Upon hearing the Christian Gospel message, people are sometimes offended at the idea that everyone, themselves included, are sinners. The fact that the Bible is the source for this designation (Romans 3:23) doesn’t usually hinder a quick accusation that the bringer of Good News is being judgmental.
A similar misunderstanding is common when the biblical doctrine of hell is presented. To illustrate, consider Jews and Mormons blogger Mark Paredes’ August 3rd (2010) post titled, “I’m Going to Hell? Who Cares?” He begins by quoting a reader’s comment from a previous post: “Mormons and Jews have something in common if they don’t repent and surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.” Mr. Paredes writes,
“As the above quote makes clear, the subset of Evangelicals who believe that Jesus-denying Jews are going to hell after they die almost always believe the same about Mormons (they claim that we worship a “different” Jesus). Condemning people to hell is not in the Mormon lexicon; we teach moral principles, but the consequences of sin and transgression are God’s to impose, not ours. [We also don’t believe in a traditional concept of hell, but I digress]. When these people call down hellfire upon the heads of Jews, Mormons, and most of the world’s people unless they accept Evangelicalism’s Jesus, Mormons dismiss their condemnation as unauthorized, presumptuous, and doctrinally flawed. We certainly don’t believe that Jews and other non-Christians are going to hell, and we don’t like to be lumped with those Christians who do.” (Brackets in the original.)
Again, the message that is being objected to here–that those who worship a false god, or who try to merit heaven by their own works, or who dismiss Jesus’ sacrificial atonement as God’s only provision for cleansing from sin, are “condemned”–this message is God’s Word to a fallen world (Romans 6:23, John 14:6, Revelation 20:15). Christians are not condemning Mormons or Jews or anyone else; they are merely delivering the message they find in the pages of Scripture, and that according to the command of God (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians agree with Mr. Paredes on this point: “the consequences of sin and transgression are God’s to impose.”
To say that Christians “call down hellfire upon the heads of Jews, Mormons, and most of the world’s people” merely by sharing the biblical Gospel message is wholly unwarranted. I can’t speak for all the Christians Mr. Paredes has come in contact with, but generally speaking, Christians share the Gospel with unbelievers because they don’t want them to go to hell.
Which brings me to the title of Mr. Paredes’ post. “I’m Going to Hell? Who Cares?” I do, Mr. Paredes. And in the name of Jesus Christ I tell you that God says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him!
Are you offended, Mr. Paredes? This is God’s gracious and merciful word to you–indeed, to all of us. Are you offended, Mormon reader? Are you offended, unbeliever? It might offend you, for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. If it offends you, then God offends you. If God offends you, I plead with you to repent and believe in the gospel.
Scriptures quoted in the last two paragraphs above: Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 9:16, 10:9, 10:11-12; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 1:15
For more information on heaven and hell, click here.