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By Mike Edwards

The traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. God isn’t a sadistic torturer who has to be appeased by killing their child? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. Hell was invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. Such fear only causes confusion, pisses you off, or leads to hiding stuff. What really is God’s good news?

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. See here.

Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest. There is no word in Hebrew or Greek for “hell.” Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death is as tragic as physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

Is God saving us from earth to get into Heaven?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. But, didn’t the Apostle Paul say “the wages of sin is death” (Rm. 6:23)? Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive though sin has put him to death (Rm. 7:11). Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What does the Bible say God is saving us from?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.” https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God wants to save us not from God but from ourselves.

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, to inspire us seeking God’s help in radically loving others. As God loves us, Jesus encouraged mercy, forgiveness, and going the extra mile in our relationships. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world. Loving God can empower loving others to the fullest.

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