I’m simply trying to understand the purpose, the validity behind certain statements made within Christian faiths. In the earlier blog Editing Jesus, I tried to raise awareness to the bleak contrasts I noticed in the Catholic faith. This was an attempt, not to fight, sway or even dramatically dam the Catholic faith entirely, just that I wanted to know WHY!
Now, this was posted on my Facebook page last night by a dear friend who I respect and care about a lot praising the Pope’s comment shown above. It sounds great, in fact, it sounds like our God in His loving expressions to His children of how He might desire it to be. BUT, I don’t care who you are and how well educated, your title, your prestige, your spiritual level; IF WE BASE OUR BELIEFS AND UNDERSTANDS OF GOD OFF HIS WORD GIVEN TO US IN THE BIBLE, WE SHOULD NOT CHANGE THE DIRECTION OR PURPOSE OF WHAT OT SAYS!!
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18, 19 NIV)
Now I may be a simple minded man, but taking the scripture literally in any main translation, it’s telling us we better not mess with God’s word! Now I understand that other religions have their own documentations and guides, but if we base our denomination, religion or exercise of beliefs off the Holy Bible, then it shouldn’t be changed, added to or taken away from!
The Pope’s comments, though just in describing our loving and Holy Father, states, “The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer.” How can he claim the church, which is the body of Christ, the believers, whether Baptist or Methodist or Nazerene or Assembly of God, or whatever….NOT just the Catholic Church.
It’s misleading to many millions of people not only of the Catholic Church, but ANYONE, who has a belief in Christ and goes to a church or not. Scripture says in multiple areas many of which Jesus himself speaks the words pertaining to the literal place of hell.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ (Matthew 25:40-43 NIV)
For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. (Luke 8:29-33 NIV)
Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (2 Peter 2:2-6, 9 NIV)
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:1-3, 10 NIV)
So….How can the church NOT believe in a literal hell? I truly understand the Pope wanting to bring love & hope for his people about the love of God; however, we need to have a consequence to FEAR for our actions of we continue to sin openly!
This is where my conflict arises. You cannot claim the absence of a literal hell if you study scripture and more importantly, the literal words of Jesus. Yes I know, the Bible was written by fallible men just like any of us; however these men were chosen by Christ Himself and they wrote based on their account of their time spent with Jesus. Have any of us had that opportunity?
I believe the church, God’s people, God’s disciples, God’s livers of the faith–not denominationally or traditionally bound….need to STAND for God’s holy word and call out the conformists of this world! Just because the majority of the world desires to follow a certain way doesn’t mean God is calling YOU to believe and follow the same way!
Be unique, Be honest, Be real before God and LIVE WITH OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD TO CHANGE HIS WORLD IN LOVE!!