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Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations.  Here are a few questions that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column,

Dear Father Paul:  Is hell real?  Who made hell?  God?  If so, why?  — Shawn

Dear Shawn: According to the Bible, God indeed made hell, and it is a real place.  That’s the “bad” news.  The “good” news is that hell was not made for people, but for the Devil and his followers ... first,  the angels who followed the Devil in his rebellion against God eons ago ... then, later, any people who today choose the Devil over God.  

In Matthew 25:41 Jesus says this:”Then (at the last judgement) he (God) will say to those on his left, (the Devil and all  those who have chosen him rather than God)  ‘depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.’”  Note,  Jesus said, “prepared for the Devil ...”

Only those who choose the Devil over God will end up in Hell.  And we choose the Devil by rejecting (not choosing) the free gift of salvation and heaven offered to all people by God through Christ Jesus his son.  Why is this? It’s simple. When we choose the Devil (sin) over God and his forgiveness through his son,  we are “sinners,” and God is not about to allow sin to ruin heaven like it has ruined the earth.  No way.  So, unless our sin is delt with (forgiven) we simply cannot enter heaven. Yes, it really is just that simple.

But God, in his great love for the children he has created, does not want to see any of us go to hell ... period.  II Peter 3:9 says: ”He (God) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says this: ”This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”  Yes, hell is real Shawn, but the “choice” of where we will spend eternity is ours — yours and mine.  Choose wisely.

 Dear Father Paul: The Bible says that King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Did God give Solomon wisdom, or was he just born smart? — E.J.

 Dear E.J.: Solomon was not born smarter or wiser (able to make correct decisions) than anyone else. The fascinating story about how Solomon became so wise is found in the Old Testament Book of I Kings, Chapter 3. The story says that Solomon walked with God and pleased God. One night God visited Solomon in a dream and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  Wow!!  Can you imagine the creator of the universe making you an offer like that?

But instead of asking for fame, power, riches and such ... the things most of us would probably ask for ... Solomon asked for wisdom so that he might rule his people well. God was so impressed with Solomon’s humility in putting his people first and himself second, that he granted Solomon’s request for wisdom ... and ... all of the things Solomon did not ask for.  Solomon became not only the wisest, but also the richest, most famous, most powerful king on earth. There is a lesson for all of us in Solomon’s story.  Don’t miss it.

Do you have a question?  Email it to me at paulmassey@earthlink.net and I will try to answer it in the paper.

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 Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia.  Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, Sacramental congregation.  You are cordially invited to worship with us this Sunday.  Podcasts of Father Paul’s Sunday sermons, worship times, directions and more information is at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com

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