My son was baptized as a teen.  He has since rejected Christianity.  I have assured him I think God is fair and I can’t picture someone like him going to hell. In my heart, I think he’ll come back to Christ someday, maybe after college. He is a sincere, sensitive person and told me that he had felt fearful of hell while trying to be faithful, and had unrelenting concern for all the people he knows (and many he loves) that seemed to be destined for hell (according to scripture). I don’t like to rate or judge anybody’s destiny when it’s only God’s call.

I can’t help but wonder sometimes… Undoubtedly, there are a great number of very good people who sincerely search for the truth, and end up settling on something other than Christianity, whether it’s atheism, or some other faith. Is there any hope for those people, or are they punished for eternity for making the wrong choice? Though I realize most rejected Christ when he came here in the flesh, and that I’m in no position to even think to second guess how God set everything up, it seems that the right choice should be more obvious, especially with eternity hanging in the balance. When Jesus said the only way to the Father is through Him, could there be other paths that are still through him, but not so apparent? For example, might there be opportunities that arise in the next life, or while passing on that can be considered when the truth is more obvious? Are there any scriptures that deal with this aspect of deciding one’s faith?


There are many who can relate to this very personal question.  Of course, those raised in a Christian home who eventually reject the faith of their parents go through all kinds of emotions, including feeling trapped, feeling guilty and the like. This is all quite normal, but, from God’s perspective, it is not the ideal situation. I am afraid that you are feeling rather strong feelings of sentimentality. This is certainly nothing surprising. When it comes to the lives of our children, never mind their eternal destiny, this is always a very intense thing. However, when it comes to the salvation of lost people, or of those who are already saved for that matter, sentimentality is not a helpful emotion at all. It is very tempting to emotionally put everyone in heaven.

How many times to we go to a funeral and people say, "Well, he is obviously going to hell, but let us celebrate his life anyway." We want to think that everyone is going to heaven. However, Jesus said something VERY different from this. He said that difficult is the way and narrow is the door that leads to eternal life, and few find their way to it. It is not helpful for us to try to downgrade what Jesus said. Is it possible that God will say at Judgment Day, "Well, I changed my mind, I am going to let those who rejected me in because they were nice people."? I suppose this is possible, but as disciples of Jesus we definitely ought not to count on this. You and I are not judges. Who knows, we can certainly hope that our children may come back to God. However, let us not kid ourselves. If they live out their remaining days in obvious rebellion to Jesus Christ, there is little to no biblical support for the belief that they will be in heaven.

Is this difficult to accept emotionally? Yes it is! However, as followers of God, we must accept His wisdom, love and justice to do what is right. Are there possible assurances that "nice" Hindus will go to heaven? Some like to use Romans 2, where it talks about their consciences now justifying them and now condemning them. OK. I see this passage, but I cannot believe that anyone will get to heaven based on having perfectly obeyed their conscience. Speaking for myself, I would not like to face God on Judgment day based on how well I obeyed my conscience–even since becoming a Christian.  I prefer to go with "There is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved." This seems a more reliable instrument for us to decide who is saved than our emotional desire that nice people somehow slip into heaven.

You say that "there are a great number of good people.." but God says in Romans 3 and Mark 10 that none of us is good–that all alike have defiled themselves and are destined for destruction without faith in the blood of Jesus (to paraphrase rather loosely from Romans 3). So, I am totally with you emotionally, but I urge you to not fall into semtimentality when it comes to the salvation of your son or of your nice, sincere neighbors. If God chooses to surprise us, that is fine with me, but given the biblical admonitions, we should not compromise the gospel or hold out false hopes to those who do not choose to become disciples and put their complete faith in the blood of Jesus in this life. There is no clear biblical indication of any other path or any after-life second chances. Let us not put our hope or the hope of others in such things in the absence of biblical warrant for such teaching.

John Oakes

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