Skip to main content

Not everyone goes to heaven

Built on a Rock
Rev. Dr. Phil Booe, St. John Lutheran Church, Luverne

The cover of Time magazine dated April 8, 1966, posed the question, “Is God Dead?” The idea was that humanity had outgrown its need for God.
It was a controversial position, but it wasn’t new. Since the Garden of Eden, humankind has, in sinful pride, tried to separate itself from its Creator, to become self-sufficient and inwardly focused.
Just over ten years ago, on April 25, 2011, Time ran another salacious headline, “What If There’s No Hell?”  The subsequent article was by a well-known liberal author who claimed there really is no such thing as hell because it was inconsistent with the character of a loving God. People like this author may have believed they had come up with some new, liberating theology, but the truth is there are few lies that Satan would love for the world to believe more than “There is no hell.”
One study showed that at least 70 percent of Americans believe that everyone goes to heaven when they die, no matter how they live, what they believe, or to which religion they belong, if any.
Evidence of this false doctrine is all around us. Think of the last several famous people whose deaths have been shared on the news. People don’t hesitate to describe them as being in heaven or at least “in a better place.” Even Christians, who should know better, often flood their social media feeds with posts about their favorite actors or artists who have passed with the idea that despite being Buddhist, Muslim, atheist or whatever, they are now enjoying eternity forever.
The biblical truth is that not everyone goes to heaven. In no uncertain terms, God reminds us that he is not only a God of love, but also a God of justice. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives us insight into the final judgment. Those who have faith in him will enter into eternal life and those who do not will be told, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) It’s pretty clear-cut.
I suppose that it’s nicer to just assume that everyone who dies goes to heaven, but that can be a false witness. I am not suggesting we outright and publicly condemn people who have passed on. We will leave that to the Lord to judge, but we also shouldn’t promote the idea that hell is not a reality and a possibility for those who are outside of Christ. Otherwise, we risk perpetuating a false doctrine that may convince people they don’t need Jesus.
The good news is that, as long as a person has breath in their lungs, it is not too late. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
Jesus is coming soon, but he is also slow in coming, desiring that all should come to faith. If you trust Jesus, rest assured that your home is with him.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.