Faithlife Sermons

Why Good People Go To Hell

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This morning I will attempt to answer from God’s Word, a difficult question that is often tossed around not only in the minds of people who want nothing to do with God but also in the minds of many Christians.
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The scripture I want to read from comes from John’s Gospel, the 4th book of the New Testament. If you are our guest and not familiar with the Bible, the Bible is divided into 2 parts called Testaments Old and New. NT is the last half or so of the book. If you have a hand held Bible please find John 16:5-11. If you prefer look it up on your smart phone or tablet or just read it on the screen behind me.
PLEASE STAND WITH ME TO HONOR GOD AND HIS WORD AS WE READ
John 16:5–11 NKJV
5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
PRAYER

The Most Important Answer

To the most important question anyone can be asked.
If you died right now, right this very moment, if you stop hearing my voice and suddenly start hearing God’s voice saying, “Why should I grant you eternal life in heaven and not eternal death in hell?”, what would you say in return?
Most often the answer I hear in return to this eternal question has to do with their own personal evaluations and not God’s.
Most people usually say something like, “Well I haven’t really broken any laws other than speeding, I work hard, raise my family right, am good to my spouse, I am a pretty good person.”
Some will add I go to church regular, I serve and go to Bible study and “I give a lot of money to church and charity, I am a good person.”
Some will say, “I am not perfect, but I am sure not like those people in prison, or those druggies over on the mill hill, or those people you see walking into Walmart with everything hanging out and tattoos everywhere, etc. etc.
That seems to be the prevailing thought in America.
Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
What happens in the minds of these people is they consider themselves to be the judge who gets to determine who’s good and bad. In our current “truth is relative” American culture which holds to “if I believe I am then I am and if I believe you are then you are”, most people see nothing wrong with that determination.
In our text of God’s Word, however, we find that God is the one who determines bad (sin) and good (righteousness) and judgment.
Jesus’s time on Earth was spent revealing sin and telling people they need to repent, as well as feeding the hungry, healing the blind and lame and helping others.
Up until His crucifixion, part of Jesus’s ministry had been convicting the world of sin and in the case of the pharisees, their useless righteousness - look back in John 15:21-24 - “would not have sin” is an expression referring to their guilt caused by sin
Much of this section - Jesus is speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit. So, Now while Jesus is gone from this world, the Holy Spirit will continue Jesus’s ministry to convict - meaning literally “to show someone his/her sin and guilt then invite, encourage, insist they repent.”
The answer we are looking for to Why Good People Go To Hell is found within the work the Holy Spirit does in Jesus’s absence.

Good People Go To Hell Because They Think They Are Not All That Bad

People do not go to hell when they die because they do bad things while they lived. They don’t go to hell because they smoke, drink, and cuss or run around with the people who do.
People who Refuse to Admit They Need Jesus are the only ones condemned to hell.
For John there is but one sin that leads to hell. Unbelief.
The commentator who said this said it best, “Unbelief is the condemning sin that slams the door to heaven and slings open the door to hell.” John 3:18
John 3:18 CSB
18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
Now do not misunderstand this.
Good people will not go to heaven if we can just convince them of the historical reality of Jesus and the resurrection.
The Holy Spirit works
yes, to convince people that Jesus is God the Son and that he died to be their savior from sin and death, and that he lived again on the 3rd day
but also, to convict them of the guilt of their sin and need for him as savior
and to convict them of their need to repent
Good people don’t think they are all that bad, so they do not see their need for a savior because they do not see themselves as sinners who need to repent
Good people die with the belief they will be able to atone for themselves.
The bad news: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
The good news: Heaven is fuller of sinners (bad people) because God is not looking for perfect or even good people.
God wants all people to acknowledge their sin and accept (believe) in the atoning (sin debt paying) sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, believing and trusting in His righteousness.
The world doesn’t have a problem with righteousness. They don’t even have a problem believing in righteousness.
Look how society feels about Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, Oprah.
The world’s righteousness is relative and comparative
Another reason good people go to hell.

Good People Go To Hell Because They Think They Are Pretty Good Standing On Their Own

So They Reject the Righteousness of Jesus
Jesus’s righteousness is absolute and un-matchable
Isaiah 64:6 NIV
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Notice Isaiah said every person becomes like one who is unclean. What is he saying there? Let me warn you this is a graphic illustration but when a preacher or any other christian dances around it to sugar coat it - the seriousness of sin and God’s holiness is missed. When that is missed people don’t get it.
The prophet is saying that no matter how good a person is in life, when they stand before God they are standing as a woman on the worst of menstrual cycles - the woman was considered unclean during this time and unable to worship in the Temple. Our best actions and good deeds are like her Soiled garments - were what they had to deal with in those days.
The bad news: When it comes to humans, There is none righteous no not one - Romans 3:10
So, see in the eyes of God in Heaven - there are no good people. They are like unicorns - they don’t exist except in a person’s imagination.
In John 16:11 - the Holy Spirit convicts about judgment because the world’s judgment of righteousness is skewed.
An English Pastor looked down one Sunday morning to find a former criminal kneeling at the communion rail beside the Supreme Court Judge who convicted him years before.
The criminal had been born again and now a servant of Christ.
After the service, as the judge and the pastor walked home together, the judge asked, “Did you see who was kneeling beside me at the communion rail?” “Yes,” replied the pastor, “but I didn’t know that you noticed.” The two men walked on in silence for a few moments, and then the judge said, “What a miracle of grace!” The pastor nodded in agreement, “Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace!”
The judge said I wasn’t referring to the former criminal but to myself.
“That burglar knew how much he needed Christ to save him from his sins. But look at me. I was taught from childhood to live as a gentleman, to keep my word, to say my prayers, to go to church. I went through Oxford, took y degrees, was called to the bar and eventually became a judge. Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was sinner on a level with that burglar. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-righteousness, to get me to admit that I was not better in the eyes of God than that convict whom I had sent to prison.”
People who make the judgment that they can face God on their own goodness stand condemned with satan and sin at the cross.
There is an interesting phrase Jesus says in John 16:10 - “because I am going to the Father...” What does that have to do with good people or bad people.
The resurrection of Jesus 3 days after he died on the cross proved that Jesus was sinless and righteous, and His sacrifice was accepted by God the father.
Christ followers know that their sins were judged and condemned with satan on the cross, and that God doesn’t declare any of us righteous because of our goodness but because of the righteousness of Jesus we have trusted in.
The good news: If you call upon Jesus and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead you will be saved and made righteous or good enough for heaven. - Romans 10:9-10
Conclusion: We can’t miss Jesus’s intended purpose here by focusing on the people being convicted or even on the Holy Spirit. Notice John 16:7 I will send Him to you.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Timothy 1:14 about the Holy Spirit Living in Us.
As one writer, said - the Holy Spirit is not floating around earth like Casper the friendly ghost.
So the truth in this passage we must not miss is this - This convicting work of the Holy Spirit regarding sin, righteousness and judgment happens through each of us who are believers when we share the gospel with others and live righteous lives by His power.
Think of it this way.
It’s like when I was in the 5th grade. The teacher would need to run down to the principal’s office for a quick minute. Before going she would do 2 things
1 - give commands regarding work to be done and behavior
2 - She would get one of the “good” students to sit up by the black board and take names.
Who’s names were written down? The kids who weren’t following the teachers commands
Was the student up front being judgmental? No, he/she was acting in the teachers place or as representative.
The Spirit’s conviction will be effected only through the ministry of our lives and service.

Time for a Decision

Invitation: The invitation or call to action is simple. No need for me to muddy it up.
If you have spent your life believing you were good enough for heaven based on your life and how you chose to live it - don’t refuse to admit that you don’t need Jesus any longer, don’t reject his righteousness thinking you are okay any longer.
Admit your guilt, confess and repent of your sin, and call out to God in prayer to forgive and save you - making you clean.
Christian your call to action is simple also - stop believing people are good enough for heaven without Jesus. Learn how to share the gospel. Pray for God to put people in your life this week who need Jesus and then tell them how he died so they could live in heaven.
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