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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : What Did the Early Christians Believe About Hell?

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Blayne
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Joined: 2012/5/27
Posts: 274


 What Did the Early Christians Believe About Hell?

This question was asked here and self-commented by the author. It was much too lengthy to include as a "quote". Nevertheless, after reading it, I was left with this question:
Why is it that Christians seem to be so utterly fixated on Hell?
Why is it that these same saved souls who claim to dwell "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" and yet have little or no knowledge of that instead?
They seem to know every inch and every morsel there is to know about hell; some are even quick to eagerly usher some of the sinful into it's grips. Yet, they seem to have great difficulty speaking about the Kingdom of God ... the Kingdom of Light.
It's not a wonder that such thoughts about fear and torment has become redundant and ineffectual to redeem the lost in these days. It simply isn't the Gospel of Jesus!

 2012/5/28 0:48Profile
hulsey
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Joined: 2006/7/5
Posts: 653
Missouri

 Re: What Did the Early Christians Believe About Hell?

Quote:
Why is it that Christians seem to be so utterly fixated on Hell?



I know of almost no one who can be designated this way. Perhaps your experience is different than mine. In fact most of the talk of Hell these days is the result of many influential persons trying to persuade Christians that there is no Hell that exists whatsoever. This would explain the sudden and justified correction about the existence of Hell from many Church leaders.

Quote:
Why is it that these same saved souls who claim to dwell "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" and yet have little or no knowledge of that instead?
They seem to know every inch and every morsel there is to know about hell; some are even quick to eagerly usher some of the sinful into it's grips. Yet, they seem to have great difficulty speaking about the Kingdom of God ... the Kingdom of Light.
It's not a wonder that such thoughts about fear and torment has become redundant and ineffectual to redeem the lost in these days. It simply isn't the Gospel of Jesus!



A correct view of Hell is very much a part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.


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Jeremy Hulsey

 2012/5/28 0:58Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 6650
NC, USA

 Re:

Regardless what the early Christians believed about hell, what do modern Christians believe, I mean REALLY believe?

This is an important question because actions speak louder than words. Think about the way that average evangelical Christians live and the priorities they set in their lives. If one is truly convinced that, for the vast majority of people, a short span on earth is followed by an eternity of never-ending torment, then surely one would spend every waking hour, every penny and every ounce of energy trying to save people from it, especially friends and family. How many do this?

It seems that most Christians truly do compartmentalize this doctrine, which compels them to tune out and quash any distubing thoughts on the fate of most of their fellow humans; particularly the people they run into frequently w and work with and live with. I am not even suggesting this is done on the conscious level. It is almost a self-protection mechanism.

Because if we truly believe in the traditional view of hell, then we need to face the ramifications of that belief head on. Ignoring it won't make it go away-- which has always been a favorite strategy of mine when dealing with problems. It never seems to work, however. If we truly believe in a hell of eternal torment for non-believers in Jesus Christ, then somehow, some way, we have to justify our actions, or inaction. We all have loved ones, neighbors, good friends, co-workers, etc. who are non-believers. That is a fact that we simply have to deal with, whether we want to or not.

Some of you reading this might be upset with me. Here you were, having a pretty nice day, and you had to go and read this. It is disheartening, I know. I have been disheartened about it for a long time now.

And believe me, I am not condemning anyone. I am writing this for me- you just get to look on. I don't have the answers. I have not spent huge chunks of time praying for lost loved ones. Now and then, yes. But I can't think of the last time I really and truly agonized in prayer over a friend or relative who is lost. And I am certainly no street preacher-- I even find it difficult to talk about the Lord with unbelievers I have known for years. What is my problem? What is your problem?

I guess the main reason I am writing this difficult thing is because we need to be reminded now and then of what is at stake.



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Todd

 2012/5/28 9:24Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
St. Joseph, Missouri

 Re: What Did the Early Christians Believe About Hell?

Quote:
It's not a wonder that such thoughts about fear and torment has become redundant and ineffectual to redeem the lost in these days. It simply isn't the Gospel of Jesus!



I would disagree here. Paul stated in 1 Timothy 1:15, "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." Jesus came into the world to save us from both the power and penalty of sin.

In Romans 12:1 we have this passage by Paul, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

In my mind there is an imaginary line splitting Romans 11:36 and Romans 12:1. For eleven chapters he gives us the closest thing we have to a systematic theology. He probes the mysteries of the Gospel and shows us how God saved us from the power and penalty of sin. He transitions with a simple phrase, "I beseech you therefore." To some bible students it will be cliche, but when you see the word therefore you need to stop and ask what it is there for. It is a term that means 'consequently'. Therefore (Gk. oun) is an inferential participle that gathers up all the great argument of chapters 1-11 and places it before us.

Understanding Hell is to understand that human beings are at risk of being eternally cut-off from the goodness of God and subject to His wrath laid up first for the Devil and his angels. To be saved from such a state, upon open and sincere reflection, ought to cause us to thankfully love Christ in such a way that we would present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him. I suggest, that because so few people really reflect on this fact, and allow the full gravity of what Christ has done to impact their hearts and minds; they don't see the wisdom of offering themselves to God an a Romans 12:1 sense. Evangelism has to begin in this passage. To give our lives utterly to Christ is the only thing that makes sense after one truly reckons with what He has done for us.

Secondly Paul said, Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Cor. 5:11)

It is because we understand what is at stake that we recognize the urgency of the hour. The Gospel is about man's opportunity to turn away from the path to Hell that they are on and to be saved from it. Man can be reconciled to God and made fit for the world to come. We praise God because He has made provision for us when we were not worthy; in fact, when we were enemies of God He still died for us. This is a cause of rejoicing! I mean, if we truly believe that we were headed for a Devil's Hell, and we allow that reality to influence our minds, then it would utterly change our thinking.

The trouble today is that men don't want to remember. They want to forget. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. They want to accept forgivness and then wipe their mouth as if they have done no evil and owe God nothing in return for His provision. But when Peter and Paul had a revelation of how low they were, Paul said, "I am chief among sinners!" Peter was utterly vexed for his denial of Christ and would not even say He loved (agape) Christ anymore, but rather loved (phileo) Him. These men had seen the hand of God's judgment stayed upon their lives in the same way Israel remembered how the destroying angel's hand was stayed over the threshing floor of Arnon. God could have wiped Israel out, but He did not. and it was on that very spot that the Temple of Solomon was built. It was here that the people could come and bring their sacrifice to God remembering how God had showed them mercy.

Until we understand that the hand of God was stayed over our lives we will not offer ourselves to Him. How can we know this and 'feel' this reality if we refuse to humble ourselves and ponder what we deserved and what was in store for us without God's intervention? We had chosen to follow sin and satan to their destination. We were slaves to the thing we gave ourselves to. God intervened. He set our feet on a different path.

Jesus said it plainly, Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:47)

Love is proportional to our recognition of what we deserved. Seated in Heavenly Places we ought to praise God for all eternity with this same fervor. What does it say of us in these few years upon the earth that we would be tired of talking about Hell and how God saved us from it? Nay verily.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9)

I don't want to forget lest I bestow the love that He deserves upon something that deserves it not. I want to remember that He saved me. I need to remember that He saved me. I need to keep eternity before my eyes that I might not lose heart and zeal to warn them that are unruly. It may be out-of-vogue, but God has still commanded all men everywhere to repent. Why? Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

No matter how we look at it, the wages of sin is still death. The penalty for rebellion is still separation from God's goodness and mercy. People may get tired of hearing it, but if they were thinking aright, I suggest it would be a means of deep praise to God! We ought to praise God every time we hear of such a place, where men and women are in torments this very hour, that He has saved us from there. Only the Devil would have us leave off the subject. Why? So we would forget and give the love that belongs rightfully to God to a wretched Devil or pleasure that will lead us to damnation in the end. Just my thoughts on it.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2012/5/28 11:02Profile





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