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Monday, May 22, 2006

You don't need the Gospel... 

... to go to Hell.

I've had this post brewing as a thought for a couple of weeks, but I have yet to fully develop it and don't think I ever will. So I'm not sure if it is woefully imprudent to throw it out there for public consumption, or whether it is merely a request for some iron to sharpen against.

It started with the following question: What exactly are people condemned to Hell for?

The person who posed this question to me was trying to suggest that at the Great While Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) people are not thrown into the Lake of Fire because of their own personal sin, for the sinful nature that they inherited as a result of being human, nor for the imputed sin of Adam. Rather, he posited, they are damned to eternal torment (Mark 9:44,46,48 - NASB) because their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. He went on to suggest that the severity of the judgment they received in Hell was, in fact, based on what they had done during their life on earth. He pointed to the fact that there were two sets of books, one that contained deeds, the other a list of names. This was the evidence he gave to demonstrate that the specific thing for which people are condemned is unbelief. Otherwise, their names would have been added to the Book of Life, and they would have been at the Judgment (or Bema) Seat (Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10) where believers must give an account of their lives to Christ. It is important to note that this individual made this particular distinction (that we are not condemned because of our sins, but rather because of our unbelief) to justify his position that when Christ died on the cross he paid the ransom for all the sins of everybody, but that only believers realized the benefit of His sacrifice because of imputed righteousness.

I think you can see the stickiness of this line of reasoning. The big problem that I have is further down the road of logic where this leads you, ending with the proposition that if you share the gospel with someone and they reject it, then they are condemned to hell, but if you don't, they can die in ignorant bliss and somehow the blood of Christ will have covered them because they never had the chance to believe. This is completely contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

So I'll cut right to the chase... here's my quick and dirty theory of sin and consequences:

Category of SinImmediate ConsequenceUltimate Consequence
Imputed Sin (judicially passed from Adam directly to each individual - Romans 5:12-14)physical decay (pain, sickness, toil, mosquitos, etc.)physical death (separation of the soul from the body)
Inherited Sin (genetically passed from one generation to the next - John 3:6)spiritual death (separation from God)eternal damnation
Personal Sin (individual acts of willful disobedience and rebellion)broken relationship with GodGod will "give you over" - Romans 1:24,26,28)

Bear in mind that this is a work in progress...

... but could it be that part of the reason that "the free gift is not like the trespass" (Romans 5:15) is because the free gift covers not just the imputed sin of Adam, but also the sinful nature that is inherited and even the individual personal sins?

I don't know, I'm just thinking here. Join me please...

(I'm not terribly interested in your own personal theories of sin, or even your own logical critique of my position, but more in fleshing this out with solid biblical theology. Please be generous in your citations of Scripture, as well as in your grace toward my humble musings...)

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