Getting what’s deserved

[Setting: Church meeting room. Jeff has been asked by the church’s elders to come in to be quizzed on whether he’s qualified to be a new elder himself or not. The meeting is drawing to a close.]

Elder Bob: And just to confirm one last time, you do believe that anyone who does not become a Christian deserves to suffer consciously, without end, in a literal lake of fire, correct?

Jeff: Even we Christians deserve that, not only non-Christians. If we sin even once, we deserve to suffer in hell fire forever. It’s just that Christians get to avoid it because we chose to believe the Gospel.

Bob: Okay. And I’ve been told that your 14 year old daughter hasn’t accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour yet. Is that true?

Jeff: Yes, it’s true that she hasn’t gotten saved yet, although I believe she will soon. Is that going to be a problem?

Bob: Oh, no, not at all. While we expect our elders’ children to all be believers, we have a solution for cases where they aren’t. We’ll just give her what she deserves and then there won’t be any problems.

Jeff: Wait, what do you mean?

[Bob pushes a button on a remote control, turning a television screen on, revealing Jeff’s daughter tied to a chair somewhere outdoors.]

Bob: Well, as you can see, we have your daughter tied to a chair out behind the church. Now, you were telling the truth that you believe any non-Christian deserves to suffer in fire without end, so if we were to set her on fire and kill her that wouldn’t even be close to what she actually deserves, right?

Jeff: What?! She’s just a kid! She doesn’t deserve that!

Bob: But she’s sinned in her life, right? So she not only deserves to burn in fire, from what you’ve told us, but she deserves much worse… to burn in fire without end. So we’re only going to give her a tiny fraction of what she deserves ourselves. Although God will then set her on fire once she’s dead, to suffer for the rest of eternity. But it’s what she deserves, so it’s okay.

Jeff: What?! No! That’s illegal! That’s murder! You can’t do this!

Bob: Yes, it’s illegal, but God will forgive us if we ask Him to. And she’ll get what she deserves for her sins. Tom, light her up.

[On the screen, a man pours what Jeff assumed was gasoline on his daughter and then tossed a lit match on her, setting her aflame.]

Bob: There we go. Problem solved. Now your daughter is getting what you said she deserved for the fact that she’s sinned at least once in her life, and you can now be an elder in our church. Welcome aboard. And as our newest elder, you get to light the fire the next time.

Now, since I’m not an Infernalist, I obviously don’t believe that Jeff’s daughter, or anyone, deserves to suffer in fire for eternity, but no Christian who believes in the doctrine of Infernalism can argue that Jeff’s hypothetical daughter didn’t deserve much worse than to be set on fire, since they believe that sinning even once in your life makes you deserving of never-ending torture in fire. So even though it was a human administering the punishment rather than God, we still know that his daughter would have deserved much worse if Infernalism were true, so regardless of how it occurred, she still apparently deserved far worse than what she got (and she’ll get what it is she actually deserves now that she’s dead).

Of course the truth is that nobody deserves anything even close to that. The consequences of sin are mortality, death, and sinfulness (what ”hell” actually is has been seriously misunderstood by most Christians for centuries now), and that’s not even the consequence of our sins, but rather the consequences of the sin of one (the first Adam), as Paul made clear in Romans 5. We suffer those consequences of his sin without any say in the matter ourselves, as Paul explained in that chapter, and likewise, we’ll eventually all be saved from those consequences because of the action of another One (the last Adam), also without any say in the matter ourselves, although each in our own order. If you’d like to learn more about this, please check out the articles on this page: Actual Good News

[Disclaimer: No fictional characters were actually harmed in the making of this story. The daughter’s “death” was staged using special effects to make a point.]