“God is imaginary”? Really? Part 21: Understand Jesus’ core message

“Understand Jesus’ core message”, that is the title of proof number 21 from the website “God is imaginary”.

Let’s look at how the writer characterizes this “message”:

“Hello, my name is Jesus. I love you deeply. I have loved you since you were conceived in the womb and I will love you for all eternity. I died for you on the cross because I love you so much. I long to have a loving personal relationship with you. I will answer all of your prayers through my love. But if you do not get down on your knees and worship me, and if you do not EAT MY BODY and DRINK MY BLOOD, then I WILL INCINERATE YOU WITH UNIMAGINABLY TORTUROUS PAIN IN THE FIRES OF HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!”

“Yes this is the central message of Christianity. See John 6:53-54 and Mark 16:16”

Let’s deal with the straw man that the author has set up first: does a man, or woman, got to hell for not “worshipping” Jesus?

Now, in preparation to answer this question, I have to make an admission here: I am not going to deal with Mark 16:16, because, in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, the last 12 verses of the last chapter of Mark’s gospel are a late emendation by scribes that are meant to harmonize this gospel with Matthew and Luke. So from a strict, textual view, its really not relevant to the issue. So, back to the question.

What is it that Christians really believe that “sends” people to hell?

Nothing. There is nothing that you can do to go to hell. As fallen, rebellious creatures, there is nothing that we can do to go to hell, because that is already where we are going, because “hell“, for all intents and purposes, is simply the absence of God, His restraining grace, His providence, and His mercy. It is God finally giving them what they have desired all along: Him gone, out of their lives in any meaningful sense.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)”

God’s righteousness is contrasted against man’s sin soaked nature. God gives ability, intelligence, an environment to work in, and resources. Man takes them and either hordes them away or takes the fruits of those who have taken God’s gifts and made something meaningful, or murders his fellow man through slander or violence. God is left with three choices: punish all, forgive some, or do nothing, simply allowing the consequences of man’s rebellion play out. God could do nothing, and man would utterly destroy himself. But God, whose very glory and nature demands that he act in perfect justice and punish sin. And for the sake of His glory, has made a way to save some of His creatures by making them His people through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. God has demonstrated His intention to punish sin fully and finally by placing the sins of the people that He has elected to save, by His grace, on Christ. Who, though he had done no wrong and was declared “innocent” (John 19:6), could take the place of one rightfully condemned by the authority that God had established (Romans 13:1-7). Christ, being fully God, that is infinite in Being and eternal by nature, could stand at one point in time reaching from the beginning to the end, and fully Man, as a representative for those God intends to save, and pay the debt of sin that man owes.

Now, if God exists, and what happened in history is true, and there is good reason to believe it is, Christ doesn’t have to demand worship, He deserves it. He deserves it. And there are millions, of which I include myself, who will give it to Him out of gratitude for what He endured on our behalf because He was under no obligation to do so.

Ungrateful people, people who abuse the gifts that God has given them, the gifts of life, mind, and skills, they take what God gives and they throw it back in His face in their rebellion, even the writer of this “proof”, by slandering God’s intentions and His provision.

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