What happens when a person dies? Do people go to a better place? Where will you go? Most people believe that “good” people go to Heaven and “bad” people go to Hell. Most people believe that if a person does more good deeds than bad, then they will go to Heaven. Some believe that if they murder someone, they can make up for it by doing something “good.” Others believe that if they do something “bad” they can tell God that they are “really sorry,” promise to never do it again; and it will be forgiven. But let’s think about that for a second? How can you know if you have done enough good to overcome the bad? How many good things would Hitler have had to do in order to be forgiven by God? Can Divine justice be bought off?! How can you know if your sincerest apology is good enough? This are critical questions, because, quite literally your eternal life depends on the correct answer. This is not a subject that you want to gamble on or ignore.
Let see if this “doing good works” or “sincerely apologizing” approach will work in civil law. A person stole a car and murdered multiple people. He is standing before a Judge. There are eye witnesses with undeniable testimony. A camera caught the crime on video. The Judge turns to the accused and says, “Sir, all of the evidence is here. You are guilty. Do you have anything to say before I pass judgment?” The criminal responds, “I believe that you are a good Judge. I am sorry for murdering those people and stealing that car. I feel really bad and I promise never to do it again! Let me go and I will come to your house and clean it for you, for free!” Would this actually work if the Judge is good, if he or she is a Just Judge?
If the Judge is just he must uphold the law and punish the criminal. The Judge would say, “I am a good Judge, and it is right that you are very sorry for your crimes; you should feel bad and never do it again. However, because I am a good Judge, I must uphold the law. You are a murderer and the law demands your death.” So the Judge must punish the man for violating the law. Anything the criminal offers the Judge would be an insulting and illegal bribe. A good Judge would hardly accept any bribe, much less a miserably inadequate one.
Let us look at a standard which has been around for many years, the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 20). These are the Commandments God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. Let us see if you are a “good” person based on whether you have kept just 2 of these Commandments?
The 6th commandment states, “you shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13). You probably have not murdered anyone, but Jesus said “if you hate your brother without cause, then you are a murderer.” (Matthew 5:22). Jesus also said that if you curse your neighbor or refuse to forgive them you are in danger of judgment. Have you ever hated someone, refused to forgive them, or cursed them? If so, the Bible states that God sees you as a murderer in your heart. (1 John 4:20). Murderers will not enter Heaven, nor will God turn a blind eye to justice. “The soul that sins, it shall die.”
The 7th commandment states, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). Most people are actually faithful to their spouse and I hope that is the case with you. However Jesus said, “if a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). Have you ever lusted after someone? How would you feel about a man that had “lust” your spouse or daughter? You would call that man a pervert and would be rightly angry and disgusted! This is how God feels when a person engages in lust towards people. If you have done this then God sees you as an adulterer in your heart. Perhaps you say, “hey, this does not apply to me because I am not married.” Well, according to the Bible, adultery of the heart includes fornication and perverted thoughts. (1 Timothy 1:10). The Bible says that “adulterers and fornicators God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4). The Bible states that these people will not enter Heaven. (1 Corinthians 6:9). God is Holy and commands “be ye Holy for I am Holy” (1 Pet. 1:16) and “be you therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) God’s standard is absolute perfection in thought, word and deed. Anything short of that is sin in His eyes and will result in eternal judgment. God doesn’t “bend” rules; His justice is perfect.
So, did you pass the test? Did you break either Commandment? There are still another 8 Commandments. The Bible states that if you broke “one of the commandments, then you are guilty of breaking them all.” (James 2:10). If a murderer is in prison but he shares his lunch, this nice for him to do; but he is still a murderer. Someone that is good compared to other people is guilty before God when compared to the 10 Commandments, God’s moral law.
The Bible says, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). It is hard for us to imagine what this actually means because we are so naturally sinful, but let me put it this way; to God, your smallest most minor sin is an infinite offense to His perfect Holiness. Your lie (9th commandment, “thou shall not bare false witness.” Exodus 20:16) is more offensive to God, than a wicked child predator’s deeds are to you. That’s right, God is infinitely Holy, and when the Bible states that “all liars will have their part in the lake of fire.” It means it emphatically. When the Bible says that you have “fallen short” of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), this means you are infinitely vile and unworthy of forgiveness, even more wicked to His Holiness as the most perverse person you can imagine. Would you forgive a person that preys on the innocent just because “he is sorry” or promises never to do it again? Hardly! Such a horrible criminal belongs in prison for life, no parole possible. God’s “prison” is called Hell, and all of humanity is inexorably heading there because of our sin, unless His mercy intervenes. Hell is not “eternal separation from God” as it is commonly called in our day. No, according to the Bible, Hell is the place where God manifests His righteous and just wrath on sinners.
God does not see you as a “good” person. Instead, God sees you by His own perfect standard. For instance as noted above, God sees you as a lying murdering adulterer in the very essence of your being. To be made acceptable to God, you must be “born again.” God doesn’t need your “acceptance” and He isn’t “running for God.” Salvation is not a popularity contest for God. He commands you to repent and believe the Gospel. Like it or not, God made you and everything else in the universe. He has just ownership rights to your very life. Every breath you take is a gift from God. He makes the rules and the standards by which to judge behavior and He will enforce the law.
Will a lying murdering adulterer enter Heaven? Does time forgive sin? If a man commits a murder 30 years ago, he is still a murderer. Can you pay a ransom to God? If you came home and saw a man kill your family, and then he offers you 10 Dollars, would you let him go? The man is guilty and deserves to be punished.
“You are the man” is what Nathan the prophet told King David when he had committed murder and adultery. (2 Samuel 12:7). Based on your “goodness,” you have no hope of being forgiven by God. Even if you are sorry, the law demands your death. God is Holy and He demands perfection in thought, word, and deed. Your sin is against God’s Holiness which is infinite so the only right punishment for your sin is an eternity of torment in Hell. The Bible describes Hell as fire, darkness, infinite shame, and weeping. If you want to pay for your sin to satisfy God’s wrath, then you must go to Hell for eternity. Anything less is an attempt to bribe God. (Psalms 49:7-9).
Consider the following; a man robbed a bank. He is captured and stands before the Judge who says, “You are guilty, either pay $1,000,000 Dollars or you are going to prison for life.” The man does not have the money. No one he knows could pay it either. Right before the Judge has him sent to prison for life, a man appears in the courtroom that the criminal does not know. He tells the Judge, “I own the bank this man robbed and I will pay the fine on his behalf. He does not know me personally, but I have decided to have compassion on him and show him mercy even though he does not deserve it.” The stranger pays the fine and the Judge says to the condemned man, “The fine has been paid and the law satisfied. It no longer demands your just punishment. Therefore, you are free to go.” How would you feel towards this stranger? Did the stranger have to pay the fine or was he obligated to pay it for the criminal? No. Did the stranger have to show compassion? No. Could the criminal do anything to earn such forgiveness and justification? No. The law had a demand that must be met regardless of how sorry the criminal was. The stranger decided to show compassion and mercy to an undeserving criminal. And it was his right to do so, because the money was his, and the bank was his.
Well, this is what Jesus Christ did for you. This is the good news, the “Gospel” of the Bible. It isn’t “accept Jesus and have your best life now.” No, not hardly! You owed a fine for your sin that you could not pay to satisfy God’s Holy and righteous wrath. In reality, it is a fine that would result in your eternal death and condemnation. The problem is not that you have sinned a couple times. The truth is you have never done anything but sin against God’s Holiness. Every sin you have committed is recorded in Heaven and was performed directly before the Holy God of the universe without mitigation or excuse.
God took on flesh, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself up as a sacrifice for your sins on the Cross. (1 Peter 3:18). He did not have to die for you, but chose to because of His love and mercy towards you; and to show His amazing Grace. The just and Holy wrath of God for your sins fell on Jesus Christ. The Bible calls Jesus the “Lamb of God.” (John 1:36). This is because, during the time of Moses, the people would offer up a lamb to atone for their sin. (Exodus 12:3). This is a picture, if you will, of Jesus Christ. So Jesus lived the perfect sinless life that none of us could live, fulfilling all of the requirements of the law and then offered Himself on the cross, bore the wrath of God for your sin, and died the horrible death you deserve. He was then buried in the tomb and 3 days later rose from the dead. By this resurrection, God confirmed that the debt for sin had been paid in full. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).
Because of what Jesus did on the Cross, God can legally declare you not guilty without violating His perfect Holiness. The law will no longer have hold on you. This is the only way a Just God can forgive guilty sinners without violating His perfect justice. No person deserves to be forgiven and you cannot earn it with works. The work was “finished” at the Cross. God gives this gift by grace, through faith. (Ephesians 2:8). There is no work or religious activity you can perform to deserve it. God did not have to save you. God chose to love the world and to save those that repent and trust in Jesus, the Savior. God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30) and to “believe the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15).
To “believe” is more than just agree that this is true. You must act on this belief. If you had to jump out of an airplane it would not help you to just “believe” in a parachute. You must put on a parachute and have faith in it to save your life. To be saved you must trust in Jesus alone. God has determined a day when He will judge the world in righteousness, and all sin and every rebel against His authority will be rightly judged and cast into Hell for an eternity. All secret sins will be exposed (1 Corinthians 4:5) and God will render to every man according to his deeds, whether they are good, or evil. (Jeremiah 17:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Can your secret sins stand in the light of God’s Holiness? It will be like a stick of butter before a raging blow torch, no contest and instantly consumed in the flames. What if your thoughts were recorded for a year and then shown to friends and family? How much shame would you feel? The reality is, you would almost do anything; you might even go crazy to try and prevent such horrible shame. How much more shame will you feel before a Holy God on the Day of Judgment? You cannot stand before God on your own, that’s the truth. You need a covering for your sin, and the covering is only through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ for “there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we might be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus Christ was not merely a prophet or a “good teacher” (He claimed to be God and the only way to Heaven). He said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9). “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6). Only through Jesus can we come to God and have our sins forgiven. (Mathew 7:13-14). Because only He could live a perfect sinless life and offer Himself up as a perfect sinless sacrifice. Only He, fully God and fully man, could bare the wrath of God for sin.
You can be saved from God’s wrath only by grace, through faith, in Jesus alone. To be forgiven, to receive God’s gift of salvation, you must repent. This means you must turn towards God and away from your sinful lifestyle. You must confess that you have sinned against God. You must have sorrow for your sin because of your offense against God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Repentance is more than just telling God you are sorry, or just reforming your ways. If your repentance is real, if it is something that God is working in your heart; then it will last your entire life. The Holy Spirit will come and live in your heart and make you a new person in Christ. Your sins, past, present and future, will be put away forever. In fact your sins will be placed on Jesus on the Cross and His perfect righteousness will be imputed to you. You will be “born again” spiritually (John 3:7). Right now you are an “enemy of God” (James 4:4), but through faith in Jesus Christ you will have peace with God and will be adopted (Romans 8:15) into God’s family. You will no longer be a slave of sin. You will “bring fruits of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8). You will begin to love the good things you used to hate, and hate the evil things you used to love.
The Bible says “now is the day of salvation” you need to repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ now, today. (2 Corinthians 6:2). Don’t wait because, quite frankly, you don’t know when you will die. (Luke 12:20). If you are unwilling to repent and turn to Jesus now; what makes you think it will be any easier when you are older? Will sin be less enticing? No way. In reality, your sin will have an even stronger hold on your hardened heart in the future than it does now. Your conscience will be ever more “seared” with a hot iron of repeated sin, than it does now. (1 Timothy 4:2). If you don’t repent now, if this discussion of sin and the Holiness and Justice of God, doesn’t make you tremble about your hopeless condition; why do you think it ever will?
The Bible is clear that “few will enter in” (Luke 13:24). On that day of judgment many will say “Lord, Lord” but will not enter (Matthew 7:22). Many are on a “broadway” that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Don’t you realize how much the tormented souls suffering the righteous condemnation of God for sin in Hell; even right now; what they would give to have the opportunity you have reading this? “Riches profit not on the day of wrath, but righteousness delivered from death.” (Proverbs 11:4). Dont take your salvation for granted. Many are going to be assuming that because they are religious people, moral people, or because of their good works, even those done in Christ’s name; that they will go to Heaven. But the Bible says few find eternal life, and that eternal life is to “know the One True God” (John 17:3). Do you know Him? Have you been made a “doer” of the “will of God?” Have you been born again? So my question is, are you seeking to know God, to cleave to God, to desire His righteousness, or are you just trying to avoid Hell? Are you trusting alone in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, or your own works? Are you trusting merely in the fact that at some point in your life you said a prayer or made a profession, maybe even a baptism? Consider this, “Lord Lord” is a profession, and yet “many” of these “will NOT enter.” Are you trusting in Jesus NOW? How do you know that the faith you profess is genuine since “many” on that day will say “Lord, Lord” and will NOT enter? How do you know that you are not one of these who will perish? The Bible provides a test if you will in 1 John to determine whether your faith is real saving faith; I would encourage you to read it and test your life in the light of Scripture. The Bible commands you to examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Dont just assume that you are saved; compare your life to God’s word. Is God working in your heart? Does He chastize you when you sin? Are you walking in the way He walked? Do you desire Holiness, without which no one will see the Lord? Do you love the brethren? Do you love God’s word? Is your life increasingly showing the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). If you dont see these things, then you have cause to fear, and should fall down before God and “make your calling and election sure” with genuine repentance and faith in Jesus. Call out to Him to save you. Turn to Him.
You need the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Your own “righteousness” is like filthy diseased rags before God. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and loose his soul?” (Mark 8:36). This is what Jesus asked. Is your money, fun, sports, you name it; is it really going to matter in Hell? When you are in flames with millions of other damned souls, is anyone going to care what kind of car you drove, or how much money you had? Don’t you appreciate how many thousands upon thousands of “good moral” people like yourself, in the same place you are now; comforted themselves with the idea that they would escape Hell? That they would find some “wiggle” room outside of the Cross.
You need to also consider this; on the Day of Judgment no one is going to feel sorry for the condemned. You see right now, God’s common grace is mitigating sin. You are not as sinful as you could be because God hasn’t given you as much leeway as an Adolph Hitler. But even Hitler didn’t kill his own mother, right? The truth be told, you have the same capacity for murder as any Hitler. God, in His mercy, has restrained evil. So for you to take credit for not being as evil as you possibly could is an insult to God. He has restrained you from “sinning against Him” over and over again. You won’t get any credit for that. You won’t. And on the Day of Judgment, that common grace will be removed and everyone will see you as your true self; totally depraved. Everyone will worship and praise God for His Holy justice in condemning you when all of the secret sins are exposed into the light of God’s all-seeing eye. There will be no debate, no hiding and no excuses. Even your most cherished loved ones will agree with God that Hell is a worthy place for such a depraved rebel. All of the times you absolutely rejected God’s free mercy through Jesus Christ will be broadcast before all of Creation. “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48). God led you to read this, and you will be accountable to respond to these words and to this message of the Gospel. It will either be a means whereby God will call you to Himself according to His amazing Grace at the Cross, or it will condemn you even further because of your rejection of the Gospel. The “unbelieving” will not enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:8). God’s mercy is NOW. God’s pardon through Jesus dying on the Cross is NOW. Such mercy and compassion won’t be there on the Day of Judgment.
So why are those “outside” of saving faith in Christ going to Hell? Well, the Bible states, “the wicked in the pride of his countenance will not seek after God” (Psalm 10:4) and the guilty died without a covering for their sin, and therefore God gave them their justly earned wages for sin: death. And consider, if you are condemned; after you have spent untold millions of years suffering just Divine wrath for your lifetime of sin; you will be no closer to release than where you were at the beginning. You will have an eternity upon endless eternity of regret upon regret and absolutely no hope and “the smoke of their torment will ascend forever” (Revelation 14:11). Forever is a very long time. This isn’t something to play around with. “God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7) and “God will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7).
Why do you assume that you can escape justice by your own merits or good works when untold millions, believing the same thing; did not escape? You won’t escape. God will “by no means clear the guilty.” (Exodus 34:7). You need to be declared “not guilty” you need to be “justified” before a Holy God, and your only hope of that is through faith in Jesus Christ.
So repent and humble yourself before God while you have the chance. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross. Don’t put it off. “Why will you die?” (Ezekiel 18:31). This is the question the Bible asks. God is extending mercy through His Son, Jesus. Do not harden your heart against God. (Hebrews 3:8). Pray to Him all night if you have to for God to grant you faith in the Bible and repentance towards Him, because these are a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8). Your prayer is not what saves you. A prayer is not like taking a pill. Instead, tear open and even rend your heart before God. God says this, “to this man will I look, to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2b). So open your heart to God fully. Don’t hold back. Break your heart before God. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up. (James 4:10).
God commands that you repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus (Acts 17:30). If you come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, get a Bible and read it daily and obey what it says. Find a Bible-preaching church and get into fellowship. Participate in believer’s baptism as a testimony of your new life in Christ and tell everyone what has happened to you. (Acts 2:38).