Question and answer from the Bible Answer Man broadcast.
Chris in Olathe, KS on KCCV: I’m calling about my 80 year old mother-in-law visiting from Germany. She has a lot of false theology, but one of the things she’s stuck on is she thinks that even after death everyone in the world, Hindus, Muslims, Hitler, Stalin, doesn’t matter, that God will give them in eternity chances to come to Him. She can’t imagine that God, being love, could ever turn anyone away ever.
Hank: Let’s take someone like Gandhi. Gandhi is a great example of someone who did some very memorable things in a positive direction. But yet when you look at his teachings and practices, what becomes evident right away is that he looked at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and he dispensed with it. He said “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe Jesus Christ is divine. I think He was a good teacher, but I don’t think He was divine.” So he denied that Jesus Christ could be the resurrected Savior of humanity, and he’s just as content with a view that reincarnation becomes a plausible way by which we are reconciled to God.
The question becomes how do you know whether or not this is so? Well, you test all things by some kind of an authority that can be validated. In a biblical worldview that is the Word of God. The reason we believe the Bible to be a reliable authority is it corresponds to evidence. Which is to say, you can look at the manuscript evidence, the archaeological evidence, the predictive prophecy in the Word of God, and know that the Bible is divine as opposed to merely human in origin.
So what does the Bible say about all this? It says, whether you’re Gandhi or anyone else, it is appointed for you once to die and afterwards to face judgment. That is what the Book of Hebrews very clearly communicates in Hebrews 9:27. So according to the Word of God we have an opportunity to have a relationship with God in time and He ratifies that in eternity. By the same token He has given us an opportunity to reject Him in time and He ratifies that for eternity. We must not suppose that people suddenly change their mind. Those who don’t want a relationship with Jesus Christ which is available to them in time will not want a relationship with Jesus Christ in eternity. Their hearts will evermore be hardened against the glory and grace of God.
That’s why, ultimately, hell becomes a ratification of true human freedom and genuine human dignity. If there was no hell, there could be no heaven. In fact, the righteous would be incarcerated in a counterfeit heaven and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their will, which would be a torment worse than hell. The impenitent don’t want a relationship with God, and God continues in the afterlife to sustain them in existence, albeit apart from His goodness, his glory and his grace, because that is what they want.
Chris: She just can’t imagine that because God is love – I’ve told her that God is also a Judge, but she doesn’t want to hear that – that He has infinite love that we can’t fathom and that He could never give up on one of His children. She even thinks the devil may eventually turn around.
Hank: I think you’re communicating in a very wise fashion. What you said was the best of all things to say. Whether it’s accepted or not is not your responsibility, but to say it clearly is your responsibility, and that’s what you’ve done. You can’t change anybody’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But you can communicate truth in love, with gentleness and with respect.
What you are communicating with respect to the nature of God is of paramount importance. It is true that a lot of people say “My God is a God of love,” but that God is a god which is merely a figment of someone’s imagination. The biblically God, as you have correctly said, is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice, and you don’t have a full-orbed concept of who God is unless you recognize that biblical picture of God, a God of infinite love and a God of infinite justice. That is correctly said. And again, you can communicate the Gospel, but only the Holy Spirit changes the heart. So you don’t want to take a burden or responsibility that isn’t yours.
And it’s not as though God is going to keep her out on a technicality. If she wants a relationship with God, God will reveal Himself to her. The God of the Bible is revealed not only in the Bible, he’s revealed in the universe that He has created and He has put a knowledge of Himself on the tablet of her heart. You can suppress that knowledge, but you do that in unrighteousness. That’s what Jesus said to Nicodemus. “Light came into darkness, but men loved darkness.” So they persist in their worldview, not because there’s not enough light, not because they can’t believe, but because they won’t believe.
Chris: That’s exactly what we said to her today. If anyone out there would like to pray for her, her name’s Gerty and she’s 80 years old and she has lived through a rough life.
Hank: I can identify with that. My mother is now 87. She loves the Lord, but I can identify with her, almost picture her in the sense that my mother, also – we’re from Holland – and my mother endured the Second World War as a nurse and I’m very familiar with that war generation. But let me [pray] for Gerty right now.
Father, thank you so much for bringing Gerty to our attention. Oh, Lord Jesus we ask You that You will open her heart. We recognize that prayer is firing the winning shot and even now on bended knee we ask you Lord through Your precious Holy Spirit to give her a glimpse of her Savior. Oh, Lord, may she come to say “Lord Jesus, I want You to be my Savior and my Lord. Oh, Lord Jesus, Your will be done in my life.” Lord, may she realize that she is a sinner but that as she repents of her sin she can receive You in all Your fullness. Not just when she dies, but even now she might have life that is life indeed. Oh, Lord Jesus, we bring her in unity before your throne of grace. Lord, may the scales fall off her eyes as the scales fell off the eyes of Saul, who became the great apostle Paul. Lord, we pray this again, not by might nor by power, but by Your Spirit, and Lord, will you please use, in the process, her precious family, and Lord, would you also bring other circumstances and people into her life while there’s yet time. This is the appointed day of salvation and Lord, may you bring it about not by our human effort, but by Your glorious Spirit. We ask in Jesus’ Name, amen.
Give her my regards, as well.
Chris: Thank you so much. Danke.
Hank: You are entirely welcome. God bless you.