There are many misconceptions in regard to the afterlife. Most people just don’t like to talk about death but the percentage of those who will die is 100% so the question is, “do you know where you will go after you die?” A lack of discussion contributes to a lack of knowledge so you could be on the wrong path. The wisest man that ever lived was King Solomon, except for Jesus, and he said in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
A 2011 Barna Poll showed that 71% of Americans believe in hell, but less than one half of 1% believe they’re going there. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 7 that many are going there and few are going to heaven. The poll also revealed that 54% of Americans believe if they do good works they’ll enter heaven, yet Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “We are saved by grace, not by works.” In addition only 32% of Americans believe that hell is a place of torment, yet Jesus said, “Where their worm dies not and the fire is not quenched, where they’ll be cast into outer darkness where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He mentioned everlasting fire, everlasting damnation, and everlasting punishment.
The first misconception people have is that God is unjust to allow people to suffer in hell. That’s not the case. People are there because they knew about the warning God gave them and they rejected it. They are not in hell by mistake. They are not there unjustly. They knew ahead of time and they rejected the truth.
- Jeremiah 3:12-13 “Come home to me again, for I am merciful. Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God.”
- Jeremiah 8: 4-5 “Then why did these people stay on their self destructive path? Why did the people refuse to turn back even thought I have warned them?”
- Romans 2: 4-5 “Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he is in giving you time to turn from your sin, but no, you won’t listen so you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness and refusing to turn from your sin.”
- Lamentations 3 “The Lord over and over pleads for people to simply turn back to him for he delights in showing mercy.”
Romans chapter one shows us man’s response:
- …all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves
- …instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they chose to believe lies
- …they refused to acknowledge God
- …They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them
In Matthew 13:15 Jesus emphasizes the same point. “For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear…”
People refuse God and push the truth away. They know they’re not in hell by mistake or by default or ignorance. They made a conscious decision.
Another common misconception is that people think they are good enough to get to heaven. They might be good compared to people, but not compared to God. Our standard of good and God’s standard are two different things. God and Heaven are perfect and his standard is perfect. God does not arbitrarily send people to hell. All of us above the age of accountability are automatically on the road to hell because we’re born in sin. John 3: 17-18 says, “We’re condemned already because of our sin.” That’s why Jesus came. He planted a cross right in the middle of the road to get us off of it and take us to heaven. We must repent and be humble enough to admit we need a Savior. Repentance means turn away or change your mind. We must choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s just that simple. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes under the father but by me.”
Jesus also said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” When people say, “I don’t believe the bible. I don’t believe any of it,” they say it with their own mouth so they condemn themselves. It’s not God sending them. God loves man, so he gives them a free will. He gives them that free will to choose. It’s up to them. The question is what will you decide?
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By Bill Wiese, author of 23 Minutes in Hell