At Tentmaker Ministries, we (Gary and Michelle Amirault) get thousands upon thousands of letters, phone calls and emails from people around the world often asking deep questions — soul searching. Very often it is the tragic death of a loved one or an acquaintance that stirs those important questions that we generally do not have time for in “normal” life. A book we published Whatever Became of Melanie? by Allen Chevrier is a story of a Christian woman whose daughter died from her own vomit in a drunken state. This daughter was in a state of rebellion against God when this happened. At the funeral, is a friend of the mother from years past. Over the next few days, they look together for answers. Where is Melanie? Is she in heaven? In Hell as many preachers would tell her?
Thousands of people around the globe must face the tragic truth that they will never see a loved one again on this side of the grave. Will they ever see their loved one again? How can they be certain? What once was not an important topic now consumes them. Luke-warm now becomes boiling hot. Do heaven and hell really exist? If so, what determines where the dead go? Do “saved Christians” automatically go to heaven or do they stay in a state of unconsciousness until a future resurrection? Do Christians have to go through a further processing before entering heaven? Are there degrees of heaven? Degrees of Hell? Questions, questions, questions.
Yesterday, on the fourth of July, we had a Catholic and his girlfriend for dinner — the question or morality came up. Does God judge people like we do? How can we know whether our standards or our church’s are the same as God’s? After midnight, I got a telephone call from an Ethiopian woman calling from Germany. She had questions about universal salvation. We talked for over an hour. This morning my wife Michelle talked with someone from Florida on the subject of what happens after death. Her call was interrupted by another call from someone who wanted to come by to pick up some reading material. The subject? Death.The unexpected visitor wanted some material to help him know whether he was truly “saved” or not. He read some material from our Tentmaker Site and noted we were located near his hometown. He was raised Catholic. He lost two sons to early deaths. Of course, he was concerned about their fate. He was taught things like limbo and purgatory which the Roman Catholic church has taught for centuries. There are tens of thousands of different Christian denominations — who’s right? When the tragedy of death knocks at our door by taking someone close to us, it causes many to begin the search, the search for truth beyond the grave. What really goes on beyond the grave. If there is a Hell, what is it like? What qualifies one to go there?
Some say a God of wrath, justice and holiness who cannot stand sin sends all unrighteous human beings to eternal flames to be tormented day and night forever and ever in physical bodies and physical flames. Both Catholic and Protestant churches have taught this for centuries. Others (like Rob Bell and C.S. Lewis) tell us it is a state of consciousness eternally separated from God. Much of the church has moved to this new view of Hell. Most Christians do not realize the fact that most Church denominations have given Hell and God a major face-lift. There is a new, sanitized Hell taught in most churches that the old Catholic church and the Protestant Reformators knew nothing about. According to this new version of God and Hell, it is not God who sends people to Hell, people go there of their own free will. Some even go so far as to say that “the doors of Hell are closed from the inside.” (C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain) This famous statement makes some wonder, is there Hope Beyond Hell?
Losing a loved one, especially one’s own child is like hitting a brick wall at full speed. Michelle and I lost our son, Scott to Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 35. Words cannot describe the grief parents suffer when losing a child. It is so unnatural. The grief is like nothing I have ever experienced in my lifetime. I cannot imagine how much deeper our grief would be if we were uncertain of our son’s fate on the other side of the grave. I cannot tell you how many people have shared with us of preachers telling them their deceased loved ones are now burning in Hell forever because they weren’t right with God before they died. While our grief still brings tears to our eyes when we think of our son, our loss has a good side to it also. God sends many people from around the world to us through the internet who are experiencing the loss of a loved one. God has prepared us to give answers regarding death that are scriptural, reasonable and with a compassion that can only be had by personally going through the pain. God has prepared Michelle and I meet those who hit Tragic Truth, the gravestone. It will rock our reality until we don’t know up from down. It will cause us to seek. It will cause us to question the very foundations of our lives. It will cause us to question our concepts of God, his nature and character and His plans for mankind — the very foundation of life. And when we meet the Truth, instead of traditions of men we once believed were true but were only well-disguised lies, then even our tragedies because stepping stones instead of grave stones.
From the bottom of our hearts, Michelle and I thank all of you who have supported us through all these years allowing us to give hope to those at the end of their rope. We have a good work. And many people from around the world have supported us to continue it.
We have some new features on our new site lovewins.us Please make a visit, take a look around, especially our new Bible search and Bible Q&A sections. We hope you visit there often and contribute to the questions and answers section. Please note we now have many no hell Bible translations on our Bible Search Page Let people know of these resources. Link to them on your blogs and social interaction pages like Facebook and Google+.