How Many More Chances?
Bible Reading: Hebrews 9:27-28
It is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27
WHAT IF SOMEONE in hell changes his or her mind? Won’t a loving God let a repentant person loose from hell and issue a transfer to heaven? Isn’t believing in God like turning in a term paper-better late than never? No.
Sometimes people will get out of jail early for good behaviour, but people are in hell only because God knows they won’t flip-flop how they think about him. If a thousand more chances would have swayed them to choose his way, God would have provided those opportunities. But because he knows when people’s minds are cast like concrete, God lets them go. God didn’t fail to display his love to them. Instead, they sadly refused to recognize that love. It’s like he offered up on a platter the opportunity to choose the best, even while allowing each person to choose the worst. Refusing God’s love is like knocking the platter out of the server’s hand and stomping on the choicest morsels.
When you understand God’s love that way, his wrath isn’t so puzzling. Wrath is the result of rejected love. Hell is where love no longer works. It’s where love no longer pulls people to God - not because something is wrong with God’s love, but because everyone there has chosen to refuse his love.
It’s not that God no longer loves. His love still shines hot like the sun, but the result is wildly different when love is rejected. Like the old saying goes, “The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay.” The difference isn’t the source of the heat but the response of the thing heated.
If you’ve ever liked someone who took your love, crumpled it up, and shot it back to you as a spit-wad-and who hasn’t?-you have had a small taste of the frustration God feels. And if you have stubbornly or pridefully rejected the love others have extended, you have experienced a little bit of what hell is like. It’s miserable to need love and want love and yet not let someone love you.
Unbelievers are like buckets turned upside down under Niagara Falls. They wonder, “Where is the love of God and the God of love?” They moan, “My life is empty and meaningless.” Yet they won’t turn their lives right-side up and let the waterfall of God’s infinite love fill their lives. God’s love is a gushing torrent, but people set against God don’t feel a drop. And hell is where people have decided they don’t even want to feel God’s love.