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Q. Why Do All Christians Condemn Other Christians to Hell?

Why do all the Christians in different churches say that all the other Christians are going to hell? Is it biblical to make such judgment? If the church of God is the people, then why are the people denouncing each other? Isn’t the body without a leg or arm made incomplete ? Why is it that people are so prideful in their church?

Answer

Dear Friend,

I must confess that I am somewhat troubled by your use of the word “all.” The truth is that I do not believe that “all” Christians in different churches say that “all” other Christians are going to hell. Indeed, I don’t believe that I have ever heard a true Christian say that.

I do believe that there is a tendency among some to condemn others who are not part of their own group. I think we can see this tendency even among the disciples:

46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” 49 John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:49-50, NASB).

Having said this, I think the key to this matter is to be found in one’s definition of what a “Christian” is. The term “Christian” is often misused today to refer to a person who is not a Muslim or a Hindu, or a follower of some other religion. It may even be used of a person who is a Protestant and not a Catholic. But in terms of the Bible a Christian is a person who knows they are a sinner, unworthy of God’s favor and unable to earn His favor by any amount of effort on their own. A Christian finds their forgiveness from the penalty of their sins and their righteousness before God in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who died for their sins and who was raised from the dead, resulting in their eternal life.

19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:19-26, NASB).

8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED” (Romans 10:8-13, NASB).

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12, NASB).

30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31, NASB).

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, NASB).

9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:9-13, NASB).

The simple truth is that the one who places their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life is a Christian, regardless of the church to which they belong. (In some cases, their church may not even believe what they do about Jesus and salvation.)

Jesus had no trouble telling folks like Nicodemus (John 3) or the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) that their religion was not enough to save them, and that they needed to put their trust in Him.

All of this is to say that everyone who believes they are a sinner, unworthy of and unable to earn their own salvation, and who places their trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is a Christian, regardless of the church they belong to. And, conversely, anyone who trusts in themselves for salvation, rather than in Jesus, is not a Christian, regardless of the church to which they belong.

Blessings,
Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Soteriology (Salvation)

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