Over and over in the Bible we read that God is a loving God (1 John 4:8, 16). There are so many folks today however, that feel that a God who loves cannot hurt, punish or otherwise cause harm to a person. These well-intentioned folks simply do not understand what love really is. Christopher Hitchens, who has written a best selling book on atheism in recent years, affirms that man not only invented God, but made God in his own image. To a great extent our current generation has actually done the latter. When we look at the religion of Ophrah and Tom Cruise with his Scientology, God to them is more of a Santa Claus type of person who is filled with warm-fuzzies, and could not hurt anything. To these, Hebrews 12:1-13 ought to be a revelation. Notice, these passages from that context:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (8) If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (9) Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? (10) For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (11) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (12) Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees" (Hebrews 12:7-12, ESV).

       Do you understand what this indicates? In verse 6, it is stated, "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." The word "chastises" (ESV) or "scourgeth" (ASV, KJV), in the original literally means "to flog" or whip one. It is the same word Jesus used to describe the things that would happen to Him in preparation for His crucifixion (see Luke 18:33). In other words, God will "flog" or "scourge" those whom He loves! A major portion of our American society today has it very wrong! It is actually an indication of love to discipline children, lawbreakers, etc. When a child misbehaves and is disciplined by a parent, there is a purpose to that discipline. The child must learn that it's dangerous to walk in the roadway, or touch that burner on the stove. In the same way, misbehavior that isn't dangerous, but to help him fit into his place in society is also important to be corrected. Paul wrote, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1-3, emphasis mine, ELR). Did you parents ever give this last statement much thought? Children must be socialized, so that they can fit into society rather than constantly clash with it. Loving parents enforce discipline for the good of the child. God does exactly the same thing! Ultimately the Bible teaches He will reject many. Jesus Himself said, "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

       The Bible clearly teaches that a God of love not only can chastise those whom He loves, but also destroy those who are evil. In the Old Testament, God told King Saul to ". . . go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Samuel 15:3, ASV). The Amalekites were a wicked people, and rather than allow them to contaminate the people of God, He told Saul to utterly destroy them. That is simply giving them that which they deserve. Paul wrote, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7, ASV). 

       In the New Testament we are given every motive to obey God. Jesus died to shoulder the guilt and burden of our sins (Isaiah 53). While on the cross, in both agony of spirit and body, Jesus cried "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, ASV). In Ephesians Paul wrote, ". . . for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (2:8-9). We cannot by our own means earn the salvation He offers freely, (Romans 8:23). However the Bible is very clear that to be saved, we must obey the gospel, and if we do not, we will be banished eternally from God to a terrible place called "Hell" (see Matthew 5:22, 29; 10:28; 2 Peter 2:4; Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:8-9, and many other places). 

       Friend, we have a God who loves us so much that Jesus died for us (John 3:16). However, God is also a just God, and He will condemn those who ignore this great gift, or fail to obey Him. Don't be guilty of making your God in your own image! Read and accept the Bible, as there is every reason to believe that it is God's message to a lost and dying world! 

Edward L. Rodgers, 
Bellevue, TX: edanddj@att.net.