Q. I have a friend who is struggling with some issues about salvation and hell. He asked me the other day if there truly is a hell, since he cannot imagine a loving God, full of mercy and Grace, leaving one of his own to suffer in eternal punishment. I think he is struggling with his own fear of not being saved. He does believe that Jesus died for him and paid for his sins, so I told him he was saved. But he replied that he had no different feelings after wards, like the born again experience some get, so my saying he is saved was not good enough for him. Are there any scriptures that I can use with him to better explain this?
A. Here’s what your friend might not fully understand. When we’re born we belong to God and any sins we commit are not counted against us. But as soon as we’re intellectually mature enough to know right from wrong we become responsible for our sins (Romans 7:9). At that time we become a child of Satan unless we make the conscious choice to remain a child of God. We do that by accepting the death of Jesus as payment in full for our sins and asking Him to be our savior. It’s how we’re born again as a child of God. (John 1:12-13)
Failing to do that, we’re no longer “one of His own” and our assignment to Hell is considered by God to be our choice. Though He wishes that everyone would come to repentance and be saved, He respects that it’s our decision to make (1 Tim. 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9).
The thought that salvation will be a powerful emotional experience for everyone is fantasy. For me it was a very logical one, the only one that made sense once I had the facts. If your friend is questioning the validity of his belief that Jesus died for his sins, take him through the scriptures again. Use John 3:16, John 6:28-29 & 39-40, Romans 10:9-11, Ephes. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:21-22, Titus 3:4-7 as guides. Remind him that it’s not our feelings, but our belief in these promises of God, that matters.