How to Avoid the Bible’s Hell
By Ron English
Not everyone believes the Bible, or accepts it as a historic Book dictated and preserved by God. I suppose I could broaden my first statement by saying not everyone believes in God. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God or accept His Book as being the Instruction Book of the ages.
In my early years I would have argued for the Bible, but I was not reading it. I believed in God, bur rarely called on Him. Perhaps I could say I had a distant respect for the two, the Bible and God, but no real relationship with either.
One old preacher said, “Most people live a guilty distance from God.” I think that was where I was. I wasn’t opposed to the Bible in theory or discussion, but I lived in opposition to it.
No one ever stopped me on the street and asked if I was going to Heaven, or asked if I had any interest in Heaven. Like many kids in my town I attended vacation Bible school and occasionally attended one of the local churches. Still no spiritual lights came on and no personal worker approached me. It is safe to say that the big questions found in the Scriptures never troubled me in my early years.
My grandmother talked often of Jesus and made me believe He was important to her. She loved to read her Bible and she often listened to Christian music. In later years I would remember her as a saint. Now, looking back, I sense she planted a few spiritual seed in my mind and heart and watered them. I am not sure she was aware that was what she did, but I am.
I had an uncle who was dedicated to his church known by the townspeople as Red Hill because of the red clay hill it was built on. I would one day come to know that congregation as being “hard shells” because of the rigid doctrines they believed. My uncle was surely a “hard shell” believer. He was a good man, a devout man, but stern in his understanding of the Scriptures.
It was in the light of that church teaching that I think the subject of Heaven and Hell was first contrasted in my mind. Some in our town who did not attend that church often joked that the “Hard Shell’s” believed some were going to Heaven and some were going to Hell. The Heaven bound were chosen by God and they had no real say in the matter. Those going to Hell were destined for the flames and had no recourse.
Because that contrast was so vivid and that concept so strange I started asking questions. It made no sense to me that one was consigned for Hell without any choice. Just as it made no sense to me that God would tag certain ones for Heaven and give them no choice. I realize now that I was not exactly fair with “Red Hill” and their “Hard Shells.”
I soon realized that people held strong beliefs about all kinds of churches. The one they attended and the others. We had several brands of churches. The next town over from us was larger in population and they had even more churches. Fifty miles away was an even larger city and still more churches, more denominations. I knew little of any of them. But that didn’t keep me from forming opinions about the churches and the people who attended them.
One day I decided if I am ever to make sense of church and churches I should look into the Bible. To my surprise the Bible said very little about local churches that appeared on nearly every block in our cities.
Somewhere along the line I started attending a local church. It was not the hunger for the Word of God, but for the association of a young lady who was attending church every Sunday. Between attending church and hearing the pastor speak from the Bible and from my own reading of the Scriptures certain thoughts began to form in my mind. I started thinking more of Heaven, the place, and Hell, the place. I looked in the Bible to learn all I could about both.
I soon learned that I wanted, some day, to go to Heaven and I knew for dead sure I didn’t want to go to Hell. My spiritual journey lasted for a good long time and I accumulated a good bit of doctrine that resides in my heart until this day.
I learned early how one might avoid Hell. Here are the simple, but I think true, things that everyone who has an interest in this subject might appreciate.
1. If one is to avoid Hell, he must first realize there is a Hell.
2. Hell is a separation from God and goodness.
3. Hell is a place of torment.
4. Hell is permanent: Once in Hell there is no getting out.
5. I discovered that Jesus spoke more about Hell and judgment than He ever spoke about Heaven. That fact startled me at the first and continues to amaze me.
There are any number of things I could list about Hell and all of them true from the Bible, but I think it good to move on with our theme, “How to avoid the Bible’s Hell.”
I think the single greatest truth I learned from the Scriptures was that God loved me and didn’t want me to go to Hell. That was different than any thing I learned from my uncle and the “hard shells.” God loved me!
The second great truth had to do with the action God took to make sure I could escape Hell. When I learned that I was condemned to Hell as a sinner by virtue of my birth, you can imagine how relieved I was to learn Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins. God’s Son died for me!
God is so loving and generous. He didn’t just pay for my sins, but He paid for the sins of the whole world. The debt—my debt and the debt of the world was placed on Jesus at the cross. The old Gospel hymn, At the Cross, written by Isaac Watts, and Ralph Hudson says:
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
That great song encapsulates the whole idea of the Gospel, the price for sin and the great redemption that Christ provided. I have come to believe that most of the great doctrines of the Bible that are now so precious to me was first planted in my heart by the repeated singing of hymns like this one.
Avoiding Hell requires one to accept the amazing gift that God provided through Jesus and His death on the cross. Not just His death, but His resurrection, too. During that time I discovered J. Wilbur Chapman’s hymn, One Day! that instilled more truth in my heart concerning the work Jesus did.
Living, he loved me; dying, he saved me;
Buried, he carried my sins far away;
Rising, he justified freely, for ever:
One day he’s coming—O, glorious day!
Looking back on my love for the old hymns I find them instrumental in helping me find God’s path to avoiding Hell. God loves me and has made a way for me to escape Hell and one day, thankfully, live with Him in Heaven. I realized not everyone is comfortable with this concept, but for me it brings great joy and peace and happiness.
Do you ever have reason to be concerned about Heaven and Hell? Do you know for sure, if you should die tonight, that you would go to Heaven? That is a profound question and thought. Your eternity rests on it. Notice I did not ask anything about your church affiliation. I didn’t ask if you had been baptized. I didn’t ask if you are a good person. I didn’t even ask if you believe the Bible, or believe in Jesus.
Without a doubt one should believe the Bible. When you believe the Bible it is understood you will also believe in Jesus. The Book as a whole is about Him. “Search the Scriptures; for in them (the Scriptures) ye think ye have eternal life: and they (the Scriptures) are they which testify of me.” — John 5:39
I hope you will give these matters your undivided attention and come to some determination quickly. Do you have Eternal Life? First John 1: 1-5 is rich with wonderful truth about Jesus, the Christ. John testifies that he and the other disciples saw Jesus with their own eyes; we looked upon Him. Our hands have touched Him–the Word of life. He went deeper by saying we have seen that Life and now we bear witness and show everyone that Eternal Life, that life which was with the Father and that life was manifested unto us. John said what we have seen and heard we declare unto you. Why? So all of us can have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Read for yourself the Scriptures where I paraphrased the above remarks. 1John 1:1-5 (I hope you will read all of that chapter).
In the last chapter of First John, Chapter 5, He reports, And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (verses 11,12)
Do you have Eternal Life? Eternal Life is Jesus Christ! For you to have it–you must be in Jesus Christ. No exceptions. No “ifs, ands and buts.” YOU MUST BE IN CHRIST TO POSSESS ETERNAL LIFE.
How can you become a person who is in Christ? By believing on Him, the Son of God. (Verse 10) That word believing means trusting. You know how to get into a boat. You know how to get into your car. You must trust Jesus Christ and be in Him. You must believe and accept the work He did on the cross. You must believe that He died for your sins and that He was buried and three days later resurrected from the dead. He is alive! Trust Him. Believe on Him. Follow Him.
On this blog you will find a number of Bible messages that give great detail on how to be saved and to know you will go to Heaven when you die. Don’t be lazy–do some research. Read the sermons. Read the one by Dr. John R. Rice, “What Must I Do to Be Saved?” There are some audio messages on this blog. You can listen to a message.
God has left you a long message in the Bible. It is the highest form of foolishness to neglect it. If a rich uncle died and left a Last Will and Testament I believe you would be greatly interested in what he left and to whom he left it. A greater death took place than a rich uncle–it was the death of God’s Son, Jesus. He has left you His Last Will and Testament. Greater riches than silver and gold are left for those who receive Him. Read it! Study it! Love it! Tell others about it! By all means–tell your family. Don’t be left behind.
I would love to hear from you. Write me Editor@salvationlinks.com and I will be happy to assist you with additional helps. If you trust the Lord as a result of reading this message please write me and let me rejoice with you. God bless you.
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full
Editor’s Note: The theme for this message was first published in Ezine Articles under the title, “How to Avoid the Bible Hell.” You can find it by going to www.ezinearticles.com and searching for that title under the author’s name, Ronald English.
by Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918)
“For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”– Romans 3:23
This is one of the most difficult statements to receive in all the Bible, and I can well understand how the unregenerate man would resent its application. I can hear him say, “What! no difference between the man who has fallen to the very lowest depths of sin and wretchedness, and the man who, boasting of his morality, has swerved only a little from the path of duty and the law of God?” And the answer to this question is both “yes” and “no.”
There is a difference and degradation wide as the poles; but “no difference” so far as guilt is concerned, for both have rejected the Son of God, and this is the sin of sins.
If two men were before the court, one charged with a great offence and the other with one of less degree, it would profit the latter man but little to say, “But, your Honor, I am not so great an offender as my companion in misery.” The judge might well reply, “You are both guilty; in that ‘there is no difference,’” and this is the teaching of my text.
God’s Word declares, “He that offends in one point is guilty of all”; not meaning, of course, that he has of necessity broken every law, but he has broken away from God for his transgression. If I am held prisoner by a chain, it is not necessary that I should break every link in the chain that I might go free, but only one and that the very weakest; and so be that offends in one point is guilty of all and nothing less, while he that offends in all points is guilty of all and nothing more. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Three important questions grow out of this text as I have considered it. First, I do not ask if you are a sinner, for as we ordinarily use this word, we of one who is lawless, wild and profane. But I ask,
I. Have You Offended in
One Single Point?
If so, “There is no difference.” Man would not say it, I know; but God says it and it is written the Book, and by the Book we shall be judged.
Look at the prodigal. He was as truly a prodigal when he had taken the first step over the threshold of his father’s house, as when afterward you see him sitting in the midst of the swine, and trying to fill his belly with husks which the swine did eat.
He is more degraded in the second picture, but not more guilty.
Look at the leper. He is just as truly dead when the first sign of the dread disease appears, small though it may be, as when afterward you behold him, a loathsome object, sitting outside the city gates, with bandaged mouth, crying “Unclean! Unclean!” He was a leper, however from the first, and by the law dead. This is the teaching of the text. If you have rejected the Son of God, whatever your position, “There is no difference” – all are alike lost.
It is not even a question of great sin. Many a man might plead “not guilty” if such a charge were made; but first of all,
I. Secret Sins
There is a text which declares “our secret sins in the light of His countenance,” and another reads that “All things are naked and open before Him with whom we have to do.” In the light of this, who can stand?
Not long ago in one of the school buildings of Chicago a picture of an eye was placed on the blackboard as an illustration, and in a little time by order of the school board it was painted out, for it had been so perfectly painted that whatever position a child might be in the room that eyes was upon it. The effect was disastrous.
But there is one eye which never slumbers and can never be painted out. “Thou God seest me.” The sin was at midnight. He saw it. It was in New York or London or Paris. He saw it. Thus to the charge of “secret sin” you must plead guilty, and “there is no difference.”
II. Sinful Thoughts
But the charge is even closer. We are responsible for the sinful thought which tarries in the mind by the consent of our will. Who can stand in the light of this?
A distinguished scientist has made the statement, which wise men receive, that if a man stands out in the sunlight and acts, his act, good or bad, flashes away to the sun and a picture which is never lost is made. And if he speaks, the sound bounds away, up and up, far beyond his reach, and makes its record forever. And if he refuses to step into the light, or in the darkness speak a word, this scientist declares that by the very thoughts of his mind certain physical disturbances occur which make a record lasting as time.
I remember sending a telegram in a western city, and shortly after realizing that my message had been wrong, I made my way to the office to recall it.
“Why,” said the operator, with a smile, “it is gone, and is flashing over the wires now, beyond my recall.” So with your sinful thoughts. They bound away, and no man can recall them when once they go.
The answer to this charge must be – “guilty.”
III. Beginning In Sin
Some are beginning NOW. Held by the fascination of the evil one, and lured on by his charms, they are rushing on to Hell. On one of the busiest streets of the gay city of Paris stands a building famous for its beauty. Over the magnificent doorway you may read these words, “Nothing to pay.” The admission is free, the entertainment within is fascinating, and hundreds of young men pass through the portals, the rank and file of them taking their first or last step to Hell.
All sin is dearly bought, for it has Hell back of it. It blights the life, wrecks the character, and blasts the fondest hopes of the soul. And when that awful day comes, and situation is gone, and character lost, and the hearts of loved ones broken, and you are cast a stranded wreck on the shores of time, you will cry out in terror, “O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me” – and there will be no deliverance. You will be more degraded then but not more guilty than now, for the chiefest of sins is the sin of unbelief, and that was the cause of your downfall. “There is no difference.” God pity you.
Do you know the Bible description of the end of a career of sin from the world-standpoint? “Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” “Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore-mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” God save us from such a company. A minister could never lead a man to serious thought until he quoted the text: “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
Great sin humanly speaking is not necessary, but only forget Him and “There is no difference.”
If you have read that remarkable book, “Robert Falconer,” written by George MacDonald, you will remember the dream of the wife of Andrew Falconer. He was a drunkard and after her death, her dream being told him, resulted in his conversion. She said in her letter, which she had written him:
“I thought, Andrew, that the resurrection morn had come, and I was looking everywhere for you. Finally in my wanderings, I came to a great abyss. It was not so very wide, but it was very deep and was filled with blue, like the blue of the sky. On the other side I saw you, Andrew, and I gave a shriek which all the Universe must have heard. Something made me look around. Then I saw One coming toward me. He had a face – O, such a face! fairer than all the sons of men; He had on a garment which came down to His feet; and as He walked toward me, I saw in His feet the print of the nails. Then I knew who He was. I fell at His feet and cried, ‘ O Lord, Andrew, Andrew.’ ‘ Daughter, would you go to him ?’ I said, ‘ Yes, Lord.’ And, Andrew, He took me by the hand, and led out over the abyss, and we came nearer and nearer, until at last we were united, and then He led us back to be with Him forever.”
O, my friends, not in the next world if not in this, but here and now we may be made one in Him, one for time and eternity; but failing here, all hope is gone and there is before us only the blackness of darkness of despair. “For there is no difference.”
The next question is of the greatest importance:
IV. Do You Come Up to
It is not enough to be simply a member of the church. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils ? and I will profess unto them, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
We have such a way of measuring ourselves by ourselves that we may feel well satisfied with the result. But how about God’s standard ?
Upon my return home at one time, my wife placed in my hands a piece of paper, written all over, but only two words were intel1igible. At the top of the page was the word ‘carriage’ plainly written; the next word was the same, only not so well written.
It was my little daughter’s first copy-book. The teacher had written the word at the top of the line, and she had done fairly well so long as she had looked at the copy. But she had fallen into the serious error of copying the line just above her work, and the word at the bottom of the page as nearly spelled “man” as “carriage.” Thus people measure themselves by those around them, forgetting that He said, “Look unto me and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).
You may be better than the members of the church; but what doth it profit? You may be the best man in your community, but that does not save.
How about God’s standard?
Her Majesty, the Queen, I am told, frequently issues an order for soldiers to compose her guard. Every man must be at least six feet tall. I can imagine some young Englishmen measuring themselves by themselves, until at last one man in great delight exclaims, “I will surely get in for I am the tallest man in town.” And so he is; but when he stands before her Majesty’s officer, he is rejected, for he is three-quarters of an inch under the mark.
His being taller than his friends profited nothing; they had all fallen short; some more, some less. But “there was no difference.”
And if you turn my question in upon myself, I confess that I do fully come up to the high standard of God; not in myself in any way, far from it – but in Christ; for “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” and wherein I fail, He makes up.
It is no point as to whether Adam or Eve were the more sinful; they were both guilty, and “there is no difference.”
The chiefest of all sins is not drunkenness, although that is horrible; it is not licentiousness, although that is vile; it is the rejection of God’s mercy – or the sin of unbelief. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). And whosoever he be among you – sinner, either great or small, if he fail here, he stands with the condemned, and “there is no difference.”
The last important question is this,
V. What Is the Remedy?
There is another “no difference” which answers the question. “For there is no difference … for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12, 13).
1. It is useless to try by any amount of exertion, or feeling, or even prayer, to bring about faith. I have had my own experience in this. God says in His Word, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
This is a sure way. A college student was greatly troubled spiritually, and was in conference with one of the professors until midnight. Just as he was leaving the house, going out into the darkness, the professor placed in his hands a lantern saying, “Take it, George, it will light you home a step at a time.” And this is what the Bible does.
That lantern did not light up the forests, nor make luminous the landscape; it was not meant that it should; but it made every step bright.
Man was lost by hearing Satan. He can only be saved by hearing God. Plant your feet firmly by faith on one single promise, and God will begin at once to make clear the way if you will only believe Him.
2. To the Philippian jailor’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” And there is no respecting of persons, for “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
A friend of mine told me that when he climbed the Matterhorn he was besieged by men, waiting at the base of the mountain, ready to guide him up the difficult way; but the most of them would have never brought him down in safety, for they were simply men out of employment. He very easily, however, secured a safe guide when he said, “Show me your papers.” Then the men who were without them stepped back, while the real guides stepped forward and holding out their papers he read something like this:
“We, the undersigned, have climbed the Matterhorn under the care of such a guide (giving his name), and we commend him to our friends” – and then followed the names of people of great renown at home and abroad, a member of Parliament, a member of Congress, and your personal friend; and my friend at once felt secure because others had made the trip in safety.
It is like that when under condemnation you ask, “What must I do?”
Infidelity attempts an answer; Philosophy makes a vain effort to reply; and Jesus Christ the Son of God comes with the rest. Let me suggest to you the real test. Ask them each, “What have you done?” Demand of each that their papers be shown. Then will He come whose garments are dyed red, whose hands were pierced, and whose heart was broken, who died and rose again that He might become the justifier of all them that believe; and on the very palms of His hands you read the names, John Bunyan, John Newton, Jerry McCauley, and brighter than them all – Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“He hath saved us, and kept us, and in His presence we rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
And this is enough. I for one will say, “Blessed Lord, if You can save others, and I know that You can, You can save me; and I will let You do it now.” Will you join me in this now?
3. To sum it all up, if you would escape condemnation you need simply to
V. Have A Willing Mind
Then by faith accept what He in grace offers you. I have heard Christian workers say to earnest inquirers, “Give your heart to God, and you maybe saved.” But this is unscriptural – at least the order is wrong. Accept first the gift of eternal life, then give yourself, out of gratitude for His goodness.
The first saves you; the second is the first-fruit of your salvation.
When William Dawson, the celebrated street preacher, was conducting a street meeting in London, he was told of a young man in a neighboring house that was dying. He climbed the rickety stairway and stood by the bedside of a young man, a victim of consumption, and just nearing eternity. He found that he was the son of wealthy parents, but that his father had cast him off because of his sin.
When William Dawson said he would intercede with the father in behalf of the son, the boy said it would be useless, for the father had long ago cast him off. And it almost seemed that he was right, for when Mr. Dawson entered the spacious mansion, and mentioned the boy’s name, the father said, “If you have come, sir, to talk of that scapegrace, I shall ask you to leave. He is no son of mine.”
“Well, sir,” said the preacher, “he will not be here long to trouble you, for I left him dying.”
In a moment the man’s whole attitude had changed. “Is he sick? ” he asked. “Is Joseph ill? Then take me to him.”
And soon he was on his knees by the side of the dying boy, his arms about him, and his head pillowed on his breast. All the boy could say was, “Father can you forgive me?” and the strong man could only sob, “O Joseph, my son, my son; I would have forgiven you months ago if you would only have received it.”
My friends, I bring you good news indeed, glad tidings of great joy. “God hath for Christ’s sake forgiven you,” and if you would be saved, you need only to accept His gracious gift. The first “no difference” is discouraging, but the second one is sweeter than honey in the honey comb.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
You have read this wonderful message that tells you how to be saved and why you should be saved. Dr. Chapman was a famous evangelist and then a famous pastor. Dr. Robert L. Sumner published this message in his publication, The Biblical Evangelist(May-June 2010). Dr. Sumner says of the sermon, “It deals with what has long been a troublesome text to some, especially “good people” hearing for the first time of their desperate need of redemption.” Dr. Chapman’s pastorates included one of the largest churches in the country at the time, Bethany Presbyterian in Philadelphia, with members like John Wannamaker, the department store magnate and Postmaster General in the administration of Benjamin Harrison. We hope you will remember Dr. Chapman for giving Billy Sunday his start in evangelism. What a gift that was!
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