We have seen how God reconciles being perfectly just and perfectly loving, by setting down the rules and punishments, and abiding by them, and providing a way for mercy in the rules. We have seen why Jesus had to die on the cross for our Sins, instead of God just letting us do whatever we want and going to Heaven anyway. We have also seen whether or not a literal place such as Hell exists. But then the question must arise, “Who goes to Heaven, and who goes to Hell?”
Matthew 7:13-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This is a famous passage from the most famous sermon ever given: The Sermon on the Mount. Word of Jesus’ teachings have spread throughout the land and a multitude of people have gathered to hear Him. He stands on a mountain so everyone can see Him and begins to preach. He preaches on forgiveness, and the blessed of the Earth, He tells us we should be the “salt and light” and how He came to fulfill the Law. He makes some pretty outrageous statements and the scripture tells us the people we “astonished” at what He said. (Mat 7:28)
An Unpopular Truth
Just because it is unpleasant doesn’t mean it is not the truth
This is a hard message to spread, the fact that there are few who actually make it into the Kingdom. But that doesn’t make it less true. If we accept that Jesus is who He says He is, the Perfect Son of God sent to fulfill the Law, then we must accept what He says about this. Again it comes to looking and the entire scripture, not just what you want to hear. Just because it is unpleasant doesn’t mean it is not the truth.
This fact makes people uncomfortable. We want to believe that we aren’t that bad. We want to believe we can earn our way into Heaven because we do “more good than bad.” Like the universe operates on some cosmic scale of Good vs Bad. “It’s karma.” It’s understandable to feel this way. We want to believe we are good at heart. However, when we look at the scriptures, we see that no one is righteous. (Rom 3:10) So we need His grace and mercy to become justified.
Before we go on, I want to speak on this for a moment. Being unrighteous doesn’t mean God hates you and wants you to be punished. It doesn’t mean you are worthless. The fact that He made you in His own image and gives you the opportunity to receive His grace and mercy shows His love for us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is something to rejoice about. Don’t focus on the condemnation, but instead focus on the mercy. It is my belief that the “Hellfire and brimstone” preaching of the past, while true and right, must be done through the lens of the grace and mercy of repentance. Love turned the grave into grace. Love turns slavery and fear into freedom and courage.
But we cannot deny that if Hell exists, it’s there for a reason.
Hell is For Satan
It is better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heaven
-Lucifer; Paradise Lost, Milton
The quote above is one that has confused us a lot over the past 400 years. We grow up seeing Hell as a place where Satan rules, and he is the one who tortures us. This has given us the idea that God and Satan are fighting this epic battle between good and evil. That Satan believes he could actually win!
This is not what the scriptures tell us, though. Jesus says that the lake of fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels. 2 Peter 2:4 says that God didn’t spare the angels who rebelled with Lucifer but sent them into Hell. Satan and his angels are in torment right now. They hate God, because of this punishment and hate mankind because we (unlike the angels) were created in His image, and given free will. Satan’s goal isn’t to “win” us, but rather it is to stop us from going to Heaven.
Hell Is Where The Lost Will Go
Matthew 25:41 tells us that Jesus said those who are lost will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. When we die, we go to one of two places: smoking or non-smoking. God who sits on the Judgement Seat will determine if we have earned Hell. If you have ever sinned, (as I have) then you have indeed earned Hell.
But it says that if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then your sin has been cleansed, and the death has been paid for by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. To have your name written in this Book, you must be repentant of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus. That He lived, died, rose from the dead, and lives with the Father right now in Heaven, and that His death was to cleanse your sin if you believe and accept the free gift. Just like with any gift, you must accept it. It is not forced upon you.
Spread the Word today. Be the salt and light that we are called to be. It can be as simple as sharing this devotion to social media, and inviting someone to read it and discuss it, (I’ll be glad to discuss it with anyone) or going to that friend at work and sitting down with them and asking, “If you were to die today, where would you go?”
Pray for wisdom to speak to those who are dying and lost. The Word tells us “if any lacks wisdom, ask and you shall receive it.”