On the way home from work Friday, Mike Fabarez' question and answer topic was, "Do good people go to hell?"
And I said to myself, "Depends on whose perspective you look at it by."
One thing I have learned from God over the years is our concepts of a "grey area" are a lot different. For instance, I used to listen to a preacher who was a "You have to get wet" baptism guy. Never mind that the thief on the cross next to Jesus didn't get wet by any stretch. Or the Ethiopian eunuch that Phillip saved- all we know is he said, "Here is some water! What prevents me from being baptised?" And we have no idea whether they were passing a lake or just went through a puddle.
Am I saying God has "grey areas"? No. BUT, we don't always see HIS black and white. We try to focus in and see something fuzzy, but one day we'll see it with reborn eyes and it will be sharp and clear.
Well, some of us will.
It struck me in all this that giving the Law to the Hebrews was an illustration of God's principle of salvation. Jewish tradition says that the Pentateuch contains 613 different laws from God. And if you break one law, you've broken THE LAW. And if you break the Law, you will have judgment. You don't have to break all 613, or even a percentage. One and done.
And that's where the question comes in. See, there are morally good things we all can do, saved or atheist or anywhere in between. These will look pretty clear to us, with our vision. But here's the thing: Being good isn't the Law you need to avoid breaking.
Just like Adam and Eve had one rule- which they blew- we have that one rule. And that is Jesus must be believed in and accepted as having paid for your sins. If you think, like the guy in my recent M10 song Good With God, that good intentions are good enough, you might be the one to whom God sings in Brandi Carlile's voice, "You're just a joke that's going 'round"...
I have had many before, and prolly will again, who tell me, "Well if that's the kind of God there is, then I want no part of him." Which is ironic, because that is exactly what they will get. And I will admit, there are fringes to God's program that I do not claim to understand. But I can tell you this- and I'm not trying to say this in a derogatory way, except directed at myself- Once upon a time, I was a good Catholic boy. Made sure I hit confession 6 times a year, missed darn few Sundays (or Saturdays as the case may be), said prayers at night. And yet this passage...
Matt. 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
...scared me silly. Until the day I gave my life to Christ. Because before, I had GOOD reason to be scared. I was on the depart from me list, despite the prayers, the confessions, the hundreds of Hail Marys, and the bucks in the poor box. But with the help of some very good friends, I learned that being a Catholic, or a regular churchgoer, or just an all around good guy wasn't enough.
And it made a difference immediately.
And it made a difference down the road, when I'd strayed far enough I was in over my head.
And it made a difference when another good friend took me to Promise Keepers and I began to learn what I should have been learning the previous 15 years.
And it makes a difference now when I fuss, fume, fall, and fail over and over- and dust myself off and ask God to walk with me again the next day.
You can look at yourself as good as you want. But God sees you one of two ways. Either covered by the blood of Christ and fit to enter, or unrighteous and about to be judged by your works as HE sees them. So I guess the best answer to "do good people go to hell?" is:
"Being good" is not the pertinent question- and you need to look at heaven/hell in a totally different way.