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Table of Contents

Section 1: Is Salvation for All Biblical?

Section 2: Is the Doctrine of Hell Biblical?

Section 3: Symbolism

Section 4: Biblical Judgment: a Consistent Theme of Redemption

Section 5: Philosophy and Scripture

Section 6: History and Tradition

Section 7: Addressing Objections

Section 8: Strongholds

Addressing Objections: His Ways are Higher than Our Ways

Many Christians readily admit that they do not understand the doctrine of hell, that it grates on their ideas of morality, and seems difficult to reconcile with their understanding of who God is. It doesn’t jive with their consciences and makes them uncomfortable, even miserable at times. Yet they feel compelled to believe it anyways because they have been told that it is the biblical view, and if God’s word says it to be so, it must be so.

Hopefully by now you have seen that the salvation of all people is a biblical view with tremendous support from the actual biblical texts. Hopefully you see that you, at the very least, have an option to trust the abundant scriptural evidence that backs up God’s undying love for all of humanity and His ability to accomplish His will to save. But in case you are still thinking that you must cling to the other view, we must address the objection that hell advocates like to bring up when people have doubts about the doctrine of hell.

They will say that if you doubt their interpretation of hell that you are doubting the Bible itself. They will say that you are putting yourself in God’s place by thinking (presumably in opposition to God) that eternal hell is morally wrong. After all, doesn’t God have the right to do as he pleases? Aren’t His ways higher than your ways? Who are you to question Him? This is what they will say, and if you are easily intimidated, you will ignore your conscience yet again, and put your brain back to sleep.

Don’t let that be you.

Instead, be like the Berean Jews who were commended in Acts 17:11-12 for diligently searching the Scriptures to determine if the things Paul was preaching were true. Let’s diligently search the Scriptures together now.

First, let’s begin by showing a verse that hellfire advocates cite to accuse people of opposing the higher ways of God if they doubt the hell doctrine’s veracity.

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This verse is clearly telling us that God’s ways are higher than our own. Those who wish to promote the traditional doctrine of hell close the book at this point and say: “See, you just have to accept it (hell) because God’s ways are higher than yours! Case closed!”

But this is not what the verse is saying at all. Recall once again that Satan likes to take verses out of context and that he tried to tempt Jesus himself with this tactic. Now consider the immediate context of Isaiah 55:8-9. Here is the whole chapter:

Isaiah 55

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord .
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

What is Isaiah 55 really about? Contemplate this deeply.

Is it about accepting the doctrine of hell?

If you said yes to the above question, you need to get your head examined.

The passage is clearly about God’s goodness and redemption. It is about His free gift of salvation that He offers to “everyone who thirsts.” This is undeniable. But here’s the really important thing that you must not miss… The passage not only tells us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, but also tells us how our ways and thoughts are different! Look closely:

Isaiah 55: 6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord
, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When the text says “for my thoughts are not your thoughts…” it is referencing the previous verse by saying “for.” It is explaining that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours because God will have compassion and abundantly pardon the wicked when they turn to Him! It is clearly teaching that we aren’t like God because we are not merciful and forgiving like He is!

It is clearly not saying that we need to ignore our consciences and just accept what we are told to believe.

On the contrary, the Bible encourages us to listen to our consciences.

1 Timothy 1:18-19

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

1 Timothy 3:9

They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

1 Timothy 1:3-7

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith . Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Have you ever considered the possibility that the doctrine of hell feels wrong to your conscience because it actually is wrong? Is it possible that hell is one of the myths that Paul is referencing that leads to controversial speculations, rather than advancing God’s work? Doctrines of eternal punishment, after all, were common to many pagan cultures. And the philosophical speculations used to defend the doctrine are lacking in biblical support and highly irrational, as we have already seen.

Perhaps the doctrine of hell violates our consciences because God, through His Holy Spirit is “training us to renounce ungodliness” as Titus 2:12 says. Remember, the context of Isaiah 55 clearly explains that people aren’t like God because they don’t want the wicked to be pardoned. This attitude is ungodly! People are vindictive and cruel, but God is a loving Father who rejoices at the repentance of the lost. May we become more like Him!

Other important aspects of Isaiah 55

It is somewhat ironic that people try to defend the doctrine of hell by invoking Isaiah 55 since it says so much that contradicts the doctrine. Consider the continued explanation of the ways in which God’s ways are higher than ours:

Isaiah 55:8-11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

I have already discussed the significance of this part of the passage in an earlier chapter, but it bears repeating since we all tend to forget the great truths of God’s word. Notice that the God’s ways are higher than ours because His word accomplishes what He purposes.

Remember that Jesus is God’s Word and that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Remember that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Remember that God said: “By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance’ (Isaiah 45:23).

God has a purpose. He has told us what it is and sworn by Himself that He will accomplish it. Fortunately for us, His ways are higher than our ways so He will accomplish what he has sworn.

How will He accomplish this task? How can He cleanse and redeem even the worst of humanity? It is hard for many of us to believe that He will forgive the evils of history, and bring even the worst of dictators to their knees in humble adoration. But we are told that through His judgment and through His grace, everyone will bow. We could never accomplish the task that He has purposed but He can because He is the “mighty one who will save (Zephaniah 3:17). We can’t even conceive of how such a task could be done! But that is how His ways are higher than ours! He is not like us, because He is so much better than we can even imagine!

Isaiah 55 is a chapter devoted entirely to a beautiful story of God’s redemption. Claiming it for the doctrine of hell and using it to force people to accept said doctrine against their God-given consciences is unjustifiable.

Still some people will argue that God can do what He wants, therefore hell is acceptable. And they will say that we have no right to question Him, using verses like the following as “support.”

Psalm 135:6

The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.

Psalm 115:3

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

I must admit that I feel as if I shouldn’t really need to address these much (considering what we have just read about God’s purpose and desire), but I will. I fully agree with both of these verses, but think that they should be turned on those who claim eternal hell. God has told you what He pleases (i.e. that all should come to repentance). God has told you his purpose to save the world, even if some must pass through fire that destroys the flesh. He has sworn by Himself that every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will swear allegiance to Him.

Who are you to talk back to Him and say that He must punish people eternally to fit your theology? Who are you to box Him in with your philosophical constructs or tell Him that He won’t accomplish His will?

He does whatever He pleases. He has told us what He pleases.

And He will do it.


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