Heaven and Hell (Part 3)
Sovereign Control and Hell
Like Jesus, our mandate is to establish God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and in so doing, destroy the works of the devil.
And, as you may have guessed, eight chapters into this book, I would like to suggest that the first work of the devil that must be destroyed is the pernicious lie of sovereign control. I suggest this because the lie of sovereign control was the first and foundational work of the devil here on earth. The control perspective was introduced by a snake in the garden and Adam and Eve believed it.
And the moment Adam and Eve bought into the lie sovereign control is the moment humanity was positioned in the insecure reality of the existence of hell. Suddenly they were naked and ashamed. And they hid from God.
Suddenly their perception regarding the goodness of God was distorted and how great was that darkness!
Sovereign control was the first lie that sought to separate humanity from the intimacy of sovereign love. I would like to suggest that the theology of sovereign control is actually what introduced hell into the human experience.
The Parable of The Talents Continued…
Sovereign love was the narrative Jesus revealed in everything He did and in every story He told, including the parable of the talents; a parable that revealed God’s perspective on heaven and on hell.
The faithful servants were those who perceived the true nature of the master—that he was good. This set them free to trust, which empowered them to receive and invest the master’s good gift. They lived in the present toward a glorious future.
While Jesus didn’t tell us what the faithful servants did to double their talents, He did describe their reward— “Well done, good and faithful servant…come and share your master’s happiness.” The faithful servants simply continued in the trajectory of their faith – heaven.
The unfaithful servant was the one that perceived the nature of the master to be evil – he rejected the master good gift. His perception undermined trust and he lived desperate and afraid.
Jesus did tell us what this servant did. He buried the talent, not even investing it in a bank. He lived wicked and lazy toward a hopeless future. The unfaithful servant simply continued in the trajectory of his unbelief – hell.
Faith believes God is always good. Faith is expressed through choosing to trust in the sovereign love of God. Faithfulness establishes His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The faithful experience righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, they live increasingly aware of the power and evidence of their reward, a well done – heaven.
Unbelief is the denial and rejection of the sovereign love of God. The faithless live desperate and afraid, they suffer and are increasingly convinced in the power and evidence of hell.
The power of faith—that’s what Jesus was revealing in the parable of the talents. But it wasn’t faith in what to do, it was faith regarding how we will perceive.
Where the eye is single, the body is full of light…
Hell, and Salvation
I asked Jesus into my heart when I was five. And in my hazy collection of five-year-old memories, that moment stands out vivid and powerful – the family room of our house on Russell St, the 1970’s burnt orange and green flowered couch, the maple coffee table I knelt at as my mom led me in the sinner’s prayer.
I felt God’s love and goodness like laughter, I knew His affection, I sensed His great pleasure. And even at that young and innocent age, I had a sense of being made new.
Like everyone on the planet, I was born into the first Adam, I was guilty and insecure. When I was reborn into the second Adam, Jesus redeemed and made me whole. And I knew it. Even at five years old, growing up with parents that loved God and others well, having never truly experienced the ravages of sin, when I said yes to Jesus, I still felt powerfully the joy of being forgiven.
Even though at my young age, I didn’t truly understand sin, I felt its sense of separation. And in Jesus, I knew I was saved and beautifully included.
My point? I didn’t need a lesson in pain and the popular teaching of hell to desire Jesus in my life; I didn’t need an 8-inch serrated bowie knife to provoke repentance. I didn’t need to meet Satan and all his friends in order to desire to know and revel in God’s good love.
When I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I had absolutely no framework for the concept of hell that is propagated by the control narrative. The punitive idea of hell was foreign to me, as it should be to all five-year-olds; as it should be to all of us, regardless of our age.
The fact is, I was drawn to Jesus that day for one reason; my parents had revealed His love and kindness and I wanted to know Him as they knew Him.
I was safe and loved. And in that stunning context, I desired a personal relationship with Jesus.
All salvation experiences are beautiful. There isn’t one more stunning than the next. But I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t trade a lifetime of sin and pain for an opportunity to know Jesus from the beginning.
I am eternally grateful that I was given that opportunity. But I shared my salvation story with you for a reason. You see, I know from experience that it is possible to desire God without even the slightest comprehension of eternal punishment.
My point? Hell has been misrepresented by much of the church for so long that for many it’s become a core tenet of the Christian faith. As though we are saved both by grace through faith in Christ and by our belief in the power of eternal punishment.
The idea that eternal punishment plays any role in our salvation or faith is flawed. The fact is, our only responsibility regarding hell, is to establish heaven.
It is my passion to become so sure in sovereign love that at the end of my life I am not shocked by how good heaven is. Why? Because I am simply following the trajectory of my faith. I believe it is possible to live always in a greater revelation of His kingdom.
My point? I am not waiting to get to heaven to learn about heaven. While heaven is infinitely better than I can ask, or imagine, I am getting a head start on asking and imagining it here and now. I am stewarding my faith in sovereign love and in so doing, I am destroying the works of the devil.
My focus is heaven, not hell. And I imagine there will be some disappointed by that. I imagine there will be some who will read this blog solely to know what I believe about eternal suffering.
And they will have completely missed my point.
You see, I’m convinced that as a son of God, it’s not my job to prove hell, it’s my job to reveal heaven.
This article is an excerpt from my book, God Is (Not) In Control: The Whole Story Is Better Than You Think
Part Three of Three
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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