Frequently Asked Questions
I cannot answer to everyone’s satisfaction every question raised about my faith. Like Paul, I only know in part (1Cor. 13:9-11). Furthermore, God’s judgments are unsearchable and past finding out (Rom. 11:33), and this book, after all, is a treatise on judgment. Only God can reveal His truth to you. “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Mt. 11:25 – the context of this verse is judgment). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mt. 13:9). Please pray for God’s light.
Here are a few questions I have had and wrestled with over the years. Thanks to others who have addressed these questions and the Lord shedding His light, I have been able to draw some conclusions. I pray they help you. Lord willing, I will address more questions in the future on our website. I also invite your answers to any of these questions and others so that I can learn from you as well. Leave a comment. Please be patient for my reply.
1. What is fire in the Bible all about? CLICK HERE
2. Why doesn’t the Bible make this Hope clear? CLICK HERE
3. What does “Appointed once to die then the judgment” mean? (Hebrews 9:27) Yes, judgment comes, but the issue is the nature and duration of judgment, not its incontestable fact. Is there a remedial or restorative element to it, or is it solely retributive? This passage does not address this. From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 pages 218.
4. Does “all” really mean “all”? CLICK HERE
5. What does “the world ‘might’ be saved” mean in John 3:17 King James Version? This passage has been sadly misunderstood: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17 KJV).” Is this worded correctly? Is God just “hoping” to save the world? The word “might” here may leave us wondering. But you know what? The word “might” is not used in many translations! See how the New International Version reads: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Where is the “might?” Why did the NIV translators leave it out? Were they alone in doing this? No! Numerous modern translations do not have the word “might.” Find out why. Read my short article below the video, “His Hands”: CLICK HERE
6. Why preach the Gospel? I preach because God’s love compels me! (2 Co. 5:14). The Gospel, stripped of hell baggage, is the greatest news in the world! We no longer need to hesitate in shame and embarrassment telling people their deceased loved ones are burning in hell forever with no possible hope of release. Nothing brings greater pain than that. There is no worse news imaginable. And this has been part and parcel of what is said to be Good News? What horror! But that is not the Gospel. The Gospel brings great joy to both the messenger who proclaims it and its recipients. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of Peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Ro. 10:15). The world is full of hurting people longing for glad tidings of good things. Christ was moved with compassion for the crowds because they were distressed and dispirited (NAS). He urged His disciples to pray for workers into the harvest field of humanity; yet nothing is mentioned of hell as the motivating force – only the pain of life’s mental anguish. (Mt. 9:36-38). What is feared most of all? Death. Jesus came to destroy death’s power and free us from the fear of death; a fear that has imprisoned us all our lives (He. 2:15). The world longs for hope and good news. We who understand God’s unfailing love for all have a message of such Good News that we just cannot hold it back. That’s why you have this book in your hand! From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 pages 219-220.
7. Shouldn’t we party, since grace abounds? This was the same reaction Paul’s hearers had to Romans 5. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Ro. 6:1-2). This response only confirms the truth of our joyous news, for it engenders the same reaction Paul received! If your gospel does not result in this response, are you sharing the Good News Paul preached? Though the Gospel is Good News, it does not condone sin. Read your Bible; it is full of warnings. We all reap what we sow (Ga. 6:7). And why must God’s penalty be eternal to deter us from sin? Man’s sanctions are not, yet they deter most people. The real issue here is that of the heart. Only a corrupt heart needs to be motivated by threat of penalty in order to do right. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1Jn. 4:19). From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 page 220.
8. Must we not be righteous to enter God’s Kingdom? Unrighteous shall not inherit Kingdom. (1Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:5) The unrighteous, while in that state, cannot inherit God’s Kingdom. But they will not always be such. God will make them righteous. We too were in their company, remember? (Rom. 5:6, 10). Throughout the ages, God will continue His transforming work in His creation until such a time as all are transformed into the likeness of Christ. The key lies in the mystery of the ages. God’s plan for humanity will not fail. From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 page 220.
9. What about Losing the soul, Narrow gate, and Depart from me? CLICK HERE
10. What about John 3:16-18; 3:36; 5:24; 5:29; 15:1-2, 15:6? CLICK HERE
11. Is there a sin that shall “never” be forgiven? CLICK HERE
12. Did God really hate Esau? (Mal.1:2-3) This is a play on words similar to Christ’s command to “hate our family” (Lu. 14:26). Of course Jesus wants us to love our families, but in our heart of hearts, our deepest love should be for God. This is hyperbole, something very common in ancient biblical writings. God’s hate regarding Esau relates to something about Esau that is disliked in a greater way than what God dislikes about Jacob the “deceiver.” When God elects one over another, it does not mean He loves them more, but rather He is delegating to them a greater responsibility in His service. For more on election, see page 97. From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 pages 223.
13. What are “coals of fire?” (Rom. 12:20) “If your enemy is hungry, feed him…for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head… overcome evil with good.” The coals of fire are not a symbol of punishment but of burning shame, says William Barclay. “To treat our enemy with kindness rather than vengeance is to move him. Vengeance may break his spirit, but kindness will break his heart.” (15) This depicts the attitude of our heavenly Father. (Ps. 66:3-4, 10-12). Jesus commands us to love our enemies that we may be perfect, just as our Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48). He could not command us in this way–to love our enemies–if God did not love His. Neither could Paul command us to overcome evil with good, if God overcomes it with evil. Take a moment to let these truths settle into your heart. For more on fire, see question#1. 15 Barclay, William. “The Letter to the Romans.” Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975. 170. From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 pages 223-224
14. Would it have been better had Judas not been born? CLICK HERE
15. What if we do not seek Him “while” He may be found? (Isaiah 55:6-7) “Come…Incline your ear…Hear and your soul shall live” (Is 55:1, 3). While our hearts are sensitized to Him (inclined and hearing), He can be found; He is near. But if we allow our hearts to get cold, we distance ourselves! Note the context: God abundantly pardons the wicked (v.7)! Are not His mercies new every morning (Lam 3:23)? Read all of Psalm 136. Though God is abundant in mercy, there is yet a sense of urgency about the present. He deals with us for a season through grace; but if we persist in resisting Him, He judges us. And while we are being judged, He may be beyond our reach until our judgment lesson is learned. This verse does not say a time will come when we will never be able to find God, or that He will not find us. We must not read into this verse what is not there. From Hope Beyond Hell Revised 2010 pages 224.
16. What did Paul mean by “the terror of the Lord?” (2 Corinthians 5:11) The word “terror” here is merely the common Greek word for fear – phobos (Strongs #5401; NIV “fear”). The threat is directed at believers for neglecting to preach. It is not about motivating us to preach because of the terror of hell awaiting sinners. Read this passage in context, noting especially 2Cor. 1:1 and 5:10-11. The “we must all” consists of believers. In his first letter, Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1Co. 9:16). Taken from Hope Beyond Hell page 224.
17. Can you explain what “everlasting destruction” means? CLICK HERE
20. Can we trust those who claim to have had visions of hell? What’s our authority for truth, man’s unverifiable claims to a supernatural experience, or is it Scripture along with God’s confirming witness in our heart? The Gospel is GOOD NEWS, not terrifying news. (Lu. 2:10; Ro. 10:15; Ac. 10:36; Ph.4:4; 1Pe. 1:8 NAS; etc).God has not given us the spirit of fear (2Ti. 1:7). Joy and peace are fruits of the Spirit, not terror (Gal 5:22). “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). If believing that God is a terrorist is necessary for salvation, then why did God not terrify the Israelites with hell in the O.T.? Why did He not engrave it on tablets of stone? Why was it not found in the numerous judgments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy? Why did Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, never once mention the word hell except to proclaim its defeat (1Co 15:55)? If we must be terrified into heaven, why has God not terrified everyone? Is He partial? The Bible says God is “good to all” (Ps 145:9). It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Ro. 2:4). We love Him because He first loved us, not because He threatens us with eternal torture (1Jn. 4:19)! If an eternal hell were everyone’s destiny, what kind of a God would not warn every man, woman, and child on planet earth and do everything He could to keep them from going there? When it comes to questions on the afterlife, I will place my confidence in God, not in man. Taken from Hope Beyond Hell page 229.
21. How do you explain the cruel acts of God in the Old Testament? CLICK HERE
22. If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world? We who believe in the Blessed Hope can at least be comforted knowing suffering is not eternal. But why is there so much unfairness in the world; even extreme suffering? Is there any purpose to it? What is it intended to teach us? I think the answer lies in the significance of the “Body” of Christ. “There is one body.” “The body is not one member but many.” “I pray that they may be one.” “Bear one another’s burdens.” “Bear with one another in love.” “That the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body. 20 There are eighty “one another” phrases in the N.T.! You find them everywhere! Could it be that through our oneness, the experiences of individuals become the experience, lessons, and wisdom of all? It is evident that in God’s sovereign will, we all must go through degrees of pain and suffering; some less, some more. I believe that through our oneness in God’s Spirit, we all bear with Christ (identify with and participate in) the burdens of humanity. We must learn the full measure of the sickness of sin, and even more wonderfully, the full redemption and contrasting grace and love of our Father! When we all become one in Christ and knit together, there will no longer be an issue of fairness in suffering. Each will identify and truly empathize with each other’s pain. The lessons gained from the experience of the world’s full history of sin will be everyone’s to share. This gives deep meaning to all pain and the oneness we experience as members of His body. We are all one. Our brother and sister’s pain is our own! Our gracious Father will nurture this attitude in us more and more as we mature in Christ. [I thank Derek Calder for this inspiring thought.] References: 20 Ep. 4:4; 1Co. 12:14; Jn. 17:21; Ga.6:2; Ep. 4:2, 13. Taken from Hope Beyond Hell page 230-231.
23. If this Hope is true, why would God hide it from us? CLICK HERE
24. Is this Universalism? CLICK HERE
I do not have all the answers. God does! Hopefully some of them were helpful to you. The essential thing is beyond facts themselves. It is the simple willingness to accept truth no matter what it might be. A brother in Christ wrote in quoting Dr. Drew Westen:
When people draw conclusions about particular events, they are not just weighing the facts. “Without knowing it, they are also weighing what they would feel if they came to one conclusion or another, and they often come to the conclusion that would make them feel better, no matter what the facts are.” Dr. Weston found that knowing an individual’s predisposition proved to be a perfect predictor of their ultimate decision 84% of the time, which suggests that no amount of facts would change their original position… regardless of whether we are talking about diets, exercise, politics, religion, or business… This characteristic is the inspiration of the old line, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up!” (23)
I pray you will be among those who will honestly accept the truth based on the facts. Augustinian teaching, as unsettling as it is when reflected on, has nonetheless brought us a certain degree of selfish security. When confronted with facts that challenge that security, we feel threatened. “Better that the lost suffer judgment forever than I suffer it at all!” Sadly, many subconsciously feel this way. The thought that we, as believers, may suffer some measure of judgment from God, is for most, not a welcomed idea. Keith Morrison, of NBC News wrote: “Hell is for other people! Fully three-fourths of surveyed Americans felt pretty sure they will be going to heaven while just 2 percent expected they would go to hell.” (24)
(Check in from time to time for additional answers to questions)
23 The person who I have quoted here has asked me to exclude His name for now. (Quote #23 updated Jan 1, 2012)
24 Morrison, Keith. From an email received Aug. 2006 quoting Keith Morrison of NBC News giving a preview description of an interview with Bishop Carlton Pearson to be aired on NBC’s Dateline Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006.
Taken from Hope Beyond Hell page 206-234.
BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX V FAQ (All questions) from Hope Beyond Hell pages 240
1 Vincent, Marvin. Word Studies in the New Testament- 2nd Ed. Mclean, VA: Mcdonald Publishing. 1888. Vol. I 40.
2 Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. New York: Nelson, 1985. 588.
3 Allin, Thomas. Christ Triumphant. 1878. Rpt. 9th ed. Canyon Country, CA: Concordant, n.d. 265-266.
4 Barclay, William. “The Gospel of Matthew.” Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. 141.
5 Pridgeon, Charles H. Is Hell Eternal or Will God’s Plan Fail? Third Ed. n.p. 1931. Chapter 11
6 Knoch, A.E. Concordant Greek-English Keyword Concordance. Canyon Country, CA: Concordant, 1947. 80, 293.
7 Wigram, George, and Ralph Winter. The Word Study Concordance. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1978. 2307.
8 Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. New York: Nelson, 1985. 80.
9 Rutsch, Charles. Carmichael CA. Nov 11, 2009. From an email received.
10 Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. New York: Nelson, 1985. 42.
11-12 DeRose, Keith. “Universalism and the Bible: The Really Good News.” 2 May 2006. http://pantheon.yale.edu/%7Ekd47/univ.htm#3.
13 Jukes, Andrew. The Restitution of All Things. Santa Clarita, CA: Concordant, 1867. 28.
14 Jones, Dr. Michael. Phone conversation. December 2009.
15 Ep. 4:4; 1Co. 12:14; Jn. 17:21; Ga.6:2; Ep. 4:2, 13.
16 Vincent, Marvin. Word Studies in the New Testament. 1887. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973. 61-62.
17 Barclay, William. “The Letter to the Romans.” Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975. 170.
18 Barclay, William. “The Gospel of Luke.” Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. 196.
19 Geisler, Norman. Quoted in The Case For Faith. Lee Strobel. Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2000. 121-122.
20 Jukes, Andrew. The Restitution of All Things. Santa Clarita, CA: Concordant, 1867. 97-101.
21 Aiken, Mercy. If Hell Is Real. www.tentmaker.org/articles/ifhellisrealprintable.htm.
22 Nolin, Craig. “Student of the Word Ministries.”
23 Morrison, Keith. From an email received Aug. 2006 quoting Keith Morrison of NBC News giving a preview description of an interview with Bishop Carlton Pearson to be aired on NBC’s Dateline Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006.