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Do All Non-Christians Go To Hell?
Bible Says "No!"

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - Internet Church Of Christ - LoveAllPeople.org
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Do All Non-Christians Go To Hell? Bible Says "No!"

Perhaps the most serious error that many Christians fall into is the false doctrine that if you don't believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God, risen from the dead, you will surely go to Hell and be tortured forever throughout eternity after you die.

It was this false doctrine, as much as anything else, which allowed the Church to authorize torture to be used to extract confessions from suspected witches during the Inquisition. "After all," the reasoning went, "what is a few hours or days of torture now compared to an eternity of torture which is surely awaiting these same people after they die?"

And thus the law of "Love thy neighbor as thyself" was turned upside down, as the Church itself tortured people to death in the name of God.

Satan, of course, thought this whole thing was great fun. It was his idea to begin with, based on a twisting of Scripture, one of his favorite things to do!

This false doctrine defames God and is a stumbling block to potential believers, because it is so intuitively unfair and repugnant to Justice. The Natural Law, which God has given to all people, categorically rejects such an abomination of Justice. Satan loves to spread this idea, however, because it makes him look good compared to God!

This false doctrine is based mainly on two verses from Scripture which might seem to say that belief in Christ is necessary to avoid Hell. These two verses are . . .

              "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who 
               does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16 RSV) 
               Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the 
               life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 
               (John 14:6 RSV) 
Both of these, however, can be read in other ways, which change their meanings completely. We will look first at Mark 16:16, then at John 14:6.
  MARK 16:16 
   In understanding Mark 16:16, we need to read it in context of the 
   verse before it, Mark 16:15, which talks about "preaching the Gospel." 
       MARK 16:15-16 (RSV) 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
        15 
               And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the 
               gospel to the whole creation. 
        16 
               He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who 
               does not believe will be condemned. 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
The condemnation applies only to people who have had he Gospel presented to them, so that they fully understand the ideas, and then they reject it anyway. If they have never heard it, they are not condemned. And if they don't understand it, they are not condemned.

Here are the words of Jesus, speaking about the soldiers who were crucifying Him . . .

         ------------------------------------------------------------- 
       And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they 
       do." (Luke 23:34a RSV) 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
Just as Jesus excused His executioners, so also He excuses those who have not heard or do not understand the Gospel message, those who "know it not."

Thus the only condemnation in Mark 16:16 is for those who have heard the true Gospel message, and understand it, but reject it anyway. And this is a serious condemnation: to know the Gospel, but still reject it!

  JOHN 14:6 
               Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the 
               life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 
               (John 14:6 RSV) 
The correct understanding of John 14:6 is that Jesus is the gatekeeper to Heaven. Nobody gets to the Father, that is, gets into Heaven, except by being let in by Jesus. Jesus may let them in for whatever reasons He chooses. He is not required to let in only those who believe in Him.

The Biblical fact is this: belief in Jesus is the sure way to avoid Hell, but it is not necessarily the only way. Jesus Himself said that you can avoid Hell by doing good to other people out of love for them. This is the entire meaning of the Parable of the Sheep And The Goats. In this parable, there is no mention whatsoever of faith: it is pure works based on love. God accepts your good works toward others as if they were good works done to Him in love. He counts your love for others as righteousness (see Matthew 25:46, below).

Please note that these are not "works of the law" but works of love.

Here is the Parable Of The Sheep And The Goats, which is a clear statement, by Jesus Himself, that love toward other people will keep you out of Hell.

       MATTHEW 25:31-46 (RSV) 
                  Parable Of The Sheep And The Goats 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
        31 
               "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the 
               angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 
        32 
               Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will 
               separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the 
               sheep from the goats, 
        33 
               and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the 
               goats at the left. 
        34 
               Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, 
               O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for 
               you from the foundation of the world; 
        35 
               for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and 
               you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
        36 
               I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited 
               me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 
        37 
               Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see 
               thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 
        38 
               And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or 
               naked and clothe thee? 
        39 
               And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit 
               thee?' 
        40 
               And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as 
               you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you 
               did it to me.' 
        41 
               Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from 
               me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the 
               devil and his angels; 
        42 
               for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty 
               and you gave me no drink, 
        43 
               I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you 
               did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not 
               visit me.' 
        44 
               Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee 
               hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in 
               prison, and did not minister to thee?' 
        45 
               Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did 
               it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to 
               me.' 
        46 
               And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the 
               righteous into eternal life." 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
Many other Bible verses support the idea that love for others is sufficient to keep you out of Hell.
       Galatians 5:14 (RSV) 
       For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your 
       neighbor as yourself." 
       Romans 13:8 (RSV) 
       Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves 
       his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 
       Romans 13:10 (RSV) 
       Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling 
       of the law. 
       James 2:8 (RSV) 
       If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, 
       "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. 
       Proverbs 10:12 (RSV) 
       Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. 
       1 Peter 4:8 (RSV) 
       Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love 
       covers a multitude of sins. 
                            <>< 
Also, 1 Corinthians 13 tells about the supreme importance of love, even more important than faith. And 1 John 4 says that God is love and if you are filled with love you have God dwelling in you already.

In addition to love for others, there is another way that non-believers in Christ can avoid going to Hell: by following the Natural Law written on their hearts by God.

According to the Bible, there is such a thing as "The Natural Law." It is given by God to mankind, written on our hearts so we instinctively know right from wrong. Those who are not Jews (under the Law of Moses) will be judged by this Natural Law, not by whether they accept Jesus Christ or not.

  ROMANS 2:14-16 (RSV) 
                            The Natural Law 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
        14 
               When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the 
               law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though 
               they do not have the law. 
        15 
               They show that what the law requires is written on their 
               hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and 
               their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 
        16 
               on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the 
               secrets of men by Christ Jesus. 
         _____________________________________________________________ 
The Natural Law is not written down anywhere, but many people believe it is closely approximated by The Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17) together with The Great Commandment (see Matthew 22:35-40).

In 1 Timothy 4:10, the Bible says that God is Savior of all men, "especially those who believe." It does not say "only those who believe." Believers in Christ have a straight and sure path away from Hell. But it is not the only path, if you believe what the Bible really says.

      "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set 
       on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of 
       those who believe." (1 Timothy 4:10 RSV) 
In summary, it is a false and harmful doctrine that only believers in Jesus Christ can avoid going to Hell. If anyone claims to believe the Bible, he must then believe what it says on this subject: it is possible to avoid Hell without accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

Hell is intended for Satan and his demons. It is not intended for normal people trying to live peaceful lives in the world.

We who do accept Him as Lord have a great advantage over those who do not. Our path is straight and sure. We have the joy of fellowship with Him, as He lives inside us and we have immediate access to Him at all times. He provides for all our needs. He guides our footsteps and makes everything that happens to us work for our own benefit. We are assured of eternal life with Him forever in Heaven. What more could we want?

The non-believers in Christ are basically lost, wandering around like blind people without guidance. Nevertheless, non-believers in Christ are not necessarily doomed to Hell. They can avoid it either by obeying the Natural Law written on their hearts or by loving their neighbor as they love themselves, which fulfills all of God's law.

So this is the way it works:

 1. IF YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR 
    THEN YOU DO NOT GO TO HELL 
 2. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST 
    AND YOU HAVE NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL OR DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT 
    THEN YOU ARE JUDGED BY THE NATURAL LAW (OR BY THE MOSAIC LAW 
    IF YOU ARE A JEW.) THE ROYAL LAW ("You shall love your neighbor 
    as yourself") FULFILLS ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF BOTH THE MOSAIC 
    LAW AND THE NATURAL LAW (according to Galatians 5:14). 
         The Natural Law is approximated in the Ten Commandments 
         (see Exodus 20:1-17) together with The Great 
         Commandment (see Matthew 22:35-40). The Royal Law, 
         so named by James, is "You shall love your neighbor 
         as yourself" (see Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). 
         The Mosaic Law is all the Law of the Old Testament. 
 3. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST 
      AND YOU HAVE HEARD THE GOSPEL AND UNDERSTAND IT 
      (but you reject it nevertheless) 
    THEN YOU GO TO HELL 
      . . . unless Jesus decides to take mercy on you, which He as Judge, 
      is allowed to do. 

See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of Biblical truths.

Please also see our related pages . . .

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May the Lord bless this presentation of His holy Word.

     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><
     bmcgin@patriot.net
     

See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of Biblical truths.

Please also see our related pages . . .

CHRISTIAN
ETHICS & HUMAN RELATIONS
POLITICS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Sitemap

May the Lord bless this presentation of His holy Word.


     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><
     bmcgin@patriot.net
     

See more pages like this, at our Index of Pearls Of Faith, a treasury of Biblical truths.

Please also see our related pages . . .

CHRISTIAN
ETHICS & HUMAN RELATIONS
POLITICS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Sitemap

Blessings to you. May God help us all.

       Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - LoveAllPeople.org

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