Sins Alone Send a Soul to Hell

There is a popular misconception, taught authoritatively in pulpits across this land. It is the idea that sins do not send anyone to hell, but rather, unbelief (or, rejecting Christ) alone sends one to hell. There are slight variations on this theme, such as, “There’s only one sin that sends a person to hell, and that is the sin of unbelief,” or, “God doesn’t send anyone to hell—a person sends himself to hell by his unbelief.”

Such an idea does not come from Scripture, but from poor theology. It is absolutely true that belief in Christ is the sinner’s only hope for salvation. But it is just as true that without faith in Christ, the sinner will face the wrath of God against all his sins (Rom. 2:6; Ps. 62:12; Mat. 16:27; Prov. 24:12; Rev. 20:12-13).

Those who teach that sins do not send a soul to hell are usually confused about the sacrificial death of Christ. They tend to think that Christ paid for all sin in such a way as to extinguish the sin-debt of every man, leaving only the question of whether or not the man will believe in Christ. However, Christ’s death did not extinguish the debt of any man until that man believes in Him. The debt of sinners is not the same as a financial debt, which may be extinguished immediately by payment from anyone. Rather, the sins are crimes, and the debt like that which a criminal owes to society. Therefore, payment by the Third Party is not immediately accepted, but needs the approval of the Judge in the case—and God the Judge does not allow the substitutionary exchange to extinguish the sin-debt of any man until that man believes in Christ. Any man who dies in unbelief dies “in his sin” and will face the full wrath of God against all of his sins.

But praise God that no sinner need face that wrath! What Christ did by dying on the cross was to face the wrath of God that every sinner deserves to face. And because Christ, who was and is the eternal Son of God, lived a perfectly righteous life without sin, what He did in His life and by His death can save us from God’s wrath and gain us everlasting life with Him in heaven. This is why Christ came to give His life “a ransom for many,” according to the will of the Father who “so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross for your sin and physically rose from the dead on the third day—trusting only in Him—and you shall be saved!

Ken Hamrick, 2013

About these ads

16 comments

  1. Bob Cleveland

    Adam’s sin is another matter, especially in light of the fact that everybody sins anyway.

    Regretfully, I’ve even heard my own pastor say what you mentioned in the first paragraph. It’s been a number of years ago, and I didn’t take him up on it. But I believe that, if he said that in a sermon today, I’d have to stand up and call him out.

    The Bible says the wages of sin is death. Period. That’s the sole cause, but, fortunately, it has a corresponding sole remedy.

  2. David R. Brumbelow

    Could some of this simply be a matter of semantics?

    For example:
    A man is drowning.
    Someone throws him a life vest.
    For whatever reason he refuses the life vest.
    He drowns.

    Did he die because of the water?
    Because he didn’t know how to swim?
    Because he refused the life vest?
    Or, any or all of the above?

    Your sins are sending you to Hell.
    If you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will be saved from Hell.
    So maybe both are correct.
    Your sins sent you to Hell.
    Your refusal to accept Jesus caused you to go to Hell.
    David R. Brumbelow

  3. pastordavidnance

    Ken,

    Obviously what you say is correct but I have to agree with David R. Brumbelow in his comment above. I believe that I have a solid understanding of what God has revealed for us to know about the sacrificial death of Christ and condition of man both apart from and in Christ and I will admit that in an invitational plea I most likely have said something similar to what you are chastising not at all meaning what you suppose is meant by persons who make such statements (though I cannot speak for what is the meaning meant by any others than myself.) David’s example of attempting to rescue a drowning swimmer is apropos. To expand further, I absolutely agree with you that each man’s sin against God has brought upon his head the condemnation of hell and that is his fate if he steps into eternity apart from partaking of the Grace of God in Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. However, in the moment of my presenting to him the Gospel message – which is the only hope any man has – then I am throwing him the “life preserver” as in David’s example. Now, what sends him to hell? Is it not his refusal to be saved? Yes, his sins are what caused him to be drowning and in the condition of needing to be saved but upon hearing the Gospel it is his refusal to accept it that seals his fate. I think this may be splitting hairs. Having said that, I will confess that I hadn’t thought of it in the way you have presented it and will most assuredly experience some hesitation at using that appeal in the future I am sure :).

  4. parsonsmike

    Dear brothers,
    Everyone sins and is condemned. Not everyone hears the Gospel. Now why is it they who do hear are blinded to its truth? They are blinded because of their sin.
    They dont believe Jesus is the savior and they think the Gospel foolishness. They neither see their need (that drowning is upon them) or see the life preserver you toss them as relevant to their life.

  5. Ken Hamrick

    David Brumbelow,

    It is a matter of semantics, but semantics are not always trivial or unimportant. In this case, I think semantics is being used to minimize a part of the gospel that the Bible never minimizes. The difference between a primary and a secondary cause is not trivial. The drowned man’s death was primarily caused by water in his lungs, and only secondarily caused by the lack (or refusal) of a life vest or the inability to swim. An important part of the gospel is missing if we preach that the “refusal to accept Jesus causes you to go to hell.” The refusal to accept Jesus causes you to stand in all your sin and guilt before the Judgment seat of an angry, holy God—and that holy God will send you to hell for your sins. Christ did not merely come to save us from unbelief or to save us from hell—He came to “save His people from their sins.”

    Welcome to the Open Forum, David!

  6. Ken Hamrick

    Brother David Nance,

    Please read my response to David Brumbelow’s comment. Whenever we minimize an aspect of Biblical truth, the message is not as clear as it should be. When sins are made to be unimportant in the appeal to sinners to believe, then it is no surprise if sins remain unimportant after they believe. As long as we believe, what need have we for sanctification?

  7. Ken Hamrick

    Mike,

    I cannot concur with your view, as you already know. More than mere ignorance keeps men from accepting the gospel. What kind of blindness is it that runs from the light?—the kind that is willful blindness. But that is a different discussion, so let’s not get off track. :)

  8. David R. Brumbelow

    I remain unconvinced.
    I believe it is valid to say a person’s sins send him to Hell.
    I also believe it is valid to say a person’s unbelief sends him to Hell.

    Some Scripture that backs up this view:

    John 3:18
    He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:36
    He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

    Romans 11:19-20
    You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.

    Hebrews 3:19
    So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

    David R. Brumbelow

  9. pastordavidnance

    Ken,

    I am certainly averse to minimizing any point of biblical truth and would never do so consciously. In any presentation of the Gospel the sins of the sinner must be paramount otherwise salvation has no meaning, I agree with your followup point that a lack of emphasis upon sin at the invitation to salvation certainly and logically leads to a lack of emphasis on personal holiness after faith – if indeed it can even be said that such faith is genuine. Please do not assume that my invitation to respond to Him by pleading with the individual to not forgo the Lord’s free gift equals turning a blind eye to the actual cause of the individual’s predicament – far from it. But I am sure you will agree that all sin is forgivable through personal faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross BUT ” …how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him..” Seems that it is legitimate to say to one who has heard the Gospel that to ignore it would be damning. As always I appreciate your thought provoking posts and I continue to ruminate on what you have said. May I never be so arrogant to not humbly consider the thoughts of a learned brother.

  10. Ken Hamrick

    Brothers David & David,

    You both have made some very good points worth considering. Thank you, and may God bless your preaching of the gospel.

  11. Ken Hamrick

    You’re welcome, Brothers! Glad to have your participation. Let me remind you that you are free to post articles here, whether by emailing them to me or posting them yourself as an author through WordPress.

  12. parsonsmike

    Dear brother David Brumbelow,
    Lets look at the Scriptures you brought up:
    John 3:18
    He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    Here believing is put forth as the antidote to condemnation. Not believing leaves one right where they were, condemned. It is not the means of condemnation. One is not condemned for not believing, one stays condemned.

    John 3:36
    He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
    Same thought here as above. Believing brings life. The wrath of God remains and continues to abide on the disbeliever. The wrath is already there because he has sinned.

    Romans 11:19-20
    You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
    Hebrews 3:19
    So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

    Unbelief in these verses works in the same way. Condemnation came upon the unbelieving Israelis because they sinned and remained on them because they did not trust in God, In The Romans 11 passage, they were part of a physical nation who were not all God’s people. In the Hebrews passage, the going in is symbolic of entering the promised land.

    Therefore in no sense did one’s refusal to surrender to Jesus cause them to go to hell, They already were headed to hell. Their willful evil choices/bad works causes them to go to Hell.

    Is rejecting the Gospel an evil sinful work that cause one to go to Hell?
    If so, than accepting the Gospel is a righteous good work that causes one to go to Heaven.

  13. parsonsmike

    Dear Pastor David,
    For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    You concluded by saying: “Seems that it is legitimate to say to one who has heard the Gospel that to ignore it would be damning.” The Gospel does not come into the world to be damning. They are already damned. The Gospel saves the damned.
    Peace brother.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s