To non-religious spiritual pursuers and my children (See ABOUT THIS SITE tab above or under Menu on phones to navigate site and Follow to receive future Posts)

The Bible doesn’t really say Jesus came to die for our sins to keep us from going to Hell. The only place one would get such an irrational idea is from a Book. Who cares to get close to, much less try to explain, a God who is a sadistic torturer who has to be appeased by killing their child?

The reason the Bible doesn’t say Jesus saved us from Hell is because the traditional understanding of Hell simply doesn’t exist in the Bible.

Gehenna is the Greek word translated as Hell in the NT. Gehenna was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death can be as tragic as horrendous physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

Hell seems an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. A loving God isn’t going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs influenced by many factors such as poor role models or misinformation while here on earth a short time.

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t talking about going to a place after death. Jesus speaks of bringing heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees and repenting of sins to avoid Hell and go to Heaven after death when asked about having eternal life (Mt. 19; Lk. 10).

But, Paul who wrote most of the New Testaments letters says “the wages of sin is death (Rm. 6:23). Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive after sin has killed him (Rm. 7:11). Romans is Paul’s longest and most theological letter and when Paul speaks of Heaven, he says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

Doesn’t God know what we know? Fear only leads to concealing or doing what should be expected. Fear may deter evil for our own good, but encouragement from God, parents, and friends is what leads to life transformations. The focus on obedience and not a relationship with God often just leads to doing what is required by law rather than going the extra mile which is so necessary in a world of people who lapse into selfishness from time to time.

So, what was Jesus trying to save us from if not Hell? God only cares about saving us from ourselves.

Jesus didn’t die in our place to appease God’s wrath and help God save face. Is earthly parental love more holy than God’s love? When our children disobey our guidance we aren’t most concern how their actions make us look but that our child is heading down a path of destruction. God isn’t offended because we simply disobey. God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. All God’s actions are about trying to convince us that God’s unselfish ways are in our best interest in the long-run.

Jesus came to earth to convey God seeks to empower us, by knowing God is merciful and forgiving, so we can be constantly encouraged to shun evil and do good.

It was this message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, in hopes to inspire following in His footsteps through expressions of radical love. As God loves us, Jesus encouraged mercy, forgiveness, and going the extra mile in our relationships. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world.

I don’t know what to say to those who believe a life of not loving others like you want to be loved isn’t worth living. I am convinced when we know God the way Jesus knew God, we will sense God’s love and support and pursue God’s desires for us that lead to less regrets while here on earth. Striving to love family and friends in such a way can inspire them to live lives worth living. A perfect God knows loving God is loving others to the fullest.

 

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