Gods love towards those in hell?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by earl40, Oct 9, 2012.

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  1. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have read that it is the love of God (as creatures He creates) that keeps sinners from going poof in hell. OK a rough paraphrase. In other words, it is better for to be conscience in hell than to not exist.

    So how do we reconcile this idea with what Jesus said?

    Mark 14:21
    King James Version (KJV)
    21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.
     
  2. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Earl
    I don't think we should speak lightly on the subject of Hell.

    Is this a biblical idea, anyway?
     
  3. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    Where'd you read that? The opposite notion (eternal punishment being worse than annihilation) seems to have far more biblical support.
     
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    From the Scottish reformed tradition, Samuel Rutherford, Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself (1803), p. 550:

    There is a second love and mercy in God, by which he loves all men and angels, yea, even his enemies; makes the sun to shine on the unjust man, as well as the just, and causeth dew and rain to fall on the orchard and fields of the bloody and deceitful man, whom the Lord abhors; as Christ teacheth us, Mat. 5:43, 44, 45, 46,47, 48. Nor doth God miscarry in this love; he desires the eternal being of damned angels and men; he sends the gospel to many reprobates, and invites them to repentance, and, with longanimity and forbearance, suffereth pieces of froward dust to fill the measure of their iniquity; yet does not the Lord's general love fall short of what he willeth to them.
     
  5. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Rev Winzer, I am suitably impressed with you pulling that quote out!
     
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    That is correct. God's love is effectually extended towards His creation as they stand in the relation of creatures. At the same time, as God has an eternal purpose for each and every one, His saving grace is effectually extended or effectually withheld. The withholding of grace is the effect of God's judicial hatred. The point being made in the quoted portion is that there is no love of God towards men which is ineffectual. It effects what is intended in each and every case. Consider Psalm 136. God's loving and loyal commitment to His creation is perfectly consistent with His judicial punishment extended towards the enemies of Israel. The punishment is seen to be the means by which God continues to act for the purification of His creation and the perfection of His redemptive purpose.
     
  7. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    No where in Scripture does it say that God loves those in hell. His wrath, which never wanes giving them a moment's reprieve, is evident of his hatred and lack of any type or degree of love. In fact, if he did have even one once of love for them, he would relent his wrath and utterly destroy them from existence in order to give them reprieve. As we all know, he will do no such thing bc their unforgiven sins are so great against him that their suffering for eternity will never be able to pay for their crimes against him. Scripture says that God hates the wicked here on earth, and yet, we see acts of kindness towards them which could be seen as a form of love, instead, it is in fact grace they feel in their lives. Yet in hell, no acts of kindness will be found for them only his wrath and removal of grace will they see. God's common grace is abundant here on earth. There are very wicked ppl who enjoy many different things in their lives which brings them joy. Even the most wicked person who has ever lived loved someone in their lives even if it were themselves. They are allowed this enjoyment bc of God's grace towards them which only stores up more and more wrath for them when they do get to hell. In hell they will find no pleasure. Even the selfish act of loving themselves will allude them. They will only find torment "day" in and "day" out.
     
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Earl, I am not sure that the words need to be reconciled, because I am not sure that there is any opposition. It is plain that our Lord's words about his betrayer must be taken in a restricted sense: if it were good, absolutely, that Judas not have existed, then that is what would have happened. And since his words include the modifier "for that man" we understand that it was ontologically good for Judas to exist, and that God overruled the sinfulness of his existence to bring about a good end. But this means that it is from the standpoint of Judas' experience that it were good not to have been born. Now this would not necessarily have prevented him from existing (in which case the text might not have any relevance to the question of relative preference between annihilation vs. torment), but it would have kept him from doing good or evil, Romans 9:11. I think we can all agree that it is better to be stillborn than to go on to become the instrument of Satan in the betrayal of Christ.

    If it can be shown that the text does have reference to non-existence vs. going to hell, I would suggest that the reconciliation may be along lines suggested by Job in chapter 3. When surrounded by sufferings we would sometimes prefer to have had no experience at all, than to have an experience that includes such bitter anguish. And since that cannot be (or we wouldn't be around to express that wish) we at least call for our experience to end. But I wonder if in a sober mind the horror of non-being might not be a stronger force than the horror of agony. It is better that there should be people glorifying God's justice by their damnation than that there should not be such: we know this, because it is what God has decreed. The fact that they disagree, assuming they do, doesn't change the reality: God sees fit to keep them in existence, and that is therefore a good thing to do.
     
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Scripture certainly teaches that God does not change and that His tender mercies are over all His works. What is hell that God's love should not be manifested there? Surely love must be a part of the presence of God that makes hell such torment -- a manifestation that sustains life but does not satisfy it.
     
  10. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I disagree with you. (i do agree with Ruben that it is good that he made vessels of wrath "to show his wrath and to make known his power"). It is true that God does not change. He does not have to change who he is by giving great riches to one person and poverty to the next. For the one, he has given. To the other, he has withheld. Nothing about those actions change who he is. For those in hell, he has withheld his grace love etc, and instead, has poured out his wrath. Nothing about withholding these parts of his being and pouring out his wrath changes who he is. The total lack of his grace, love, mercy etc is what makes hell hell. You believe that he shows them love in hell. Scripturally, how do you see him manifesting his love to them?
     
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    "In Him we live and move and have our being." "His tender mercies are over all His works." Certainly God has rejected the vessels of wrath, but, as creatures, they belong to "the same lump" and stand related to God as creatures to a Creator. It is impossible to consider them as fitted for anything without the recognition of a prior dignity which enables them to be fitted. His love to the work of His own hands must be presupposed in the very concept of "wrath." If God does not consider the vessel to be anything, why does He manifest His justice against it? Worms do not require a process of judgment. If they spoil the vines the gardener exterminates them. It is because of his dignity that man undergoes a judicial process before condemnation. So here: the very fact God enters into this judicial process must be a manifestation of the loving regard He has for His creation. The same applies to the punishments of loss and sense in hell. There must be the capacity to lose and suffer, and this must be adapted to the special condition of man as the work of God's hands.
     
  12. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    For clarification, is this LOVE for those in hell Φιλανθρωπεω or Αγαπάω?
     
  13. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    When all things are views in the perspective of a God-centered ideology, everything falls nicely into place. I'm far from saying that the vessels of wrath are considered as nothing by God. Just the opposite. They are very much apart of his divine plan. Part of God's goodness in who he is IS his wrath. God's wrath isn't an evil thing but a holy part of who he is as you know. Romans 9 states it well why God created vessels of wrath.

    What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory

    It's all about him and we benefit from him being central in all things. We know and will more in-depth the riches of his glory bc he shows his wrath and makes known his power on vessels of wrath. In all this, he is gloried. There's nothing in there which even alludes to some type of love for vessels of wrath bc it's not about mankind it's about God and what he does to show off his glory. His vessels of mercy benefit greatly (more than we can even understand) from all of this.
     
  14. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Again, there is no doubting that God has His eternal purpose for each one, and each one shall serve to manifest His glory either in a way of grace or of justice; but the apostle also speaks of a common mass out of which these vessels are made. This must indicate a loving regard to man in the scheme of creation as the one through whom He will specially fulfil His purpose and manifest His glory. Says John Norton (The Orthodox Evangelist, p. 99), "that common love of God to man, whereby (when we lay equal with the residue of the Creation in our Mother-nothing) he freely gave unto us so excellent a Being after his own Image, far above our fellow creatures, was unspeakably above what is unspeakable."
     
  15. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I would have to agree with you in terms of mankind here on earth. All of Scripture which speaks of God's mercy and patience and long suffering etc, has to do with mankind that is still on earth. All of God's mercy and patience and long suffering and common grace etc given to the person here on earth only stores up wrath for that person when he finally finds himself in hell. The only thing we can find concerning God's presence in hell is his wrath......no grace, no mercy, no kindness, and no love. All of mankind bear God's image that is true. That does not mean bc of that he holds out a small portion of love for that image bearer. He is enraged with that image bearer bc of the sins that image bearer has committed. There is no peace between the unsaved and God while on earth without Christ. Yet God gives good things to him in order to store up wrath which he will pour out upon him without reservation and without waxing or waning his wrath. In full fury, will he pour out his wrath upon the image bearer who defied him and broke his commandments. With one lump of clay he made vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy in order to show to the vessels of mercy his wrath and power. This is his great and holy providence. The quote from John Norton is of all mankind still here on earth. All of mankind was blessed beyond measure to be God's image bearer, but with that blessing comes responsibilities to God.........to keep his commandments perfectly. No one does. Those in Christ are forgiven and those outside of Christ pay for being lawbreakers in hell by receiving God's wrath and only his wrath.
     
  16. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    This is very helpful, Rev Winzer. Thank you.
     
  17. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you Rev. Winzer for your posts on this topic. As at other times, they are a great blessing. If being is not fundamentally a good God bestows, and God is not good as Being Itself in a way that fundamentally shapes all the rest of our creaturely experience, the universe takes on fairly nightmarish proportions.
     
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    That speaks right to the heart of the matter. Thankyou, Mrs. Zartman.
     
  19. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Rev.Winzer,

    What do you make of Psalm 11:5 which speaks of God's "hatred" of the wicked and that he will pour judgment upon them?

    Or Romans 9:13 which says that God "hated" Esau?
     
  20. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am sorry I disturbed you Richard. I assure you sometimes I can only think of this horrible eternal destination in black comic like terms. That is not good and shall try to cease such ways of expressing this subject as such.
     
  21. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thus my question from what Jesus said that from the perspective of men it would have been BETTER that he had not been born. This In my most humble opinion appears to say that to live in hell is worse than never existing and to reconcile this with God loving a creature just does not seem consistent with real love. I think I am mixing up the human emotion and feelings that we have with how God loves. This no doubt is where I err.
     
  22. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Of course if he were still born he never would have been the one who betrayed Jesus. In other words, it still would have been better if he were born physically dead than to live in hell forever with his degree of punishment that he is experiencing now.
     
  23. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Both texts speak of one in contrast with another. Ps. 11 speaks of the Lord's judicial role as the upholder of the moral foundations of the world, and presents the wicked in contrast with the righteous. Rom. 9 discusses God's eternal and unchanging purpose for individuals within the context of God's promises to Israel. It sets forth a contrast between the reprobate (Esau) and the elect (Jacob). Again, there should be no diminishing of the important truth that God has a specific purpose for each individual and this purpose determines God's relation and action towards them for time and eternity. I was at pains to stress this point in my review of Prof. Murray's Free Offer of the Gospel. As I state in that review, however, reformed divines recognise that God also has a purpose for man as His creation. He has determined to show His goodness towards all in common, and they call this "common love." The main point here is that this love is effectual, not ineffectual, contrary to the claims of those who speak of God desiring things which never come to pass. In one sense "love," like "grace," is an inadequate word because it shares no real affinity with the special, saving love for the elect. In another sense, it is an important concept to retain because it draws attention to (1) the beneficence that is ingrained in the very fabric of creation, (2) that God's hatred must always be understood in judicial terms, and (3) that wrath is thoroughly deserved by the creature.
     
  24. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you and your response clarifies thing. I think this quoted line hits precisely on the difficulty I have in using the term "love" with respect to those in hell. I am working with a definition of love that I associate with the elect.

    Do you have a link to your review of Murray's work so that I can explore this issue more deeply?
     
  25. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Thus my question in post #15 above:


    For clarification, is this LOVE for those in hell Φιλανθρωπεω or Αγαπάω?
     
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    First, it seems there is a leap being made between the temporal (been born), which is explicit in the statement of our Lord, and the eternal (hell), which is being introduced into the statement by means of your question. Secondly, we might be able to apply the principle included in the statement to the eternal state, but we must be careful to respect its limitations. The word "better" is the comparative of "good." This requires us to identify the "good." Is it active, as that which a man is to seek, or passive, as that for which a man exists? In this case it is active. It is better, in terms of what a man should seek for himself, that he were not born. In terms of passive good, being is always considered to be a good in and of itself, and being is always better than non-being; otherwise the ontological argument never would have had even a leg to stand on.
     
  27. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It may be found here (many thanks to Chris Coldwell and Pastor Bacon for making and keeping it available): Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed

    See especially the section headed "Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:27-36."
     
  28. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't see how these terms could reflect a distinction in either the subject loving or the object loved, seeing as they appear to be used co-extensively in terms of God's saving purpose for His people.
     
  29. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    I am not certain but I have understood the former to address God's love for mankind AS such, and the latter focussing upon the elect.
     
  30. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Let's have a look. Titus 3:4-7. "God our Saviour" is the subject. Unmerited, efficacious, and complete salvation is the product. "Us" and "we" are the object. The term "anthropos" only intensifies the quality of the kindness. This is more apparent in Acts 28:2, where the unique quality of the kindness is emphasised in the translation. So I would be inclined to conclude that the "love" or "kindness" expressed by "philanthropy" highlights its unique and great quality, but tells us nothing as to the object of it. The context must determine the object, and the context in Titus 3:4-7 is particular.
     
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