In last week’s blog, I attempted to refute Stephen Hawking’s claim that God didn’t exist because there was no time in which God could have lived.

There was a time when I would have agreed with Stephen Hawking. I was an atheist in my younger years, but after several rather dramatic incidents, I became a believer in God and a follower of Jesus.  You can watch my story.

I now believe that God created the Universe, and all it contains – time, space and matter. While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world, but I’ll get to that a bit later.

A Finite World

“We don’t have the whole Universe to supply our needs. We live on this little round ball called the Earth, and it is finite,” writes Craig A. Severance at He goes on to say, “This little globe has been a really great kitchen cupboard to explore, but it seems we’ve just about opened all the drawers to all the pantries. Yet, more company keeps arriving and sitting down at the dinner table.” There will come a time when limited resources will run out in God’s finite world.

Stephen Hawking wrote, “But the present rate of growth cannot continue for the next millennium. By the year 2600 the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red hot. If you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.”

And beyond Earth, the Sun only has about 5 billion years of fuel left. While that might be comforting for us, it’ll be cold comfort (pun intended) to anyone still alive on planet Earth at that time. “When the sun expands into a red giant during the throes of death, it will vaporize the Earth.” (Ref: Livescience).

Finite Humans

God also made human beings finite. When the first humans disobeyed God, they were barred from the tree of life so they would not live forever (Genesis 3:22). From that time, people have died and been “gathered to their ancestors,” a Hebrew way of saying, “gone to the grave.” People are not eternal because God is “the only One who has immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). That’s why eternal life is a gift that God offers people through Jesus.

Lincoln Steffens once said, ‘I have seen the future and it works.’ He was actually talking about the Soviet Union, which we now know didn’t work very well. It’s the same with God’s creation. It was never intended to last forever. But why?

Purpose of it All

While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world. The Bible teaches that God is a community, one God comprised of three distinct persons. Christians call this the Trinity. God is a community and made people in that same likeness to live and work together. God’s plan from the beginning was to create free will persons who would, out of their free will, love and adore him and whom he would love and adore forever. In other words, once time, space, and matter come to an end, eternity will begin again just as it was before God created this present order of things. God’s creation then is simply a divine interruption to eternity.

The apostle Paul stated it this way, “in order that in the coming ages [God] might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). How wonderful to be the object of God’s attention and kindness in a world without end. Who can be the beneficiaries of this kindness? You, when you come and surrender your finite life to Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.

I was talking to a couple from Bayside Church recently and they were telling me about a conversation they’d had with another Christian.  I guess they were just checking with me if what they were being told – on a number of subjects – was accurate or not.  One of the topics that came up was hell.  This couple had never heard that there are differing views amongst Christians about hell, its existence and its duration.  They’d always thought that every Christian believes in hell as separation from God that leads to unending, conscious torment.  I explained to them that there are three main views on hell.  It’s these views that I will briefly explain in this blog.  Each view is distinct because of the way they view the purpose of the fire of hell: whether the fire is torturing (traditionalist), purifying (restorationist), or consuming (conditionalist).

The Traditionalist View is the only one most Christians today have been taught.  It was what I heard when I converted to Christianity in my late teens and early 20s and I didn’t question it.  It’s what I was taught in Bible College and it was the one I’ve held to and taught over my 30 years as a pastor – but with increasing difficulty.  You see the traditional view teaches that hell is unending, conscious, agonising punishment for those who reject God’s salvation through Jesus – or for those who never accept Him even if they’ve never heard of Him.  Some Christian teachers and pastors have used the doctrine of hell to motivate believers to spread the Gospel:  “If people die without Jesus they go to a lost eternity.”  “If you were to die tonight do you know if you would go to heaven or would you be lost in hell?”  With the traditional view, hell is punitive and there’s no possibility of redemption, ever (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:10, 14-15).

The Restorationist View also called Universalism (and includes the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory) sees hell as a place of divine cleansing and ultimate redemption.  Like a father disciplining his child, hell is seen as a place where God corrects the wayward sinner until they see the error of their ways, repents and asks for forgiveness.  At that time the person’s punishment ends and they are allowed into the eternal kingdom of God because of the salvation Jesus has achieved for all people (Titus 2:11; Romans 1:16).  In the end, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10).

The Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory states, “As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offences can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”  Contemporary theology around purgatory talks about it being a personal encounter with God in order to ready God’s people for full union with him because of the effects of any unresolved sin that they may carry.  Thus purgatory is an experience of “cleansing” through Christ. Modern theology dispels ideas of painful fire, but rather speaks of purgatory at a moment when we are brought before the intense light of God, which “burns” away our blockages to him.  Any “pain” would only be the pain of seeing our sin before the absolute goodness of God, which is now revealed to us in full light.

The Conditionalist View (also called annihilationism) is the view of hell as a conditional or temporary situation for those who die without accepting Jesus’ salvation.  This view is once again finding increasing support amongst those who find an inconsistency between the doctrines of everlasting punishment and of a God of love, grace and forgiveness.  John Stott, one of the Evangelical church’s most influential leaders of last century, leaned towards the conditionalist view towards the end of his life.  He wrote these words concerning eternal hell, “I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.”  To many people the traditional view of hell appears to be totally inconsistent with the character of God who asks us to forgive our enemies, be merciful and turn the other check – does God not practice what He preaches?

When speaking of the fate of unrepentant people, the Bible uses words such as death, ruin, perishing and destruction.  The symbolism of fire suggests being consumed rather than being endlessly tortured.  In this view, “eternal punishment” refers to the results of the judgment being everlasting rather than the person being endlessly punished.  The judgment on the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is used as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (see Jude 7).  The cities were annihilated and the result of their punishment was eternal.

The traditional view can be traced back to the philosopher Plato who viewed the human soul as indestructible.  But the Bible does not teach the immortality of the human soul.  In fact, the Scriptures say, “God alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16) that’s why eternal life is a gift granted because of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6:23) in which He “tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9).

I have written this blog to educate people to the fact that there is more than one view on the subject of hell.  I encourage you to study the Scriptures and, if you’re interested in knowing more, read widely on the various views before making your own mind up.  Whatever you believe never use it to generate fear in others, or as an excuse to live a sloppy life.  We don’t love God because we want to escape hell.  We love Him because He first loved us.

Suggested Reading

Four Views on Hell (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) (Zondervan)

The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment (Edward William Fudge)

The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis)


A belief in life after death is important for two reasons. Firstly, it gives meaning to this life, to our often-boring routine, to the predictability of life. Think about it: you’re born, you get an education, you work, you get married (maybe), you have children, then grandchildren, you retire, you die. Even a sceptic like Woody Allen admits, “It’s all meaningless if physical death is the final curtain.” A belief in life after death gives meaning to the personal development of our character and knowledge. The things we work on for a lifetime do not cease at death but we take them with us into the next life. It also gives meaning to our relationships. Not one of us wants to think when we attend the funeral of a loved one that that’s the last time we’ll see them.

Secondly, a belief in life after death brings hope into this life. It deals with the problem of injustice – what about those who seem to get away with gross wickedness in their lifetime? The Christian belief in an ultimate reckoning means that every injustice will be corrected – if not in this life then certainly in the one to come. It also deals with the problem of inequality. It seems so unfair that some people have such terrible lives, have more than their fair share of suffering, are born in places of extreme poverty or in a Caste from which they cannot escape. Life after death means that God has all of eternity to make up for the inequalities of this life (Luke 16:19-31). The Bible speaks of a life after death in which God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

The Bible describes death as an enemy that Jesus defeated when He was resurrected. Many people fear death because of the unknown, so there’s nothing like being the friend of One who’s been there and come back! This is clearly illustrated by looking at the last words of some famous people:

Some are tragic: Elizabeth 1 who reigned for 45 years and cruelly persecuted Christians, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Confucius said, “No wise ruler comes, no prince invites me to be his counsellor; it is time to die.” Napoleon Bonaparte said, “What an abyss lies between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ.” The French philosopher Voltaire who said Christ was powerless and who boasted that within 100 years of his death the Bible would be obsolete. At his death in 1778 he was overpowered with remorse and signed a recantation of his philosophy with these words, “O Christ, O Lord Jesus. I must die abandoned of God and man. I wish I had never been born.” Incidentally, 100 years later Voltaire’s residence was being used by the Geneva Bible Society to print Bibles. T.H. Huxley, a friend of Charles Darwin who coined the term “agnostic,” on his death bed suddenly looked up at a sight invisible to mortal eyes, after staring a while he whispered, “So, it is true.” And Joseph Stalin’s daughter Svetlana wrote, “My father died a difficult and terrible death. God grants an easy death only to the just. At what seemed the very last moment he opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, full of anger and fear. Then he lifted his left hand as though pointing to something above and bringing a curse down on us all. The gesture was full of malice. The next moment the spirit wrenched itself free of the flesh.”

Contrast this with the last words of people like Mother Teresa: “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.” Michelangelo (written in his will), “I commit my soul to God, my body to the earth, my possessions to my nearest relatives. I die in the faith of Jesus Christ and in the firm hope of a better life.” William Shakespeare in his last will and testament one month before death, “I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing only through the merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting.” Sir Michael Faraday, the greatest experimental scientist of all time. As he laid dying journalists questioned him regarding his speculations of life after death. “Speculations, I know nothing of speculations. I am resting on certainties. I know that my Redeemer lives and because he lives I shall live also.” Martin Luther: “O my heavenly Father, my eternal and everlasting God. Thou hast revealed to me your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I have preached him, I have confessed him, I love him and worship him as my dearest Saviour and Redeemer. Into thy hand I commit my spirit.” Dietrich Bonheoffer, the German theologian hanged in Nazi Germany during the Second World War. On his way to the gallows he said, “This is the beginning of a new life, eternal life.” And the evangelist D.L. Moody: “Earth recedes and heaven opens before me. It is beautiful. It’s like a trance. There’s no valley here, and God is calling me and I must go. This is my triumph, this is my coronation day, it is glorious. I’ve been looking forward to it for years. No pain, no valley. If this is death it is not bad at all, it’s sweet.”

Finally, just in case this blog is too serious, let’s here some of the funny last words people have spoken: Roman Emperor, Gaius Caligula, who was stabbed by his own guards said, “I’m still alive!” Of course his guards made sure he wasn’t moments later! General John Sedgwick, who was killed in battle during US Civil War said, “They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist…” Author H. G. Wells, “Go away. I'm all right.” Writer Oscar Wilde, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.” And my all time favourite is from Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, “Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something!”

But in all seriousness, there is life after death. Jesus has experienced death for you – and defeated it – why not place your faith and trust securely in Him?

Ah, the eternal question – Is there a God or isn’t there? And, if there is, how do we know that he (or she or it or they) exists? Of course there are those who categorically say there is no God. We call them atheists (a = without; theos = god). In my teen years I called myself an atheist until I realised that to do so was to say that I knew everything. How did I know that God didn’t exist outside of my knowledge? Atheists, if they are honest with themselves, will realise this flaw in their logic and upgrade themselves to agnostics – those who are not sure if there is a God or not (a = without; gnosis = knowledge).

At the age of 19, through a number of dramatic incidences, I realised that I had been wrong. God did in fact exist – and that he was not just real but loving, caring and personal. Now, 32 years later – and a whole lot wiser – I am living my life to help others know this loving, caring, personal God. It is my hope that this blog will help you in this discovery. I believe there are four basic ways we can know that God exists:

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20).

The internet features a number of sites that instruct you on how to make a model of the Solar System. Imagine that you made such a model and then invited a friend around to watch it in action. Of course your friend would be amazed at this phenomenal working model of the real thing – planets rotating on an axis and all revolving around the sun. He may ask, “Who made this?”  You answer: “No one made it!”  Would he believe you? Of course not! Someone had to make it. How is it that we can look at the real thing and believe that it’s a random-chance accident with no designer or creator

“Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” (Romans 2:15)

Human beings are set apart from the animal and plant kingdoms in many ways – not least by the existence of the human conscience. We are not just aware of our existence but we are also very aware of what is right and what is wrong.  On the basis of this we have established an entire system of justice, reward and punishment.

“In these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son…”(Hebrews 1:2)
“Jesus answered: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9)

How easy it would have been for God to remain aloof and distant from His creation.  But God came to earth as a human being … Jesus! Jesus’ existence is a historical fact reported not just by the Bible but also by secular historians like Josephus. Jesus not only claimed that God existed but that He was in fact God in human form!

“We…are being transformed into his likeness.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) When I became a Christian at the age of 19 a radical transformation took place in my life – and that transformation process is still happening. Right now on planet earth there are billions of people who call themselves Christian.  Many of these people have experienced this same transformation.  No, we’re not perfect, but our lives have been changed for the better and, through us, this world is a better place.

God really exists.  He really loves you. Why not love Him back!

For more blogs click here .

The astronomer was fascinating. We got a clear look at Mars and Venus and then checked out some of the phenomenal clusters of stars that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Then he directed us to a distant star that appeared red. He told us that when stars appear red it means they are starting to burn out. The star is Chi Cygna and is about 550 light-years from earth.

What he said next surprised me. He told us that our sun is also starting to burn out and appears red from outer space. Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that it would swallow every planet out to Mars in our solar system. Moreover, it has begun to pulse dramatically in and out, beating like a giant heart. As a sun-like star ages it begins to run out of hydrogen fuel at its core and like a car running out of petrol its "engine" begins to splutter.

Now before you start to panic, our sun still has plenty of time left and it’s more likely that humankind will end up destroying itself by its own sins and shortcomings. But one-way or another life, as we know it now, will one day cease to exist. This is sobering especially in a world full of people who seem to live life with no thought for tomorrow, of anything changing, and no expectation of a future judgment or Second Coming. The Bible speaks directly into this in 2 Peter 3:3-14. Find a Bible and read this amazing prophecy.

These verses speak of a future when “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare …That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

Years before the sun burns out, the earth will be subjected to massive radiation as the sun starts its destabilisation process and life on earth will change dramatically. 

The astronomy lesson in Africa was a timely reminder of the finite nature of life on earth. As the Bible says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). 

Let’s make every moment count for eternity!