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Listed below are answers to some commonly asked questions concerning the topic of " What About Those Who Have Never Heard of Jesus?" Since this is a long article with many answers, click on the topics from the list below to jump to the answer.



 

Questions:

1.   What about those who have never heard of Jesus?

2.   Can the Bible be trusted?

3.   Understanding God's system of justice

4.   Why must anyone go to hell?

5.   If God is so good, why would He send anyone to hell?

6.   Aren't there many ways to the same God?

7.   But all religions have their own book and instructions.  Which is correct?

8.   But man wrote the Bible, not God?

9.   Why is Jesus the only way?

10.   Two Categories of God's judgment

11.   How does God judge a person who has never heard?

12.   What about babies and children?

13.   What About Good People? Doesn't God approve of them?

14.   What about those who died before Jesus?

15.   Why Hell at all?


What about those who have never heard of Jesus?

These questions and more will be answered.  But first let's examine the question itself:  anyone asking this question has already heard of Jesus, so the answer does not even apply to them.  So, if you are asking the question for yourself, then you are accountable for the information you have heard about Jesus, and on judgment day, that will be the discussion point. 

I understand why folks would ask the question, though.  It is because the message of the salvation of God through Jesus Christ is very definite.  It doesn't appear to leave any gray area for those who do not believe the message.  And that is true.  However, there is an answer for those who have never heard at all.
 

What we don't want to happen is for someone to ask this question as a tactic to relieve themselves from a personal decision.  That would be deceitful.  So, anyone asking should take the time to see what God said about the subject in His Word - the bible.

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Can the bible be trusted? 

Here is how to know:  let the bible talk for itself.  Read it.  Listen to it just a little while.  Don't discard it just because of some rumor you heard.  I could give some logical explanations to the authenticity of the scriptures, but not in this discussion.  The Bible itself will give evidence of its reliability.  See what it has to say.  See if it seems to know anything about anything.  For example, if I told you I was an astronaut, it would be foolish for you to just brush me off and disbelieve me because I didn't have an astronaut suit on.  No.  To know if I am for real, all you would need to do is ask me some questions.  Let me talk a while.  See if I know what I am talking about.  See if I make any sense at all.  Even if you don't know the first thing about space exploration, you could probably tell if I did or not.  It is the same with God.  Just because you may not yet understand much about Him, you could still determine if He (or His scriptures to us) made any sense or sounded truthful at all.

I have heard some folks say, "Well, I don't believe anything unless I can see it for myself."  But that's not true either.  We believe lots of things that we haven't seen or understood completely, simply because someone else told us.  Example #1:  we all believe that the President of the United States lives in the White House, don't we?  But how can you be so sure?  Have you ever seen him sleeping?  Example #2:  Many people all over the world believe that the bible is flawed and cannot be trusted because it has been interpreted so many times over.  And they only believe that because some other ignorant person without knowledge told them so.  The truth is that the bible has NOT been translated and passed down with different meanings.  Its origin is reliable, and its translations are reliable.  The only secret is to know which translations are the most precise. 

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Understanding God's system of justice

Have you ever been with someone who was an expert in a certain field, such as an electrician?  And they were explaining some electricity facts to you that were quite foreign to you.  To the electrician, it was so sensible that he could make the comment, "It's simple, it's like this "blah blah blah."  And even after the second round of explanation, though a little more clear, it was still beyond your complete comprehension.  However, if you were to spend a year with the electrician and let him teach you, you would have a much more precise understanding of how and why electricity is the way it is.  It is the same in understanding the Expert of the universe.  It takes some diligence.

Look at it from God's standpoint.  God decided he wanted a friend to enjoy this existence with Him.  He created the universe for the earth.  He created the earth for man.  And He created man for Himself. 

But then God lost His man.  He lost His friend.  He had made man in His exact image and had given him the earth to rule and subdue (Gen 1:26 ".let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and over he cattle, and over all the earth.").  But Adam and Eve sinned with Satan.  They disobeyed the one simple command that revealed ultimate rebellion, very similar to Lucifer's rebellion and pride of trying to ascend to a higher place than God (Gen 3:5,6 ".the serpent said.in the day ye eat.ye shall be as gods.").  They lost the glory of God; they lost their intimacy with God; they lost their spiritual life and died to God.  They were so unable to commune with the Holy God, that He was forced to expel them from the garden of Eden forever.  God had lost His creation forever because they chose to sin.  Now humans must die physically and give up their earthly existence.  But since they are made in God's image as an eternal being, man's spirit (the real man on the inside of the ?earth suit') will live on.  And since he is a sinner, he can't live in God's place.

So, in this light, man has lost his Maker forever.  Sin cannot exist in the presence of God, and the presence of God will not be in the presence of sin.  This is evident in the old testament when the unclean Uzzah touched the ark of God (where God's spirit rested) and died, and in the new testament when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and died.

Because of the first man's sin, all who are born after him have a sin nature and are called sinners.  All have sinned.  All have lost God.  Forever.  Unless God has a plan.  If we were in God's shoes, we might want to just snap our fingers and do a 'do-over', but God will not.  He is just.  He cannot go back on His word.  He has set up a system of choice for this entire existence, where sin and disobedience separates Him irrevocably from people.

But that's not the final word.  God had a plan.  In order to reverse the damages, God would come down to earth.  God would lay aside His glory and omnipotence and come to the earth as a human being, born of a woman.  He would live sinless and fulfill all the rules of the earth system.  He would defeat the temptation of Satan that Adam failed in.  He would bring God's presence back to mankind.  He would let himself die as a sinner.  He would purchase the human race with His own blood!  He would buy us back from spiritual death and restore us to a relationship with Himself.  People could then be 'born again' unto spiritual life and God could live in them once again.

God sent Himself to earth in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from eternal existence without God.  But God still left the thing called choice.  Humans still must choose God, and they must choose Him by accepting His Son.  For humans to have God, they must trust in the sinless One, Jesus Christ, who died for all.  The Jews did not kill Jesus.  The Romans did not kill Jesus.  Satan killed Jesus. 

But Jesus' death was illegal.  Satan broke the law.  He killed a just man.  The spiritual law says that ".the wages of sin is death."  But Jesus never sinned.  Adam committed high treason and turned over the earth to Satan.  And then Satan committed high treason and killed a just man.  All of heaven and earth saw that God had redeemed mankind with His plan of blood sacrifice.  God's own blood paid for us all!  It was a masterful plan!

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Why must anyone go to hell?

There are only two eternal places to live: either with God or without God.  Either in God's presence or outside of God's presence.  Heaven and hell are the only two worlds in the unseen realm.  There is not a third option.

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If God is so good, why would He send anyone to hell?

He is not sending people to hell.  They are choosing hell by default.  The choice people are making is not heaven vs. hell.  It is either "I want God", or "I don't really care."  And the choice is made on the earth.  If the decision could be postponed until after death, it would all be so clear so that no one would choose the fire burning pit.  But that would mean people are just trying to stay out of hell rather than actually choosing God as their friend.  It is a question of choice.  It is the right to choose.  Isn't that what humanity craves?  It would be unjust if God forced anyone to choose Him, or if He forced anyone to live with Him for eternity if they didn't want to. 

Decision time on earth is running out.  Think about it.

No one goes to hell simply because they never heard of Jesus.  People go to hell because they offended the purity of holiness and rebelled against God.  No one will stand on judgment day and declare that they never committed any willful wrong.

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Aren't there many ways to the same God?

In light of the above plan of God and man, either God needed this elaborate plan of coming to earth to die in the flesh, or He didn't, but it cannot be both.  The humanists are very careful and prideful that they accept everyone's belief and everyone's God in order to not offend anyone.  The trend is to be open-minded to other's belief systems because we all have our own right to believe what we wish, and who can determine which is correct?

It sounds noble, but it is wrong.  Sure, we all can choose what we wish, but it doesn't make our choice legitimate.  You could believe that the earth is flat if you wish to, but it doesn't make it true.  Contrary to contemporary teaching, there are still some absolutes in this earth.  And God's kingdom is one of them.  God has determined what is truth and which belief system is correct.  And He expects us to choose His Way.

Either God lives in a place called heaven, or He doesn't.  Either God's presence is full of love, joy, peace and goodness, or it isn't.  But leaving it up to man to dream up his own religion doesn't make much sense. 

The Hindus don't even believe in one God, and their eternal destination (after a few reincarnations) is to be absorbed into the cosmic universe somehow.  So they don't even expect to ever be with a real God for eternity.

The Buhdists believe they will be translated into Nirvana, a place where there is no joy nor love nor any emotions.  So they aren't expecting to go to a real place called Heaven.

And the Muslim faith, instructed by Muhummed himself, believe that Jesus lived but never died.  They claim He was taken up to heaven without ever dying on the cross, and that He will return one day again.  Isn't that amazing?  They have eliminated the very crux of God's plan.  They have blatantly taken out the one pivotal salvation event that allows us to come to God.  To admit that there was a prophet named Jesus and admit that He arose to heaven and admit that He will return again, but then deny the sacrificial substitute for humanity's sin by saying that that He never died is obviously very ?fishy'. 

But it is not ?they' who have done it.  It is of Satan.  I try to inform those of the Islamic belief that they, and their families, have been deceived by the devil and are in danger of eternal judgment.  Even as well meaning as some can be, their culture has fenced them from the very heart of God's love and mercy toward His fallen creation - the death and resurrection of His Son, the Savior.

The question is not "which man-made religion is the best?"  The question is "Did the real God give us any instructions about Himself?"

I don't know about you, but if I wanted to know something about making a Ford car, I'd go ask the manufacturer or read the Ford manual.  I certainly wouldn't be so arrogant as to make up my own opinion.  It is the same with God's creation.  Only a fool would refuse to go to the Manufacturer for the answers.  Thank God that He didn't leave us on the earth to figure out Truth for ourselves!  He gave us the inside information!

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But all religions have their own book and instructions.  Which is correct?

You'll have to decide for yourself.  Be honest.  Which seems more sensible?  Which one unveils the character and personality of a merciful, but just, God?  Which one stirs you from the inside out?  Which one strikes a note within your heart?  If you are truly seeking God, He'll let you find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

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But man wrote the Bible, not God?

Man's pen wrote the words, but God told man what to write.  Just as if God were sitting next to a person and dictating the scriptures, ".write this.don't write that.write it this way.".  2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God.that the man of God may be complete."  The word inspiration is from the word inspire', which means to breathe.  God did not entice man to just come up with something.  Instead, He breathed the words into man.  2 Peter 1:9 ".for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

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Why is Jesus the only way?

This is explained thoroughly in the sections above.  To have a complete comprehension, it requires understanding spiritual truth from God's blueprint.  2 Corinthians ch. 5 explains that through one man's disobedience we became sinners.  But through one man's obedience many became righteous.  Jesus reversed what Adam destroyed.  It only makes sense that one man should stand in for another.  God sacrificed Himself.  He thought we were worth it.  John 3:16 concisely unveils God's love toward us.  He died just for me.  He died just for you.  Jesus was our Substitute.  He became as we were so that we might become as He is!  On the cross, God laid all sin and iniquity on Jesus, so that we could be made righteous and clean through Christ.  Only through the new birth can a person approach God.  Only after a person's spirit becomes alive and cleaned from sin can he stand in God's presence without guilt.  A person who has sin can never worship God - it would be worthless.  Only a person cleaned from sin by the spotless blood of Jesus Christ can be accepted with God.

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God's judgment:  2 categories

1.  People who have heard the message of the Savior.

2.  People who have NOT heard the message of the Savior.

First, what about those who have heard?

Since we are inquiring of Jesus, it is prudent to examine His own words.  If any religion claims that they ?believe in Jesus as a prophet' or ?believe He was a good person', then it is only wise to find out what He said.  Of course, the Muslims say that they believe in Jesus but that the gospels are flawed and cannot be trusted.  Okay, which part can be trusted?  Which part do we throw out?  Which part do they accept?  The truth is, they have thrown the whole thing out because Muhummed claimed to have a higher place than Jesus.  They say it, but they don't really seem to believe that "Jesus was one of the great prophets", because they don't know of or care about anything recorded from His preaching.

Here is what God says of people who have heard of Jesus. 

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life"  John 3:16.

".as many as received Him (Jesus), to them he gave the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" John 1:12.

"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe shall be damned" Mark 16:16.

".that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" John 6:40.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me" John 14:6).

Please understand this point:  People are not judged and condemned because they reject Jesus or don't ever hear of Jesus.  No.  They are already judged and condemned.  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.  He that believes on Him is not condemned; but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"  (John 3:17,18).  It is already decided, even before the message of Jesus reaches them.  Remember, without Jesus our Substitute, we are without God forever.  We are already declared guilty.  But Jesus is our one chance to get out of jail.  One man died and suffered unjustly so that all men could escape eternal suffering, if they so choose.  That's why we are diligently working to get the message to the world - if by chance some will call on the name of Jesus and be saved.  And what if we don't reach everyone?  What if someone never hears the message?  

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How does God judge a person who has never heard?

1.  People's own conscience is their rule book.  On judgment day, those who never heard anything of the Savior will present their conscience before God.  If their conscience is completely spotless, God will accept them.  But if their conscience ever accuses them of any sin, they will shrink away from God for eternity.  Someone must always pay for sin.  On judgment day, we don't desire that any human being stand before God on his own, without the Savior, with only his conscience to speak for him.  It would be difficult to find anyone, even on a desert island, who never violated his conscience.  It is God's desire that the person has chosen Jesus in the earth, so that the Son of God can speak for them instead of their own failed conscience.

Romans 2:13-16 says that even people who have no knowledge of God will sometimes do the right thing, and their conscience and thoughts will either excuse them or accuse them.  And God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.  Humans are not allowed to create their own standard for morality and life.  The standard on judgment day will be Jesus Christ and His righteousness even for those who haven't heard.  Again, if we can get them to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior now, then they will score 100 percent on judgment day because Jesus will stand for them and the grade will be based on His righteousness instead of their own.

We are all born with a moral instinct, but it is only a limited moral instinct.  And it is easily perverted by repeated sin, ignorance, and cultural traditions.  This is why it is so important to be ?born again', as Jesus termed it in John ch. 3.  When a person receives Jesus and is ?born spiritually' or ?spiritually awakened', his conscience is awakened to God.  This increases the conscience's ability to be a guiding light for morality and righteousness.  But for the Christian, his conscience is not in question on judgment day, for he has the Lord Jesus as his stand-in substitute.  For a believer, the supernatural awakening of the conscience gives the believer grace and power to live in victory, with God, in the earth.  If his conscience is afterward tainted by sin, it will be irritated until it is quieted.  The blood of Jesus is enough to quiet the conscience.  It is the only thing that can quiet the conscience.  That is why all of humanity needs the blood of Jesus.  Confession of sin and repentance alone is not enough, for that would be on a person's own merit and good works.  It must be the confession of sin along with the knowledge of the blood of the Lamb of God and the acknowledgment of Jesus the Savior.

2.  God is not unjust.  He does not hold people responsible for knowledge they do not have (Romans 4:155:13).  Sin is not counted where there is no law.  For instance, do you recall the story of Moses (Exodus), when he killed the Egyptian who was persecuting his fellow man?  God never rebuked Moses or punished him; God never even brought it up!  But that happened before God ever gave the ten commandments.  Moses killed the Egyptian in good conscience and was not held accountable.  On the other hand, Cain killed Abel out of jealousy and God did hold Cain accountable.  Cain was judged and sentenced for his deed.  We earthlings must realize that God is absolutely just.  He is far more righteous and truthful than any supreme court justice in the land.  I'm not sure why that's so hard for folks to grasp.  It seems that some actually think they are more logical or more righteous than God.  And it keeps them from salvation and a new life in Christ.

Acts 17:30 says that God overlooks times of ignorance, but when truth comes, He expects men to repent.

3.  People's ignorance is not always innocent ignorance.  God has given all of mankind some revelation of Himself, and the question is how have they responded to it?  Creation itself gives evidence of a Creator.  The human being, from his physiology to his personality and emotions give evidence of a real, complex, personal God.  God has placed within every human this desire to search for the knowledge of his Creator.  If anyone will respond to this desire, He will give them more knowledge.  Some have called this progressive revelation.  If someone refuses to respond to the first piece of information, God is not responsible to give them any more information.

Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they (people who remain in unrighteousness) are without excuse."

This knowledge of a Creator gives everyone a slight moral sense of right and wrong, since there is One who knows all things.

Romans 1:18 shows that people can suppress the knowledge that they have.  While God is understanding of those who have little light, people are still held guilty if they continued in darkness because they themselves ?blew out the candle.'

4.  Anyone who honestly seeks God will find Him.

For example, in the New Testament there are several cases of people who believed in God and honored God as far as they knew, or had been taught.  But they were still missing God's best.  But because they had been faithful to follow the little light they had, God was responsible to give them more light.  For these people, God sent special messengers to tell them of Jesus.  In Acts 8, the Ethiopian was coming to Jerusalem to worship God, but God had already changed the form of Old Testament worship into the new Way, so his efforts would have been fruitless.  So God sent Philip to give the Ethiopian more light - the light of the Savior.  His honest heart was open and ready for more revelation of God, and he believed and was baptized into Christ.

Also, in Acts ch. 10, Cornelius was a man who feared God and ?gave much alms' and God sent Peter to him and his family.  Both he and all his family believed the message and received Jesus.  If Jesus Christ wasn't really necessary and all God was looking for was just a ?good person who believed in some god', then why was it necessary to send a messenger of Christ?  It is necessary.

Even God's Old Testament people, the Jews, were required to believe the new message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  For those who rejected Jesus, He wept over them and pronounced a woe upon them, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not let me!  Behold, you house is left unto you desolate." (Mat 23:37-18). 

Paul, in his ministry, also ?shook the dust off his feet' and told some of the unbelieving Jews, ".your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean, from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6).

Even today, for anyone who is seeking to know the One True God, God will never let them go without.  Either God will send a Christian to witness the great Truth of the Savior, or Jesus can appear Himself.  Rev. R.W. Shambach relates a story of a Catholic man dying in his death bed.  The priest, with his white collar, came into the room and read the man his last rights and left him for dead.  Then another priest in a white robe came through the wall and laid his hands on him.  He told him that he was healed, to go buy a Bible, and read the book of John, for it would tell the man of the Savior and how to be born again.  The nurse came into the room and found the man up from his bed getting dressed.  She said, "get back in bed, you are dying, and the priest already read your last rights."  But the man said, "yes, but another priest came in afterwards and told me to get up and go home."  It was the great High Priest!

We have even heard of many Muslims to whom Jesus appeared and helped them get the knowledge they needed for salvation.  And remember Paul the apostle?  He was a Jewish leader out to kill Christians, and Jesus knocked him off his horse and spoke to him.  As a result, Paul was saved. 

Why does Jesus do this sometimes?  Well, it seems that anyone who is honestly seeking and serving God grabs the attention of the Lord.  And God will go to great lengths to get the message of Jesus to a person like that.

Do we realize that God still cares about the heathen lands out there and has sent many Christians to preach to many unbelieving nations?  And sometimes those missionaries are killed?  It appears that some cultures have rejected Jesus for so long, that all of their inhabitants are suffering because of some legal restraint and hatred toward the gospel of Jesus Christ.  At least America is one of the nations where other cultures can immigrate to and have a chance to hear the gospel with their own ears.  Some will hear it.

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What about babies and children?

Babies are in the same category.  If they do not have enough conscience to understand right and wrong, they are not held accountable.  Likewise, if they have never heard of the message of Jesus and have never rejected Him, they are not accountable for the message.  But again, depending on their age and their own hearts, if they have knowingly rebelled against their parents or God, their conscience will be the evidence against them.  And beyond this, only God knows the exact rules of accountability for children. 

We believe that even children can be hear the message of Jesus and be saved.  What is the minimum age?  It is probably different for each child.  We have termed it the ?age of accountability'.  In every child's life, there is a point then they understand right from wrong and can respond to the salvation message of Jesus Christ.  And that is when their parents should help them understand enough to make that response.  I would instruct parents to never entice or force their children to receive Jesus, but be aware of the moment when each child believes in his heart that Jesus is the Son of God.  If they truly believe, they should pray to receive Him.  I, personally, made that decision at age 5.  I went to my mother and told her that "I want to ask Jesus into my heart."  We prayed, and I was born again at age 5.  My spirit woke up unto God in a way that gave me a more secure conscience and awareness of God.  I had been saved. 

Other children may respond earlier or later, depending on their own cognizance and maturity.

Why do some people reject this simple, wonderful plan?

When the Holy Spirit is poured out, and when the word is taught, there are two groups of people:  One is convinced and convicted, and accepts it; the other says, "If I accept, I will have to lead a different life, and be a gazing stock for the world."

John 3:19-21 "And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest."

This scripture reveals the precise reason that people run from the truth of Jesus.  They enjoy their evil, godless, lifestyle and don't want to get corrected in any way.

People sometimes actually prefer to live in their favorite sins and answer to no one else.  These people have chosen to be their own gods.  "It's my life and no one's gonna tell me what to do."  The scriptures call this idolatry.  Yes, many people have worshipped and served only themselves.  People know that if they accept Jesus, they'll have to give up some autonomy and change their life.  This is exactly what happened to Lucifer before he became the devil; he was tired of having to submit to the Almighty God of love.

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What about good people? Doesn't God approve of them?

Without the knowledge of God, without looking at this life from God's viewpoint, this is as far as the human intellect can reason:  "If you are good enough, you might be able to squeak into heaven."

But in light of God's explanation of salvation, no one is quite good enough because "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Remember, God lost us all because of one sin.  No matter whether we are bad, good, not too bad, pretty good, or great, God still lost us all to sin and death.  With the ?good person' logic, even Adam was a good person.  But he still was separated from God.  He even taught his children the ways and truth of God and probably turned out to lead a great life.  But he had sinned, at least once.  And he needed a Savior in order to live with God again.  If we were commanded to earn our salvation by good works, or by ?being good', then God's gift of Jesus Christ would not have been a gift.  Does it make sense that God would ever owe us anything?  So, we don't deserve heaven and we can't earn eternal life.  It must be solely by grace, or as a gift that we receive freely. 

Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.  Not of works, lest any man should boast (about his works)."

It is apparent when we speak to some people that they actually think they have some favor with God because "I'm a pretty good person.  I mean, I've never killed anyone and I don't lie too much or steal anymore."  Is that what God is hoping for the human race - that we just refrain from killing and a few other things?  Or is God hoping for more?

As a parent, is it enough that your children just try to be pretty good and do what you say, or would you like to have some love from them?  Wouldn't you like your children to want to be with you and talk to you and share a life with you?  It is the same with God. 

In God's system, if we don't choose to share a life with Him on earth, it is evident that we don't really desire a life with Him afterwards.  Why would He force us to? 

So instead of forcing us to be graded on our own goodness against an impossible curve, God gave us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  Either we receive it or reject it, but our own goodness has no merit on judgment day.

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What about those who died before Jesus?

All those who died before Jesus Christ were divided into two categories:  the righteous and the wicked.  But none of them went to be with God in heaven.  They went down.  Hell previously (before the resurrection of Jesus) had two compartments.  One was called Paradise, where all the righteous dead departed to.  And the other was called sheol, or hades, where the unrighteous went.  Paradise was a pleasant place, whereas sheol was the burning place.  In Luke ch. 16, Jesus tells the account of a rich unrighteous man and a righteous beggar named Lazarus both die.  The rich man finds himself burning in hell, and he can see Lazarus and Abraham in paradise, across the ?great gulf' in between them.  He asks Abraham to send Lazarus over with a drop of water "for I am tormented in this flame."  So Paradise was not heaven, but it was the best God could give at the time.  You see, before the sacrifice of God's Son, there was no blood to wash our sins completely.  So, the level of righteousness that old testament saints had was a limited righteousness.  It could only get them so far, but it was not perfect enough to get them into the presence of God.  So, God couldn't give them His presence, but He could put the righteous dead into Paradise to await the resurrection of Christ.

When Jesus died, the Bible says that He "descended.and led captivity captive.and then ascended." (Eph. Ch.4).  After Jesus blood was shed for all of mankind, He was able to bring even the righteous dead into heaven and into the presence of God.  So those who were once captive down in the depths of the earth, Jesus captured them and took them home.

Now, some would argue that Jesus never actually went down to hell, but He did.  Remember when Jesus arose from the dead after 3 days of being in the lower parts of the earth, Mary came to greet Him.  Jesus said, ".touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father in heaven."  But then "later at evening." He appeared to them after having gone to Heaven to be glorified and allowed Thomas and the others to touch Him.

The other point that must be made is when Jesus was on the cross, He told one of the thieves, ".this day you will be with me in paradise."  And many people for ages have assumed that Jesus meant that they would be in heaven.  But He didn't.  Obviously, Jesus didn't go to heaven until three days afterward when He arose.  So, we have proof that the place called Paradise was in the lower parts of the earth, across from hell, just like Luke 16 refers to.

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Why Hell at all?

We have to be logical about God.  He is good.  And He is only good.  He is full of compassion and of great mercy.  And He never created hell for man in the first place.  Hell was created for the rebellious.  Isaiah ch.14 gives the account before man was created, when Lucifer decided to ascend above God, and God instructed him that he would be going to hell instead.  Hell was created for Satan and the demons who followed him.  But when mankind chose to rebel against God's commandment and ignore the ultimate sacrifice of God's own blood, God only had one place of penalty.  And hell is real.  It is place that burns with fire and brimstone, where the soul never dies, the fire is never quenched, and where there is only screaming and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:41).

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Houston Faith Church  | Sunday 10:30 am | Wednesday 7:00 pm   

 5757 N. Eldridge Pkwy, Houston, TX 77041   |   281-870-1010  |  Spirit Filled   |  Non Denominational  | Preaching the Word of Faith
Pastors Chas Stevenson & Joni Stevenson

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