What happens to non-Christians when they die? Do good people who never accept Christ go to hell? What about people of other religions? From my research I’ve realized there are basically three different views on this very controversial Christian theological question. There is the exclusivist, the inclusivist and the universalist. The exclusivist believes that only those who openly express they are Christian and have accepted Jesus Christ will go to heaven and all others will be condemned. Inclusivists believe that there may be possible other ways to achieve salvation than being a 100% dedicated and confessed Christian. They believe that perhaps God will have mercy on some non believers—such as people of other faiths—but they still believe there is a hell and that it will no doubt be inhabited by some. Universalists believe that all souls will in some way be reconciled with God and that all will eventually end up in heaven making hell obsolete or non-existent.
Here’s what I believe:
I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe in the word of God and I believe in the words of Jesus as the word of God! Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). I know God is a loving Father and that His judgments are just. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). God loves man but hates sin. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). God does not want anyone to be condemned but I’m sure everyone can agree that we should be held accountable to consequences and punishments for our actions that are morally wrong. If you do not agree then you would be what we call a sociopath.
We also know that all men are sinners and no one can match up to God’s righteousness. “Everyman has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). So what then can be fair? What can make us right with God? How does any man deserve salvation? The answer is we don’t deserve salvation, no one does. How does God deal with this problem? Jesus Christ. Only through Christ can we be saved. Jesus is the only possible way to reconciliation to the Father. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and paid the price for our sins. He took our punishment so that we could be saved. He is the mediator stretching one arm down to us while holding on to the Father in heaven with the other. Christ’s death was not something that could have been avoided. On the cross He said: “It is finished!” This was God’s plan all along. This is God’s gift to us. God has paid the price for our sins. Now we are only left to accept this gift and acknowledge our own shortcomings and need for repentance. We must come to the realization that we need help before we can ever be saved.
So am I an exclusivist, a inclusivist or a universalist? I am none. I am a Christian and in that a devoted follower of Christ. I do not label myself in the minute details that we will never know the exact answers to. It’s not our place to question God! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). I know God is loving and a just judge and by this I also know that no one will feel wrongfully condemned. That’s the farthest into it I will go. We are to focus on the cross and spread the gospel of Calvary that is the good news of Jesus Christ. How will God deal with undecided or mislead people? I don’t know and it is not my place to question or try to answer it. For in us trying to answer that question wouldn’t we in turn be making ourselves the judge? “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom 9:14-16). “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Rom 2:1).
Jesus said: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:36-37).
It is not our place to walk around telling non-believers that if they don’t have Jesus they are going to hell. The scare tactic is the complete wrong way to minister! It is the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ crucified that draws people by the Holy Spirit to be reconciled with God.
Give your life to Christ! If you’re worried about the salvation of others then tell them of God’s love and preach to them the gospel! The rest is left—rightfully so—in God’s hands. This is all we can do and this is all we are meant to know. Jesus Christ and salvation through Him by faith is the simple truth that is the foundational meaning and purpose of the entire Bible. If you cannot accept this then “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matt 7:13). Look around at the world today and life as we know it. I myself see many roads that lead to destruction and many lives that are torn apart from it. There is a path to light! It is a narrow gate that many refuse to enter. It is faith in Jesus Christ. Which road are you on?
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:11-13).
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