Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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that design into us. Three: He created our rational minds in imitation of the divine design in the whole spiritual world, and our bodies in imitation of the divine design in the whole physical world. This is why the ancients called a person both a heaven in miniature and a world in miniature.184 Four: As a result, it is a law of the divine design that we are to rule our microcosm or physical-world-in-miniature from our micro-heaven or spiritual-world-in-miniature, just as God rules everything about the macrocosm or physical world from his macroheaven or spiritual world. Five: A law of the divine design following from this is that we are to bring ourselves into a state of faith by means of truths from the Word and bring ourselves into a state of goodwill by means of good actions; and this is how we reform and regenerate ourselves. Six: It is a law of the divine design that we are to use our own power and do our own work to purify ourselves from sins; we do not stand in impotent faith and wait for God miraculously to wipe them away. Seven: It is also a law of the divine design that we are to love God with all our soul and with all our heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are not to hang around and wait for God miraculously to put each love into our minds and hearts like putting bread from the baker in our mouths."

I said other things like that as well.

[3] To this the satan replied in a soothing voice that had pride behind it, "What are you saying? That on the basis of our own power we need to bring ourselves into the divine design by practicing its rules? Don't you know that we are not under the law but under grace? All things are given for free. We cannot take anything for ourselves unless it is given to us from heaven. In the spiritual arena we have no more ability to act on our own than Lot's wife, the statue; or Dagon, the idol of the Philistines in Ekron.185 It is impossible for us to grant ourselves justification;186 justification can be achieved only through faith and goodwill."

To the things he said I made only this one reply: "It is also a law of the divine design that by our own work and power we are to gain faith for ourselves by means of truths from the Word, yet we are to believe that our faith comes from God and not a grain of it from ourselves. Likewise, by our own work and power we are to become justified, yet we are to believe that our justification comes from God and not even a jot187 of it from ourselves. We have been commanded to believe in God, to love God with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Think about it and tell me how God could command these things if we had no ability to obey and do them?"

[4] At that the satan's face changed. It went from white to a sickly yellow; then it soon turned completely black, and with a pitch-black mouth he said, "You're speaking paradoxes against our paradoxes!"

Then he immediately sank down toward his own people and disappeared. The birds on the left and the ghosts made strange sounds and then threw themselves into the sea that people there call the Reed Sea.188 The locusts hopped along after them. The air and the land were cleansed of those wild things, and the riot below came to a stop. All became calm and serene.

The second memorable occurrence. Once I heard a strange murmur from far away. In my spirit I followed the path of the sound and moved closer to its source. When I reached it, to my surprise it was a group of spirits debating predestination and the [divine] assignment of spiritual credit or blame. They were Dutch and English, with a few spirits from other countries.189 At the end of each piece of reasoning they were shouting, "We're amazed! We're amazed!"

The topic of the debate was this: "Why doesn't God assign his Son's merit and justice to all the people he has created and treat them all as redeemed? He is omnipotent. If he wants, can't he make Lucifer, the dragon, and all the goats into archangels?190 He is omnipotent. Why does he let the Devil's injustice and ungodliness triumph over his Son's justice and the piety of those who worship God? It would be very easy for God to see all people as worthy of faith and therefore salvation. What would it take except a little word to that effect? If he doesn't do this, isn't he acting against his own words, which are that he wants the salvation of all and the death of none [Ezekiel 33:11]? Tell us, then: Where and what is the cause of damnation for those who perish?"

Then some Dutch person who believed in predestination, including the predestination of the fall of Adam [Genesis 3], said, "That decision is simply up to the Omnipotent One. Does the clay complain to the potter when he makes a chamber pot out of it?"

Another one said, "The decision regarding everyone's salvation is in God's hand, as a pair of scales is in the hand of someone weighing something."

[2] At the sides stood a number of people who were simple in faith and upright at heart. Some of these bystanders had bloodshot eyes, some seemed stunned, some seemed drunk, and some seemed to be suffocating. They were muttering to each other, "What have we to do with all this deliriousness? They believe that God the Father attributes his Son's

justice to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, and sends his Holy Spirit to give the rewards of that justice. This belief has made them stupid. To them it seems that in order to avoid claiming for ourselves even a speck of contribution to our own salvation, we must act in every way like a stone when we undertake to become justified, and like a piece of dead wood191 in matters spiritual."

Then one of these bystanders pushed his way into the group and said in a loud voice, "Oh, you demented people! You are debating about goat's wool!192 Obviously you don't realize that God Almighty is the divine design itself and that the laws of the divine design are countless. Their number, of course, is the number of truths in the Word. God cannot act against those laws, because acting against them would be acting against himself. It would be acting not only against justice but also against his own omnipotence."

[3] The bystander looked over to the right and saw in the distance what looked like a sheep and a lamb, as well as a dove in flight. To the left he saw a goat, a wolf, and a vulture. He said, "You believe that God in his omnipotence could turn that goat into a sheep, that wolf into a lamb, and that vulture into a dove, or the reverse. Not so. Doing that is against the laws of his divine design, of which not even the tip of one letter193 can fall to the ground, according to his own words [Luke 16:17]. How then could God put the justice of his Son's redemption into someone who is rebelling against the laws of his justice? How can justice itself commit the injustice of predestining anyone to hell, and throwing anyone into the fire beside which the Devil stands, lighting the torches that he holds? Oh, you demented people, empty of spirit! Your faith has led you astray. In your hands faith is like a trap for catching doves."

When he finished saying this, some sorcerer of the opposite belief made a kind of trap. He hung it in a tree and said, "Watch me catch that dove!"

Soon a hawk flew to the trap, stuck its neck in, and hung limp. The dove saw the hawk and flew away. The bystanders were amazed and shouted, "That is impressive—a just reward!"

The next day some people from the main group came to me—the group that believed in predestination and God's assigning of spiritual credit or blame. They said, "We are drunk in a way, not on wine but on the things that man said yesterday. He spoke about omnipotence and also about the divine design. He concluded that the design is as divine as omnipotence is. He even said that God himself is the divine design. He said that there are as many laws of the divine design as there are truths in the Word—not just thousands but millions—and that God is bound by

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