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Hope of Everlasting Life

Excerpt from Death & I Are Too Close
A father’s memoir of bereavement, grief and suicide

“However, having held a deep religious conviction for over 20 years throughout my formative years, I know death will trouble anyone who really believes that non-believers go to hell. This, to my mind, explains some of the behaviour I have seen. For example, someone I know fixated on the early childhood images of their son rather than be reminded that he died an unbeliever as an adult. Children get to heaven regardless of their faith because they are not responsible for their own decisions yet—a bit like how the age of criminal responsibility only starts at 10 (at least in Australia). Another colleague had a grown son who committed suicide, a mortal sin in some religions because you can’t ask for forgiveness afterwards. The haunted look in her eyes spoke volumes about the injustice of cursing people’s already devastating bereavement with the thought that their loved one will forever be separated from them and enduring never-ending punishment and pain...

“I can only entreat anyone of religious persuasion to consider a different interpretation of the role of hell and the capacity for a righteous God to save even nonbelievers. If hell was designed for the Devil, who rebelled in full knowledge of God, then let it remain as that: just for demons. No human has fully known God and so cannot be solely responsible for rejecting Him. Even if someone states categorically that they don’t believe, it is still a claim from ignorance. Add to this Abraham’s request for God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction, if He should find 100, or even 10 righteous people there…I’m sure God was waiting for him to bargain it down to one righteous person. I believe this because the cornerstone of the Bible’s message is that one person did bring salvation for everyone. And even if there is just one good person in every society, wouldn’t God find a way to save everyone in that society? In the same way, Paul states that those who die in ignorance will not be judged except on their conscience. In other words, if you believe that God is able to save anyone and that He wants everyone to be saved, then He can find a way to ensure that everyone will be reunited with their loved ones. Then no one will have to weep in heaven, forever remembering those in hell. I ask believers to open their hearts to consider that God has a plan that we don’t understand and that it is OK to hope to see everyone again one day. Even the most wayward soul has a mother and father who loved them and who would be broken-hearted to be eternally separated from them. Let’s not judge the dead or be so certain we understand God’s plans. Leave the hope burning that He has a surprise for you and heaven will be a place of complete family reunification.”

Miller, R., Death & I Are Too Close

Cross References:

1 Corinthians 2:11: “For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit.” Those who die in ignorance of God will not be judged

Acts 17:30-31: “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent, because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” 

Romans 2:13-16: “It isn’t the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified (for when Gentiles who don’t have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.”

Genesis 18:23-26: “I will not destroy [Sodom] for the ten’s sake.” Or, by inference, for the One’s sake. 

Ezekiel 34:11-12: “I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them.”

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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