Tag Archives: Hell

Are You Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?

A question that I have asked a few times in the past on this blog deals with exploring why there is evil in the world.  I’ve asked this question both from the standpoint of why God allows bad things to happen to good people and why God allows evil in the world if he is indeed a good and gracious God.

However, a question that is seldom explored, and one that I have rarely, if ever, heard espoused from a theological standpoint is Can an evil person commit good acts?  Most purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seek to point out mankind’s sin.  That we are fallen creatures.  And that we are separated from a Just and Holy God.

The Bible explains that we cannot have any hope of eternal life save from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  And the entire reason that sacrifice was (and is) necessary is because we are a fallen creation.  That is, all of humankind is sinful.  We have violated God’s law, and are worthy of death, which is an eternity in Hell.

And thus evangelists, those that seek to spread the Good News that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope of winning souls (changing lives) for His Kingdom and His Glory, are apt to explain the state of mankind.  And that state is a separated, sinful state.  But the Good News is that we need not suffer the penalty of that state because the price has already been paid for us.  By God himself.  As only he could.

I’ll return to that in a moment.  But before I do, perhaps you are one of the many who has wondered what in the world you have ever done to deserve God’s wrath.  Perhaps you have wondered, if indeed the Bible is true (and I assure you it is), why God’s standard is so high as to condemn all who have lived, who live, or who ever will live.

In other words, why would God’s grand design be one in which we cannot win?

The genesis of this question, whether we recognize it or not, comes from putting ourselves (humankind) at the center of the equation and not God.  We want to consider things from our point of view and not His.  But the creation should never try and explain the rules to the Creator.  Rather we should seek to understand Him and His purpose, His plan, and His grand design.  We can never understand it apart from Him because He is the one who put it all into motion.  Not us.

And when we consider things from our point of view we begin to reason that yes, perhaps I have lied, but they were only little white lies.  No one got hurt by them.  They were not some atrocious acts of evil that altered the world.  After all, the vast majority of us who have ever lived can honestly say that we have not murdered anyone.  And therefore we are mostly good and only a little bad, and thus we are not really deserving of Hell, and if there is a God (and I assure you there is) He will look favorably on us because we tried really hard and did more good than we ever did bad.

In doing so, we fail to consider things from God’s point of view.  God never, ever, once (that I am aware of) asked if we had told an egregious lie, only if we had lied.  Whatever that lie may have been.  And God never, ever, once applied some scale of good and evil to our state of sin.  Only whether we had, or had not sinned.  And the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned (and thus come short of the Glory of God).

This then creates what many may think is a paradox.  How is it, that humankind, who is sinful in nature, can do so much good in the world?  If I am so bad, why is it I am so good?  Can one who is evil in nature, find it in their heart to do good in the world?

The Bible, not surprisingly, has an answer to that question.  No one would disagree that there is good in the world.  Of course there is.  But to place ourselves at the center of that good is a fallacy and leads us down a very dangerous path.

Paul of Tarsus explained it this way in Romans 8:18-24:  We are told that it is God who shows mercy and lifts up those who falter.  Even when we sin against God himself, God works His plan for good: Genesis 50:20.  Paul further asks the question:

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24, KJV).

Paul, after telling us in Romans chapter 8 that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the Glory of God, tells us in Romans chapter 9 that we cannot even lay claim to the good that is in the world as it is God, and God alone, that shows His mercy in us by allowing His good works to be wrought in us.

So are we good enough to get into Heaven?  Most decidedly No.  Not when perceived from God’s point of view.  But are we without hope, being placed in a no-win situation by the very Creator who set His great plan into motion in the first place?  Of course not.  You, and I, and everyone else, have been given the free choice of belief.  We simply need to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the great work he did upon the Cross in order to redeem us from our sin.

Why?  Because it is all about Him, and not about us.  It is for His Honor, and His Glory, and for Him to receive Praise.

We simply need to stop making it about ourselves, and start making it all about Him.

A Final Thought on HELL

In my last three posts I’ve espoused quite a bit on the subject of Hell.  I’d like to take a final (for now) post to summarize and add a few concepts that I’ve not had the opportunity to cover in those posts.

I’ve had the great honor and privilege to sit under and be taught by some great men of God.  One of these individuals was Dr. Darrell Orman (no physical relation to me, although we certainly have a Spiritual relation), Pastor of First Baptist Church of Stuart Florida.  These individuals have taught me how to study and discern not only the truths of Scripture, but of the world around me.  And this has then translated into the development of my world view (essentially my theology).  Usually when you look at a building you do not see the foundation that it is sitting upon.  So you do not see the footers that were dug and poured that form the basis for holding that building up.  The same is true for an individual’s life.  You may not always see the foundation for which I base my arguments on, but I at least want you to have a clear enough picture to be able to discern for yourself their validity or their ineffectiveness. I’ll attempt to provide some of those insights here.

I’ve stated that I believe Hell is a finality.  It is an end state that is eternal.  In Isaiah 66:22-24 the prophet writes that the New Heavens and the New Earth which the Lord will make shall remain before Him.  A reference to the end state of humanity.  God says that one day this Earth (present day) and the Heavens above it will pass away and He will make a New Heavens and a New Earth to replace them and that the new creation will remain before him, that is it will exist forever and ever.  This is referenced again by John in Revelation 21:1.  Personally I think this is pretty exciting.  During the first Creation (Genesis 1) you and I were not around to witness the great work that God did.  But the second time around, I get a front row seat.  Imagine being able to witness first hand the Glory and the Splendor of all of Creation being brought into existence right before our very eyes.  How awesome will that be?  But also note what will transpire in that new Heaven and Earth.  Once a week and once a month God will bring all flesh (you and I) before Him, and those that are His children will go forth and look upon those that have transgressed (Sinned) against Him.  I believe this is God’s baseline.  His constant reminder to us of the great work he has done for us.  We will never, ever forget the great Mercy, and Grace, and Love he has shown us and the great work he performed on our behalf.  Hell is a finality (for all of eternity) because an eternal Hell balances an eternal Heaven.  Just as God’s great Mercy is for all of eternity, so is His great Judgement for all of eternity.  That is why this life is so precious and important.  The choices we make now will impact us for all of eternity.

I’ve also stated that Hell is God’s holding place (prison) for Sin.  The passage in Isaiah tells us that those who have transgressed against him (along with this passage in Revelation 20:10-15) will be imprisoned there and that they will not die.  I have heard theologians teach that everyone, part of God’s family or not (we would say the saved and the unsaved) will receive a new, incorruptible body.  Those in Hell will remain there and they will not die because their incorruptible bodies will not succumb to the fire.  But at the same time, they will not experience relief from that fire.  This is not a foreign concept to us. Most countries today have individuals that they imprison for life with no chance of parole.  If we, as humanity can see fit to imprison those within society that we deem unworthy of freedom, how much more can a Holy and Just God see fit to imprison those who have transgressed against him for all of eternity?

I’ve stated that we (humanity) are faced with a choice as to where our destiny lies.  Essentially the question that Nicodemus asked of Jesus Christ as recorded in John.  And Jesus’ answer, in John 3:16 tells us that we simply need to believe in Him. Jesus tells us that we have that choice to make.  We may believe in Him and have eternal Life, or we may reject Him and join the vessels of dishonor in Hell.

I’ve stated that God allowed us (humanity) to be immersed in that which was not Him in order that we could truly make that choice for His Honor and His Glory.  This is a theological conclusion on my part and is based on us being joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17) having suffered through being transgressors of God and bought and paid for with a price that He paid.  And from this standpoint, Hell is a part of God’s great plan.

A great many people in the world today think that Christianity wants to threaten them with the prospect of Hell.  Many want to turn Hell into a threat that God makes in order to get us to do what He wants us to do (if you don’t do good you’ll go to Hell).  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God doesn’t need to threaten us to have us do his will.  He is, after all, God.  Hell is not a threat, it is a consequence.  It was not created for us and we have to choose to end up there.  It is however, very much a reality and an integral part of God’s great plan.  In order to show us who He is, God first chose to show us who He is NOT.  And that required a place to keep that which God cannot have within his presence, Sin.  And thus we have Hell.

Hell makes perfect theological sense if you work it through.  But the only way you will escape it is through the person of Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross.  You cannot escape it by explaining away its existence as the Evolutionists try to do.  You cannot escape it by ignoring it as the Agnostics try to do.  And you cannot escape it though your own good works and efforts.  You must be rescued from it by Jesus Christ himself through belief in Him.

I truly hope that you realize you need to place your trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and believe in Him so that you do not spend an eternity in the finality that is a very real Hell.

Hell: Is it For You or Me?

In my last couple of posts I’ve espoused the idea that Hell is God’s holding place for Sin for all of eternity.  But I haven’t fully explored what that entails.  Particularly, will we (humanity) find ourselves there?  It is a reasonable question after all, because we know there is evil in the world and if Hell is God’s prison for evil, will we (any or all of us) find ourselves there?

Unsurprisingly, this question haunts a lot of individuals in the world today.  Dr. Stephen Hawking is so disturbed by it, he has devoted his life to trying to answer it.  And if you think I stretch the bounds of reason here, look at the last few pages of his book The Grand Design. S.W.Hawking and L. Mlodinov (Sep 2010), ISBN-13: 978-0553805376.  Look at the last few pages of the vast majority of any Evolutionist’s book.  They usually conclude with the thought that if evolution is true, there is no God, and if there is no God, there is no Heaven, and by contrast, if there is no Heaven, there is no Hell.  Ahhhhh finally!!  We’ve escaped Hell.  The Evolutionist’s means of escaping Hell is by disproving it.  By-the-way, the Agnostic’s means of escaping Hell is to ignore it (after all, what do they care?  An Agnostic is impartial by definition).  The Theist however escapes Hell by trying to understand it.  It is up to you as to which path you choose.

The Creator’s answer is yes, some of humanity will find themselves locked away in Hell for all of eternity.  Jesus Christ himself told the story of a certain rich man who found himself in a place of torment (Hell) in Luke 16:19-31.  Here we have a man alive on the earth who died and found himself in Hell.  So if we are to take the Creator’s word for it, the answer would seem to be yes, we (humanity) can definitely end up in Hell.

However, knowing that mankind can end up in Hell, does not necessarily mean that Hell was created for mankind.  Actually Peter tells us that it is God’s desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).  In other words, God does not desire to see anyone in Hell.  That doesn’t sound to me like God created Hell for humanity.  Rather that he is saddened that some of humanity gets swept into Hell along with the rest of the evil host.

I was asked to lead a singles Bible study about 16 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,  One of the members of that study asked me what I thought the difference between angels and humans was.  The question really boiled down to whether or not an angel could experience mercy and grace. I do not (personally) believe they can.  We are two different types of vessels,  In the case of humanity, we have the distinct privilege of being made in God’s own image. When God created us, He made family, His family,  I, for one, am more than happy being the weaker of the vessels.  An angel will never know the honor and the privilege of being a part of the family of God.  Angels certainly get to watch God’s plan play out on a stage and an scale I could only hope to understand.  But that is not worth trading to be a part of the family of God,

So I believe that God created Hell for the vessels of dishonor He created for the purpose of introducing Sin into creation.  Mankind was created as God’s very own family and then was allowed to be put to the test with that Sin.  Adam, on behalf of all of mankind (yeah, I know, but before you give Adam a bum rap, consider that you or I would have done no different), failed that test,.  And God then had to set his plan into motion to rescue us by paying the price for that Sin in our stead.  Had we never been in that Sinful state we wouldn’t have needed rescuing, and by not being rescued we would have never known God’s Mercy, and Grace, and Love.

A few years ago, Rev. Rick Warren wrote a book titled The Purpose Driven Life.  You may take several things away from that book, but the one thing that kept hitting me in the face was It’s not about me, it’s all about God.  People keep asking question like “If God did not want anyone to perish, why didn’t he just put us all into Heaven to begin with?”  Well, it is His show, His plan, His design, and it is for His Glory and His Honor.  It is all to Glorify Him.  And that alone is good enough for me.  But my theology also allows me to reason that perhaps God wanted a family that actually knows Him on a personal level, that understands His Mercy and His Grace.  And knows of His Love like none other in all of creation.  And that required us to know what was NOT Him to begin with.

But God did not want just want dedicated servants.  I believe he has those with the Angels.  Both the ones created to serve His purpose in good, and those created to serve His purpose in evil.  No, God wanted his family to choose Him because they desired to of their own free will.  And thus he gave us a choice.,  We may choose.   Choose rightly, and spend eternity in Heaven, choose wrongly and spend eternity in Hell.

Astute theologians should recognize at this point that we have a paradox,.  The Youth Pastor and Worship Leader of my home church growing up pointed out to me that perhaps I was asleep during certain studies and that there actually is a study of these paradoxes in theology,  My Youth Pastor was Rev. Mitch White and he has been a great friend and mentor over the years.  The study he recently introduced me to is antinomy, literally two competing but equally true ideas.

I don’t know how it is that God can be 100% in control and that at exactly the same time you and I have the free will to live our lives and to either choose or reject Him.  Louie Giglio said in one his Passion Series that it is a great mystery that God can be completely in control and mankind can have free will at exactly the same time.  We cannot resolve or know all paradoxes in this life.  But I do know this, you and I have a choice, and that choice is Heaven or Hell.  And the choice is final, for all of eternity.

Hell: A Finality?  Very much so.  I would surmise that it takes an eternal Hell to offset an eternal Heaven.  I choose to believe on Jesus Christ, that He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  I believe with all my heart that I have chosen wisely.

Further Considerations of Hell

Yesterday I left you with my belief that God, The God, The One True God, Jehovah God, created Sin. and that he actually allowed evil to come into existence by design.  I also stated that I believe he did this by creating Satan (the Angel Lucifer) as a vessel of dishonor for the purpose of bringing evil into existence.

This thought probably does not sit well with most non Christians and quite a few Christians as well.  But let me ask you a couple more questions.  Did God create the Angel Lucifer (Satan)?  Of course he did.  We know from Scripture that God and God alone is the only being outside of time and space (meaning he just IS and always HAS BEEN).  And did God know that Satan was going to rebel (Sin) against him and take one-third of the Heavenly host with him at the time (at the exact moment) He created him?  Of course He did.  He absolutely knew what would occur.  To think that God did not know what Satan’s actions would be in advance of his creation would be to limit God.  And if you limit God against his nature, he would no longer be God.  In other words, God is either omniscient (all-knowing) or else he is not God.  You can not have it both ways.  If an attribute of God is that he is all-knowing (and this is a base characteristic of God for me), then he has to have full knowledge of the actions and their consequences that He is taking.  And by-the-way, if you want to bring a god to the table that is somehow only partially omniscient, I’ll tell you that is not my God or else your understanding of my God is incomplete.  My God is in full control, including in control of all of the evil in the world today, or that ever has been in the world, or ever will be in the world.

If you are with me up to this point, we are at the shocking (for some) realization that God carried through with a certain set of plans knowing that those plans were going to result in evil and Sin (that which is against the nature of God).  And that he did so with intent and that it is part of his great plan.

I believe the next question most reasonable people ask at this point is: Why?  Why would God allow evil, and pain, and suffering, and hurt, and Sin to come into the world?  Why would he do that?  And some might even ask (or state): Doesn’t that make Him a bad God?  Paul addressed this in Romans Chapter 9.  He asks this very question in Romans 9:14.  I hope you take time to read the whole chapter very carefully, but here Paul acknowledges that some would come to the conclusion that there is unrighteousness in God.  And if I may paraphrase his answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I have on many occasions mentioned Dr. Ravi Zacharias here.  I sincerely hope you take some time to follow this man’s ministry.  I can only hope to say this as eloquently as he would, but consider this:

Without evil how would you ever know good?  Without pain how would you know sorrow?  Without sadness how would you know happiness?  Without loss how would you ever know gain?  Without lows how would you ever know highs?  Without unrighteousness how would you ever know righteousness?  Without God’s great plan how would you ever, ever know of His great mercy and love?

Every scientific discipline I know of in the world today creates baselines of study.  In other words they collect data to establish what is normal.  They then conduct their experiments with-respect-to that baseline.  Looking for good deviations and bad deviations.  Without establishing the baseline first, the results are meaningless.  I need the baseline in order to determine what my data actually means.

Could God have created a perfect utopia without sin or pain?  Sure, he could have.  But then you and I would have not had any reference point when God told us about the suffering he had kept us from.  We would have existed without a baseline, without a reference point, and would have never, ever known God’s Mercy or his Love.

With this line of reasoning, Paul of Tarsus has brought us to the realization of two things.  One is that God is completely in control.  There is nothing more freeing (in my experience) than the understanding that Satan, Sin, Evil cannot (and will not) win.  This world can throw all the pain and hurt and sadness it possibly can at me and it simply does not matter.  In the end, God wins and I am his child.  The second is that God has established for us a baseline.  We can now know His Mercy, His Righteousness, His Love, His Grace, and we can know it experientially because he has shown us the unmerciful, the unrighteous, the hateful and the scornful.  We now KNOW what God means when He says He Loves us.  We understand His Mercy and His Grace.  We can fully praise Him for His Righteousness because we were unrighteous and He made us Righteous before Him.

But now that God has created the baseline, the contrast, the experiential part of this creation what do we think he will do with it?  Is it going to go away?  I believe the answer to that is No.  Humanity is a fickle set of creatures.  We need to constantly refer to our baselines and update our reference points.  No, I believe God is going to keep the Sin and the Unrighteousness around.

And He has a place for the Sin and the Unrighteous.  And that place is HellHell is where he will lock away Sin for all of eternity.  A constant contrast and an ever-present reminder of His Mercy and His Grace.

And now, from that perspective, Hell suddenly becomes a very real place.  Hell: Fantasy or Reality?  I assure you, very, very REAL.

Hell: Fantasy or Finality?

A while back I had a post here in which I mentioned Hell.  In that post I based arguments on some assumptions that were given’s up front in my discussion and I purposely did not offer a definition or an explanation of Hell for the stated reason that I wanted to revisit the subject of Hell in more depth one day.  Let’s make that day today.

But before I get to the actual subject of Hell itself, which I may actually have to address in several separate posts,   Please allow me to lay some groundwork with a short examination of why I believe we have both good and evil in the world.

I had a friend of mine (my friend is a lawyer and is quite intelligent.  He passed the Florida Bar the first time he took it.) once tell me that he believed people were born in a neutral state.  That is a person comes into this world without any disposition towards good or evil.  As time goes on, a person is then influenced by good and evil forces within their lives and they are pushed and pulled towards one side or the other.  Kind of like Star Wars.  You either choose the light side of the force or the dark side of the force.  It is amazing to me the number of people in the world (I would guess the vast majority, although I have no definitive statics on this) that have this exact same philosophy.  There is one religion in the world that does not teach this, and that religion is Christianity.  And thus it is even more amazing to me the number of Christians that seem to hold this basic belief.

There are a couple of fundamental problems I believe you should have with this thinking.  The first is “Where did the first evil person get their influence from?”  For that matter where did the first good person get their influence from?  If we indeed started out neutral, and are still born that way today, how did good and evil come to exist to begin with?  And who was it that first defined what was good and what was evil?  I’ve addressed this conundrum of morals in this previous post.

The second problem I believe you should have with this philosophy is that you should ask yourself the question “Which side is winning?  Good or evil?”  Is there more good in the world today or is there more evil in the world, and why?

People want to believe that both forces have existed from the beginning of time (they have, from humanity’s standpoint) and that the great struggle is for humankind and we are caught in the balance waiting to see who will win, the forces of good or the forces of evil.

Christianity however teaches that people are born into sin.  That is they are alienated from God.  Having a propensity towards evil and that there is no good in them.  Paul of Tarsus made this argument rather eloquently in Romans and every Christian should be familiar with it.

But were good and evil always present?  Meaning did they both exist equally before the beginning of time?

Let’s see if we can ask some theological questions that will help us with this question.  The first question I would like to ask is: Where did God come from?  A Christian’s answer should be God has always been and always will be.  He had no beginning and He has no end.  God Is.  My second question would be: Is God good, or is God evil?  And once again, a Christian’s answer should be God is good.  My third question would be: Is there any scenario ever where God’s will is not fulfilled?  Now before you answer that, think about it very carefully. Is there anything (anything at all) that God does not know is going to happen or exactly how it is going to happen?  Is there any scenario where God could ever lose a battle?  Is there anything that could ever surprise God or catch him off guard?  Is there anything that God could not change should he so desire?  By definition, God is in absolute control.  It is His show.  It is His creation.  He is preeminent.  He, and He alone is supreme.  Therefore, your answer should be No.  God’s will is always fulfilled.

So my next question would be: Where did evil come from?  Well if it existed before time, wouldn’t God have been aware of it?  He should have been.  And would not God have been able to erase it?  Why wouldn’t He?  He is, after all God.  It does not theologically follow that evil existed either prior to or current with God’s own existence.  Evil has not just always existed without beginning or end.  Evil came into existence just like anything else in creation with God’s full knowledge and approval.

So the real wonderment then becomes the understanding that it was created along with the everything else.  Now I personally don’t believe that God, in a single act just brought Sin into existence.  What I believe he did is, he created the avenue for Sin to come into existence knowing full well that it would fulfil the course he set it on.  This is explained in Romans Chapter 9.  In Romans 9:21 Paul asks the question as to whether God has the power and the wherewithal to make both good and bad vessels.  Paul concludes that he does.  I believe God created Satan for the express purpose of bringing Sin into existence.  He created him as a vessel of dishonor.  Why would God do such a thing?  Paul answers this question in Romans 9:17 and in Romans 9:22-24.  God allowed Sin to come into existence through a vessel of dishonor that he created in order to show his great purpose.

And what of HellHell is God’s containment vessel for that Sin.  Hell is the holding place where he is going to keep it locked up for eternityHell is the prison that will separate the unrighteous from the righteous for ever and ever.

And from that consideration – Hell is very much a finality and not fantasy.  Next – Further Considerations of Hell.

What Are You Going To Hell For?

Normally a good apologetics case for the truth of the Bible would be built upon a logical foundation.  One might start with the question “Is there a God?” and build from there.  Given the premise that there is a God, one might ask the question “Which god is the God?” or they might ask “Who is God?”  Once a particular god has been settled upon one might ask the questions “What is the personality of God?” or “What is the nature of God?“.  We might progress to the point of asking the question “Do I owe anything to God?” or “Does God expect anything from me?”  And finally we might ask the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?

I haven’t quite built that case over the past couple of years but I need to jump to the end game here.  Hopefully you will see why in a minute.  I would like to consider the question “Are there any consequences to not meeting God’s expectations?” and allow me to express my belief that there are.

The other day a group of us were sitting around discussing this story about an 18 year old woman who wants to marry her biological father (this story garnered overseas attention here).  This prompted one of the members of the group to make the, rather emphatic, statement “Don’t they know they will go to Hell for that!?!

This is always an interesting statement to me because people (all of us here on this earth) tend to establish different levels of criteria for what will get us into Hell and what won’t.  I would like to say a whole lot more about Hell later on.  I believe it is a place.  A very real place.  But for the sake of time in this particular post, lets just agree that Hell (whatever your definition of Hell is – you will note that I have intentionally not provided any links to a definition or description of Hell, this is because I wish to revisit this topic in the future) is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectation.  So if we may agree, for the time being, that Hell is the consequence to not meeting God’s expectations, and it is obvious that we all establish different levels of criteria for what will cause us to end up in Hell, then the obvious question that arises is do we really understand what God’s expectations are?

In the particular case of the referenced story, some of the group either held a preconceived belief, or else had decided that their own threshold level for going to Hell was incest (this definition is a little broad.  I’m fairly certain the level of impact meant by the statement was sexual intercourse between immediate biological family members).  The implication of the statement is “Hey!  If you engage in this activity you ARE GOING TO HELL!!!” as opposed to some lesser (or perceived to be less offensive) activity.

If we follow this logic we are left to conclude that if one engages in incest, they are destined to go to Hell.  But is that really the case?  I don’t care what your Life foundations are, if you are an Evolutionist or a Creationist, we are all faced with the fact that at some point in the distant past of human existence, we all gained our bloodlines from a single set of parents.  Actually, if you are a Christian, you should believe this happened twice in human history because you should believe that the great flood wiped out all humans except for Noah and his immediate family.  And from both the initial creation, and the flood, all human existence grew from a very limited set of parents.  Hence, incest, on a fairly large scale.

The question then becomes, if incest is the criteria for failing to meet God’s expectations and thus ending up in Hell, what about all of those people in the beginning?  It would be a very cruel God to establish one set of rules for one person and a completely different set for another person.  So what are we to believe here?  Did incest used to be OK and pass God’s “stay out of Hell” test and now incest is not OK and actually fails God’s “stay out of Hell” test?  And is that the only criteria?  Because we, as human’s, want to believe that incest will send us to Hell, but a small lie, while not the right thing to do, is not quite enough to send us to Hell.

Now please don’t get me wrong here.  I am definitely not advocating, nor making a case for incest.  It was only the topic of conversation.  I could use any heinous sin such as murder to make the case.  The fact is, there is a line drawn in the sand with the belief being that when that line is crossed, you have failed God’s expectations and thus are destined to face the consequences of Hell.

I could make the same arguments about any SIN you want to put before the group for conversation.  There are examples of those that have committed great sin and yet God himself has brought to light their redemption.  Moses committed murder.  He killed a man in a fit of anger and rage.  And yet God himself buried Moses when he died, and when Jesus stood on the mount of transfiguration the disciples looked and recognized him (Matthew 17:1-4).  So here we have a murderer, and Jesus is standing with him on the mount.  That is quite a paradox.

Rather than focus on what we can, or cannot do to avoid Hell, it might be better to focus on exactly what God’s expectations are with-respect-to our response to him and try and determine if there is a level of expectation that avoids Hell.

One thing I can absolutely guarantee you of is that we all have met the threshold of SIN to deserve Hell (Romans 3:22-24).  No, I’ve never engaged in incest nor physically murdered anyone, but even that small lie, that moment of ill will toward another, those times when I’ve rebelled against God, those are more than enough to seal my place in Hell.  And you and I are in the exact same boat.  We are ALL headed for Hell from the day we are born.

So what then is the answer?  It is actually found in Romans 3:22, the beginning of the point where Paul tells us we’ve all sinned and are deserving of Hell.  The answer to the righteousness of God (meeting his expectations) is through Jesus Christ and is upon those that believe.

Jesus Christ himself told Nicodemus that those who believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

It is what we do with the person of Jesus Christ that determines whether or not we meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell.  Not who we lie to or whom we lie with.  We can live our lives by all the guidelines we can possibly establish, but if we miss the person of Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, God in the Flesh, and that he died on the Cross paying the penalty for our sins, that he and he alone is our answer to meeting the expectations of God and thus avoiding Hell, that our belief and our faith must be in and through him, then we have missed the mark.

So what are you going to Hell for?  Because if you feel safe having never committed murder or engaged in incest, you’ve missed the mark.  The one thing in life that will determine whether or not you meet God’s expectations and avoid Hell, is what you do with the person of Jesus Christ.