Thursday, September 27, 2007

Is There a Hell? Who Goes There?

Author Candace House asked those questions on her ShoutLife web site this week. Here's part of what she wrote:
I had a conversation with a fellow [who] wanted to inteview me for a radio show. This question stems from the interview. I am wanting your thoughts on this subject.

Do you believe the Lord will allow people to go there if you do believe in hell[?]

Is it just for bad people?

Can those that call on the name of the Lord go there?
In fact, I believe that there is a hell. Mostly, because during His time on earth, Jesus spoke of hell as a real place. Jesus obviously believes that there's a hell.

In fact, the New Testament book of First Peter says that Jesus went there between His death and resurrection, saying that He had taken on a death sentence for sin on behalf of all who believe in Him.

I also believe that all of us deserve death for our sin. (But God frees those with faith in Christ from that fate.) (Romans 6:23). The Bible also affirms that we all fall short of the glory of God, meaning we fail to be what God intended human beings to be. (Romans 3:23)

So, to speak of good people or bad people doesn't quite describe the difference between those who occupy heaven and hell, respectively. As I read the Bible, I believe that it describes two categories of people who compose the human race:
  • sinners who are forgiven their sins and
  • sinners who aren't forgiven.
Heaven is inhabited by those who have been saved by God's grace. (Check out Romans 3:21-28; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10) They're not "good" people, but those who have repented and believed in Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15). God has reckoned their faith in Him as righteousness, making their relationship with God right. (Check out Romans 4, where Paul discusses Abraham. He "believed and God reckoned it to him as righteousness.")

Hell is the place where people who have chosen to ignore the call to faith in Christ go. God doesn't want anyone separated from Him in this way. But God is willing to give those created in His image the right to choose that fate. (See Jesus' words in John 3:17-18)

Some of the New Testament writings of Paul indicate to me anyway, that those who've never encountered the Name of Jesus or the proclamation of the Gospel, yet who grope after God and His will, will also inhabit heaven. I call the attitudes of such people "incipient faith." A good example of such incipient belief in the kind of gracious God revealed in Jesus is the elderly Chinese man about whom Billy Graham's missionary father-in-law told him. The man eagerly listened as somebody told him the Good News that God had become one of us, went to a cross for us, rose from the dead for us, and offered everlasting life to all who will repent (turn away) of their sin and believe in Christ. The elderly man began to weep and said, "All my life, I knew he was there. I just didn't know His Name!"

Christians are often anxious for Christ's return and are impatient that He hasn't yet done so. Non-Christians often see the fact that the risen Jesus hasn't come back to the world as He promised as proof that He isn't returning. But one of the reasons that God hasn't closed the curtain on life on this planet is to afford the Church to share this Good News with as many people as possible.First Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance." It is the repentant who follow Christ who will experience eternity with God.

Those in hell are those who forgo trust in the God we know in Jesus Christ for their lives and their salvation.

Knowing the nature of God, the lengths to which He has gone to save a sinner like me, I still hold out hope that those who have spurned Christ and gone to hell will have a shot at salvation, that God may enact a Plan B, in which all the saints in eternity, filled with the love and compassion of God, will want to play a part. But I don't know this for a fact, of course.

The realities of heaven and hell should give great urgency to our fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

1 comment:

David said...

Hey Mark .. Hope your week is going well for you. I enjoyed your blog. Very well written and used Biblical scripture to back HIS powerful truths.

I feel your heart with the "plan B" But as HIS word says theres only way to The Father and that is through His son JESUS.

Those who sadly commit the unpardonable sin "rejecting Jesus" Dont go but spend eternity in Hell.

I hope and continue daily to pray for HIs boldness in a loving way to share HIS love with those who HE puts in front of me daily. I fall short in this area each & everyday. But when I act upon those tugs and those He puts in front of me it is a joyful feeling! Even if it doesnt go well. I know I have planted a seed and the job was well done in HIS eyes.

We all who truely are followers of Jesus are in full time ministry the real question is. Are we listening and reacting to those tugs and folks HE puts in front of us daily?

God bless you brother Mark

In love david