This week we are dealing with a leading question that people often ask us. The question is this: Is it true that we will go to hell if we do not believe in YESHUA, JESUS? The answer is as follows. First of all, there is a false assumption behind the question. The misconception is that we are basically sound religiously, and are being threatened by some over zealous preacher, who says much the same as above.
Is it true then, that we can make it on our own, and that this statement is boorish and insulting? The first thing to do is consult the Tanakh. Our text from Psalm 14 verses 2 and 3 gives us GOD's answer to that question: we are not at all well off as far as any relationship to GOD is concerned. This is the verdict of a Holy and Righteous GOD Who cannot lie. In plain words, GOD tells us that everyone of us, without exception, is, by nature, unholy and unrighteous. Listen to Genesis, Chapter 6, and verse 5:
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. So then the idea that man is essentially sound religiously, is a myth and a dangerous lie! We are suffering from a deadly spiritual disease from which none is exempt. If no cure is forthcoming, we shall all die from this spiritual cancer.
GOD says as much in Ezekiel, Chapter 18, verse 4:
Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father, as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins shall die. Whose fault is it, but our very own. We adamantly refuse the suggestion that we are wrong, and we go on in the way of our heart, despite all His warnings in His sacred Book. Our sense of justice tells us that Hell is reserved for wicked people, like Haman, and we are right. But what of those who are not so bad in our estimation? Listen to Psalm 9, verse 17:
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget GOD. The person who does not care to remember GOD may be a worthy citizen of this world, but his fate is the same as the wicked. It is clear that nobody is exempt from this danger. GOD says in His Book that
They have all have turned aside, they have together become corrupt. We all stand condemned before the Judge of the earth, and we are all liable unless He provides a way by which we ourselves do not have to pay the penalty for our spiritual apostasy.
But GOD has more to say, and it is a message of mercy. Isaiah 1, verses 16 to 18:
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings before My eyes. Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Come now and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. The condition is repentance from the heart, t’shuvah. Without this, all our religious sacrifices and observances are meaningless and a provocation to GOD as this first Chapter of Isaiah teaches.
The question now is, What must we do to obtain cleansing? Who is going to pay the price for our spiritual default? We need to be absolved from our guilt in GOD’s way, or no way at all. The answer to this is found in the Torah. When GOD brought us out of Egypt, He provided a way of forgiveness for our imperfect obedience and that was the way of sacrifice. GOD, the Supreme Lawgiver, Who writes His Own Laws, has provided the way in the following passage from Leviticus, Chapter 4, verses 27 through 31:
If any one of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the Commandments of the LORD, in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, then he shall bring us his offering, a kid of the goats for his sin which he has sinned, and he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering. Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of the burnt offering, and pour its remaining blood at the base of the altar, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
In this way, the guilt of the sinner was transferred to a sinless substitute, and that substitute died instead of him. No other way was provided.
These animal sacrifices pointed to the great truth that we need someone to trade places with us and free us from judgment by taking our judgment on himself. In the Musaf, on Yom Kippur, the afternoon prayers, the identity of this person is revealed in the following words: Our righteous Messiah is departed from us. Horror hast seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath born the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression and is wounded because of our transgression. He beareth our sins on His shoulder that He may find pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by His wound at the time that the Eternal will create Him, the Messiah, as a new creature. O, bring Him up from the circle of the earth. This prayer is a direct quote from Isaiah, Chapter 53, verse 5:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. They merely represented the coming Messiah, Who would give His Own life for us. We suffer from the fatal delusion that we can make it to heaven on our own. To this, the Tanakh replies in Proverbs, Chapter 16, verse 25:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. It is from this way of death that Messiah came to rescue us. Can we honestly affirm that He will send us to hell if we do not believe in Him? Is not the exact opposite true? He has come to stop us from our madness and our heedless self destruction. The facts are clear:
- We are lost in sin. Isaiah 53, verse 6:
All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone, to his own way, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
- We need to be rescued, as the Tanakh informs us.
- Only the Messiah can rescue us:
Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. That Name, that Man, is YESHUA of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel. Psalm 2, verse 12:
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.