Friday, November 11, 2016

Why do most people go to hell?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Matthew 7:13, 14

Many people are offended at this question, for it baldly states that most people are going to hell. However, that statement is on the best authority, Jesus himself, for he told us that the broad way was often followed, whereas the narrow way is hard to find. Somewhere else Jesus tells us that he is the way and the truth and the life and still somewhere else he tells us that he that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of the Father. Not my words, but his words, and words that are crystal clear, leaving no room for doubt. Most people are doomed to hell.

We are told that as many as 1\3 of the population of the world are professors of Christ. That probably is a large overestimate of those who really have taken Christ as their Savior, but let’s take it as complete and true. That means that there are about 4 billion people headed for Hell today. Broad indeed is the path to destruction, and many are very busy helping others get to Hell ahead of time. Jesus points to the blind leading the blind, and certainly that is true during our day.

The great irony is that “progress” is hailed by so many, and yet nothing improves; rather it continues its decay. We see this vividly in the United States where culture is not content with setting new lows, but is setting new speed records getting there. Americans can be likened to lemmings, each following the one ahead of them in their headlong plunge over the cliff. I find it interesting to study history and notice how often the morals of America do indeed “evolve”, only to find out later there is a return to normal as people are aghast at how far off the base they have gone. Morals do not evolve ever; the best that can be said about them is that some morals we once held were truthfully found out not to be morals at all. Nevertheless, morality remains perennial, as unchanging as God himself (see 10 commandments).

The common man does not entertain the claims of Christ. The society in which we live does have a constant—we consistently deprecate the spiritual things of Christianity. In the midst of all the cold Christians, the diseased society, and the decadent morality, the Bible yet stands as ever, presenting a man that will confuse you, condemn you, and ultimately save you, if you will but believe. But presenting his claims is more difficult than ever in our society; it little wants to hear, and less wants to be told of a man who promised to free you from the bonds of sin forever. It is not that we do not have plenty of books written about the claims of Christ; my current favorite is The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, a book guaranteed to make you think about his claims.

At the end of the day, each person is to be judged singularly on the basis of whether he has accepted and believed the Son of God, or whether he has rejected him. Says Spurgeon, “remember that if you are damned, it will be unbelief that damns you. If you are lost, it will be because ye believed not on Christ; and if you perish, this shall be the bitterest drop of gall-that ye did not trust in the Savior.”1 Many in the world reject this statement—a statement that so clearly is just a summary of the importance of the gospel. Their reasoning is false, but they cannot understand a God who would not figure out a way to make heaven available to most, if not all, people.

But there are impossible things for God too. It was impossible that he would make man with the freedom (many argue about the degree of that freedom) to choose, and yet at the same time, take away that choice from him. There is no doubt that God is sovereign, and as sovereign could take away all choice, but even He would find it impossible to create a free being with free choice, and yet still do the choosing for him. Hell is going to be full of people who knew better, but insisted that they were going to keep their choices. And what was God to do? He could sovereignly take away all freedom, but with that “take away”, would he not destroy the very image of created man?

So this is the divine dilemma. How could God restore fellowship with his created? And God chose to solve it through the sending of his Son, that whosoever believes might be saved. If you insist on crafting your own solution, it is bound to end badly. The tragedy, at least in what I see in America, is that most people do not seem to make a conscious choice—instead, they blithely go along, assuming that it will somehow work out all right, and thus blindly stroll through their lives towards hell. Thus, even in the recognized “Christian country”, most people are willfully progressing toward damnation.

It is not that God will not judge some as being more wicked. Remember that Jesus told Pilate that there was someone else who was guiltier than Pilate? He it was, says Jesus, who was subject to greater judgment. Greater judgment? Thus we can see that God will fully judge wickedness for what it is, and that no one will escape his misdeeds. We certainly see wickedness going on in our country, and I daresay that there are many points at which we might all agree on points of evil, but that actually leads to the development of a troubling blindness of many people.

It is never that people do not see their own failures. Instead, they comfort themselves by comparing themselves to others. Yes, it is true that I have the sin of gossip, says one, but I do not drink like my neighbor. Yes, it is true, says another, that I neglect my children with all my work, but at least I am caring for them, not like the guy across the street, who seems to be letting his children starve while he feeds his drug habit. Or if we think of it politically it might go more like this: I care for people. Can’t those others just see that? I admit that sometimes we go wrong, but do we not get credit for trying? Or the other side: I believe in a world where all are given opportunity. Can’t those others see that such a world is infinitely better? You see both sides, blinding themselves to their own faults, while strongly condemning the faults of others.

But God does not work that way. In Psalm 2, God tells us that even the kings of the world will plot against him, but in the end he will laugh at their foolish efforts which will come to nothing. Man is constantly devising “improvement” plans, ways of reforming. In our own country we see this particularly in education. I taught for 30 years, and yet there never was a single year in which education was not reforming itself. Most of us would recognize that education is not nearly what it was 30 years ago, and even that was a long way from being ideal. We compare ourselves to others, and take comfort that we are better than some, but we never seem to realize that we are all on the same road together, doomed to judgment unless we wake up to our own need.

And thus the need to return to the Bible, the statement that God has made to man, the gospel that is given that men might be at last made free. In our own country this has become a sadly neglected book. Most Christians seem to routinely ignore it. Never mind the ridicule our society makes upon it. And yet if we were mindful of history we would see the Bible as the hinge upon which all history swings. As dreadful as things are in the Western World, they are so much brighter than the darkness which rules the rest of the world. The difference is that the Bible provided so much of the foundational thinking of our part of the world.2

But I would be remiss not to emphasize the many points of history where the Bible seemed to change the lives of individuals. We have in every generation had our Chuck Colsons, men who seem to come to grips with the Word, and who dramatically change the focus of their lives. The examined Bible seems to produce some lives which are changed, but our society, while being prideful on the multiplicity of Bibles, often seem to leave it on neglected and dusty shelves somewhere in the back of the house. Says Tozer, “The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.”3

The end of our lives seems to come too quickly (observations by a 64-year-old). I remember reaching young adulthood after waiting an eternity to grow up, and all of a sudden I am a senior citizen. Time indeed flies too quickly. But God gives us this life, that at some point, we might recognize the gift, and believe him. Are you upset at the question, why are so many going to hell? I certainly am. And God is too. The very unexamined Bible I was talking about before says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Someone said the unexamined life is not worth living, but I say that the unexamined Bible always leads to a worthless life. I remember getting my own dusty Bible off of the neglected shelf at the age of 19, and examining it, finding to my amazement that a God of the universe would actually know and care about me. Perhaps your examined life would be better if you would consider it in the light of the Word. I suggest starting with the gospel of John, because John presents to us his very best friend, the Savior of the World. You might find that he has room in heaven, even for you.

1. Spurgeon, Charles. The Complete Works of Charles Spurgeon: Volume 1, Sermons 1-53 (Kindle Locations 1148-1150). Kindle Edition.
2. See Rodney Stark, How the West Was Won.
3. Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 95-97). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.

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