Monday, January 12, 2009

A Divine Appointment: Hell

See this divine appointment is the reason why either:
a. I need to memorize scripture more, or
b. I need an iPhone or need to install the Bible on my PDA

Last night in my prayers and since last week I've been asking God to grant me some divine appointments at the hospital. For those of you who don't know what a divine appointment is, at least according to my definition: divine appointments are encounters with unlikely people, at an unlikely place during an unlikely time for the purpose of being witnessed to obviously by God's providence, hence the term "divine". Like the Ethiopian eunuch reading a prophesy of Christ in the book of Isaiah and Philip showing up to witness to him as we learn in the book of Acts (Acts 8:26-40), that was a divine appointment and in this portion of scripture we get to see God's hand by sending and Angel to tell Philip to go out to where the eunuch was.
Now that you know, let us continue with this story. So I was minding my own business laying on a bed in one of the rooms at the hospital (there was nothing to do and I was sleepy) when along comes my friend Michelle to tell me there were two "americans" out in the hall looking for someone who'll translate for them, she hinted to me that they might be Jehovah Witnesses. So I get out of bed and head toward the hall, only to find a lovely couple with pamphlets in hand speaking to Ramon an internal medicine intern from my university. So I walk up to them and this very nice young woman with an english accent hands a pamphlet to me and begins explaining what the pamphlet was about. I read the words Watchtower at the end of the pamphlet as an endnote and knew they were Jehovah witnesses as my friend had told me.
So I began reading the pamphlet and immediately saw one of their doctrines displayed in the answer to a question, what happens after we die?. They believe the wicked will be dead for forever after they die, no punishment, not even a place called hell.
So I told the girl, Becky, that I disagreed with what they teach because the Bible teaches something else. I told her that the Bible says some are resurrected to eternal damnation or condemnation and some to eternal life, she said "Show me where it says that in Scripture and I'll believe you" so I went to Matthew 25:46 which says:
"And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matt 25:46 (esv) [Read it in context I mistakenly did not read the whole thing to her just this and other verses]

Of course her Bible had a different term for punishment it says "cutting-off", later on when I pointed to that verse again she asked, but "isn't eternal death a punishment?" I say that's the easy way out, we've sinned against an infinite Holy God and we get a finite punishment?
Anyway, she began talking to me about God being a God of love and pointing me to 1 John where we're told that God is love. By this time the man who was with her joined us in our conversation, I told her I agreed completely but that we cannot forget that God is a just judge as well and he must punish sin. I then pointed her to Psalm 11 which I had read this very morning,
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
She began to rationalize her belief with a bad analogy, one I've even heard from atheists: "What if you had a child who was very bad, always misbehaving, always being bad would you enjoy punishing him forever?" It falls short because you're comparing the incomparable, its not just a child misbehaving it is a criminal breaking God's law, if you had a criminal always killing, stealing, raping would not want this criminal to be punished rightfully?
We continued pointing ourselves back and forth to scripture, she began to feel agitated and kept on repeating "no God is love, you're wrong, he would never do that." Every now and then the man who was with her had to tell her to not argue or to relax or something like that. He pointed me to Romans 6: 7:
"For one who has died has been set free from sin."

I told him they couldn't keep on picking out verses like that and we read all of Romans 6, and I showed him that what Paul was talking about was us Christians being dead to Sin and alive in Christ, nothing about people not existing after death.
He began to talk after that and told me that there were different words in the Greek used for hell, and I said that I knew very well that the Bible uses the word Gehenna, Hades, and Sheol (There is another word used only once but couldn't remember it refer to my post on Hell) I also explained what Gehenna was and how it symbolizes what will be going on in Hell.
Then he pointed me to 6:23 and I told him how he harmonized those verses that seem to talk about death being it with those that talk about the lake of fire, they couldn't answer that except with God is love and he would never do that, and that teaching is demonic. I said well I disagree, the Bible does teach about hell, we then shook hands and they both left.
I was in awe that God should answer my prayers, and in such a providential way, what were two people from England looking for in a hospital with tracts in english! precisely in the same area I was at? Unlikely people, at an unlikely place in an unlikely time, that was a divine appointment.
My prayer is that they will look through those verses again in context especially Matthew 25 and that God will open their eyes to the truths presented in His word.


Penn Tomassetti said...

it sounds like God blessed you to be able to handle that very well, Rita! I've been screamed at by a JW before :P (bc I kept insisting that Jesus is God the Son). Other JW's will not even talk to me when they see me doing evangelism. I am praying the Lord will use your words and the verses you showed them to teach them the truth.

Nedge said...

Wow! My Stepfather is a JW and I have agreed to have a "bible study" with him...praying that God will use me.