Reason 1 – we believe most people go to a better place because God grades on the curve.
And the good news about God grading on the curve is that I’m just a little bit above average. Gallup did a poll that says that 77% of people rated their odds of getting into heaven as good or excellent.
We can so easily deceive ourselves. God doesn’t grade on a curve, but if He did, many of us wouldn’t be nearly as high as we’d place ourselves.
Now here’s a second commonly held belief.
Reason 2 – As long as we’re sincere, any spiritual path will work.
What’s really weird about this one-- that God looks at our sincerity more than the truth of what we believe—is that there is not one single area in life where that’s true. How many of you have sincerely followed Google maps, only to get to the wrong place? How many of you have sincerely taken the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage? Whatever it is, your sincerity doesn’t change anything. But somehow in the spiritual realm, as a culture, we believe that it just changes everything.
Reason 3 – a God of love wouldn’t send anyone to hell.
Ever heard that one? How could a God of love ever send anyone to a punishing eternity as it’s described in the bible? It just wouldn’t happen. And I’ve got to be honest with you. I can relate to that kind of thinking. Here’s kinda the core of it. A God of love wouldn’t send anyone to hell because we wouldn’t. I mean, can we be real? I mean, even with my worst enemy, with the descriptions of what awaits someone in a Christless eternity, I’d probably say, “Just go there for a year or two.” So, our thinking is very easily moved to this realm. If I wouldn’t do it, how could a perfect God of love do it?
But here’s some of the problem with that. The whole concept of a god of love is uniquely Christian concept. And people who are coming to the conclusion that God is a God of love are getting this from a Christian background and cultural roots. Because the concept comes from the bible. So, it only make sense to me if I’m going to decide that God is a God of love because the bible says so, we have to let the bible define what that love looks like
A God of love wouldn’t send anyone to hell. That’s what our culture thinks. That’s not what the bible says.
Reason 4 - Only an ignorant bigot thinks that Jesus is the only way.
And we have these views out there because we’ve redefined tolerance. Tolerance, as a Christian idea and concept, means this. It means you have the freedom to be wrong. But tolerance has come to means that everybody’s right. And anyone who says, “No, you’re wrong,” is an ignorant bigot.
Now, I want you look at one other passage. John 14:6
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It is one thing to tell some blowhard that he’s a bigot and not very smart. But it is something else to take a shot at Jesus, saying that HE’s an arrogant bigot. I mean, even people who don’t follow Jesus claim he was the greatest teacher of all time and a really good person. How could he be a great teacher? How could he be a man of doing great works and good things if He’s so wrong about something this profoundly core? Yet those are His words.
Most people believe that dead people go to a better place for those four reasons. Here are 4 things the Bible says about life after life.
Number 1 – There is a place called hell.
Mark 9:43-48– It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
It may not be a popular teaching, folks, but talk to me, is that pretty clear or not? It is better to do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t end up there. There is a real place called hell. Second, a little good news. It was made for you. No, just kidding.
Number 2 – It was made for Satan and his angels. Not for you and me.
Matt. 25:41 – Then I will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
It was created for the devil and his fallen angels. And the only human beings that will ever go there are those who refuse his free pass out. You literally have to go to hell over Jesus’ dead body now resurrected. He’s done everything he can, outside of turning us all into robots to make sure we don’t go to a place that was prepared for the one who led a rebellion in heaven of angelic beings. It wasn’t created for us.
Number 3 – God doesn’t grade on a curve.
Go to Romans. A lot of verses talk about this. We’ll just pick one of the classic ones.
Rom. 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
or how about this one? Isaiah 64:6...
Is. 64:6 – We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We have our best righteous acts put before God and they are like filthy rags. See, when I compare myself to other people, I can kinda end up thinking I’m doing pretty good. So what? It’s either perfect or out. It’s like being pregnant. You either are, or you aren’t. We’ve either got a sin problem before a holy God or we don’t. And I know this is going to shock some of you, but I’ve got a sin problem. And so do you. There’s no grading on the curve. That’s why Jesus Christ had to die. Because there was no other way around it. And that leads to the fourth thing the bible actually says.
Number 4 – Jesus is the only ticket to heaven.
We’ve already seen John 14:6. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
One of our difficulties is that we want God not to be God. We want him to be our spiritual consultant. You know, let us in on His thoughts and what’s going on so that we can make up our own minds. Sorry. He’s God. And He said that Jesus is the only ticket to heaven.
So, let’s talk about how we then should live. The impact this should have in our lives.
First thing: We need to learn to trust God with our “Yeah, but what about?” questions.
“Well, you know what? I don’t have it all figured out, so I’m going to trust him.” Not just with this doctrine of hell, but with all things. Our relationship with God is bigger than having everything completely figured out.
Second thing: Tell people about the good news about Jesus. They need to know it. They really do.
Third thing: We need to make sure that in all our dealings that we are winsome, not combative. Even those who are doing the will of the enemy deserve respect, not derision. Why? Because our goal is not to win an argument. If there is a real place called Hell, I want to do everything I can to keep them from going there. My job is not to win an argument, or to blast them, it’s not to be a great warrior in the cultural wars.
Fourth thing: We should be willing to do anything short of sin to reach lost people for God.
Imagine you’re part of a rescue squad in Yellowstone. And somebody has foolishly disobeyed the warning signs and stepped over the edge and slid down. Fortunately, they are still alive. And you are part of the team going down the side of the mountain to save them. You’re all about saving them and getting them back up. You don’t stand on the top and yell down, “You idiot! Can’t you read?” You don’t get down to them and say, “I told you this would happen.” You might think some of it, but what you do is say, “Here I am. Hold on tight. We’ll get you outta here.” You even risk your life to save theirs.
Believing in hell and knowing that it is a reality doesn’t change our attitude of grace. It’s not our job to decide who goes where. It’s not our job to make excuses. It’s our job to help and rescue as many people as we can with gentleness and love!