The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Understanding God’s Justice: Inequality in Hell

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In eternity, humans will be judged by how their souls responded to God in this world. All believers are not equal. There are those who seek God wholeheartedly, such as David, Job, and permanently surrendered Christians today. And there are those who submit to God enough for Him to accept them into Heaven, but not enough to fully please Him. There will definitely be ranks and differing degrees of rewards in Heaven. But what about in Hell?

God’s judgment system will be the same for every soul. More will be expected from those who received more, and those who received more will be punished more severely for squandering what they had than those who received less. But to properly understand the ranks of Hell, we must keep a firm grip on the fact that external sins have nothing to do with who will suffer the most. As much as some people would like to believe that murderers and molesters will roast in hotter flames than liars and cheaters, this is simply not true. God will not judge us by our external actions, but by our soul’s response to Him. Whenever you find verses which make it sound like people are going to Hell based on their actions, you need to realize that spiritual rebellion is being assumed in all of these cases. No one is going to end up in Hell just because they were a pervert or because they killed someone. God is quite willing to forgive every sin we commit IF we are willing to reverentially submit to Hm. It is the refusal to submit to God’s Authority on HIS terms that lands us in Hell. Under the current Covenant, God’s terms are that we reverentially submit to all three of our Creators: Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We must also recognize that Jesus atoned for our sins on the cross and agree that He is our only hope of being accepted by Yahweh. Jesus said “No one comes to the Father (Yahweh) except through Me.” If we reject this statement by deciding that we can find other creative ways of getting right with God without dealing with Jesus, then we’ll end up in Hell.

Now to understand the varying degrees of torment in Hell, we need to understand how the salvation process works. When you are born, you have no clue about who God is or what He wants from you. No one can possibly come to God until He first educates them. Whenever God gives us an understanding of truth, that’s called spiritual illumination. It is the Holy Spirit who first illuminates us about who our Creators are and what They want from us.

It’s really quite fascinating to ponder the salvation process and see how our three Creators ensure that we submit to all three of Them before any of Them will accept us. Even though Christians today go around saying “God is Three in One” and cling to delusional theories like the Trinity, the reality is that we have three separate and distinct Creators. Regardless of how messed up your theology is in your mind, your soul has to align with all three of your Creators and recognize that all three of Them are God before you can get saved. If you don’t, you will be rejected by all three of Them. There is no room for partial submission. The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is God. Yahweh is God. You submit to all three, or you’re going to Hell—this is how They’ve set it up.

Now before anyone gets anxious, let’s break this process down into steps and see how easy it is to meet these submission requirements.

STEP ONE: The Holy Spirit starts presenting you with truths about who your Creators are. When your soul agrees with these truths, you have submitted to the Holy Spirit.

STEP TWO: The Holy Spirit explains Yahweh’s Covenant requirements to you. He explains that Yahweh says you’re a vile sinner who is undeserving of His mercy and grace. Yahweh says you deserve to burn in Hell, yet He still loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. In His great love and generosity, He has made a way for you to get into a right relationship with Him by sending His Son Jesus to die on your behalf. When your soul agrees with all of this, you have submitted to Yahweh.

STEP THREE: You reverentially submit to Jesus as your God and only hope of salvation. You ask Him to save you and get you into a right relationship with all of your Creators. You have now submitted to Jesus.

See how simple it is? Now most Christians only consciously submitted to Jesus—He was who they were focused on when they prayed their sinner’s prayer. But from the Divine perspective, no one gets to the point of submission to Jesus without first submitting to the Holy Spirit and Yahweh. Our Gods have come up with a brilliant system whereby we cannot fail to meet all of Their requirements if we just keep saying yes to the Holy Spirit in our souls.

Now when we talk about souls who end up in Hell, we are talking about souls who refuse to complete the first step of this process: they refuse to submit to the Holy Spirit. Instead of saying “yes” when the Holy Spirit explains what Yahweh demands and who Jesus is, these souls just keep saying “no.” By refusing to submit to the Holy Spirit, they never go on to submit to Yahweh and Jesus. Let’s be clear: it is IMPOSSIBLE to properly submit to Yahweh or Jesus without first submitting to the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the One who illuminates us with truth. Today, the followers of Judaism claim to be in a right relationship with Yahweh even though they deny the Divinity of Christ. And when you hear these people reading from the Torah and praying and worshiping Yahweh, you can easily fall for the lie that they are at least doing right with one of their Creators. But no, the reality is that these people are hardcore rebelling against Yahweh because they are refusing to accept the terms of His New Covenant. They are still trying to live under the terms of the Old Covenant, despite the fact that the Holy Spirit keeps telling them they are wrong in doing so. Because they are rejecting the illumination of the Holy Spirit, they are failing to submit to any of their Creators, therefore they are on their way to Hell. In the same way, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses both claim to be “true” Christians—more true than you, in fact. Both of these groups will talk about God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They’ll both acknowledge that Jesus was a real person, although neither group will grant that He is God. If you’re just listening for certain religious code words, you’ll easily think Mormons and Witnesses are actually saved, when in reality they’re all on their way to Hell for refusing to submit to any of their Creators. Eternal judgment comes down to submission: did you submit to all three of your Creators or not? The answer to this question determines whether you end up in Heaven or Hell. Now where you rank in each of these places is determined by how much illumination you received.

When it comes to handing out spiritual illumination, the Holy Spirit does not treat us all the same. Some Christians receive far more insights about God than others. Before you get jealous, realize that those who receive more are judged more harshly. Suppose God only gives you five insights about who He is, yet you eagerly embrace each one and ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply them all in your life. You are going to be richly rewarded for your great submission in Heaven, because you made the most out of what you had. Now suppose some bible teacher receives 100 insights from God, yet like you, he only uses five of them. This man did as much as you did, yet he will rank much lower than you in Heaven because he intentionally squandered so much of what he was given. For the man with 100 insights to be as pleasing to God as you were with your 5, the man has to excel with all 100. So you see, there’s no need to be jealous of Christians who seem to have more insights than you do. You can please God just as much as they can by making the most of what the Holy Spirit is giving you. God’s judgment system is marvelous in the way that it abolishes differences and crushes the arrogant. Those who strut around today claiming to be part of God’s holy incrowd while they treat you like a lesser member of God’s flock are in for a nasty surprise in Heaven. Every soul is precious in God’s sight, every soul has the chance to fully succeed with Him, and any teacher who tells you differently is going to be in for a spanking.

Now let’s see how it works in Hell. First, we know that all the souls in Hell go there by refusing to submit to their Creators. But again, every soul was given a different level of illumination. God makes no guarantees about how many chances He will give us to come to Him. Suppose one soul is given three chances to come, but he rejects all three. Well, he’s going to be royally punished for daring to defy His Makers. But now let’s suppose another soul was given 500 chances to come. The Holy Spirit really hounded this second soul by exposing him to truth his whole life, yet this second soul just couldn’t be bothered. This second soul’s punishment will be greater than the first because his defiance was greater. The ranks of Hell are going to be solely defined by how much one defied God, not by external actions. All sin is detestable to God—murdering is just as bad as lying, and slandering is as bad as molestation. We humans are the ones who like to pretend one action is worse than another so we can justify feeling superior to others. But God’s definition of sin is so broad that we are all reduced to absolute wretches who are equal in our depravity. But when it comes to spiritual rebellion, there is room for variation depending on how much illumination God has given us. To reject a thousand invitations from the Holy Spirit is worse than rejecting a hundred. Those who rebelled against God more on earth will receive a greater punishment in Hell.

Now in the Bible, we don’t find God going into depth on the subject of ranks in Hell. Jesus is our best Source of information on eternal ranking, and He mostly talks about Heaven. But there are several key comments that He drops which confirm the reality of ranks in Hell. For example:

“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:14-15)

Now to be properly shocked by this speech, we need to know something about our Old Testament. First, we need to understand that Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities which Yahweh adamantly condemned for being super evil. Both of these cities were wiped off the map by fire raining down from the sky in Genesis 19:14:

Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

The reason Yahweh destroyed these people was because of their unceasing spiritual rebellion.

Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinners against Yahweh. (Gen. 13:13)

And Yahweh said to Abraham, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.” (Gen 18:20)

This “exceedingly” language confirms to us that all spiritual rebellion is not equal in Yahweh’s sight. The souls in these two cities had to have already squandered many invitations from the Holy Spirit in order for God to speak against them so harshly. These people qualify as “mega-sinners”—not for what they were doing with their bodies, but for how intensely their souls hated God.

Fast forward to Jesus’ day and we find Him telling His disciples that any soul who rejects their Gospel message will be judged far worse than the super evil souls of Sodom and Gomorrah. Wow.

“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:14-15)

Suppose the disciples Peter and John are sent out to preach about Jesus in a nearby city. The people of that city listen to what they say, then start throwing rocks at the two evangelists until they run away. According to Jesus, the people of that city will receive a harsher judgment than the nasty little haters who Yahweh burnt to a crisp in Sodom and Gomorrah. Why is Jesus saying this? Here we need to consider context. First of all, Jesus is speaking specifically to His disciples here—He’s not talking about Christians who go out to evangelize today. We know from the Gospel records that Jesus covered a lot of territory in His homeland during His three years of public ministry. His disciples are now being sent out on local mission trips to cities who have already heard of “Jesus the Miracle Worker who claims to be God”. The disciples are not going to be the first introduction to Jesus that these souls have ever received. Instead, they’re going to be a rich addition to a lot of insight which the Holy Spirit has already provided. Getting to talk to one of Jesus’ disciples face to face and grill him about this whole Messiah business—what a gift that would be! It’s much easier to hear God clearly explain His truth through human lips than it is to try and listen for His still small Voice in your own heart. Any souls who got to hear the disciples preach about Jesus were being given an extra helping of revelation—that on top of all the revelation they’d already received by living in Jesus’ homeland. According to Jesus, these souls would be receiving far more revelation about God’s truth than the souls of Sodom and Gomorrah ever received, therefore they’d be deserving of a worse punishment in eternity.

Now let’s look at a second comment Jesus makes—this time to cities in which He Himself preached and performed miracles.

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matt. 11:20-24)

Once again, Jesus uses evil Sodom as a moral measuring rod, as well as the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Tyre and Sidon were coastal cities north of Israel which also got into big trouble with Yahweh in the Old Testament.

We know that it was from the Sidonites that the Israelites acquired the goddess Ashtoreth—a demonic idol who they worshiped far more zealously than Yahweh throughout the whole Old Testament. Ashtoreth and Baal—those are two god names that come up over and over again. Well, if the Sidonians are busy worshiping Ashtoreth, that certainly tells us something about their spiritual focus. But worshiping demons isn’t enough to qualify someone as a total rebel—a soul must first be exposed to truth before they can be guilty of rejecting it. So how were the people of Sidon and Tyre exposed to truth about who Yahweh was and what He wanted? We find Yahweh giving us a better explanation here:

“Tyre and Sidon and all of you regions of Philistia! What did you have against Me? Were you punishing Me for something I did, or were you doing something to hurt Me? I will very quickly do to you what you have done to Me. You took My silver and gold, and you put My precious treasures in your temples. You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks so that you could send them far from their land.

You sent My people to that faraway place, but I will get them and bring them back, and I will do to you what you have done to them. I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabean people far away.” (Joel 3:7)

Tyre and Sidon had a very long history of interacting with the Israelites. This provided them with many revelations about who Yahweh was. They would have heard news of His prophecies, they would have heard about His miracles, and they even helped Solomon construct Yahweh’s first Temple. So Tyre and Sidon knew who they were rebelling against when they took Yahweh’s sacred Temple goods and tithe money and used it to honor their own idols. We have to remember that in Bible times, there was no separation of church and state. Every nation was ruled by its religious beliefs, and every nation had its gods. So to war against the Israelites was to consciously attack Yahweh, and to brutalize the Israelites was to mock Yahweh. These people were definitely guilty of squandering a lot of spiritual insight. Fast forward to Jesus’ day and we find a similar situation, only this time the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum weren’t just watching and eavesdropping from Israel’s border—they were right in the middle of the action. Jesus Himself spent time in these cities and gave them extra attention. Then He said their rejection of Him was far worse than the already terrible rebellion of Tyre and Sidon. How terrifying.

Now let’s not jump to any wrong conclusions. Any soul within these cities who did listen to Jesus would have been rewarded. Jesus wasn’t saying that no one would be allowed to come to Him just because of their earthly address. But apparently the souls in all of these cities were pretty unanimous in their response to God: they wanted Him to get out and go away. Taking such a hostile attitude towards God will result in some frightening consequences in eternity. God will not be mocked.

Another interesting comment is found in John 19. Here Jesus is on trial before Pilate. Pilate has been dragged into this affair reluctantly and all he cares about is keeping the political peace. He doesn’t know who Jesus is, and he doesn’t care. All he cares about is pacifying the Jews before there’s a major revolt on his watch which he will then be called to answer for by the Roman government. Rome really frowned on insurrection, and every region’s ruler was expected to keep the peace. If Pilate let the Jesus thing get out of control, his own neck would be on the line.

Unfortunately for Pilate, Jesus is being a stubborn little clam who refuses to explain His side of the story. Not wanting to make a hasty judgment, Pilate has Jesus beaten to try and calm the Jews down. But that’s not good enough. The mob wants crucifixion. Well, how awkward. But when Pilate is having yet another meeting with the Jewish leaders and someone lets it slip that this Jesus fellow claims to be the Son of God—well, that makes Pilate nervous.

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do You come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do You refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t You realize I have power either to free You or to crucify You?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed Me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:8-12)

At this point, Pilate really doesn’t want to kill Jesus, and Jesus knows it. Pilate is buckling under peer pressure and the threat of getting in trouble with his superiors. This is a very different scenario then that of the Jews who have had three years’ worth of revelations about Jesus, and a pile of Old Testament revelations from Yahweh. Pilate is acting spineless, but unlike the Jews, he’s not hating God on a core level.

Now when Jesus refers to “the one who handed Me over,” He’s talking about Judas. Judas was one of the Twelve. He was in the inner circle—talk about getting an extra dose of spiritual illumination. Yet for all that, he handed Jesus over to be killed. Judas’ betrayal sprang from a core rejection of Jesus. Pilate, on the other hand, really wanted to separate himself from the act of crucifying Jesus. Though both of these men played key roles in murdering Jesus, their soul intentions separated them in God’s eyes and made Judas the one deserving of a greater punishment.

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12)

Let’s look at another example. Here Jesus is reaming out the religious leaders and teachers of His day:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as yourselves.” (Matt. 23:13-15)

Wow! Talk about Jesus making a scene! And let’s consider who He’s talking to: a group of people who have more access to the Old Testament, and whose career paths give them ample time to ponder theology. These people know the truth, and have adamantly rejected it in their hearts. How do we know this? Notice how Jesus says:

“…you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

These people clearly know the way to Heaven because they are refusing to enter in. They’re also going out of their way to block others from entering—meaning that once they see a soul starting down the right track, they try to mess him up with bad teaching and lies about who God is and what He wants. These actions are being fueled by an intense internal hatred of God, hence these teachers are going to be receiving “greater condemnation” when they get to Hell.

After pointing out what lowlifes these rebels are, Jesus then goes on to say that their followers are even worse.

“…you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as yourselves.”

The reference to such extensive traveling brings up an image of these evil teachers putting a lot of effort into finding other souls who are as enthusiastic about rebelling as they are. Once they find some, they egg them on to really put their all into maligning Yahweh’s teaching and blocking other souls from coming to Him. A very dark situation.

We see a consistent theme in all of this: the more illumination you receive from God, the greater your responsibility is, and the more at risk you are of negative consequences in eternity. You don’t have any control over how many chances God gives you to come to Him, or how much illumination He gives you after salvation. This is why it is so important to respond swiftly and positively to any illumination that you do receive. As the prophet Isaiah said:

Seek Yahweh while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to Yahweh, and He will have compassion on him. Let him return to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isa. 55:6-7)

It’s not our depravity that we’ll punished for in eternity—only our willful refusal to submit to our Creators.

FURTHER READING:
Cancelled Invitation
The Eternal Cost of Defying God: A Warning for Christians
Behind the Scenes with God: Human Variation, Lifespans, and the Mechanics of Salvation

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