I recently received a comment from an atheist in response to my article Does God Send People to Hell? and decided I would post my rather lengthy reply in a post. Here are his original responses.
POST 1 – If God exists, then I really hope he’s a judge like you said. If that’s the case, then we’ll all be able to go to hell. And you’re wrong about nobody would choose to go to hell. I believe a lot of people in this world believe that hell is the only place for them. Me? i believe everyone(yes, including me) should go to hell.
Post 2 – If you haven’t notice from my previous post. I am an Atheist. Why am I an Atheist? Because I can only imagine God as an evil being that seeks to torture and destroy us. If this evil being exists, then we can only burn in hell. According to the bible, everything we do is evil. Whatever good we do will never atone for our sins.
So what if Jesus sacrificed himself? That only removed the original sin. We are sinful just by living our daily lives. Why do I say that? Do you know of the evils in the rest of the world? Have you actively stopped the evils? The moment we turn a blind eye to them, we’re doomed to eternal suffering in hell. He judges us based on our actions and our inactions. :
Know that we’re also judged by our thoughts and emotions. “Whose kid is that? Someone should shut that kid up.” You’re doomed to hell. You looked at a married woman and thought “She’s quite pretty.” You’re doomed to hell. You felt like killing someone for what that person did. You’re doomed to hell. You saw an item that you really wanted and thought to covert it as your own. You’re doomed to hell.
And that is why I embrace Atheism. If a being that is considered to be perfect exists, then we the imperfect ones can only burn in hell for all eternity. I am not posting this to convert you to Atheism or anything. I just want you to know that if God truly exists, then our fate is sealed. Worshipping him will not do you any good, he’s here to judge you, not to be worshipped.
Here is my reply:
Honestly, I sense from reading your posts that you’re not that far from the kingdom of God. You appear to have a keen sense of your own sinfulness, indeed, the sinfulness of us all, that is severely lacking, even among multitudes that claim Christ. But instead of fleeing to your only hope for salvation, you’ve decided to stick your head in the proverbial sand. You’ve convinced yourself that God won’t judge you because he is an imaginary being. However, the sense of deep conviction that you deserve punishment isn’t imaginary. You feel it in your heart don’t you? You can’t shake that sense of impending doom in your breast. Denying the existence of the Great Judge won’t spare you from his wrath.
I want to touch on a few points from your post. You feel that God is evil because he punishes evil. Does that really make any sense? If God were truly evil he would reward our sin instead of punishing us for it. But because God is good he must punish evil or he is not just. You’re right, man gets what he deserves when he rebels against his creator. This is the bad news but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. You seem to have a defective understanding of the cross work of Christ. You believe that Christ isn’t an all-sufficient savior, that his death on the cross accomplished some good but not enough to actually save anyone. This is not taught in scripture at all. When Jesus approached death on the cross he uttered the words, “It is finished.” What was finished? Complete and total salvation for those who believe. This is because of God’s sheer grace. In other words, the salvation Jesus bought and paid for with his blood sacrifice is a gift of God’s mercy. We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it. We can only receive it by faith. Faith simply means that we look outside of ourselves and trust God completely to save us. We cannot even lift a finger to merit God’s favor as you so aptly point out. All of our works fall far short of God’s perfection. We need to be rescued from ourselves and God reaches down in a divine descent and plucks us from the flames of our just punishment because of his great love.
You write that Jesus died only for our original sin but scripture doesn’t teach this. He died for all of our sins – past, present and future. All of those transgressions were nailed to the cross and covered with his blood. All is forgiven. This is called Christ’s passive or suffering obedience. This brings up another problem in being made right with God. All our sin may be blotted out but that leaves us with a blank slate. We still lack the positive moral righteousness required by the law in order to be considered righteous in God’s eyes that we might inherit eternal life. Again, God took it upon himself to give us what we cannot hope to achieve in our own strength. Jesus Christ obeyed the laws of God his entire life. He was without sin and completely fulfilled the law to love God and love his neighbor. His obedience was perfect. We call this the active obedience of Christ. He actively fulfilled every jot and tittle of God’s moral law. This perfect obedience has been imputed (transferred or reckoned) to us when we put our faith in Christ. In other words, when we stand before God at the judgment he will not see our sin because the blood of Jesus has washed it all away and he will not see our feeble attempts at righteousness, which are filthy rags to God, but only the perfect obedience of Jesus. His works will be considered our own, and this only by the overwhelming grace God has lavished upon us. So, it is true that we are saved by works: Jesus Christ’s – not our own. We have access to his work by faith alone. You only need to trust Christ as Savior and he will not fail to save. Cry out from your heart, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” and mercy you shall receive.
If God is truly good, then he would forgive us for our sins. But he seeks to punish us for our sins even though he made us this way. Is that not evil? You said that he will save those who believes in him, is that not evil? A truly good and kind God will forgive anyone, even those who don’t believe in him. This selective salvation he shows to only those who believe in him is evil. This is like an evil person only helping those who are on his side. A good person will help even those who are evil.
If Jesus truly died for all our sins, then why do we still need to repent? If this is true, then we can continue our sinning ways till the end of days and still go heaven. If this true, why would God need to punish sinners? Why would he need to send people to hell if Jesus washed away all our sins?
Perhaps the heart of your problem with God is that you think he is unjust to punish us for our sin because he made us that way. This is not what scripture reveals. Adam and Eve were created sinless and good along with all of creation. We were not created sinful. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation of that ancient serpent, Satan. You want to point fingers, try Satan, or Adam and Eve, not God. Adam represented all of humankind – He was our representative – and he failed the test he was given. He chose to believe a talking serpent over the Living God. We all suffer the consequences of that fateful encounter in the midst of the garden. But just as Adam was the representative of his race, Jesus came as the representative of a race of people that God will redeem from the world to call his very own. Jesus passed all the trials and temptations the devil threw at him and has won redemption for us all.
I want to address some other bits from your comment.
You said, “A truly good and kind God will forgive anyone, even those who don’t believe in him. This selective salvation he shows to only those who believe in him is evil. This is like an evil person only helping those who are on his side. A good person will help even those who are evil.
If Jesus truly died for all our sins, then why do we still need to repent?”
I talked about this before but you either don’t accept it or it’s not getting through: God is not good if he is not just. He must dole out justice for sins committed against him and his kingdom. So, no, God can’t simply forgive without a basis for that forgiveness. The cross of Christ is the intersection of God’s justice and his mercy. At Golgotha God simultaneously meted out justice against sin and poured out his mercy in the form of Christ’s bloody sacrifice. Christ took upon himself the penalty of sin so that those who put their trust in him will not be ashamed at the final judgment.
Why does God require faith in order to be saved? Simply because faith in God is looking completely outside of yourself. Our great sin is to believe we are good enough in our own strength to please God. Faith breaks our pride and strips our self confidence. We can only hold out our hands and receive the gracious gift of free grace.
Wow. What a reply! Well done on coming back at the athiest’s answers so fully! I pray that he/she does find God’s grace, and is able to allow him/herself to be forgiven. I know the origional commenter might read this. If you do, then God bless you! 🙂