A very personal testimony about the fear of hell...


#1

I’ve been going through the difficult passages in the scriptures that seem to teach the possibility of eternal damnation and have been trying to work through them within a UR world view. The scriptures need to be able to hang together, and harmonize while still being believable. Here is my next verse that many of you know. I’m sure it’s been discussed here before but I still can’t seem to get the search engine to work right for me in these forums. Here is the passage, Hebrews 6: 4-6:

**"4For in the case of those who have once been (J)enlightened and have tasted of (K)the heavenly gift and have been made (L)partakers of the Holy Spirit,

5and (M)have tasted the good (N)word of God and the powers of (O)the age to come,

6and then have fallen away, it is §impossible to renew them again to repentance, (Q)since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. "**

I read an explanation at tentmakers and the person said, basically, that even though it says “impossible” it doesn’t mean that. The writer was speaking in hyperbole. They then quoted the verse about how it was impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, but that all things were possible with God. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

Beware, this is long and emotional, and, due to the transparent nature of the post, is more than a bit embarrassing. This is a particularly troubling verse for me because I, after decades of Christianity, went through a monstrous trial in my life that lasted for years (and is still going). It seemed that God hadn’t “talked” to me in years and wouldn’t respond to me no matter what I prayed. I began to lose hope and came to the conclusion that I had fallen away and the reason why God wouldn’t respond to me was that I was, in fact, one of those whom God spoke of. I would beg and beg, but, no God. After years of this my faith began to trickle to a stop. I then went down a bad road. I began to read about people who had a similar experience to me and I found this testimony of a Wycliffe Bible translator/missionary who lost his faith. Over many years he begged God to give him assurance that he was his child and he received only silence. He eventually stopped his missionary work and slowly completely lost his faith and became an atheist. His “testimony” floored me. I began on a path toward atheism myself and began watching debates between atheists and Christians. I read a few of Richard Dawkins’ books. Strangely, throughout this I would talk to God every so often about why I was thinking the way I was. At the same time, I came to a point that I completely, no longer believed in God. But, it wasn’t like I was acting angry toward God at that point. It just simply seemed that the evidence (problem of evil, evolution, most people forever in hell, confusing religions, etc) pointed toward something more random and Christianity no longer seemed feasible to me. I would ask, “Why would God make himself a man in the middle east 2000 years ago so he could sacrifice himself to himself so he wouldn’t have to send people to the hell that he created in the first place?” After reading the atheist’s point of view, the faith seemed really bizarre. Especially in light of the fact that most people who ever existed were going to go to hell.

Backing up a little bit, I had gotten so afraid of hell (at this point knowing that God would no longer forgive me and that I was part of the elect of hell) that I was having panic attacks (real ones!) while trying to deal with the fact that I was going to burn for eternity. I was walking around terrified and had become an emotional zombie for my wife and children. I would pray at night and beg and beg and beg for God to take me back, to accept my repentance and I remember coming across this verse in Proverbs 1 that crushed me:

24"Because (AG)I called and you (AH)refused,
I (AI)stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25And you (AJ)neglected all my counsel
And did not (AK)want my reproof;
26I will also (AL)laugh at your (AM)calamity;
I will mock when your (AN)dread comes,

27When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a (AO)whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
28"Then they will (AP)call on me, but I will not answer;
They will (AQ)seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29Because they (AR)hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD.
30"They (AS)would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31"So they shall (AT)eat of the fruit of their own way
And be (AU)satiated with their own devices.
32"For the (AV)waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

Since I had backslidden in the Hebrews manner, this was my life and I was terrified. I no longer knew how to be a father because I didn’t know how to concentrate on these things in light of the fact that I was damned (BTW, health problems seemed to point to the fact that I was probably dying, so it was coming sooner than later). I remember once, a few years ago, sitting in my daughters room, alone, and I was staring at our pet bearded dragon who was kicking back, not a worry in the world. I began to cry and I said to God, “why won’t you let me trade places with the animal. She doesn’t have to go to hell. Why did you create us to be eternal? Why can’t you simply make me no longer exist? I am so afraid all of the time and there is no way I can get you to change your mind.” I just sat there, wishing with all my heart that I could be that lizard, or that I could have never been born.

So you can maybe see that when atheism showed its face to me, especially through the testimony of an ex christian who was a conservative evangelical wycliffe missionary turned atheist with the same story, it came as a relief. It was a breath of fresh air. It was a chance to NOT go to hell. I didn’t want to go and live a life of sin. I didn’t want to shirk my responsibilities, cheat on my wife, become a prodigal. I just didn’t want to go to hell. I began to hope for more evidences for evolution, evidence for life on other planets; anything that would let me NOT be under the judgment of God. I didn’t share these things with my wife, though she saw it happening, no doubt. I still went to church, but get this: I wouldn’t take communion because I didn’t want to take it in an unworthy manner so as to anger God and bring judgment on myself! Hows that for crazy?! But I was continuing to fall into greater and greater disbelief and it was a tremendous comfort!

The big problem was that I couldn’t alleviate my fear of hell and it would come creeping back. One night, in the middle of the night I decided to go through the scriptures and prove once and for all that they weren’t God’s word. Prepared to challenge the “contradictions” I came across Hebrews 6 and I was reduced to a sobbing child. I went to my wife literally wailing that I had fallen away to the point of no return and confessed to my “atheism” and how I went so far as to have laughed at the idea of God sacrificing himself to himself. “I laughed at God” I told her and I just laid there and wailed and wailed and felt fear greater than I ever had in my whole life. I just said “I’m lost and I’m so afraid” over and over again.

I began to think about my life. Was I ever a Christian? I must have preached a thousand sermons and sang ten thousand songs, but I knew that that didn’t matter to God (But Lord, did I not, in thy name…depart from me). I came to the conclusion that I did become one, which worked against my favor because then I did become an apostate. Nevertheless, I repented and told God that I had to still raise my kids to know him. I still had to love my wife and be a good husband. I still had to be an example, if at all possible, for faith in Christ to my kids, for woe is me even more if I bring my children to a place where they wouldn’t believe because of my own lack of faith. I have chosen to put myself at the mercy of God and follow him even with all my doubts, hang-ups. I have chosen to turn my mind away from the doubts when they rear their ugly head. I have chosen to follow Christ, even though he may not accept me for there is nowhere else for me to go. I have made a commitment to my wife and kids and I will try to keep it. I broke my commitment to Christ, but I’m going to try to die trying to follow him for, perhaps, he will have mercy on me, even though I failed him badly. After it’s all said and done, I do believe. I don’t believe in a steady state universe. There was a beginning and I can’t attribute this all to chance. I cannot deny our human nature is wickedly broken and we are in need of a savior. I know my own wickedness and my need for Christ. There is nowhere else to go but to throw myself at the mercy of God. I see through the emptiness of the atheist philosophy with all its shortcomings, not to mention that it is also philosophically bankrupt. I live in fear of judgment, so you can see that I have a motivation toward UR. No one needs it like I do. But I also need to see it in the scriptures. My bias is severe and it disqualifies me in many ways from developing an unbiased opinion since I want to see it there, but at the same time, the view of God that I grew up with simply does not seem to fit with how God revealed himself. The scripture seems to show a God that wants to redeem us. And I’m hoping that he will redeem me.


#2

That was (and is) an amazing testimony Christ. If I may comment on one thing:

I thought that was pretty honorable myself. :slight_smile:

The Epistle to the Hebrews has a lot of things in it. I wouldn’t call the “impossible” hyperbole, but even in chapter 6 there’s hope for those who eat unworthily of God’s communion and have regarded as unclean God’s sacrifice for them. I can’t tell from your story whether you’ve done such a thing or not, and if you have then yes there’s punishment of some kind on the way. But it’s punishment from the Living God.

And that’s a very different thing from not being saved from sin. Someone who does what the Hebraist is talking about, is disdaining the great salvation of God, so of course as long as they do that they will not be saved from punishment (a topic also mentioned early in chapter 2 among other places). But that doesn’t mean the punishment is hopeless. It’s supposed to bring the person back to valuing the salvation of God again.

I haven’t formally written up all my notes on EpistHeb yet, but I’ve consolidated most of them (across the whole Epistle) in regard to salvation and condemnation, as a pdf flashpoint set for a lecture I delivered as guest teacher for my single’s class last year. I’m sure it went far over everyone’s head (trying to summarize and climax an epistle the size and complexity of EpistHeb will do that!), but I made it available here at the forum anyway.

The flipcard set (and the accompanying doc sheet I printed out for everyone, which covers a little different material) is kind of simplified (keeping in mind the huge scope of the lesson!!–had I been teaching the whole epistle from the start this wouldn’t have been necessary of course), but I think it still gets the gist across. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I hope it’ll be reassuring. There’s a lot more going on in the Epistle to the Hebrews than even most professional commentators are aware. And it’s hopeful, not hopeless.


#3

#4

Keeping in mind that he said he totally became an atheist, I still agree with you on everything else you wrote, Oxy. :slight_smile:

It isn’t that he didn’t lose his faith–he very obviously did.

It’s that we can be sure that God has not abandoned him, despite how Chris has felt about that over the years.

Or anyway if universalism is true we can be sure God has not abandoned him. If Calvinism is true and if Chris is certainly one of the elect, we can also be sure God has not abandoned him (even if Chris became an atheist). If Arminianism is true, God may or may not have abandoned him already, who knows?–though we can at least be sure that God started out acting to save him.

The scope and persistence of assurance of God’s salvation from sin is what is evangelistically at stake between Calv, Arm and Kath theologies. If universalism (Kath) is true, we can be sure that the good news of salvation from sin applies to Chris, too, and always will. If Calv or Arm theology is true, Chris may be hopelessly lost with no good news of salvation from sin for him.

The question of whether the gospel of God’s salvation from sin practically and persistently applies to Chris, personally, himself–not some hypothetical person over there who may or may not be elected to salvation, or whom God may or may not give up acting to save from sin–is absolutely important. God Himself shed His blood on the cross, to the death, to answer that question.

If Christian universalism is true–if trinitarian theism is true!–I can be sure, and so also reassuring to Chris (even if he cannot believe this yet himself), that what you wrote really does apply to Chris himself, personally. I don’t have to make a hopeful guess about whether He is elected to salvation instead of only suffering a convenient delusion (for the sake of other plans of God which might require such a delusion for the sake of God’s glory and perhaps also for God’s real elect). And I don’t have to make a hopeful guess about whether Chris has said and done and thought enough of the right things to keep God from abandoning him to his sin (and so also to hopeless punishment sooner and later.)

Anything less than the maximum gospel, in other words, is only and horribly less.

Chris, if the Arminian scope is true, then the Calvinistic persistence admirably testified to by Oxy is also true for you, personally. I have total faith in God for your salvation; that your repentance is not worthless, and is not too late for salvation. Those people God is talking about in the Proverb you quoted?–they only care about being saved from the harsh consequences of their sins. They don’t care (yet) about being saved from their sins. That’s why God is laughing at them, rejoicing in their consternation.

But God is also rejoicing because, even in their mere consternation, the first step has been achieved (by God!) in bringing them to truly sorrow for their sins. This is prophecied time and time again in the OT. But God’s laughter toward them is not directed at you, in your penitence and sorrow.

Blessed are those who sorrow; for they shall be comforted by God.

May God strengthen and refresh you at last this weekend, in peace.


#5

Thanks for your encouraging words guys. It’s been quite a trip. It’s a little more than a weird thing to look back at your life and remember a time when all sorts of people told you that you were “special” and “anointed”, and that God was doing “important” things with others through your life. I can say, with the apostle Paul that “I have suffered the loss of all things” and hopefully it is so I can say “and I count them all rubbish that I may gain Christ.” One thing that sometimes gives me some hope was that my greatest apostasy was made when it seemed as if God had washed his hands of me. At that point I had not rejected Him, I only felt rejected by him and was in a back-slidden state. I still prayed and went to church, etc. It was when I became totally despairing that I began to go down the atheist road. I did it to seek comfort from my condemnation and I would talk to God and tell him that I was only doing it because I didn’t know how to cope knowing that I was going to literally burn forever. I hoped that he would understand that I wasn’t hostile toward him. I lived in such a crazy world like that, full of contradictions. There were times that I would say that I was a completely convinced atheist at breakfast time, but by supper time I would be praying about something or trying to reason with God about my position before him. I was always trying to find a way to receive mercy. I remember one day driving off from my house and I was thinking how I was no longer a believer and all of the sudden, right in front of me there was a really bad accident. It was one of those where you know that someone got hurt fairly bad and I immediately began to pray in earnest for the person who was hit. It struck me like a lightning bolt. I somehow had gotten to a place where I was in 2 places at the same time. On the one hand I didn’t believe and on the other hand I was holding a steady stream of conversations with God about my life.

The hope I was talking about at first was that the apostasy came from the assumption of eternal hell. I was trying to protect myself psychologically by finding a reason to not believe in hell anymore. I wonder, perhaps if UR is true, that God will show mercy to me since my fear was based on something that wasn’t true (eternal hell) and as a result would forgive my apostasy that was caused by that belief. It’s an interesting line of thought to consider. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not claiming innocence.

Chris


#6

I read every word and even when he became an “atheist” he was still struggling. Bear in mind I am a O.S.A.S. I don’t see in scripture that one can lose their faith as they never had it to begin with. I see in scripture a Christian can sin for a season but the bible doesn’t say how long that season is even Peter walked away but Jesus brought him back. God Bless! :slight_smile:


#7

Chris to be honest eternal hell is mainstream orthodox Christian teaching therefore UR is the apostasy. Chris there are two presuppositions diametrically opposed from one another with different attributes and characters of God. Do not think that UR is just a matter of not believing in eternal hell. UR and mainstream orthodox Christianity are in two different camps and on that basis both can’t be Christian and one is idolatry. Chris could you worship a God that sends people to an eternal hell? because if my presupposition turns out to be true then you do have something to worry about. Please understand I am not here to rain on your parade but I do this out of love because of what I see in scripture. God Bless! :slight_smile:


#8

I totally agree with this. We find the characters in scripture denying, forgetting and doubting God, yet He still claims them as His own. Thomas might as well have been an atheist - he didn’t have a belief in the resurrection as per Romans 10:9! Okay, so he probably still believed there was a God, but how is that any better when you don’t have trust that God can do anything? You practically don’t believe in God.

I’ve found some atheists to be very spiritual. I even feel some fellowship with them. :mrgreen:

Who knows how God is working in the world, and who are we to judge? It is indeed a divine mystery… and I’m on the edge of my seat to see how it turns out! :mrgreen:


#9

Chris
I don’t know where to start. I read almost every post on this forum and reply to a small minority. But I know this, that although I haven’t the guts you have shown to write my story today, I can’t leave this chair without writing something.

  1. THANK YOU! If people (‘christians/churchgoers’) were just half as honest with themselves and others as you are, I am sure this world would be transformed for the better.
  2. As a bible believing christian, regardless of how strong/weak/non-existent your faith is, I know one thing for sure - if you are to be damned, then so am I and so is the rest of the world! It is clear to me that your spiritual journey is light-years ahead of most people.
  3. Here is an observation - it may be wrong: Whilst your faith in God was almost shot to pieces, you still placed IMMENSE faith in what the Bible says. It seems to me that you had more faith in the Bible than in God? Just think about it. You allowed certain texts to scare the living daylights out of you to the extent that you shewed more (negative) faith in your interpretation of some passages from some of 66 collections of writings than you shewed in God. I would respectfully ask you in the coming months to re-assess your perspective of these writings and whether we can idolise the book(s).
  4. I am convinced that those who are truly moving in the right direction become more and more sensitive to their own failings - their own inadequacies. This becomes an unbearable weight if it is not accompanied by a knowledge that got loves us to death JUST AS WE ARE. Perhaps whilst you are begging, God is weeping because you wont let go of those hideous concepts that are making you beg. Perhaps until you do, until you surrendered your stubborn beliefs, His hands were tied. There is all the difference in the world between begging and surrendering.
  5. Whilst I haven’t the guts to share my story I know of two things that have helped me and if any of the above made sense, I will pass them on to you if you wish.

May God bring you the peace that will revolutionise your life and that of your family.


#10

Chris, you are sharing in the suffering of Christ. He also said, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Your response is also the same. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Nothing, *nothing *can separate you from the love of God. If the writer of Hebrews seems to say otherwise, he either was mistaken, or we are misunderstanding him.

Could he be mistaken? Isn’t this Holy Writ? Well, was the Teacher mistaken when he said “Everything is meaningless”? Or the Psalmist who said it was blessed to bash babies? Or Jesus, when he contradicted Moses. “You have heard it said… but I say to you…” Or Paul, when he called down curses on unbelievers?

I’m told there was a controversy in the early church. If Fred falls away under persecution, can we accept him back into the Church when things cool down, or is that the end of it for apostate Fred? We can clearly see what side the writer of Hebrews took in this debate, but fortunately not everyone saw things his way. His “One chance only” argument didn’t win the day.


#11

Imagine that the Incarnate Son of God is on earth and He says that He will not cast out any that come to Him. You come to Him and He says “I cast you out”. Ain’t gonna happen…


#12

Hey Pilgrim, thanks for being so gracious with me. As far as being “light years ahead”, I can only have hope that “His being strong in my weakness” will give me potential for great strength for I am a weak and foolish man. You said,

“I know of two things that have helped me and if any of the above made sense, I will pass them on to you if you wish.”

I would be glad to hear the things that have helped you.

Chris


#13

Oxy,

You said, "UR and mainstream orthodox Christianity are in two different camps and on that basis both can’t be Christian "

What does it mean to be a Christian? What do you need, bare bones, to get into heaven? You are Phillip and I am the Ethiopian eunich. You have just a few minutes with me before you are snatched away by the Holy Spirit. What do I need to be saved? Just the bare bones–The essentials to get me through?

Chris


#14

Chris,
That’s a very stirring testimony and I thank you for sharing it–and there’s nothing in it to be embarrassed about.

I share your need to be convinced by scripture. I would never have believed in UR if I was unable to see it in scripture, and because I see it there I thank God always for His love, justice, and mercy. I had to work through all those troubling passages which we have been taught to see ET in, and though I’m not necessarily satisfied that I’ve come to full understanding of these, it is enough for me.

The most convincing thing to me is that the scope of salvation portrayed in scripture seems to clearly encompass all of creation. I see no way to get around that fact as being the final result of God’s plan. Surely there is judgment, wrath, condemnation, punishment for sins that cannot be simply forgiven… and then what happens? I don’t think we’ve been told enough to know exactly how it all plays out, but it is stated very plainly that the purpose of the ages is the subjection of all things under Christ and the unifying of all things in Christ.

So I look at the Proverbs passage that troubles you and see that the fools folly will lead to destruction and the sin of the naive will lead to death; there comes a time when in the course of stubborn rebellion when God will punish us and give us the full measure of what we’ve earned, even if we cry for mercy – just as David begged for the life of his son, but God took the child anyway.

… and I ask: And then what happens? For the end has not yet come. Other passages tell us about the end. Scripture tells us of a God who “kills and makes alive” and who “wounds and heals”. He raises the dead, heals the sick, sets free the captives, seeks and saves the ἀπόλλυμι [destroyed].

The Hebrews passage says that it is “impossible to renew them again to repentance” – which is a frightening statement indeed! But isn’t the very fact that you find yourself repentant proof that you have not sinned in the manner described?

The people to whom Hebrews is addressed were returning to Judaism–or at least mixing the two… They put Christ to shame by saying in their actions that His sacrifice was insufficient, feeling that they must go back to the sacrificing of animals, whose blood is unable to save, the offering of which was merely shadows of the true sacrifice to come. The repentance in vs 6 is the same as that of vs 1: “repentance from dead works.” If they once repented from these works, experienced the work of Christ in their lives, found it not good enough for them and went back to trying to find salvation through dead works–how would it be possible to change their minds and bring them back to Christ again? The author of Hebrews says it’s impossible.

But it doesn’t end there! He continues on and assures them that although they have fallen aside into this error and put Christ to shame, and he has spoken harshly because of this, he is convinced of better things from them and for them, to result in salvation–that they are not worthless and fit to be burned (even though they may have produced a crop of thorns!) but they have done good, ministered, loved and God does not forget this. He urges them to continue in these things and in faith in God (rather than in religious rites) so that they may have assurance and hope of salvation.

I hope you will be encouraged and come to the assurance that God loves you much–nothing can separate us from His love!
Sonia


#15

dirtboy,

I’m quite surprised that in the Proverbs 1 passage you inexplicably stopped at vs 32. Did you see what vs 33 says?

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

Was this intentional?

ETA: I would like to add something here, because I know your plight about doubts of your salvation. It seems that as much as you tried to beg and plead with God for mercy, the less it seems evident to you. I think you are going about it the wrong way.

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” - Luke 17:33

You’re so worried about trying to save your own ass that it has become the very thing you fail to attain (Pardon me, as I speak from experience). As long as you try to seek save your own life, you’ll never find it. You know why? Because you are putting the focus on yourself. It is a source of pride. Negative pride at that.

"Charity ‘agape’ love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;" - I Corinthians 13:4-5

This kind of love is sacrificial, regarding not one’s own life, but the lives of others. To be obsessed with your own well being is going to affect those whom you love, you’ve even stated as such by you concern that your doubts could affect how your children will think.

I remember my then 16 year old daughter came to me not too long ago and had doubts about her salvation. I asked her that when she came to Christ did she mean it, she said yes. I asked her if she had a heart for God, she said yes. I asked her are you trying to do what the Lord has spoken on her heart about in folloing Him, she said yes. I asked then why would she doubt her salvation? She said she just didn’t feel saved. I pointed out that God never instructed us to feel saved, but to take it by faith in trusting Him. I asked her if she trusts God to save her. She said yes. After that her doubts subsided.

We need to get to the point that we simply trust Him. It’s only when we get past this that we can live for Him.

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” - Luke 14:26

This passage is not talking about loathing yourself to death. It does you no good to get all bonkered about whether God is sending you to hell or not. Because you are focused on yourself. That is the whole lesson about denying oneself.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” - Matthew 16:24

If you want the operation of the Spirit to be evident in your life, you are going to have to just follow Christ. Look to do what He’s told you to do and not worry about the outcome. Just “trust and obey” as the hymn goes.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” - John 14:21

You will see God in you life, manifested by the obedience you demonstrate to God in loving Him.

I can guarantee you from my own experience, this promise is real.


#16

Quite so! But that was regardless of whether Peter had lost his faith or not, which by the way he clearly had. :slight_smile:

Peter walked away; Jesus went out and brought him back. It wasn’t a question of God ensuring that Peter persisted in his faith; it was a question of whether God persisted in His own faithfulness to be saving Peter (so eventually bringing Peter back to faith. Peter loses faith on the water after answering the call; Jesus keeps His faith and rescues Peter from the swirling chaotic depths. The literal miracle mirrors, and foretells, the spiritual reality.)

And one of the great strengths of Calv theology (compared to Arm), is that there ought to be no question of God’s faithfulness to save. May God be true though every man a liar! :smiley:

Of course, being a Kath means I also believe one of the great strengths of Arm theology is that there ought to be no question of God’s scope to save. May God be true though every man a liar! :smiley:

Calv persistence, Arm scope: the two great hopes of salvation in Christ. And both are utterly practical in preaching the hope of the gospel of salvation from sin and making disciples, in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

(I meant that more for Chris’ sake than yours, but you’re welcome to it, too. :slight_smile: At any rate, I very certainly and greatly appreciate your help in giving hope to Chris. {bow!})


#17

Hi Chris,
I’m glad you opened up and I hope to share a few things that will encourage, even deliver you from the fear that is oppressing you.
1st, note that in the Proverbs passage it is Wisdom speaking, not God! If Wisdom instructs us to go down one path and we choose to follow Folly, then Wisdom will laugh when Folly brings us to ruin. Yes, God is filled with wisdom and wisdom comes from God, but God is much more than wisdom; God is love! And God loves you and love never fails!
2nd, note the metaphor of the land being burned in Heb. 6:8 " But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." I’ve cleared land for farming and ranching. Why is land burned off? To get rid of the plants, weeds, thorns, non-fruit bearing plants, so as to make room for the planting of desired plants and trees! Yes, the passage warns of fiery trouble to come upon those who have rejected God from their lives, but it warns of remedial punishment, whether in this life or the next, NOT ECT! And note that when it says is is “impossible” for them to repent; yes, repentance is impossible for us, especially once we’ve hardened ourselves against God! But what is not possible for us is certainly possible for God! Is anything too hard for God? Of course not.
Just this morning I was studying John 12:32 where Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will **draw **all people to myself.” The word draw is helkyo and means to drag, draw, even by force! It is not a wimpy “drawing” but and active “dragging”. Note the following.

1670 ἑλκύω [helkuo, helko /hel·koo·o/] v. Probably akin to 138; TDNT 2:503; TDNTA 227; GK 1816; Eight occurrences; AV translates as “draw” eight times. 1 to draw, drag off. 2 metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel. [Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. Woodside Bible Fellowship.: Ontario]

**DRAG **

  1. suro (σύρω, 4951), “to draw, drag, haul,” is used of a net, John 21:8; of violently “dragging” persons along, Acts 8:3, “haling”; 14:19, rv, “dragged,” kjv, “drew”; 17:6 (ditto); Rev. 12:4, kjv, “drew,” rv, “draweth.” See draw, hale.¶
    Note: Cf. the strengthened form katasuro, “to hale,” used in Luke 12:58.¶
  2. **helkuo **(or helko) (ἑλκύω, 1670), “to draw,” differs from suro, as “drawing” does from violent “dragging.” It is used of “drawing” a net, John 21:6, 11 (cf. No. 1, in v. 8), Trench remarks, “At vv. 6 and 11 helko (or helkuo) is used; for there a drawing of the net to a certain point is intended; by the disciples to themselves in the ship, by Peter to himself upon the shore. But at v. 8 helko gives place to suro: for nothing is there intended but the dragging of the net, which had been fastened to the ship, after it through the water” (Syn., Sec.xxi).
    This less violent significance, usually present in helko, but always absent from suro, is seen in the metaphorical use of helko, to signify “drawing” by inward power, by divine impulse, John 6:44; 12:32. So in the Sept., e.g., Song of Sol. 1:4, and Jer. 31:3, “with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It is used of a more vigorous action, in John 18:10, of “drawing” a sword; in Acts 16:19; 21:30, of forcibly “drawing” men to or from a place; so in Jas. 2:6, kjv, “draw,” rv, “drag.”
    [Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. 1996. Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words . T. Nelson: Nashville]
I'm sorry for all the inner turmoil that you've went through in your faith, but let me encourage you with a paraphrase of something Bell said in one of his recent interviews, "A living faith is one full of questions!"  If your faith does not have questions, then it's not living, but stagnant and dead.  Far too many people have become calcified in their beliefs and are no longer growing.  Growth requires change. Your faith is like gold and it is and will be refined by fire! 
Well, may the Lord bless you and fill you with peace!  

Blessings,
Sherman


#18

A point emphasized by God through Isaiah 27:4-5, by the way, in the midst of severe descriptions of coming destruction on rebels (both Israel and Gentiles). God burns up the thorns and thistles, if people insist on going out to war against Him carrying those, but there is no wrath in Him–the goal is to get them to turn and repent and to cling to Him as their savior, making peace with Him.

(I just posted up a rather long disquisition on the topic, which is connected to St. Paul’s use of Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13 at the triumphant climax of his 1 Cor 15 teaching on the resurrection. It can be found here.)


#19

Thanks, Sonia. I have been encouraged by the messages I am getting from many here on this board. I appreciate your words here.

Chris


#20

Well spoken, dondi! It’s when I found that all I was doing was thinking of myself, all the time, that I realized that I was certainly going to get nowhere fast that way. The reason why I wasn’t able to get out of it was that I was so convinced to the core of my being that God intended for me to go to hell that it completely paralyzed me, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I was a true basket case! It’s embarrassing to admit to all of this, but, there it is. If you look at the last paragraph of my original post, you can see that I was coming to some of the conclusions that you stated here, although your points are more clearly thought out. It took me some time to realize that Proverbs was not God speaking to me and my eternal state. For so long I thought that was a personal message from him. I read a great piece about a man Fritz Spiera, who thought he had blasphemed God. The writer of the article put it this way:

***I would say to Fritz Spiera, “How do you know that you have committed the unpardonable sin?” He would tell me that he once recanted and rejected the Christ whom once he confessed. “Do you feel happy about it?” I would say. “Happy? I’m in agony of soul, without hope.” “No you’re not,” I’d say to him. “This is a day of grace in which Christ invites rebel sinners to come to himself for rest, and he sincerely invites you. Come as you are to Christ and come now. Come as the most reluctant sinner ever to have come. Come with little assurance and little hope that God will hear you, but still come. Die coming! Say, ‘I died trying to come to Christ.’ None who died thus will be turned away.” I would say to him, “You say that you know that you don’t have Christ?” “Yes,” “But do you know that if you did have him you’d be saved?” “Yes . . .” “Then you are a Christian. Do you ask God to forgive you your sins for Christ’s sake? Then that is a Christian.” I would use every means of encouraging him to put his faith - even as fine as a spider’s thread - in Christ. I say, do not trust in your belief that you have committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Trust in the one who says, “Come to me.”

Christians get depressed and sick for various reasons, and then they may read these words of Jesus about the unforgivable sin - at such a time of sickness. They cling to those awful warnings and they say, “That is me! I am in that state.” But I refuse to believe them. That is the illness talking. They read Pilgrim’s Progress and they come across Bunyan’s man in the iron cage, and they say, “That’s me.” I will not believe such assurance of damnation. “Don’t say that,” I’ll say to them, “That’s your sickness talking.” This is a day the Lord has made, when we may go to him for mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. However long our imprisoned spirits have lain fast bound in sin and nature’s night Christ’s eye still gives a quickening ray. We can awake, and our chains can fall off, and our hearts be free, and we can follow him.

There is such a thing as an unforgivable sin, and we will not apologise for dealing with a sober theme. Now you know that every wise Christian will say such words as these to you about that sin (and most of you have heard these counsels often through your life) - hear me - that if you are anxious that you have committed blasphemy against the Spirit, you needn’t fear, for such blasphemy is always accompanied by complete indifference to that sin. In other words, if you are afraid you have committed this sin we can say with great confidence that you have not, because the troubled conscience you have is a sure testimony that you haven’t committed it. ***

I am looking forward and with all my might, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on…” I’m throwing myself on the mercies of God.

Chris