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“One White Lie Will Send You to Hell For All Eternity” . . . and other stupid statments

Repost from the great crash 0f 08

I have heard this since I was a very young Christian. It seemed somewhat reasonable as it was explained to me by pastors in sermons and by Christians as they explained the seriousness of sin. Their theology goes something like this:

All sin is so bad that even the smallest of sins deserves eternal punishment in hell. It does not matter if it is losing your temper at a lousy referee, not sharing your Icee, or speeding 36 in a 35, every sin deserves eternal torment in Hell. Why? Although it may seem unreasonable to us (as depraved as we are), it is fitting for a perfectly holy God who cannot be in the sight of sin, no matter how insignificant this sin might seem to us. In fact, there is no sin that is insignificant to God. Because He is infinitely holy, beyond our understanding, all sin is infinitely offensive to Him. Therefore, the punishment for all sin must be infinite.

I have to be very careful here since I am going against what has become the popular evangelical way to present the Gospel, but I don’t believe this is true. Not only do I not buy it, I think this, like the idea that all sins are equal in the sight of God, is damaging to the character of God, the significance of the cross, and I believe it trivializes sin. Let me explain.

First off, I don’t know of a passage in the Bible that would suggest such a radical view. It would seem that people make this conclusion this way:

Premise 1: Hell is eternal
Premise 2: All people that go there are there for eternity
Premise 3: Not all people have committed the same number or the same degree of sins
Conclusion: All sin, no matter how small, will send someone to hell for all eternity

The fallacy here is that this syllogism is a non-sequitur (the conclusion does not follow from the premises). Could it be that people are in Hell for all eternity based upon who they are rather than what they have done?

Think about this. Many of us believe that Christ’s atonement was penal substitution. This means that it was a legal trade. God counted the sufferings of Christ and that which transpired on the Cross as payment for our sins, each and every one. Therefore, we believe that Christ took the punishment that we deserved. But there is a problem. We are saying that we deserve eternal Hell for one single sin, no matter how small. I don’t know about you, but I have committed enough sins to give me more than my share of life sentences. I have committed sins of the”insignificant” variety (I speed everyday) and significant variety (no description necessary!). So, if Christ were only to take my penalty and if I deserve thousands upon thousands of eternities in hell, why didn’t Christ spend at least one eternity in Hell? Why is it that he was off the Cross in six hours, payment made in full? Combine my sentence with your sentence. Then combine ours with the cumulative sentences of all believers of all time. Yet Christ only suffers for a short time? How do we explain this?

You may say to me that I cannot imagine the intensity of suffering that Christ endured while he was on the cross. You may say that the mysterious transaction that took place was worse than eternity in Hell. I would give you the first, but I will have to motivate you to reconsider the second. Think about it. Do you really believe that the person who has been in hell for 27 billion years with 27 billion more times infinity would not look to the sufferings of Christ and say, “You know what? Christ’s six hours of suffering was bad. It is indeed legendary. But I would trade what I am going through any day for six hours, no matter how horrifying it would be.” You see, what makes hell so bad is not simply the intensity of suffering, but the duration. Christ did not suffer eternally, so there must be something more to this substitution idea and there must be something more to sin.

I believe that Christ did pay our penalty. I believe that hell is eternal. But I don’t believe that one sin sends people to hell for eternity. Sin is trivialized in our day. Sin is first something that we do, not something that we are. In other words, people think of God sitting on the throne becoming enraged (in a holy sort of way) each time that someone breaks the speed limit. It is only the cross of Christ that makes Him look past the eternally damning sin and forgive us. Don’t think that I am undermining the severity of sin, but I am trying to bring focus to the real problem that has infected humanity since the Garden.

The real problem is that we are at enmity with God. From the moment we are born, we inherit the traits of our father Adam. This infectious disease is called sin. This disease issues forth into a disposition toward God that causes us to begin life with our fist in the air, not recognizing His love for us or authority over us. It is rebellion. While this rebellion does act according to its nature, the problem is in the disposition, not so much the acts. When we sin, we are just acting according to the dictates of our corrupt nature. But the worst of it—the worst sin of all—is that we will never lower our fist to God. We are “by nature, children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3) and as a leopard cannot change his spots, so we cannot change our rebellious disposition toward our Creator (Jer. 13:23).

This disposition is that of a fierce enemy that cannot do anything but fight against its foe. Paul describes this:

Romans 8:7-8 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

We are of the “flesh,” therefore we commit deeds according to the flesh. Does this mean that the person in this state does no good at all? Well, it depends on what you mean by “good.” Can an enemy of God love his neighbor? Of course. Enemies of God can and do all sorts of acts that the Bible would consider virtuous. But from the standpoint of their relationship with God, they cannot do any good at all (Rom. 3:12). Giving a drink to someone who is thirsty with the left hand while having your right hand in a fist clinched toward heaven does not count as “good” before God. Why? Because we are in rebellion against Him. This is our problem.

This I propose is the only sin that keeps people in Hell for all eternity.

It is important to understand that hell not is filled with people who are crying out for God’s mercy, constantly hoping for a second chance. People are in hell because they have the same disposition toward God that they had while they were walking the earth. They do not suddenly, upon entrance into Hell, change their nature and become sanctified. They still hate God. People are in hell for all eternity, not because they floated a stop sign, but because their fists are still clinched toward God. They are not calling on His mercy. They are not pleading for a second chance. They are in hell for all eternity because that is where they would rather be. It is their nature. As C.S. Lewis once said, “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.”

Christ, on the other hand, was the second Adam. He did not identify with the first either in disposition or choice. He gained the right to be called the second Adam who would represent His people (Rom. 5:12ff). He is not spending eternity in Hell because he was never infected with the sinful nature which caused him to be at enmity with God. His fist was never clinched toward the heavens.

Will one white-lie send someone to Hell for all eternity? No! To say otherwise trivializes sin and makes God an overly sensitive cosmic torture monger. Sin does send people to Hell. People will be punished for their sins accordingly. But the sin that keeps people in Hell for all eternity is the sin of perpetual rebellion.

462 Responses to ““One White Lie Will Send You to Hell For All Eternity” . . . and other stupid statments”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I have had similar thoughts regarding such ludicrous statements.
    I am not sure that I agree with you on the relative pain of Christ’s suffering. However, it’s a very interesting point. Most interpreters make the claim that Christ’s suffering was equal to that of every would-be-damned sinner who receives grace. But is that claim biblical? People can make the argument that God demands an equal punishment because he is just, but it is also easy to see your point of the difference in the duration of suffering, regardless of the extent of the pain. In the end I wonder if it is even possible for us to know this side of eternity the extent of the suffering of the Wisdom of God (maybe we will never fully comprehend it even in his presence).

  2. Interesting questions, though I would say:
    How can we know?
    Nowhere in the Bible is it explicitely explained.
    We don’t know what hell is, if it is, and who will get there.
    What happens after death, we just don’t know it.
    We can only hope that Jesus will save us.

    Btw. there is a logical flaw in your argumentation:
    You wrote: “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.”
    But earlier you wrote: “You know what? Christ’s six hours of suffering was bad. It is indeed legendary. But I would trade what I am going through any day for six hours, no matter how horrifying it would be.”
    How does this fit?
    And where do you get if you can open the doors of hell from the inside?

  3. I agree with this post that men and women go to hell because of who they are and not because of what they do. However, isn’t rebellion and telling a white lie the same thing? They are both things that we do because of who we are, right? Or are you saying that the sin of rebellion and being sinful are the same thing? It seems to me that rebellion is a result of our sinfulness.

    My two cents . . .

  4. Very interesting article, an excellent point especially in relation to those who accuse God of being “an overly sensitive cosmic torture monger” I dont think we as evangelicals have historically done a good job understanding or representing sin to ourselves or the world.

    One verse that comes to mind that I am curious about is Luke 16:19-31 about the Rich man and Lazarus. It would seem that after he died the rich man realized his life was wasted and wanted to warn his brothers (evangelizing from Hell?) about the penalties of living as he did. Would you say that he had a change of heart post hell or is he still shaking his fist at God at this time as well?

    Great challenging article.

  5. The way I’ve always heard it stated was that the sin that sens a person to hell is the sin of rejecting Christ, not any of the other sins that infect us. It’s not the adultery, murder, or the broken speed limit that sends a person to hell. A person gets to hell by doing something far more gruesome in terms of holiness. That thing is rejecting Christ.

  6. ‘This disease issues forth into a disposition toward God that causes us to begin life with our fist in the air, not recognizing His love for us or authority over us.’

    Do people have an innate tendency to seek out God? Is there a God-shaped hole in people?

    ‘But the sin that keeps people in Hell for all eternity is the sin of perpetual rebellion.’

    Are Muslims in perpetual rebellion against a god they pray to 5 times a day?

  7. I see Michael is gradually producing a series on ‘Stupid Statements.’ Seriously, I think it’s a good theme.

    If Hell is the place where people who rebel against God end up, then they are just getting what they want. But we and God have to be sure they are really rebelling and are not simply like a dead infant who has never expressed himself in the matter. Sure, all are born corrupt and with an inclination to sin, but that is what Christ reconciled on the cross.

  8. Is there anyone, anywhere, who honestly thinks that they have committed only one sin?

    Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is evil continually (see Genesis 6:5). All evil, all the time. There is none who seek after God (see Psalm 14, Romans 1-3).

    As a friend of mine is fond of saying: “When Adam fell he didn’t sprain his ankle, he broke his neck.”

  9. The question “how can Christ pay infinite punishment in a finite amount of time?” was answered for me in this way:

    – Man’s sin is against an infinite God so even one sin deserves infinite punishment.
    – Because man is finite then the only way he can pay for sin is to suffer for eternity.
    – Because Jesus is infinite, his death is capable of paying the price for infinite sin within a finite amount of time.

    I agree with your point that man is damned because of his sinful nature, not necessarily because of any sins. However how did man come to have a sinful nature? because of one sin. And most people would say that eating an apple off a forbidden tree is a petty offense.

    So I disagree with your main point that “one white lie will send you to hell for all eternity is a stupid statement.”

  10. Michael,

    I like this article a good bit. I’ve been doing some of my own thinking on Hell lately – just had a post on Dante’s Inferno. It’s interesting that Dante certainly saw Hell as eternal, but also saw degrees of punishment relative to just how deep the corruption runs in a person. What the damned suffer is precisely the sin that they cherish – they are punished “by” their sins and not as much “for” their sins. Of course I take serious issue with Dante at some key points.

    But I did want to ask a question here. You channel C. S. Lewis here, but yet you yourself are a Calvinist. We can lament that hell is shut from the inside, that the hearts of men are turned away from the love of God (and thus experience his love as torment and wrath), but you as a Calvinist believe that this too is God’s preference. For the sake of the glory of the created work, some must resist his love and suffer damnation. I am not a Calvinist, and so have no trouble attributing Hell to the will of man turned away from God, but you are, and must therefore ultimately attribute it to God’s decrees before all worlds. How do you reconcile this?

  11. Did God really decree that the hearts of Muslims who pray 5 times a day are turned away from the love of God?

  12. Michael,

    Ezekiel 18:20 says that the soul that sins shall die. I will admit that is in a context of more than one sin. However, it doesn’t state that there must be more than one sin. What do you do with a Scripture like that?

    And after all, it was one sin in the garden of Eden–eating the forbidden fruit–that brought about the death of the whole human race to start with.

    So I am just not at all sure that I can agree with your conclusions here on this one.

  13. I would like to make a couple of thoughts. You wrote

    “So, if Christ were only to take my penalty and if I deserve thousands upon thousands of eternities in hell, why didn’t Christ spend at least one eternity in Hell? Why is it that he was off the Cross in six hours, payment made in full? Combine my sentence with your sentence. Then combine ours with the cumulative sentences of all believers of all time. Yet Christ only suffers for a short time? How do we explain this?”

    I seem to recall reading one theologian who explained this as

    “The finite suffering of an infinite being would seem to be equivalent to the infinite suffering of finite beings.” I always thought that seemed to be a decent explanation. Food for thought if you had not looked at it that way before.

    A second thought would be on the significance of sin. While you are spot on in saying that some sins are greater than others, I think people make the statement about white lies to affirm, in an exaggerated manner, that even if you could only be guilty of ONE sin (an impossibility). you would still be guilty before God and worthy of death – consequently, that means an eternity in hell. People have a tendency to quantify most things including sin but the Bible avoids this and says that sin singular is the problem.

  14. Btw. there is a logical flaw in your argumentation:
    You wrote: “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.”
    But earlier you wrote: “You know what? Christ’s six hours of suffering was bad. It is indeed legendary. But I would trade what I am going through any day for six hours, no matter how horrifying it would be.”
    How does this fit?

    It’s not supposed to — CMP was making up the “I would trade this” for the sake of refuting the claim that Christ’s suffering was infinite. His point was, I believe, that the claim is simply implausible; that anyone would prefer a short pain of high intensity to an everlasting pain, no matter how minimal.

    His point was NOT that people in hell actually have a choice to trade places with Jesus on the cross; we don’t have that choice either (not in THAT sense).

    -Wm

  15. One verse that comes to mind that I am curious about is Luke 16:19-31 about the Rich man and Lazarus. It would seem that after he died the rich man realized his life was wasted and wanted to warn his brothers (evangelizing from Hell?) about the penalties of living as he did. Would you say that he had a change of heart post hell or is he still shaking his fist at God at this time as well?

    I don’t think that Christ was intending to narrate a true story there — I think he was communicating a point, the one at the end of the story: the living won’t change by miracles if they won’t change in response to God’s testimony in the Law. (You could also extract the truth that the dead can’t change, but I don’t base that point of doctrine on this one parable.)

    -Wm

  16. Do people have an innate tendency to seek out God? Is there a God-shaped hole in people?

    Two questions, two answers: (1) no, (2) yes.

    Yes, all people hunger for God, and know that God exists. Romans 1 tells us how and why. But no, people do not respond to that hunger by seeking God, but rather by suppressing the truth in unrighteousness; by creating gods; by worshiping creatures rather than the Creator. CMP cited some other verses on this topic.

    I should add that this doesn’t mean people don’t try to be good; we try many things. The problem is that because we naturally avoid God, our righteousnesses are actually centered on avoiding God — this is the fundamental reason why Isaiah compares them to unclean things in Isa 64:6.

    Are Muslims in perpetual rebellion against a god they pray to 5 times a day?

    No. But they are in rebellion against the triune God of the Bible, Who created them. They seek to assure their salvation by means of their own works, without any help from God.

    -Wm

  17. rayner markley writes,

    If Hell is the place where people who rebel against God end up, then they are just getting what they want. But we and God have to be sure they are really rebelling and are not simply like a dead infant who has never expressed himself in the matter. Sure, all are born corrupt and with an inclination to sin, but that is what Christ reconciled on the cross.

    I disagree. WE don’t need to be sure of anything except our own relationship with God. We can and should leave the fate of other people to the wise and omniscient judgment of God, who knows for sure who is and who is not rebelling against him.

  18. I am not a Calvinist, and so have no trouble attributing Hell to the will of man turned away from God,

    I am a Calvinist, and so I have no trouble “attributing hell to the will of man turned away from God.” If a man goes to hell, it’s because his will is turned away from God.

    Let me turn your quote around, though.

    I am not a believer in _libertarian free will_, so I have no trouble attributing the eternal nature of hell to the fact that a man’s will is capable only of choosing what that man desires; thus, every man who goes to hell stays there because he will never will anything good.

    As a believer in libertarian free will, how can you justly explain the eternal nature of hell? What if some man’s free will chose to follow God? Wouldn’t hell then become unjust?

    but you are, and must therefore ultimately attribute it to God’s decrees before all worlds. How do you reconcile this?

    There’s nothing to reconcile; man’s will is in accordance with God’s eternal decree. This is parallel (not the same, of course) to how Macbeth’s will is in accordance with Shakespeare’s will, even while both Shakespeare and Macbeth are acting to fulfill their own ends through the story: one is murdering and suffering the consequences, while the other is telling a story of justice.

    What you’re actually asking us to reconcile is something you don’t state: you’re suspicious, I suspect, how we could believe that God could possibly eternally decree a specific man’s damnation. Let me explain what we do and don’t believe.

    1. We don’t believe that God “fates” people to go to hell no matter what they do.
    2. We don’t believe that God fixes man’s nature after creating him to not believe in Him, thereby being condemnable and going to hell.
    3. We do believe that God creates a man who is by nature unable to believe in Him, but is able to enjoy God’s creation — even though he’s doomed to hell for his unbelief.

    I believe that God’s creation is self-justifying; that it’s good for God to create things, even things that will suffer or not know full joy. It’s good for God to create rocks (who are naturally unable to rejoice) and starfish (who are naturally unable to reason about God) and sinful men (who are naturally unable to praise God), because otherwise those things would not exist, and would not experience the wonder of God’s good creation.

    -Wm

  19. Wm Tanksley,

    In response to your fist two points above:

    That is exactly what at least some Calvinists believe: that God in all of eternity past decreed that some men would be reprobate–and doomed to an eternity in hell–with nothing whatsoever that they could do about it.

    There were extensive quotes given and articles linked in the recent discussion on the “Calvin, love him or hate him” thread. They were from John Calvin himself and from John Piper and that is precisely what they were saying.

  20. Yes, God is the only one whose judgment counts and the only one capable of giving perfect judgment. The sense in which we have to be sure is when we declare a doctrine and preach it to someone. So what does rebelling against God mean? It isn’t rebelling against our doctrines or our preaching. It’s rebelling against the efforts of the Holy Spirit to reach people, and we have no way of knowing just when that is happening.

  21. Ezekiel 18:20 says that the soul that sins shall die. I will admit that is in a context of more than one sin. However, it doesn’t state that there must be more than one sin. What do you do with a Scripture like that?

    Look at it — the entire passage is about how God will condemn people for their own sins, not for the sins of their fathers. It’s not about how many sins people have to commit; it’s about whose sins people will be punished for.

    And after all, it was one sin in the garden of Eden–eating the forbidden fruit–that brought about the death of the whole human race to start with.

    Not exactly. “Sin entered the world, and death through sin; so death passed upon all men, _for all have sinned_.” My death didn’t come by that one sin of Adam; the death came to each of us because of each of our sins. This reading agrees with Ezekiel above — one soul sins, THAT soul dies.

    This doesn’t really connect with CMP’s point; he’s talking about how the really eternal sin is precisely an eternal sin: disregarding and avoiding and hating God forever.

    -Wm

  22. Michael

    I think you are trying to reason using a set of presuppositions that need to be radically modified.

    As I was reading your post, I couldn’t figure out how babies escaped hell, since it is based on who we are. Babies are born with the disease you reference.

    Wm. Craig has done all of us a favor by noting that the only sin in question is the ‘eternal’ sin, the sin of unbelief. One must assert a rejection of God.

    Hence, babies are clear. And the only reason people could remain in hell for eternity is if they continued committing the eternal sin. But was happens if people in hell choose to turn from their eternal sin. The Bible has no comment on this.

    For me, I have no way of fathoming God’s rejection of anyone turning to him, at any time.

    Two things are accomplished now. 1. God’s mercy and love are seen functioning for all eternity toward those in hell (better, the lake of fire), and 2., apologetically speaking, it quiets the unbelievers who claim God is unloving and unmerciful, evil if you will. No, the eternal nature of being in hell is not put back on the unbelievers!!!

  23. William,

    You said, “Not exactly. “Sin entered the world, and death through sin; so death passed upon all men, _for all have sinned_.” My death didn’t come by that one sin of Adam; the death came to each of us because of each of our sins. This reading agrees with Ezekiel above — one soul sins, THAT soul dies.

    Read down a few more verses to Romans 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

    That verse says plainly that it is by the transgression of one man, Adam, that all died.

    This also seems to be restated in I Corinthians 15:21-22: “For since by a man {came} death, by a man also {came} the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

  24. Doesn’t James 2:10 (“Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has becomes guilty of all”) reveal that one offense is sufficient for total condemnation?

    I suppose my question is invalid if using this verse to extrapolate what judgement would arise from such an offense is beyond the scope of the passage since subsequent judgement is not referenced.

  25. Did Adam die because he sinned, or because he didn’t eat from the tree of life, which remained a possibility?

  26. Could it be that people are in Hell for all eternity based upon who they are rather than what they have done?

    Not meaning to derail this topic but this statement stirs another sacrosanct idea of mine i.e., the age of accountability. If people are send to hell for who they are then it should not matter if they have reached a particular age or not. It is almost an assault on our sense of compassion and sensibility to think that an infant or a toddler, that is cute beyond believe can be send to hell when they haven’t done anything to deserve it, (yet).

    I know the proponents of the “age of accountability” will point to a couple of places in Scripture that tend to support this view, but I think the more explicit passages supports original sin and we are born in sin. I am not saying that all infants and toddlers will be send to hell, but it is not an automatic given.

    What are your thoughts on this?

  27. St. Paul says (in essence) that if you have broken one Commandment, you have broken them all.

    It is not the sins (specific) that we ought focus on, but rather our SINFUL CONDITION that we should realize.

  28. cheryl,

    I did not read the Calvin thread but I’ve read and followed Piper for awhile and other leading Calvinists. I don’t think any of them would say what you are suggesting they are saying, that is, Calvinists believe in double predestination. This is a common misconception of non-Calvinist about Calvinism.

  29. Rayner,

    “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:17

    Sounds to me like it was from eating the fruit.

  30. Some thoughts…

    -As I think someone in this comment stream already said (I mostly skimmed the comments), there’s no reason Jesus would have to spend an eternity paying for human sin if we really believe that he’s God. His life is worth infinitely more than the lives of humans. If every human deserves eternal punishment for every sin, that doesn’t mean it God is incapable of paying for all sins in six hours.

    -I agree with you that the root problem is our inner rebellion against God, but I also think that rebellion manifests itself in the for of actual sins. I would like to see some Scripture to back up your general point. There are many, many passages that talk about God punishing people for their sins, but I don’t know of any that sound like your argument (but there might be some).

    -It sounds like it would be impossible for someone holding your view to believe that infants who die could be saved. I’m interested to know your take on this.

  31. My apologies for the typos. I should have proofread.

  32. I get your point in this, Michael. It’s like what Jerry said. The “stupid statement” looks like someone can be good and steal a pencil and be sent to hell because that person stole a pencil. There is no one like that.

    I believe that hell is a place of eternal regret, pain, suffering, desolation, anger, contempt, anxiety, panic, etc. Not a party, not a fellowship of those who hate God. No kind of hope or comfort will ever be available.

  33. “Stupid” is a bit extreme for something that’s a part of the doctrinal standards of most Reformed churches in the Scottish tradition.

    From the Westminster Shorter Catechism
    Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
    A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

    From the Westminster Larger Catechism
    Q. 152. What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?

    A. Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

    Full version of this comment here.

    -TurretinFan

  34. Turr,

    I agree with those statements. This post does not say the stupid statement is that a single sin does not incur the wrath of God, but that a single sin does not send one to hell for all eternity.

  35. Concerning babies….

    I am a Calvinist, you must remember. While I am not going to build a theology around the idea that we must protect in our own judgement the salvation of those who have yet to reach the “age” I do believe that if God so chooses to save a baby, he has every right to apply Christ’s blood to them thereby removing their “original guilt.”

    Remember, I define salvation first as God’s sovereign act of redemption that is monergistically applied to the person, not the person own free will. I know that there will be much disagreement with this among many of you and that is fine…don’t want to go there. However, this is perfectly consistant with a Reformed soteriology. In fact, it is a cornerstone of it.

  36. God can (and does) save little infants.

    He is the One who does the baptizing. He commanded that we baptize, and He never commands us to do anything where He won;t be present in it for us.

  37. CMP,

    Maybe I am being dense here, but if you agree with both statments from the catechism quoted above that every sin, even the least, deserves God’s wrath and curse in this life and in the one to come, I don’t understand how you can say that one sin does not send one to hell for eternity. Is that not what his wrath for the next life entails? Could one be sent to hell for only a part of eternity for one sin? (Assuming of course that one could commit only one sin in a life time which it is obvious one can not do.)

  38. Most people in the Reformed camp (of which I consider myself a part) that I have heard explain infant salvation say that babies have not come to a point where they can commit willful sin. That is why I wondered about your view.

  39. Anyone that has ever watched two infants fighting over a rattle or other toy has witnessed the original sin that each and every one of us is born into.

    They need to be saved from that sin every bit as much as we do.

  40. Hmm, if infants need salvation, and salvation is monergistic, and Christ’s death can save an infant who does not understand language nor the preaching of the cross, it is logically equivalent that Christ’s death could save a jungle native who does not hear the gospel. That is, lack of ability to understand language or to hear the gospel is not an impediment to salvation. Other things, possibly, could be an impediment, but not the failure to hear the gospel.

    regards,
    #John

  41. I fail to see how you are equating God’s wrath (i.e. righteous indignation) with eternal punishment. How do you make that step.

    Sin deserves punishment, but not necessarily eternal punishment. Just like when my kids disobey, it deserves punishment, but not etermal.

    The argument here is that that only thing that deserves ETERNAL punishment is eternal rejection.

    By the way, the story of the Rich man and Lazarus never has the rich man repenting nor repentant. Either way, the point of the parable is to teach about how the worldview of the Pharisees (i.e. rich people are closer to God—“Abraham’s side” and poor people are far away from God). In the end, the Rich man was far from God (i.e. “Abraham’s side”) while the poor man was close to God.

  42. Also, the idea about breaking part of the law amounts to breaking it all does not speak to this issue as we are talking about eternal punishment. When James and Paul speak such, they are combating the idea that one could keep the letter of the Law and disregard its spirit (i.e. principles). If you break any part of the principles (i.e. hate), you have broken the whole (i.e. murder). It is neither equating the sins nor speaking to the longevity of their punishment.

  43. The Bible tells us that “the Holy Spirit speaks to us in sighs too deep for words.”

    So yes, just in the same way John the baptist leaped for joy while still in the womb, infants can certainly have faith, faith given to them by God.

    And yes, God can save and give faith to whomever he please, even a jungle living native who has never heard the name Jesus.

  44. It is true, John, that God could save anyone he desires, but the Bible makes it somewhat clear, in my opinion, that acceptance of the Gospel is necessary for all those who are able to understand. Romans 10:9-15. Therefore, the native has ability to believe, the infant does not.

    However, again, I do agree that God COULD save whomever he desires.

  45. None of us has the ability to understand (the things of God) until we are reborn…from above.

    “We love, because He first loved us.”

  46. BTW: I do happen to believe that God saves all the mentally unable, whether infant of otherwise. I certianly cannot prove this from Scripture, but I do believe that I have decent grounds for allow for such in my theology…Especialy since I am a Calvinist!

    Arminians, however, in order to allow for the salvation of infants must do some pretty fancy footwork :) to make it so Adam’s sin does not apply to us until we sin in the same likeness, then it is imputed to us. Otherwise, if human volition is necessary and faith is the primary key, infants are not saved…

    Having said that, I don’t want this thread to go in the direction of whether infants are saved.

    The question is “Will one white like send you to hell for all eternity.” I will put up a poll. Look for it on the right.

  47. CMP,

    You said, “I fail to see how you are equating God’s wrath (i.e. righteous indignation) with eternal punishment. How do you make that step.”

    You said that you agree with the statements of the catechims that state that any sin deserves God’s wrath in this life and in the life to come. If His wrath in the life to come isn’t in hell, what do you believe it to be?

  48. Cheryl,

    I do believe that it is hell. But notice how carefully the statement is worded. It does not say that every sin is deserving of God’s eternal wrath.

    My statement above says that the atonement was penal. If it was truly penal, then there is a since in which actual sins can be paid for in hell (i.e. the punishment meets the crime). That is why there is different degrees of punishment in hell (Luke 12:47).

    However, I do believe that hell is eternal for every one who goes there. Why? Because every sin deserves eternal wrath. No. That would deny penal substitution. But because people are eternally in rebellion against God. They never stop sinning. They are alway haters of God and do not want to be in his presence if that means repentance.

  49. I have not read all the comments but I thought condemnation came by one man, Adam. In Adam we all die. White liars, murders, gossips from the smallest of sinners to the greatest we are who we are because of Adam’s sin even if we do not commit the same sin Adam committed. I think I agree it is not the white lie that sends us to hell for all eternity but that we are dead in sin and, as you said,we are at enmity with God. This is why we need to be born again. On top of this I think that men are now condemned by their rejection of Christ, which is just a continuation of their hatred of God. This is the condemnation that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light.

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