By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – October 15, 2017) — I (and Joy Junction) take the issue of eternal destiny very seriously. However, it has concerned me how quickly some believers/preachers are to consign people to hell.
After Hugh Hefner’s recent passing, I was saddened to see on social media his immediate condemnation to hell by some. I guess from a human perspective-and based upon the way he had lived his life and helped pervert and debase our culture- that is a natural assumption.
But we deal with a supernatural God who loves to forgive and welcome people to heaven, and not consign to hell. Can we honestly say we know that in the last few minutes/seconds of his life this person did not in some way reach out to God for forgiveness?
And if not, should not our bodies be wracked with sobs and pain (not dismissal and condemnation) for him and others those who face eternity without having committed their lives to Jesus before they leave this earth?
We asked some Joy Junction guests what they thought.
One man said that if Hugh Hefner was able to ask God for forgiveness in Jesus’ name and meant it, he may have been forgiven and accepted into heaven but if not, he would have chosen hell by not asking.
He added, “It is always a good thing not to wait until the last minute to choose God’s greatest gift.’’
That’s very true.
Stephanie said that looking at Hefner’s life and reading some of his articles, one’s initial thought is to say he didn’t make it to heaven. However, she continued, she is glad she isn’t his judge and responsible for making that decision.
“God is Mr. Hefner’s judge and Him alone. We only have images of his lifestyle through different forms of media. So I cannot say whether Mr. Hefner had a personal relationship with God. Did he ask God to be Lord of his life at any point in his life? The only ones who would know the answer for sure is Mr. Hefner and God.”
Another woman said we need to “stay away” from judging character. No one knows, she added, someone’s heart communication to God.
Selena said that fortunately there are still those who are more concerned about their own life rather than attacking others.
“Who cares about others’ mistakes when we have so many of our own?”
Kelly said it is not for us to determine Hefner’s eternal destiny. “Perhaps within his final moments of life the Father changed the heart of Mr. Hefner … Christians are too quick to send another individual to hell. I know that I must focus on working out my own salvation.”
Several others weighed in on this theme, saying they hoped that Hefner is in heaven, but only God knows.
Terry reinforced this, saying that while his lifestyle would initially indicate he went to hell, “Who knows that on his last moments he didn’t ask God for forgiveness?
“Our Father is a forgiving Father, and only God knows if Hugh goes to heaven or hell. As Christians, sometimes we are quick to judge, but we don’t have the right to judge, it is not our place to do so. Our Father is the judge.
I also asked some Facebook friends what they thought.
Richard said he doesn’t believe in hell or Satan. He added, “They were invented to scare people into believing certain religions. God doesn’t care what religion anyone belongs to, or if they don’t believe at all. He just wants everyone to promote peace, love and happiness.”
Matthew said Jesus died for everyone, even murderers like Saul of Tarsus. “There is hope for everyone.”
Andy said he has struggled his entire life with this issue.
“So Steve Paddock can shoot up Las Vegas and kill 59 people and before he puts a bullet in his head can say, ‘I am sorry God and go to heaven?’”
David commented, “Regardless of what people say, or what scriptures that are quoted, noone has a hell to put anyone in. We weren’t with that person the last moments before they died.”
Renee reminded us that we are all guilty of son. “No sin is bigger than the other. I do pray that “Hefner knew Jesus before he died, or I grieve for the loss if he didn’t.”
Gene pointed out that we shouldn’t be quick to assign limits to the blood of Jesus. “Also he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Gene had a good point. Do we “assign limits” to the blood of Jesus? Many certainly seem to enjoy casting the first stone. Maybe you have been a victim of one of those stones.
Jay said the thief on the cross always provides the example for the possibility of the unlikely “‘making the cut.’ At least it causes me to wonder. Not my job to condemn people, though behavior is open to discuss and denounce (gracefully).”
David reflected, “Don’t we still believe ‘the vilest of sinner who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives?’”
Brad mused, “It’s not up to us to decide or even know. God is the only one to know the heart, whether or not a person has made a true commitment to God, and if Jesus is the Lord of their life.”
Amen, Brad. Amen.
Photo captions: 1) Illustration from Jeremy Reynalds. 2) Hugh Heffner with his private plane and bunnies. 3) Hugh Heffner through the years. 4) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds, who was born in Bournemouth, UK, is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. One of his more recent books is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on the book are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. His latest book is “Two Hearts One Vision.” It is available at www.twoheartsonevisionthebook.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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