Don’t Go to Hell for Something You Didn’t Do!

Nobody wants to get in trouble for something they didn’t do. However, did you know that it isn’t what you do that ultimately sends you to hell, but something you didn’t do.

Confusing isn’t it? Well, that is why so many people have a hard time understanding and accepting God’s free gift of salvation. For one thing, they KNOW they have done a LOT of bad things (let’s go ahead and call them sins) and making up for those bad thi… …er…sins, seems rather difficult, if not impossible. So a lot of people think there isn’t much hope for them – if there is a hell, they are going! BAD NEWS!

Maybe you could use some GOOD NEWS right about now! Here is where the GOOD NEWS (that is what “gospel” means) comes in.

The single most important question in the universe!

A man in the Bible asked the ageless question that affects every man, woman, and child.  (A question that you might need to ask yourself right now.) At a point of failure, and on the verge of suicide, the man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30-31)

The apostle Paul gave a direct answer to a direct question, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved and your house.” (Notice the promise was for his family too.)

The Bible tells us that the wages of sin are death (bummer), but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Notice eternal life comes THROUGH Jesus (more on this in a minute). God knew we were going to do lots of bad things (okay, okay, sins!), and knew we would have a hard time correcting it, so He devised a different plan to deal with our sins. He chooses to FORGIVE us. Now that is way cool!

However, forgiveness isn’t automatic! (You are probably saying, “I knew there was a catch!”)

There is a catch, but it is a relatively small one and easily overcome. The catch is simply this: in order to receive forgiveness from God, through Jesus Christ, we must first believe a couple of things:

1. That God really, really will forgive us freely without our having to make up for all the sins, and
2. He can forgive us because of what Jesus did for us.

“What am I supposed to believe Jesus did for me,” you might be asking. Good question, I am glad you asked. I’ll tell you in a second, but first, let’s get back to our main question…how can you go to hell for something you didn’t do?

It really isn’t our sins that send us to hell, although people will be punished for their sins in hell. And just because a person is a “good person” or a “religious person” or a “moral person” doesn’t mean that they will automatically go to heaven. Every person, no matter how good or bad in man’s opinion, is still a sinner in God’s eyes, and each must come to God on God’s terms.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus died on the cross He took the sins of the whole world (yours and mine too) on himself and paid for them. His death was sufficient for every sin ever committed and every sin yet to be committed. So in God’s eyes your sin debt to God, and the penalty for each one, has already been paid in full.

Now, the only way to get in on that provision is to ask God to forgive you through what Jesus did for you personally on the cross. God does not ask you to do anything to make up or atone for your sins. He does ask you to place your faith in Him, His word, His faithfulness, and His love.

So you can see that it isn’t what you do that sends you to hell, it is what you don’t do: that is, not repenting of your sins and believing God to forgive and cleanse you through Jesus.

Some people have a question at this point. “How can a guy that lived 2000 years ago personally do anything in my life today.” Another good question!

Here is how God sees things and how He has purposed for you to have a relationship with Him.

  • The Bible tells us that “all have sinned” and fallen short of God’s standard, (Shouldn’t be much argument here from anyone). Look it up in the Bible >> Romans 3:10
  • That the wages (reward) for sin is death. Both physical and spiritual death. (The Bible speaks of a “second death” or eternity in hell, beyond physical death.) Look it up in the Bible >> Romans 6:23
  • Jesus, who was sinless, died (He didn’t have to do since the wages of sin is death). Look it up in the Bible >> I Peter 3:18
  • The death Jesus died was not to pay for His sins since He didn’t have any. Therefore God can justly and legally credit Jesus’ death (payment for sins) to your account. Look it up in the Bible >> 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Forgiveness isn’t just God saying, “Oh that’s okay no big deal.” God’s righteousness demands a payment for sin, it is just that Christ suffered as your substitute if you will accept it. Look it up in the Bible >> Romans 6:23
  • That GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus. (A gift is never earned, but freely given and must be received.) Look it up in the Bible >> Romans 6:23
  • When you believe that Jesus died for you personally, you realize your need to repent (turn away) from your sins and ask God for forgiveness. Look it up in the Bible >> Acts 1:30
  • When we ask God for forgiveness in faith (genuine heartfelt belief and trust) THROUGH Jesus, we are saying we believe what God has said about Jesus (He died and rose again from the dead) and what God has promised to do (forgive us and give us eternal life.)
    Look it up in the Bible >> Romans 

So you can see it isn’t what you do that ultimately sends you to hell, but what you don’t do. The only thing that will ultimately send you to hell is not accepting forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ since God has already made a way. Everything you’ve done that was wrong can be forgiven with one act of faith in Christ.

How about you? Have you asked and satisfactorily answered the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

Take our advice and don’t go to hell for something you DIDN’T do!
Repent and accept Jesus as your savior today.

If you have realized your need for salvation please stop now and pray, repenting of your sins and asking forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ. If you need to talk to someone, or just have questions about God, life or anything else, please use our TALK TO A PASTOR FORM, we want to rejoice with you about your newfound faith, or help you in any way we can.

Still need to talk to a pastor?  Click here to start the conversation.

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About the author

Dr. Steve Highlander has been a dedicated Christian for forty-three years and has over forty years of ministry experience, including pastoral ministry, church planting, world missions, prison and jail ministry, and work with at-risk youth. He is a published author and has been involved with radio, publishing, and Internet Ministries. Currently, Steve is an ordained minister with the International Chruch of the Foursquare Gospel. He holds a doctorate in Pastoral Theology and is a Certified Christian Counselor with the Association of Scriptural Psychology therapists (ASPT). He serves as the national missionary in the South Pacific Country of Papua New Guinea for Foursquare Missions International and as Senior Pastor of Community Foursquare Church in Ottawa, Kansas. Steve founded Talk to a Pastor in 2002.

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