In my last few articles I have been addressing the issue of the Christian witness. If what the Bible reveals is true, then the absolute worst thing a believer can do is succumb to the lie that religion is a private issue not to be discussed in proper company. If the Bible is true, then not to witness is, in my opinion, tantamount to criminal neglect. If it is true, there is a life after death; if it is true that we will spend that life in one of two places (heaven or hell) and if it is true that Jesus claimed to be the only way to heaven (See John 14:6; John 10:1-21), then it is incumbent that we who know him proclaim him. Now, if none of this is true, well then, no harm no foul.
Of course there are those who immediately protest any concept of divine retribution - any suggestion that there might in fact be a place called hell. C.S. Lewis wrote, "This doctrine is one of the chief grounds on which Christianity is attacked as barbarous and the goodness of God impugned. We are told that it is a detestable doctrine - and indeed, I too detest it from the bottom of my heart - and am reminded of the human tragedies which have come from believing it. Of the other tragedies which come from not believing it we are told less," (Lewis, C.S., "The Problem of Pain" Collier Books/Macmillian Publishing Company, New York, NY 1962 p. 119).
He has a point. Those who wish that God is nothing but love do not know for what they wish. If God is only love, if God were to turn a blind eye toward every act of violence, injustice, moral ineptitude and greed, then heaven is compulsory for everyone. Hitler is in heaven. Stalin is there as is Chairman Mao, Albert Fish (the real life Hannibal Lector), Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons, the 9/11 terrorists, and the list goes on. Now, while such a concept may seem fine upon the surface, where is the justice? If heaven is compulsory for all, what does it matter how we live? Are all going to be rewarded anyway? But I ask you, can true love really exist apart from justice? Is it right or fair for God to condemn anyone?
I believe the answer to that last question is a resounding yes. God has the perfect right to do whatever he chooses and the Bible reveals that this God, who has the right to do whatever he may choose to do, always chooses to do the right thing. The same Bible that reveals God has love reveals him also as a God of justice.
Now if God were only just, none of us would go to heaven.
Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone of us are in fact, moral failures (See Romans 3:23). History is rife with examples of this. As much of some would like to believe that all the ills of society can be traced to religion, one only has to look to Nazi Germany to see what happens with religion is jettisoned and the concept of supermen advanced. Even the keys in our pockets are a silent reminder that man is not basically good
Justice seems to be inherent in our natures. We all look for the time when the record will be set straight and justice done. That desire is intensified if we've experienced any form of injustice. Yet, when we realize that God is perfectly just, that he will (and always does) the right thing, and when the bubble of the innate goodness of mankind bursts and we realize that we all are indeed moral failures, the great question should be, "What will God do?"
The answer to that question is the good news of the Bible. God, who loves us and doesn't want to punish us (see Ezekiel 18:23:32) hates our sin and must deal with it justly (see Exodus 34:6-7). What a dilemma! Can it be solved? The answer is yes.
Jesus Christ is God come looking for us. He lived as we lived, yet never sinned (Hebrews 4:14) and he willingly became for us the perfect sacrifice for sin. In the cross of Christ we find justice, mercy and grace. The Bible says, "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT). Those who accept Christ's forgiveness, at judgment receive mercy. Those who reject Christ's forgiveness at judgment will receive justice. But no one will ever be treated unjustly.
Lewis puts it well, "In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: 'What are you asking God to do?' To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But he has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what he does" (C.S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain" pp. 127-128).