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Spiritual hiccups: Cast into hell

I readily admit that readings such as today's gospel make me a bit uncomfortable.  When Jesus starts talking about being "cast into hell" or how "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven," I struggle to fit this in with other images of Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, with his call to love and pray for your enemies.  Perhaps, as a modern "liberal," I'm simply uncomfortable with judgment and accountability.

Perhaps... But I also think some of my discomfort arises from texts such as today's being used in an "us versus them" sort of way.  Because we are so accustomed to the Bible being employed for evangelical purposes, we often forget that it was originally written for internal use only.  The gospel of Luke was not handed out on the streets as might be done today by the Gideons.  The vary rare copies of it (all copies had to be written out by hand) were read aloud at gatherings of churches, often house churches.  And so these words are aimed almost exclusively at Christians.

I don't know that removes all the discomfort of these verses, but it does change the focus quite a bit.  Nothing is being said here about believers versus non-believers.  This is about how believers respond when their faith puts them in jeopardy.  In this sense the words seem intended more as encouragement than as warning.  They are a call to stand fast in the face of persecution, to trust in God's care for them no matter the circumstances.

And when they are persecuted, "everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will  be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."  This is a most curious saying.  Speaking against Jesus is not a deal breaker, but the Holy Spirit is another matter.  There is debate about just what is meant by this, perhaps something along the lines of: If in a moment of fear a disciple speaks against Jesus, that is forgiven, but if a disciple actively rejects the Spirit's efforts to strengthen and encourage them, that is not.

However, what is clear is that the only ones in any danger in this scenario are Christians.  Jesus' words are addressed to believers who face persecution.  And isn't it strange that we can take words addressed to us, and somehow turn them so that they speak words of condemnation against others who don't believe the same as we do.

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Originally posted at Pastor James, part of the CCblogs network.

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Judgement

Jesus Christ was tortured on a Roman cross.

He went to the cross in obedience to His Fathers instructions. God poured out his wrath on Jesus Christ His beloved Son. Why would you question that God will not judge sinners? God hates sin and displayed how much by the bloody public display of torturing His own Son at Calvary. Jesus paid for the sins of the world and has been raised to the right hand of power in the heavenly places. God does offer salvation to all who accept His gift of salvation but they must accept the gift through His beloved Son Jesus Christ. If persons want to hold onto their sin and refuse Christs payment for sin they will pay for their own sin. If God did not withhold punishment for His own son who was made sin why would anyone think He will wink at sins of men who refuse his gift of salvation?

Judgment and love met at the cross. God is perfect in judgment and love and man will either fall into the hands of an angry God or a loving father depending on what they do with His Son.

Finally, someone spoke out

Finally, someone spoke out for what being a true
Christ follower really is !! Christ died for everyone, there is one way only to heaven, repentance, faith, and a transformed life. Faith through salvation. There is one true God, one way to heaven and yes, those who do not want to accept this gift of salvation will go to hell! Liberal Universalism, Postmodern, Emergent Church, embracement all religions, using pagan icons, contimpletive centering prayer, mystical christianity, the idea that all roads lead to heaven, is total deception from the pit of hell! Please realize that only through a personal relationship with Jesus will give you what your soul craves! This life with Christ living through you is the only way to live eternally in heaven. Life here on earth will not last forever.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Don't be confused about the meaning of blesphemy of the Holy Spirit, let me please explain:

This refers simply to the state of unbelief, which people can chose to manifest. We are forgiven for every possible sin, except for the sin of rejecting to believe God exists. This is because, ff we chose not to be saved in Christ, to reject God, then God gives us this choice, and we therefore remain unforgiven. This is the sin which is unforgiven.

You seem to have missed the

You seem to have missed the point of my original post. Jesus' words about denying the Son or blaspheming the Holy Spirit are spoken to believers only. Jesus is addressing how believers respond when facing danger or persecution because of their belief. Sinning against the Spirit needs to be understood in this context.

Rebuke of the Holy Spirit?

I do have problems with this, because we are taught in the Bible that the Holy Trinity is one in the same, so how can it be understood that to rebuke the Christ is not as damning as rebuke of the Holy Spirit. To rebuke any is to rebuke them all, I find that to be a major disconnect. Am I just obtuse, or is this a bone of contention with believers & theologians alike?

I understand how the Trinity

I understand how the Trinity can make understanding this more difficult, but it may be helpful to remember that when Luke writes this gospel, along with Acts, the doctrine of the Trinity, along with all the implications of that doctrine, has not yet been worked out by the Church. That is not to say that Luke's gospel is not Trinitarian. Rather it says that Luke may be thinking differently that we do when writing. For example, the disciples believe in Jesus following the resurrection, yet they do not receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. And this distinction may be helpful when seeking to understand what Jesus means by blaspheming the Spirit. Simply denying Jesus in a moment of fear is forgivable, but refusing to let the gifts of the Spirit work in you seems to be a more serious matter.

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