Does God Destroy? - Questions for the Skeptic, Part 3Jesus on the cross and how He was treated by His Father is an example of how the Father will, in the end, treat those who do not accept the salvation He offers. Here are yet more thought questions to help us think about the character of God. This page continues from Part 2.
What Did the Father do to Jesus to Cause Him to Die the Second Death?
Jesus endured the "wrath" of God and suffered the death that we should have suffered.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." (Isa 53:4)"
We should measure everything from Jesus' experience, especially from the cross of Christ and there we do not see that God so much as lifted a finger to kill or hurt Him in any way.
God Only Destroys Sin
When we say that sinners are destroyed because they won't let go of sin, it is not because they are holding on to something that bursts into flame and they are fatally injured by the burns they receive. They are destroyed because if you don't let go of sin (stop sinning) then you are still a sinner. What is sin?
"... sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4)
Sin is an act of the will. There has to be sinners for there to be sin. You cannot have a sin without a sinner. Sin is not something separate from sinners. Sin and sinners will be destroyed. It is not: sinners are destroyed because sin is destroyed and they are just collateral damage. Rather, sin is destroyed or ceases to happen because sinners are destroyed and no longer exist to continue committing sins.
The destruction of sin requires the end of sinners. Can sin be destroyed without destroying sinners? Please, can you give me a sin so I can destroy it.
God Does Not Need to Kill for the Wicked to be Destroyed
God does not need to actively kill. By just withdrawing His life-sustaining Spirit death will follow.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5)
The statements "Ye shall not surely die" and "ye shall be as gods" necessarily go together since they only way to not die is to be a god capable of sustaining your own life independent of anyone else. This would be a major part of any definition of God.
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (Acts 17:28)
We are so entirely dependent on God for our existence that God merely has to withdraw His life-sustaining presence from an individual and they would perish. There is no active taking of life required on God's part. So why should God kill the lost when if He simply completely withdraws His presence from them they would die anyway?
The anguish (we can try to imagine it) of Abraham as he almost took his son's life was a picture of the Father's suffering at the death of His Son. God is infinite in love and loves the lost as well as the saved. What great suffering this would cause God to have to actively take the lives of the lost at the end of the judgment. Bad enough to see them destroyed but so much worse - and so much against His character to do it Himself.
Some would argue that God withdrawing His life-sustaining presence is the same as actively killing them. Of course, the end result is the same. However, it really amounts to another case of God allowing man to have his free will. If they will not have the true God as their God, He gives them their choice to have whatever God they want. However, there is no other God who can sustain life. God is a gentleman; He will not impose His presence where it is not desired.
The Last Enemy is Death
"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Cor 15:24-26)
If death is an enemy (to God and/or to man) how is it that God actively uses any means to inflict death? God is working to destroy the power of death not to use it.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;" (Heb 2:14)
How ironic it would be if God would use death as His last act in the Great Controversy to destroy the last enemy - which is death.
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1Cor 15:26)
Plain Statements of Scripture
Some might argue that scripture plainly says that God destroys the sinner. However, it also plainly says that the wicked burn forever. We know this is not so from other scriptures - for example those that help us to understand how the Bible uses words like "forever" and "everlasting." When there is an apparent contradiction like this we need to dig a little deeper and do some good reasoning - like ask if "forever" and "everlasting" can mean something different than the most common understanding.
In this case, we need to ask if there is another way to understand the meaning of God destroying. We have to because there is, on the surface, a very strong contradiction - in fact a number of them that seriously affect the picture of the character of God.
God's Strange Act
"For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." (Isa 28:21)
God's strange work is also "as in" incidents that occurred on Mount Perazim and in the Valley of Gibeon. We must find how these incidents are similar, because God's strange work of destruction will occur in a similar way. Study these incidents and you will find that there was no act of killing by God involved in them.
Which Picture of God Would You Rather Have?
Not that what we want has any effect on reality but I find it strange that people would have to struggle so much with this concept. I have found for myself that the better God looks in my understanding the more I love Him. People who object to this view of God should be careful that they don't end up defending some rather negative ideas about God such as:
Is it possible that we are trying to make God like ourselves? If we understand that God finally kills His enemies could we end up, even subconsciously, using that to justify our attitudes towards those we think of as hopeless cases?To see a formula that the Bible uses to describe the wrath of God and how it works please go to Part 4.
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