“Not me!” I answer QUICKLY!
Ok, who then who is going to hell?
Many Christians say that all of those who have not accepted Christ as their savior are not going to heaven so where are they going? They are going to hell.
As you may have heard in the recent election talk, it is a binary choice regarding voting for president. It can be considered a binary choice between heaven or hell. Of course, the choice is choose Jesus or go to hell.
Millions of people who could have chosen Jesus have not. They could have lived lives where they loved their neighbor and could have placed high value on justice and mercy but they have not: they have lived a life where they are the center of their universe. God could have removed their free will and God could have made them choose Him but that is not what God would do. God wants all to join Him and to live lives on earth as His children and His subjects. God is a good King, a loving King but he will not force people to be his subjects. He “beckons” them to come, to willingly follow Him. In the minds of exclusivists, there is a dark place reserved for people who make the choice to ignore God’s beckoning. Maybe they are banished to a place at death where everyone there only thinks of themselves. Maybe that would be a horrible version of hell. Indeed.
So we have established it.
Hell is full of people who could have accepted God as their savior but they choose not to.
Hell is also full of people who did not follow Jesus. Yes folks the Jews, Muslims and Hindus won’t make it into heaven as well as many other faiths like Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahia, Confucianists etc. We are talking about billions. They are following other Gods, not ours and that will not get you into heaven.
Those who are quick to exclude people from heaven think many are not going to make it to the final wonderful reward.
It seems so funny that most who exclude say “They are not going to make it into heaven.” They don’t say “They are going to hell.” The last statement sounds much more harsh doesn’t it?
Then we get to the hard cases. You know, the villagers on the islands where no missionary has been. Maybe they would have responded to the beckoning but they never were exposed to it. Then you have the children of believers who die before they reach an age of accountability. What happens to them?
I am not saying that all people should be included in heaven. The liberal Christian would say that all can be admitted, but this person ignores Matthew 5:22 when Jesus says someone who calls their neighbor a fool is going to hell. Matthew 5:27-30 says that those who lust after women in their hearts will suffer eternal punishment. Matthew 23:1-36 speaks of religious leaders who are hypocrites not making it into heaven. People who are not good stewards of God’s gifts are banished [Matthew 25: 14-30] and religious people who refuse to help others in need are not going to make it either [Matthew 25: 31-46].
Here is where the gray area comes in. This is why Adam Hamilton talks so much about hell in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White. Jesus does spend time talking about people who profess to know God but he does not spend time talking about people of other religions or even people who have turned their back on God.
Here is what Jesus talks about in my reading of the Bible. He warns people like me not to call my neighbor a fool. He warns me not to lust after others in my heart. He warns me not to say one thing and act out another. He warns me not to turn my back on those in need.
As Christians we threaten the lost with hell. I have heard it over and over in church, on television and on the street. As Christians we threaten others of other faiths with hell, because we want them to convert.
We don’t like to think about it, but instead of talking to the lost or the people of other faiths, Jesus is threatening me with hell
And He should.