Two Roads Leading to Hell

You may be reading this article because the title caught your eyes.  To Roads Leading to Hell… that seems a bit serious.  I want to reassure you; it is that serious. To begin, we see in the Bible that there are two options to chose from when it comes to Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13).  Those who reject God in Christ are sentenced to eternal death for their sin, but those who repent of their sins and turn to Jesus in faith receive eternal life (Read John 12:44-50). I want to argue that in the Bible we look closely at this road to destruction and see that there are two ways we can reject God in Christ and therefore two “lanes” or “roads” leading to hell.

Road One: Irreligion/Paganism

This road is quite obvious and is what we generally think of when it comes to rejecting God.  What probably comes to most of our minds is God’s indictment on those who reject God in Romans 1.  This is the one who “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” (v. 23).  Those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator” (v. 25).  On this road to hell are those who reject God by being “full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (v. 29-31).  For those who reject God and live in sin openly, it is obvious they are on a road to destruction.  It does not take much to see that they are full of sin and in need of a Savior.  This is not a good place to be, but in reality, it is not as terrifying as those who are taking the second road leading to hell.

Road Two: Religious Moralism/Works Righteousness

Here is the simple reason why road two, moralism, is even more dangerous than road one, paganism. The first road of paganism is marked by signs warning them they are heading for hell unless they turn to Jesus.  Not so with the religious moralist.  This person (maybe it’s you) is on a road with the wrong markings.  Though they are headed straight for eternal suffering, all signs say that they are heading for paradise.  People tell them “keep it up” and “I am so proud of you that you have turned your life around.”  Those on this road are present in churches, and placed next to true believers, they look exactly the same.

Have you ever entered a highway on the wrong ramp?  You intended to go east instead of west but you take the wrong entrance.  You get on the highway thinking you are going EAST but most likely, eventually, your eyes catch a sign that says WEST.  Then you know, “I am going the wrong way, I better turn around.”  Well, with the religious road of works righteousness, the signs have been changed.  The wicked enemy of God, Satan himself has switched the signs and instead of them saying “wrong way” or “road to destruction” they say “keep going, paradise 20 miles, no U-turns.”

This person is addressed in Romans 2.  In Romans 1 as we saw, Paul addressed the Pagan who is on the first road headed to hell.  In Romans 2, Paul begins addressing the “religious person” pointing out that they are on the same boat, or better yet, are on a similar road to destruction.  He points out that no matter how moral you try to be, you will always fall short.  You will be caught judging other people while you are practicing the same thing, just more discreetly (Romans 2:3-5).    Paul then concludes chapter 1 (the judgment of God on the Pagan) and chapter 2 (the judgment of God on the religious) in this way:

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 (ESV)

Both of these roads lead to hell.

Alternative: The Gospel of Grace

This has been a depressing blog post so far, and I pray you are now hungry for the Gospel of Grace- the only road to eternal life.  Paul has clearly established that we have no hope in ourselves.  If we give up on obeying God’s rules and run to paganism, we are headed for hell.  If on our own we seek to live a moral life, we are also headed for hell.  But Paul gives us a third option, a third road in Romans 3:21–27; the free gift of righteousness through faith.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

This is our only hope in life and in death, to cling to the cross of Christ, to run after our resurrected Savior Jesus Christ.  Our own righteousness is filthy before God, but the righteousness of Jesus is able to cleanse us, make us whole, and gives us new life, namely eternal life.  This eliminates boasting and all glory goes to God.

If you find yourself on the wrong road, headed the wrong way, listen to Peter: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” -Acts 3:19

 

 

 

The Anonymous Christian

I would like to say up front, that the ‘anonymous christian’  which is the teaching that I am addressing and will describe in more detail in the second paragraph,  is un-biblical and dangerous. The idea of an anonymous christian is contrary to what the Bible teaches and destroys any motivation for missions and evangelism. I do not write this to bash or hate on any person or any denomination including the Catholic Church but merely to point out a false teaching that is present in many churches including the Catholic Church. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the only way to God.  He says himself, “No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also” (John 14:6).  In the text I preached on this morning Jesus says, “This is eternal life; that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  This is the fact of the matter; there is no true God honoring, eternal life bringing ‘religion’ accept that which is centered on repentance towards the God of the Bible and faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet in our day there has surfaced a false teaching that says that there are many ways to God besides Jesus and that one can be an ‘anonymous’ (unknowing) Christian who does not have a relationship with Jesus.  In other words, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and even Atheists with a ‘good heart’ who are ‘seeking moral goodness’ can be seeking God unknowingly and be a Christian unknowingly.  This does not line up with Jesus’ words that eternal life has at its center, knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ as well as accepting Him in faith.  Romans 10:13-15 puts it this way, “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  How will they call upon him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”  This is the heart of our mission work.  Jesus is the only hope of eternal life for the world, therefore we preaching Jesus to all people in view of eternal life for all who turn to him and eternal damnation for all who reject him.

Here is what the official Catholic Catechism says in relation to Muslims being ‘anonymous’ Christians:

“841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims: The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”¹

This teaching is dangerous and un-biblical.  We must recognize the need to share Jesus will all people of every religious for apart from Jesus there is no salvation.

Sorrow, Joy, and the Intermediate State

Since we live in a fallen world, death is a reality that even Christians have to come to grips with.  Though Jesus has redeemed us, the enemy of death has still not yet been defeated but we can have confidence that the end of death is near (1 Cor. 15:26, 54-55).  Even though our death is not a condemnation of our sin, it is true that death completes our sanctification and completes our union with Christ.  Our death and the death of other Christians should give us both sorrow and joy.  It is normal to be saddened by the loss of a brother in Christ (Acts 8:2, Phil. 2:27) but we can also find Joy that they are with Christ, a joy that we don’t experience with the loss of unbelieving friends and family see Rom. 9:1-3.

After death, the believer departs from his body and his spirit goes to be with the Lord in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23) yet this is not the state that we are going to remain in as we were never meant to be spiritual beings but rather physical.  Though much of the American Church has learned its theology from movies and Greek tradition and therefore believes that we will be spiritual beings for eternity, the Bible says that we will be physical beings in the age to come.   When Christ returns, all the dead in Christ will be physically raised and will be given resurrection bodies that will be like Jesus’ physical body.  Our Soul will be reunited with our renewed, resurrected bodies.  The existence of soul sleep, purgatory, and annihilation all contradict what the Bible says about death and resurrection.  Unbelievers after death go to a place of judgment until their body is also raised when Jesus returns and they will stand before God in judgment (See Matt. 25:41, 46).

Even though we know that believers are in heaven right now, and unbelievers are being punished, we should not pray to them (including Mary) thinking that we can change their situation or that they can change ours.  Praying to those who are dead is condemned in the scriptures (Lev. 19:31) and those who consulted the dead were stoned to death in the Old Covenant (Lev. 20:27) and they should most definitely be corrected in the New Covenant Christian church.  We seek the Lord and him alone because those who have perished have no power or ability to control what takes place on earth, only God does.