At the beginning of this year I posted Going to Hell in a Handbasket (Part 1 & Part 2). In these posts I discussed a new… or different… perspective on sin. I have always been taught that it is our sins that send us to Hell. However, it occurred to me that the Bible never actually says that our sins send us to Hell. I am still unable to find a verse in Scripture that supports this – but I definitely understand why people believe this. It is a very easy leap to make, but it is a leap. In my opinion, if we are being honest, we should not make that leap (or any leap). Rather, we should read Scripture plainly and simply.
When discussing the topic of Sin relative to Hell there are two scripture references that come to mind. The first is, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) The second is, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15)
If we consider just these two verses, it appears that sin results in death (not Hell). Something else entirely then places us in Hell, namely, not being in the book of life (or Lamb’s Book of Life). These are not the only verses of course, there are others that support this same understanding, like God telling Adam that his punishment would be death. Paul talking about how sin entered the world and death through sin, etc. All of these verses seem to indicate that sin accomplishes death, not hell. Again, I have not found any verses that teach the contrary.
But I have another reason for believing that sin does not send us to Hell. It might seem extra-biblical, but it is only as extra-biblical as believing that our sins send us to Hell. In fact, let us consider that the truth just might very well be that sin does send us to Hell. Where does this put Jesus?
Scripture seems to indicate that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus is our propitiation (1 John 2:2). Paul says that he died for us (Romans 5:6). But what does this all mean? Basically it means that Christ sacrificed himself, took on our punishment for the sins we commit so we would not have to. Logically, if the punishment for our sins is to be sent to Hell and Jesus took the punishment for our sins then a just God would have to send Jesus to Hell.
At this point we are faced with at least two options:
1) We believe that Jesus is going to be sent to Hell at the appointed time.
2) We believe that Scripture never teaches that our sins send us to Hell.
I choose option 2, not because I am trying to get out of a tough spot, but because it seems to be the simplest reading of Scripture. If option 1 is true, then I think Jesus’ sacrifice has a completely new face. He no longer just died on the cross for us, he will be sent to Hell because of us. However, just as Scripture seems quiet on sins sending us to Hell, it seems abnormally quiet on Jesus being sent to Hell – so I am confident my position.
What do you think?