Here is a thought for those of you who continue to believe in eternal conscious torment for sinners. Is punishment the goal of God for the sinner? Is punishment, mainly meaning eternal punishment, the true end of the wicked (sinners)? Paul called himself the chief of sinners. He reveled in persecuting Christians, those of “the Way,” and sought them out at every opportunity. He killed Christians and saw that they were killed. And so, I could go on about what a great Pharisee Paul was and how he was respected by so many Jews. But, my point is this: when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, did God punish Paul for his sins against God’s people, the people of “the Way?”
God did not merely punish Paul for his sins against Christians. He didn’t merely keep Paul from persecuting Christians and send him on his way. He didn’t miraculously wipe out Paul’s memory and make him something wholly different with no recollection of what he used to be. No, God did much more than that. God took the heart of stone out of Paul and put in a heart of flesh, so transforming Paul that Paul became the so-called model for Christians on how to emulate Christ!
Yes, God will go beyond mere punishment of the unrepentant sinner and love them to the point of making them His friend. Abe Lincoln is said to have made this statement: “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make them your friend.” Is this not the mark of a God of super-abundant grace? Does this not show the wisdom of God versus the folly of man? Man is fixated on punishment and retribution. God is focused on loving sinners and making them friends, rather than allowing them to remain enemies. This is the real God of the Bible. Is this the God you love and serve or is your God not powerful enough to make friends out of enemies?