What Does Salvation Mean?

How can a loving God send a good person to hell? God doesn’t send anybody to hell. If you’re going to go by the standard of good, then you have to go by God’s standard. Your standard and His are two different things. James 2:10 says, “If we offend His law in one point, we’re guilty of all.” If we tell a lie once, Revelation 21:8 says, “All liars should have their part in the lake of fire.” If we steal one thing, 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “No thief will inherit heaven.” If we have one lustful thought, Jesus said that’s the same thing as committing adultery and no adulterer will inherit heaven.

That’s just three of the Ten Commandments. If we were all judged by that standard, would we be guilty or innocent? We’d all be guilty. Proverbs 24:9 that says even the thought of foolishness is a sin. If we have one foolish thought our entire life that excludes us from heaven. That’s a high standard. None of us can stand before holy God and say, “Hey, I’m pretty good. Let me in.” His reply would be, “No. Not according to my standard.” Job 15:16 reads, “man is so filthy he drinks an iniquity like water.”

Thank God that heaven is not based on being good, but instead on a relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe you’re not convinced. You might think, “My neighbors are good people. How could they end up in hell?”

I was on a secular radio talk show host syndicated across America and people warned me saying, “Bill, the host does not like Christians. He will pull you off the air in a minute so be careful.”

I went on the air and the host said, “Okay Christian, don’t you quote me Bible verse on my airwaves. You got that? No Bible on my airwaves.” Then he said, “I submit to you that your God is unreasonable because he doesn’t consider my viewpoint. My viewpoint is just as valid as yours and I’m a good person. I should be let in heaven because I’m a good person.” He went on to say, “If your God doesn’t let me in heaven he’s actually guilty of a hate crime. So what do you have to say for yourself Christian? You’re live on the air!”

God gave me an analogy, and thank God He did because I couldn’t give scripture. I said, “Okay, you think you’re a good person and you should go to heaven. Let’s say you found the most expensive home in the country and knocked on their door and you said, ‘Excuse me but I’m moving in with you because I’m a good person.’ What do you think the people would say? No, of course not. You don’t know them. You wouldn’t expect them to let you move into their house.” I said, “But you go through your whole life. You have nothing to do with God. You deny Jesus as the Son of God. He said Jesus is the only way to His house but you reject Him. At the end of your life you have the nerve to come knock on His door and demand to live there because you’re a good person? What does good have to do with it? You have no relationship with Him.”

I said, “God offered to be your Father throughout your whole life, but you pushed Him away. You said, ‘I don’t want you as my Father.’ God is your creator but He’s not your father until you invite Jesus Christ into your life as your savior and then He becomes your Father. Only then do you have the privilege of living in His house. To expect to live at someone’s house you don’t even know is unreasonable.”

He went on to say, “Well, you Christians are narrow-minded. You think you’re the only ones that are right.” He said, “I just think all roads lead to God. That’s what I think.” In response, God gave me another analogy at that very moment. I said, “Suppose you invite me to your home for dinner and you say, ‘Bill, I want you to go south on Highway 95, turn right at Main Street, and go up the hill and you’ll arrive at my home. That’s the only way to get to my house.” I say, ‘You know what? Actually, I’m going to go north on 95 and exit at Beach Boulevard because I think all roads lead to your house. That’s what I think.’ You’re going to tell me, ‘Bill, I’m trying to give you clear directions to my house.’ It’s the same thing with God. He has given us clear directions to His house. All we need to do is follow them. God knows where He lives and how to get there.

That’s not narrow-minded. That’s specific. He’s given specific, clear directions on how to get to His house. He’s not trying to keep us out.  People seem to think that God is arbitrarily saying, “This one goes to heaven. This one goes to hell.” It’s not that way. All of us above the age of accountability are automatically on the road to hell. John 3:17-18 says, “We condemned already because we’re born in sin.” That is entirely different than being sent there. Each of us was already going there. That’s why Jesus came. He planted a cross right in the middle of the road that we are all on. We need only to look up to the cross, repent of our sins, and receive Jesus as our Lord and savior.

The last thing he said to me was, “Bill, why can’t God overlook my sin? I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anybody.” That is the other common misconception people have. If you don’t kill anybody, you’re good enough for heaven. I said, “God cannot do that for two reasons:  Number one. God is a good judge. A good judge in our land would not be considered good if he let the criminal go free. The crime has to be punished. Our sin has to be punished, but thankfully Jesus took that punishment for us. However, if you deny Him, then you have to take it. The second reason He cannot overlook our sin is because Hebrews 12:29 and Nahum 1:5 say, “God is a consuming fire.” All of us would be consumed in His presence because He is holy. His nature is different than ours.

If I stuck my hand into a fire to retrieve something and the fire burned me, I wouldn’t say, “Why did that fire burn me? That was mean of that fire.” The nature of the fire is to burn. My hand and fire are not compatible just as a holy God and sinful man are not compatible. He has to give us a new nature, a new heart, and a new spirit that is compatible with His. That does not come through good works. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved on us.”

The only way we can stand before a holy God is if we were perfect. Since we are not perfect, it took someone who came and lived the perfect life and never sinned once to stand in our place. That’s Jesus Christ. He stands before the Father and says, “I’ve never sinned so I’m going to exchange my righteousness for their sin. I’ll wash their sin away with my blood. If they will just trust in the cross, I’ll consider their trust as if they were righteous.” So He considers our trust as righteousness. We trust Him and He washes away our sin. So now we can stand before a holy God as if we had never sinned because our sins have been dealt with. He then gives us a new heart and a new spirit that are compatible with His. What an amazing plan God came up with! People complain and say, “I don’t like this only one-way business you Christians have” but in truth every person ought to be grateful there is a way. Thank God for that!

My neighbor was a tough Marine, a really tough guy, and he was an atheist. I tried to talk to him over the years and he wouldn’t listen. One day I found out he was in the hospital so my wife and I went to see him. He was shriveled up and weak and hooked up to tubes. He was crying. When I walked in he said, “Bill, I am so scared.” He said, “I’ve never been afraid of anything in my life. I was dying last night and I was slipping out of my body. I was headed for hell. I know I was. Please tell me how do I stay out of hell? How do I stay out of hell?” He just got a glimpse of hell. He was not even there and it terrified him. That’s how severe hell is. We prayed with him to receive Jesus and be saved, and then he died a few days later. Thank God we went to see him. The point is that you do not want to get even just a glimpse of hell.

John 3:36 says, “He that believes in the Son has everlasting life but he that believes not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” You have to know the Son. How do you do that? Just two verses: In Luke 13:3. Jesus said, “Unless a man repent, you shall all likewise perish.” What does repent mean? It means to have a humble heart and to admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself. You must be willing to turn away from a sinful lifestyle and follow Jesus. It’s not enough to just mentally ascent to the fact that Jesus is God and say, “I believe that.” That’s not repentance. You’ve got to turn away from sin and agree to follow Jesus. That’s a true, repentant heart.

In Romans 10:9-10 it says, “If you confess with our mouth of Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” You’ve got to believe it in your own heart, and confess Him with your own mouth. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes under the Father, but by me.” If you want to live in His house, you must do it His way. There is only one way.

If you still do not believe this, please read Revelation 21:8. It says, “All unbelievers shall have their part in the lake of fire.” The Bible has told us that if we don’t believe Jesus is the only way, we will end up in the lake of fire. Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “Your own words will condemn you.” You have you said you don’t believe Jesus is the only way. You don’t believe the Bible. A person sends himself to hell by his own words and God must allow it because He is a God of love, and love gives a freewill to choose. He can’t force you into anything. Revelation 20:15 says, “Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” God actually has a book and he’s going to look to see if our names are in His book.

When the Titanic set sail there were different religions, different beliefs, and different walks of life on that ship, and they say there were three classes of people: the lower, the middle and the upper class. After the ship went down, there were two signs posted at the White Star Line Office in Liverpool, England. The people would wait anxiously each day as a man would come out and write the names of relatives on one of the signs. One sign said, “known to be saved.” The other sign said, “known to be lost.” When the ship left, there were different beliefs, different walks of life, different religions and three classes of people. In the end there were only two.

You’re either saved or you’re lost and it’s your choice.

© Copyright 2007-2021 Soul Choice Ministries – All Rights Reserved
By Bill Wiese, author of 
23 Minutes in Hell