Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Eternity with God

from here:

In his little book Fear Not!, an examination of death and the afterlife from a Christian perspective, Ligon Duncan writes about the horrors of hell. Having done so, he offers a final reflection on the ultimate difference between heaven and hell. And, though I’ve read extensively, I do not recall ever hearing someone express it quite like this. These are words that are worthy of some reflection. Though he has already discussed hell, there is one more thing he wishes to say.


It is a surprising thing to note, because so often we speak of hell as a place where God is not. Let me, however, say something provocative. Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator. Hell is eternity in the presence of God, being fully conscious of the just, holy, righteous, good, kind, and loving Father’s disapproval of your rebellion and wickedness. Heaven, on the other hand, is dwelling in the conscious awareness of your holy and righteous Father, but doing so through a mediator who died in your place, the One who absorbed the fullness of the penalty of your sin. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with the One who totally eradicated sin from your life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with a mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Glen's additions here:

In terms of our doctrine of God - what sense can be made of ‘God without a Mediator’? Trinity means that mediation goes way back. WAY back. And WAY forwards. 1 Corinthians 8:6 - all things have always been from the Father and through the Lord Jesus. All things. And all things always will be. Who is this God who is without His Mediator. I simply can’t recognize ‘God without a mediator’ as the Christian God.

In terms of our christology - does this sentiment give Christ His due?It could lead people to suppose that Christ is simply the wrath-averter. Now of course He is the wrath-averter. And if He was only the wrath-averter we would still praise Him into eternity for it. But He is far more than this. He is the Mediator of all the Father’s business. Christ does not exist for our benefit - we exist for His. The saying above could be easily misconstrued to mean that the Mediator is extremely important for us - but not so important for God. No. He is essential to the divine life before we ever consider His importance for us.

In terms of Scripture - 2 Thes 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (KJV) There’s a translation issue about the preposition (’apo’). Should it be translated ‘from’ or ‘away from’? I favour ‘from’ - ie implying that Christ is present in judgement. This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb. See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it’s the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb. Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him.

No comments: