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Why do people end up in Hell? According to God, Hell is a just punishment for humans who willfully refuse to submit to Him as the Supreme Authority that He is. Given the fact that you can’t even exist without God constantly sustaining you, it’s hardly unreasonable for Him to demand that you embrace your place as the powerless fleck who depends on Him for all things. When God demands that you acknowledge His supremacy over you, it’s rather like you being told to agree with the fact that you need oxygen to survive. He’s really just demanding that you accept a reality that you can’t change. God outranks you: this is a fact that you have no control over. God controls your quality of life, therefore it’s more than a little stupid for you to scoff at His Authority.
Now when you’re born, your body needs oxygen to survive, but you don’t understand this fact until someone teaches it to you, and that doesn’t happen until years into your life. The fact that you don’t understand something doesn’t make that something cease to be true, but it does change how accountable you are. Before God introduces Himself to you and explains about the vast difference in rank between the two of you, He doesn’t expect you to know who He is. Before God teaches you that He wants you to submit to Him, He doesn’t blame you for not doing so. The possibility of you being eternally damned only comes up after God has personally given you all of the information you need to meet His salvation requirements. No one ends up in Hell by accident. We only get there by willfully defying God and intentionally spurning His Authority.
So then, why do people end up in Hell? According to God, the only humans who end up in Hell are ones who are willfully defying Him in the privacy of their own souls. Throwing an individual soul into Hell is God’s response to how that soul treated Him in their personal relationship. But according to many leaders in the Church, people end up in Hell because you failed to tell them the truth. You failed to care and share the Good News with them because you are a selfish, naughty Christian. According to many leaders in the Church, God is going to blame you if your family member or friend or coworker lands in that ominous lake of fire because you didn’t try hard enough to tell them the truth. While God says that He only holds individual souls responsible for their own soul choices, many Christian leaders say that God holds you accountable for the choices that other souls are making. When your neighbor is refusing to listen to God in the privacy of his own soul, God says only your neighbor is to blame. But your pastor says that you are also to blame because you aren’t getting in the man’s face and quoting John 3:16.
Humans have always found ways to complicate the issue of Divine judgment, and in the Church it is very popular for Christians to strap enormous burdens onto each other’s backs–burdens which are entirely manmade and have nothing to do with God’s convictions. Soon you’re running yourself ragged trying to butt into God’s private relationships with a bunch of other people. You’ve gotten it into your head that God actually likes it when you try to speed up the rate at which someone else spiritually progresses. And as you go around trying to make people understand the truths that you’ve decided are important according to your timetable, God is sabotaging you right and left. You pray and pray, yet your unsaved coworker shows no signs of softening his heart towards Jesus. You beg and plead with God to make someone understand what you want them to understand when you want them to understand it, but God is refusing to play the part of your obedient servant. What’s wrong with this picture? You think God wants something from you that He doesn’t want. You’re trying to control a process that He won’t let you control, and you’re lugging around burdens that He never gave you. It’s time for you to get off the hamster wheel and stop running yourself ragged with these useless conversations with people who just aren’t interested in what you have to say. It’s time to stop losing sleep and tears over the fact that some other soul is choosing to exercise his God-given right to defy his own Creator. In this post, we’re going to teach you how to protect yourself from witnessing burnout.
RULE #1: UNDERSTAND THE MECHANICS.
The trouble starts with you not understanding how the illumination process really works. Let’s use an everyday metaphor. Suppose you’re holding a bottle of milk and you want to put it into your refrigerator. What are the steps? Open the door, and put it in. Two steps, very simple. But now let’s see you get it down to just one step: put the milk into the fridge without opening the door. Go on and try it. What happens? Ouch happens. You ram your fist into a very hard wall of metal. There’s no way that you’re going to get that milk inside unless someone opens that door first. In the same way, there’s no way you’re going to get someone to hear the truth in what you’re saying about God unless someone opens a door in their minds first. Here’s the important bit: as a human, you have no access to that door. It’s totally out of bounds for you. God is the only One who can cause people to become receptive to His truth. Unless He opens a door, you’re just going to be ramming your hand into a metal wall.
Now once you understand that God must open a door before anything can happen, you can see how futile it is to act apart from Him. Why on earth would you go around telling everyone you meet about Jesus? Do you like pain? Do you enjoy ramming your hand into metal? Most of the people you meet in life are not in a receptive state of mind the moment you are interacting with them. How do we know this? Jesus told us. With His famous “the road is narrow and few find it” comment, Jesus made it quite clear that most people reject God. Among those who are educated about who God is and what He wants from them, most souls choose to defy Him. So since God Himself has told us that only a minority of the population is ever going to be interested in really hearing the truth, why do we find ourselves surrounded by leaders in the Church who scoff at us if we say we’re going to wait on God before we speak? Because our leaders are idiots, and they are also rebelling against God. Anyone who tells you to put milk into a fridge without opening the door is an obvious fool. And anyone who tells you to blunder ahead in a conversation about God without first waiting for a clear leading from Him is also a fool. God has to open that door or the whole thing is going to be a total waste of time.
So when does God open doors for us? When He’s darn good and ready to do so. Does God open doors because we’re pounding on them? No. God will not be led by you. If you want to strike up a conversation about Jesus without Him, go ahead. He will take delight in making all of your words clang like meaningless noise in someone else’s head. In the Church we’re taught that God is so desperate to save people that He’ll leap on any opportunity that we create for Him. What a crock. The Creator of all things doesn’t get desperate and God certainly does not take orders from us.
When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to evaluate you by how many times you shared the Gospel. He’s going to evaluate you by how well you obeyed Him on earth, and that means how you responded to the convictions He personally gave you. You see, God does the leading, we do the following. He is the One handing out the convictions of when to act and when to wait. But in the Church, this is turned all backwards. You’re taught that it’s your job to convict God, that’s why you sit around pleading for Him to save people. So…really?? You’re telling God who to save? You’re actually trying to give instruction to your King?
It’s time to put our little thrones away and remember that we are merely servants. Good servants do not direct their Master about. We should not be telling God who to save, who to witness to, or anything else. Instead of constantly instructing God, we should be inviting Him to instruct us. Instead of constantly pretending that we’re wiser than He is, we should be acknowledging that we are blind fools and gratefully cherish any wisdom He offers us.
It is not on you to save people. God doesn’t want you taking that burden on because it’s way too big for you. We won’t see the day that God abandons some soul to Hell because some dot of a human failed to witness to them. God doesn’t let other humans shipwreck our eternal futures with Him. God is the One who opens our minds to truth, and God is the One who then judges us by how we respond to what He tells us.
So if God is so efficient at illuminating souls with truth—which He is—then why does He need you to get involved in someone else’s spiritual education? He doesn’t. The whole idea that God needs us to help Him spread the light in this world is nothing more than egotistical dreaming. We humans are always trying to pretend we’re far more critical to God’s work than we are. If every Christian were to die tomorrow and God wiped all memories of us from the minds of those who remained, guess what? More people would get saved.
God is not some muffled Halfwit who goes around with tape on His mouth until we agree to be His mouthpieces. We need to see how much ego is being stirred into mainstream Christian teaching about evangelism so that we can get ourselves untangled from the lies. No one is going to benefit from you talking about Jesus unless He is in the mood to make a connection happen. You’re not in charge of the illumination process, God is. You need to see that and then resolve that you are going to wait for Him to prompt you before you get involved.
Your goal in life should be to please God, not to impress your pastor. To please God, we must let Him define what He wants and stop letting other people sell us some mangled truth. There’s only one right reason to get into a discussion about God with someone and that’s because God is convicting you to do so. When God wants you to say something, He will to tell you what to say. So if you find yourself standing there all tongue-tied, obviously God isn’t interested in speaking through you right then. When this is the case, you need to honor God by doing what He’s telling you to do, which is back off and stay out of it. God tells us to stop and He tells us to go. He tells us to speak and He tells us to be silent. We need to do everything He tells us, not just listen for certain commands while ignoring the rest.
Suppose you can’t remember the last time you felt strongly led by God to share your faith with someone. Isn’t that a bad sign? No, it simply means God doesn’t want you sharing your faith with people right now. If we have a problem with this, it’s because we are trying to control who God is. But remember, God doesn’t need us in any sense of the word. When we share because we secretly believe God would be lost without us we’re just insulting Him. When we think to ourselves “What would God have done if I hadn’t been available for that conversation?” we’re deluding ourselves. God does not need our assistance. The more we get a grip on this, the easier it becomes to sit down and wait for Him to call us into action. We want to serve God because we love Him, not because we’re trying to help Him—there’s a big difference. It is inappropriate for specks like us to think we’re propping God up or aiding Him in some way. We serve God because we love Him and want to please Him—those are the motivations which delight Him. Of course we don’t start there. We all start off trying to help God. We start off trying to fix Him and complete Him and direct Him about. But He will eventually mature us out of this wrong thinking if we sincerely want to please Him.
RULE #2: KNOW HOW TO RECOGNIZE POINTLESS CONVERSATIONS.
When you’ve been brainwashed with bad teaching for years, it takes time get deprogrammed. To help you out, here are several common clues you can look for to identify when a conversation about God has become totally pointless.
1. Repetitive questions.
Is an unbeliever asking you the same questions over and over again? Stop playing their game. You already gave them your answer. If they were really interested in truth, they’d have thought about your first answer and moved on to a different question. Covering the same ground over and over is a common tactic people use who just enjoy watching you trip over the same rock. Remember that it takes two to argue. Refuse to participate by stonewalling them with, “I’ve already answered that question.”
2. Verse wars.
Don’t get tangled up in verse wars. Plenty of God haters have armed themselves with an arsenal of verses which they’ve yanked out of context and twisted into supporting their delusional beliefs. Realize that it’s how much you care about God that counts, not how well you know your Bible. Don’t pretend to be an expert if you know you’re not. When someone throws a verse in your face that sounds upsetting to you, just say, “I’m not an expert on the Bible. If you really want to understand that passage, pray about it.” And of course, they’re not going to agree to do that. They’d much rather try to mock you for not understanding the Bible. But this is where they don’t understand that your relationship is with a living Being, not a physical object. Your faith is in God, not a book. You don’t need to know anything about the Bible to have a good relationship with God, so don’t be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge. Instead, be confident in your relationship with God and when they try to mock you, shrug and say, “It doesn’t bother me that I don’t know the Bible well. The Bible is not my God. If you want to know the truth, you need to ask God. If you want to argue about the Bible, there are plenty of self-proclaimed experts who’d love to get into it with you.”
3. Forcing you to be God’s spokesperson.
You are not God’s handler. You’re not His spokesperson, His interpreter or His media representative. It’s not on you to explain His every move to unbelievers. So when someone starts demanding that you justify God’s actions or explain His mysteries, the best thing you can do for them and you is to say: “If you want to understand God better, talk to Him yourself.” Anytime you start getting flustered or feeling overwhelmed by some criticism about God, this is what you say. No one is going to find soul peace just by listening to you. Peace is a result of having our own positive relationship with God. If we really care about guiding people to truth, we should never encourage them to put their trust in us or in some religious textbook. We should always be encouraging them to engage with God directly.
As a Christian, you have found the real God. You do not need to be threatened by other people’s doubts. Instead, encourage them not to accept anything less than a personal connection with God Himself.
“If God is who I say He is, then obviously He can handle making you certain of His reality. I know He will if you sincerely want to know the truth. But the answers you want will have to come from Him, not me.”
If someone then comes back with, “Oh, so you’re saying you don’t have answers yourself? You don’t understand your own God?” Don’t start baring your soul to them. Your personal walk with God is none of their business. Your personal struggles have nothing to do with them. Say,
“What I do or don’t believe is irrelevant. The eternity of your own soul is at stake here, and that’s what you should be focused on. God isn’t going to judge you by how well you agreed with me, but by how you responded to Him. If you really want answers, you need to talk to Him directly. I’m not His translator. Seek Him for yourself.”
Souls who are sincerely interested in God will seek Him, and then they might ask you questions which God will give you specific answers to. But souls who really don’t care about God are just toying with you, and by refusing to be God’s spokesperson, you will get yourself out of a lot of grief.
4. “I was hurt by other Christians.”
A lot of people have been legitimately hurt by other people who claimed to be Christians. Once someone has a traumatic experience in a church and that trauma is unresolved, anger becomes a cover for pain. As a Christian, you become a symbol of the person or organization who hurt them in the past, thus they feel justified in attacking you and trying to make you defend those who hurt them. “If knowing God is supposed to change people for the better, why did a Catholic priest molest me? If knowing God is so satisfying, why did my pastor have an affair?” Behind some of these demands there could be some legitimate confusion. But other times, there’s only intense pain. Are you equipped to fix someone else’s internal wounds? No, you’re not. Healing comes from God, and He’s the One you need to point them to. “I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience. If you really want answers, you need to go to God directly.”
Ah, but they’re not going to go to God because one of His representatives hurt them. Many souls love to use one bad experience as an excuse to not have to be accountable to God. “If you’re what a Christian is, I want nothing to do with Christ.” Well, this is just a pathetic argument. Here you can say,
“Christ gives you the option to reject Him, but if you do, He’ll throw you into Hell. God does things to all of us that we don’t like. We can either look to Him to help us heal from the past, or we can reject Him and deal with His wrath. We don’t get to tell Him how to run His game. He’s the Boss.”
The main reason people refuse to submit to God is that they resent not being in control. If they can’t be as powerful as God, then they want to be able to control how God uses His power. And yet this just isn’t an option for us. God is God and He doesn’t pander to created beings. If we sincerely want to know the truth, He will show it to us. If we really want to be in a right relationship with Him, He will give us however much healing and help we need to be able to sincerely submit to Him.
Many Christians make the cardinal error of trying to woo unbelievers in by denying the sovereignty of God. “I don’t know why that terrible thing happened to you, but I know it wasn’t God’s will.” Rubbish. It most certainly was God’s will, and encouraging people to deny this is only leading them into delusions. When God trashes people, it’s on purpose. When He disillusions us, it’s on purpose. When He uses Christians to make “Christianity” repulsive to others, it’s on purpose. Instead of trying to shield unbelievers from God’s disturbing methods, we need to remember that He is a lot wiser than we are.
God loves all souls and He knows how to draw them closer to Himself. Just because you can’t see how someone could possibly want God after all He’s put them through, don’t sail off into the arrogant belief that your wisdom is better than His or that He’s doing it wrong. God never does it wrong. We need to back off and leave room for Him to work. Don’t get into fifty rounds with people who should be seeking God directly. Remember that no one can get saved without God illuminating their souls. You can’t do other people’s spiritual work for them. It’s not your job to educate them, convince them, or hold their hand in life while they stumble along the road towards truth. Your job is to stay focused on your Creator and only get involved in His work when He invites you to do so. We witness because God prompts us to, and only because He prompts us to. When we are not getting any clear leading from Him, then we stonewall and refuse to engage in pointless arguments.
The next time you find yourself feeling guilty, frustrated, upset, or heckled in a conversation about God, stop engaging. Say “If you really want to know about God, you’ll have to talk to Him directly,” and then refuse to say more on the subject. When you keep trying to force rebels to change their minds, you only burn yourself out. It doesn’t help them. They enjoy the fight. Why should you waste your time? As Christians, we serve a God who is very comfortable with the idea that many humans will end up in Hell. We need to follow His lead in this area and stop finding it personally threatening if a soul goes to Hell. If God wants humans to have this option, then who are we to try to take it away?
Debunking the Great Guilt Trip: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World
Living to Spread the Gospel
Witnessing Realities: Why Your Testimony Is Irrelevant
Improving Our Treatment of God: Why We Shouldn’t Pray for the Lost
Why We Shouldn’t Pray for Revival
When Loved Ones are Dying: When to Share the Gospel
Why You Must Learn to Separate God from the Church
Salvation Concerns: Why does God block some souls from coming to Him?