The following blog post contains notes and application questions from our July 22, 2018 message, Outsiders Forever. This message is part of our series, "The Outsiders." See other messages in this series.
When we think about God punishing someone for eternity, it often doesn't sit well. It’s good that we are concerned that some will be left outside the presence of God forever, because it shows that we understand what is at stake. But to understand why some people experience eternal separation from God, we must understand these that these two fundamental truths are not at odds:
- God is love
- God is willing to allow people the choice to reject him
God is not responsible for the actions of people, who are by nature deserving of wrath. God doesn’t send people to hell, but He does allow people to reject him. The nature of love is the vulnerability of potential rejection.
What is outside the goodness of God?
- Nothing good
- Nothing of God. Hell is a subtraction (of everything good). It’s pure evil.
- Constant pain forever. Pain on earth is bearable because of the thought that it will subside. Hell is the absence of the hope of remedy.
- Eternal regret. Hell is eternal FOMO (fear of missing out).
Who should be left outside?
- To understand how God can allow anyone to hell, we have to understand that we all deserve to be there.
- We all think that someone deserves to be in hell. In fact, we want God to deal with evil…we just want Him to start past us.
- “Hell is locked from the inside.” -C.S. Lewis
- There are two kinds of people: those of us who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those of us to whom God says, “thy will be done.”
- Some people think all roads lead to God eventually. All roads lead to hell eventually, except one. The road that was paved by the blood of Jesus.
- If there are multiple ways to God, He wasted the death of His Son. Why would He do that? That would be a terrible plan.
- God makes kings out of those begging for scraps on the outside.
- We all start on the outside and our whole life God is begging us to come inside. When we die, this opportunity to come in closes, and those left outside are only the ones who refused to come in.
How do outsiders become insiders?
- They respond to an invitation to come in to God’s Kingdom.
- The rich man’s greatest regret in hell was that he didn’t beg others not to go there. What he wanted most in hell was to tell others to avoid it.
- You want a sign and then you’ll believe in God? You have one. It’s an empty tomb.
- Every single one of your sins will be paid for on the cross or in hell.
- How can a good God send anyone to hell? That is the wrong question to ask. How can a perfect God allow any sinner in His presence? And yet, through Christ, He invites us in.
Questions for Reflection & Discussion
- When’s the last time you were in bad physical pain? Spend some time thinking about what it would be like to have that pain never stop. Never. Then, thank God for the hope we have in an eternity with Him where there are no more tears or pain.
- If God were to deal with all evil right now and He started with you, what would you be afraid to give an account for? Confess this with your community group, repent and commit to change, and then remind yourself that Christ did for your sins (Romans 5:8) and you are a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Who in your life is on the outside? Pick one person that you thought of and commit to reaching out to them in the next 48-hours for the purpose of inviting them to the “inside” through Christ.