Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The fiery furnace

"Alaska Birch" by Theresa Gomes

We are friends with an ambitious family who produces and sells birch syrup. They tap birch trees all over interior Alaska and boil it down into a delicious brown syrup. Imagine this: it takes 100 gallons of birch sap to make 1 gallon of birch syrup! To help this process, they purchased an impressive evaporator machine that is fueled by a firebox. 

This firebox is chilling - you could fit a person in there. They have affectionately named it "the fiery furnace" as sometimes the heat is so severe that you have to shield your face to feed it more wood.

Naturally, I couldn't help but think about hell as I gazed into the fire.

And my thoughts went something like this: "Look at those burning coals. What if I put my hand in there? What kind of pain would that produce? What if I was stuffed in there and the door shut? Who could imagine the agony experienced until the moment of death. But, what if I didn't die? What if I was unable to die and was kept alive and conscious to experience the fiery, excruciating pain? There are people who believe this. Some Christians actually believe this is what will happen to certain sinners. They believe that God Himself will keep people alive with the purpose of tormenting them - not even for a long time, but forever. Who could believe that? Who could truly believe that without going insane? To believe Jesus would do that would drive a believer mad. The Jesus I know would not do that!!!"

The only way a person could remain consciously tormented for an eternity (ETERNITY, folks) would be if God Himself chose, and continued to choose, to make them alive and unable to die to the suffering, which traditionalists purport will be unending.

Yes, Jesus will make an end of sin - but not by the means of torture. Jesus will make all things new. His plan is to get rid of evil! No more sin, no more death, no more sickness and pain - no more wicked. Destruction in the lake of fire fits perfectly with God's plan. It is just while merciful. The wages of sin is death, while the gift of eternal life is given to the redeemed. Destruction in the lake of fire is eternal - there is no coming back - it is indeed a final punishment.

I will never be able to gaze at hot coals again without thinking on these things. It's true, the thoughts are emotional, but then again God gave us the ability to think and emote. Perhaps if we all took a few minutes to consider our doctrine, a closer look would be called for.

So, take a moment. Look closer at the fiery furnace. What do you see?

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I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!