If, after trying their hardest, someone just can't accept the belief that a sparking power line is dangerous, and they grab onto one, are they still in danger of getting an electric shock?

What if they're really, really nice?

And they meant well?

On their birthday?

After a good horoscope reading?


"The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves."

- Sophocles

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows."

- Luke 12:47-48a

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

- 2 Cor. 5:10



"If after a person exerts their sincere best efforts to believe the Bible, but cannot accept it, do they still deserve to burn in hell?"


"We all have it coming."

- Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven



Yes. See if this explains anything:

First we have the biblical text "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". We find ourselves corrupted as a consequence of Adam and Eve's sin, and if that is not enough, we have each committed sins of our own. The Bible also says, "The wages of sin is death"; that's the just character of God, and we are each guilty of various degrees of injustice.

To this a non-believer might respond "Yes, but I really mean well and isn't God supposed to look primarily on our hearts?"

God does look on the heart, and what he probably finds is a critic perhaps trying very, very hard to build up wisdom and self-sufficiency - but not doing what he said. Wisdom is great. Knowledge is great. Self-sufficiency, in many ways, is great. But failing to submit to what has been passed to us from God is everything.


Illustration: if at work we receive an email from a secretary claiming to speak for the CEO, and it displays the words "Come gather in my office before I arrive", what do we do?

Some people would just go to the office, but not me. In my life I said "How do I know this is real?" I hadn't seen any CEO, and as far as I knew the secretary hadn't either. I asked around, checked the email's properties, and talked to some I.T. people. I might have even opened up my CPU once or twice, but I finally relented and headed for the CEO's office. For all that inquiry, I'm not going to make the CEO any less or more glad to see me when he arrives than those who had just gone to his office.

By contrast, others doubt as I did, but they are still cross-examining friends of cousins to figure out if we even have a secretary. Collecting as many alternate explanations as possible to explain away that email, they are putting sincere, hard work into dissecting their motherboards and conferencing about what each chip does.

Some have finally headed off to different rooms believing those to be the CEO's real office. Others are still doubting the email's authenticity, citing it likely to be spam or garbled in transmission, or doubting a CEO exists at all, or that they themselves even work here. All of those people will be caught off guard amongst piles of well-worn manuals, diplomas, and 3D diagrams when the CEO suddenly arrives and tells them, "You're not in my office - you're fired."

But wait, look at these complex circuit diagrams they worked out! Look at how much more they've learned about interoffice wiring than many others. And don't forget the spelling mistakes the secretary's sister may have made in the third grade. Certainly the CEO will understand when they show him all the different ways the letters in his email can be rearranged to spell other things. I mean, they worked really HARD! What could they have possibly done that they didn't do??

One thing - what he told them to do.

Well, you say maybe a boss wouldn't be fair, but God's supposed to be fair. He is, and maybe that's why salvation is not achievement based. It's not how much you know, but who you love. I'm a geek and I use the illustrations I do, but life is also a love story. "I never knew you" are about the last words unbelievers will hear from God. God wants us that close that much.

Go ahead, check your boards, RAM, and drives, but do it as quickly as you can and come join the believers by the CEO's office. For he's not coming to quiz us on our knowledge, but coming to liquidate the business (indeed the industry!) and split its assets with all his attendees, and you have been forwarded an invitation just like the rest of us.


As for hell, there are a few different ideas on it. The word-pictures Scripture uses to describe it vary slightly, which suggests to me that perhaps some classic aspects might better be interpreted metaphorically. Aspects which are consistent are separation from God and terrible regret.

Have you ever closed your front door or car door, and just as it latches you realized your keys were just inches away on the other side? The anxiety, anger, disbelief: I think hell might feel like that for the first few seconds. All that might exist is blackness, separation, regret, and an ever increasing self-loathing for having neglected all that one could have had, things you'll always know others are now enjoying without end.

Whatever hopeless self-loathing starts to feel like after the first ten minutes or so, that might be what is pictured by Scripture's "worm that will not die" or "flame that does not cease". The possibility being that, in hell, God isn't bothering to actively torment people, nor might any tormentor be around to keep people company in their agony. God has, at the end, simply cast each of those souls into outer darkness and committed to making a conscious decision to never consider them again. The hell they will suffer might largely end up being self-inflicted because, upon dying without Christ, they will know with certainty they deserve it.

As to whether or not flames will actually be present, any degree of suffering multiplied by infinite duration would seem to equate to infinite suffering. Of course, for worse sinners Scripture states there will be worse punishment. So mathematically speaking, although every condemned person will suffer an infinite amount, worse offenders will accrue suffering at a much faster rate. You can't say you weren't warned.


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