A recent poll made by Baylor University found that over half of all Americans believe in the reality of hell. I find this believable given that the Holy Scriptures are very clear that hell truly exists.
But the poll also found that about 13% of Americans believe that they will go to hell. I find this incredible, that people will apparently willingly place themselves in line for this place when the Holy Scriptures are so clear as to how to avoid that terrible place.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Mark 16:16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” John 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
I could continue with more quotes, but these make it clear that the way to avoid hell is simple: believe in Jesus Christ. Believe that the second person of the Holy Trinity became a man and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
The wages of sin are death, and Jesus paid that penalty for us, as our substitute so that we do not have to pay that penalty ourselves.
Believe that Jesus Christ then rose in victory over death, and that believing in him, we also will rise from the dead to live forever, not in hell but in his kingdom.
Apparently these words are so simple that many find them hard to believe. Surely, they appear to insist, God demands more from us than simple faith. Certainly our lives must meet some standard of perfection before God will let us into his kingdom.
If you believe that, you are believing a lie, because nowhere in Holy Scriptures is this stated.
Therefore Jesus uses these words in the Holy Scriptures to drive us to him, who completed this requirement for us so that we don’t have to ourselves, because, quite simply, we can’t.
Instead we trust in what Jesus has done for us. And that faith is all that God requires of us. Trust in Jesus Christ our lord and savior, and we will be saved.
So if you happen to be among those who not only believe in hell but believe you are headed there, turn your attention to Jesus Christ and believe in him as the one who has saved you from that terrible destination.
Richard H. Snyder is a retired pastor of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.