Will Good People Who Do Not Believe Go To Hell?

This entry is part 36 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Will Good People Who Do Not Believe Go To Hell?

It is an amazing thing that so many religious people believe that they have an exclusive on heaven and are sure to avoid hell whereas anyone who believes differently than themselves, even if they are good people,  will suffer for eternity. Many Christians think we have to accept their version of Jesus, Muslims demand we accept their version of Mohammed, Scientologists want their version of L. Ron Hubbard etc.

Let us focus on Jesus for the moment.  Many Christians have come to certain conclusions as to what or who Jesus is and they teach that if we do not accept this version we will go to hell. To them, just believing to the best of your ability or living a good life is not enough. Instead, you have to believe in the right version of Jesus, which is, of course, their version.

Does the Bible really tell us that we have to believe in the right version of Jesus or we will go to hell?

No.  Jesus never said anything like this at all. The scriptures do speak of the importance of believing in him but Jesus clarified what there was about him we are supposed to believe. He never went around demanding people accept any particular version of him or even that he was the Messiah.  Instead, he emphasized again and again that we believe on his words because they lead us to truth and justice.

His words were so powerful they were called “words of eternal life.” John 6:68

Jesus emphasized the power of his words of truth when he said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63

Jesus did not emphasize believing in his goodness or him as a person, but wanted us to accept his actual words.  It is written:

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

So what were the actual words of Jesus relating to where we are likely to wind up in the next world?  Actually, he was pretty clear on the subject.  He clearly said this:

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matt 25:34

Here Jesus clearly tells us in his own words that the criteria for entering the kingdom of God is not a belief in a particular version of himself or a church, but we will be judged by how we treat our fellow men and women. If we assist others who are in need then it will be well with us whether we are a member of a certain church or not.  If we treat others badly then we are in for a wake-up call no matter how true we think our church or our doctrine is.

This idea is further affirmed here:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matt 7:7-12

The idea presented here is this. We as humans are very flawed, but despite our imperfections we, as parents will go out of our way to respond to the needs of our children. If they ask for bread we are not so cruel to give them a stone instead. Jesus then tells us that the goodness of God in dealing with us is much more magnanimous than we are with our own children.

If your kid has some wrong ideas about you and is in need will you be so cruel as to send him to hell?

No and neither will God.  God will treat us even better than we treat our own children.

So then if a person is a good and decent human being and has a number of wrong ideas in his head about God, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or any other being or thing he will not go to hell but will be treated with goodness and mercy in this world and the next. As we sow, so shall we reap. (Gal 6:7) There is no reason to believe otherwise.

 

Copyright 2014 by J J Dewey

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