“If God’s going to save us anyway….”

I can understand Christians thinking there isn’t much point in preaching the gospel if God’s going to save everybody in the end anyway. Why bother warning people about fiery judgment in hell forever when God has no intention of punishing people in the fires of hell forever? Why bother about the Lake of Fire, the second death and Gehenna being final too, if they’re not really final? And why preach a final Judgment Day in which all people will be divided into good and bad and given their eternal reward or punishment if in reality – since God’s going to save everybody eventually – there is no “final” deadline by which everybody had better make their decision?

Are all these supposed deadlines mentioned in the Bible not really deadlines at all, then? Is God just using them as threats, because in reality he doesn’t mean what he says about destruction of the wicked being “eternal”? Take the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance, which “serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire,” Jude 7. Both those cities and the surrounding area were burnt to a cinder by sulphurous fire. Nothing was left of them but smoking ruins. So is that the fate of the wicked too? That seems to be what Jude is saying, that the wicked are dead and gone forever, burnt to ashes, just like Sodom and Gomorrah.

But then we discover in Ezekiel 16 that God is going to restore Sodom and Gomorrah. He’s going to build them up again. So he didn’t really mean what he said, then, did he, that eternal fire means “eternal”? It only means eternal UNTIL. So does God just keep stretching out the deadlines further and further into the future UNTIL  everyone finally comes to his senses? But why, if that’s the case, does God talk in terms of eternal destruction and a “final” Lake of Fire, if he doesn’t actually mean eternal and final? And why make hell and Gehenna seem so real and eternally awful if they’re really only temporary steps along the way?

But why is that so difficult for us to understand when WE’RE like that too? Like God, we too can get extremely angry with stupid, stubborn, unreasonable people, and in the heat of the moment want them destroyed forever. But we relent after our emotions settle, and, amazingly, so does God. He tells us several times that his anger does not last forever. And isn’t THAT what we want people to see about God? – that, yes, he gets angry and he severely punishes, but NEVER FOREVER, because he’s into eternal salvation, not eternal destruction.


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