Heaven is in Hell too

Hell began the moment Adam and Eve decided God wasn’t worth listening to, because from then on the natural and beautiful became ugly and odd. They even hid their nakedness from each other, the very thing they found totally attractive before, but as Paul said in Romans 1, this is what happens when humans don’t “think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (verse 28). They enter a world of weirdness, where human thinking becomes futile and foolish hearts are darkened (verse 21), a major manifestation of which has been “the degrading of their bodies with one another” (verse 24).

Who’d want to live in a hell like that, where even the beautiful human body is misused and abused for selfish lust (verse 26)? But it’s a hell we’ve become used to, where it’s common place to hear of young women and children being sexually molested, and young people questioning their sexual identity, and people even risking life and limb to change their gender. The Bible isn’t squeamish either about the weird ideas people have about sex, like Lot being quite willing to hand over his virgin daughters to a lust-filled crowd of men. Who worries about going to hell later, therefore, when it’s clear we’ve already got hell in the here and now?

But how does anyone get out of this hell when he doesn’t know he’s in it and he doesn’t want out of it?

There’s a clue in Genesis 3:8, when God enters the hell Adam and Eve have created. He comes “walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” and he calls out to Adam in verse 9, “Where are you?” In other words, heaven enters hell. Heaven comes looking for people in hell. It doesn’t leave Adam and Eve in their hell to suffer without an understanding of what has happened and why. Heaven hasn’t deserted them, or rejected them. Instead, heaven stays in their hell with them.

And back in Romans 1 and 2 it’s the same story: God is very angry at the stupidity and stubbornness of ridiculous humans, but to those who dare to judge and condemn people for the hell they’ve brought on themselves (2:1-3) Paul asks, “do you show contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience?” (verse 4). Paul is not denying that the world humanity has created is hell and those who “approve” of it thoroughly deserve the depraved minds they’ve got (verses 28, 32), but heaven is in hell too, being kind, tolerant and patient, because that’s what leads people to repentance (verse 4). Heaven lets us know what hell is like first, but only to help us realize that God is worth listening to after all.


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