?
The answer is also found in Scripture. The Lord took our sin upon Himself here on earth so we could enter heaven without it. The full reading of 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
In this great exchange, my sin was put on Christ and Christ’s righteousness was put on me. By this trade-off, the Divine Judge declared me free, no penalty to pay myself because Christ paid it for me. I am not innocent but, because of Christ, I am justified. God treats me just as if I had never sinned.
To say God is too loving to punish sin implies that the love of God is not really love, sin is not a big deal, and most of all, that Christ did not have to die. It says the descriptions in the Bible of God’s character are lies, as is the historical account of Christ’s death and resurrection. If God does not love us, Jesus had no reason to do what He did.
Perhaps Jesus knew some would misinterpret the love of God as a soft, look-the-other-way tolerance. Even though He both affirmed and demonstrated the love of God as far greater than that, He also said, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”
Hell is not a pleasant thought, but because of Jesus, the place is avoidable.