35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.
Hebrews 11:35 (NLT)
Welcome to the 24th installment on my study of faith from Hebrews 11. This time we have reached the favorite part of the religious people. They like to quote Hebrews 11:35 onwards to justify their image of a sadistic God. They used this part to convince us that the God of the Bible is such a pervert that he wants to see us tortured. Let us read in detail to see whether they are correct or is this another religious lie.
The first part of Hebrews 11:35 is quite clear. Women received their loved ones back again from death. Why women? I suspect in those days, women stayed at home. Men were the ones who did the work to earn money and spreading the Gospel. So, when there was persecutions, men were the ones who bore the brunt of it. They got killed. Did God leave them to die? No, they were raised from death. God raised them from death. This means death have no power over believers.
In other words, as believers we can never reach any dead end. No matter how bad your situation is, even if the situation appears to be dead in the natural, our God can still raise it from dead. The only thing that matters is your faith. Are you still committed to believe? Do you believe what God says is true when the situation says the opposite? When you are truly committed to your faith in God, nothing is impossible to you. Even the dead can be raised to life.
The second part of Hebrews 11:35 is the real favorite of religious people. They quoted it and intentionally ignored its context. It tells us that there were believers being tortured. They refused to turn from God in order to be set free because they placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Let us look at it in details.
We know the believers were the ones being tortured. The verse did not say God was the torturer. It was the enemies who did it. Who were the enemies? They consist of 2 groups, the Roman authorities and the religious people (Or should I say the ancestors of the religious people of today). God did not instruct these people to torture Christians. The idea of God wants us to suffer because Hebrews 11:35 says so is nothing more than a religious lie.
The verse tells us that the early Christians refused to turn from God in order to be set free. This means they had a choice to escape sufferings if they chose to turn from God.
“Isn’t turning from God a sin? Does this mean that it is alright for me to turn from God if someone points a gun at my head?”
The answer to this lies in the basics of salvation. How did you get saved? The Bible tells us that salvation is by faith. The moment we believed in the Gospel and accepted Jesus as our personal savior, we are saved. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit and born again into a new species. The name of this species is god. This is your new identity. You can never change it.
A dog is a dog because it is born as one. Even if it denies to be a dog and claims to be a cat, the truth remains – it is still a dog. Likewise if a born again Christian denies Jesus under duress or out of frustration, it is not going to change his/her species. Your species don’t change just because you deny it.
The only way a born again Christian to lose his/her salvation and go to hell is for this person to reborn again into another species. How to do that? I don’t know. The Bible has no provision for Christians to give up our salvation. Therefore, whether you like it or not, once you are saved you are saved forever. Once you have accepted Jesus as your personal savior, you are “doomed” to be saved.
Therefore, if you have ever denied Jesus because someone points a gun to your head, don’t worry, you are still saved. All of us have our own weaknesses and fears. Satan could have taken advantage on them and cause us to say things we don’t want to say like denying Jesus. God understands this and he still loves us. Nothing you say can change his love for you.
“What do you think I should do if I am to be threatened with a gun on my head to deny Jesus?”
It depends on your faith. If your faith has reached the level, which you are confident that nothing can harm you, then this is not a problem for you. You can use your faith to disable the gun. However, if you don’t have such faith, just say what they want you to say. God understands. If you find your faith affected, build it up again.
This is like asking whether you should see a doctor if you are sick. If you have to ask this question, then you should go to see the doctor. If your faith is damaged in the process, build it up again. It is easier to build faith when you are still alive.
The last part says they placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. This is the secret of enduring trials. When we are in trials, everything around us will scream, “You better give up your faith. Your faith does not work!” The more we look at the situation and listen to them, we will become discouraged. It is crucial for us to look beyond the trials to the future God wants us to have. We should place our hopes in a better life after the resurrection. Only then will we be able to have the strength to endure and overcome our trials.
In conclusion, I am sure you can see that Hebrews 11:35 is a positive verse like the rest of the Bible. There is nothing sadistic about it. Our God is a good and loving God. This is something religious people can never understand if they continue to hold on to their religion.