Can Christians Go to Hell

Scripture lesson: Matthew 7:21-23.

Matthew 7:21–23 (NKJV) — 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Introduction

Is it possible for a Christian to be in front of God at the judgment and be told they were going to hell? Imagine if you were in front of Jesus, and he said he never knew you and to leave his presence. Could that situation actually happen?

In this lesson, I will explain Matthew 7:21-23 and how it applies to Christians being cast into heaven.

Context

The first thing you should do when reading the Bible is to determine the context of the passage you are reading. That will help you to interpret it more accurately. So, what is the context of our lesson passage?

Let’s look at Matthew 7:15-20.

Matthew 7:15–20 (NKJV) — 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Jesus made a distinction between true and false prophets. False prophets deceive people like a wolf disguised as a sheep. They produce bad fruit.

So, if we follow the flow of the scriptures from verses seven to twenty-three, we could say that Jesus focuses on false prophets.

False Prophet’s Actions

We said previously that false prophets deceive. They pretend to be one thing to trick you into doing something, believing something, following them, etc.

Let me make a distinction between the Kingdom of God and Heaven. Many think they are the same thing.

The Kingdom of God is the realm over which God rules. It includes his laws, principles, and way. Jesus taught much about the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t teaching about the afterlife in heaven per se. At one point, he said that the Kingdom of heaven is among you (Luke 17:21), implying that He brought the Kingdom of God on earth.

Recall that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, You will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). My point here is that the Kingdom of God is more than heaven, though heaven is part of God’s Kingdom.

Another important point about the “kingdom of heaven” is that Matthew used it to refer to the Kingdom of God. He used the word heaven because he wrote to Jews who might take offense to him using the word ‘God.’

See my study on The Kingdom of God

Okay. Back to Matthew 7:21. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of God will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Two questions to consider.

  1. What is God’s will?
  2. How does one enter the Kingdom of heaven?

What is God’s will in this context?

What does God ultimately want? What does the scope of the Bible point to? God wants us to be saved because He wants to have a relationship with us (1 Timothy 2:4). Another clue is the creation. God created the earth and everything in it and then told humans to have dominion over it. God intended for us to connect to Him and rule over the earth.

That dominion was lost when Adam and Eve sinned against God. God then established a plan to get humans back in right relations with Him. The Bible tells the story of God that leads to Jesus Christ and him crucified and resurrected. It tells the story of God getting us back to right relations with Him through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we can confidently conclude that God’s will is for us to be saved. God wants us to enter His Kingdom.

How does one enter the Kingdom of heaven?

Remember, Jesus is talking about false prophets in the subject scripture passage and how they will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. We also know that God wants us to enter His Kingdom. How do we do it?

John 3:3 (NKJV) — 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5 (NKJV) — 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

We enter the Kingdom of God by being born of the Spirit of God. We enter God’s Kingdom by being saved. We are saved by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

See Matthew 7:22 – The people here rely on their good works, not faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that someone could appear to be doing God’s will but really are not. Putting on a front does not get you to heaven. Doing good deeds does not get you to heaven.

Who Goes to Hell?

Matthew 7:22 (NKJV) — 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

The “many” are false prophets, and “that day” refers to the judgment. Many false prophets will tell Jesus about the things they did, i.e., prophesied in Jesus’ name, cast out demons, and many miracles.

We established that you enter the Kingdom of God by believing in Jesus Christ. However, the false prophets make their case for entering the Kingdom of heaven by the things they did, i.e., works. We do not earn our way to God’s Kingdom. We enter it by faith, not works.

Matthew 7:23 (NKJV) — 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Jesus will tell the false prophets that he never knew them, i.e., they never had a relationship with him. Therefore, they were told to go away.

I think it is important to realize that those who are saved become part of God’s Kingdom before they die and go to heaven. Therefore, when Jesus said to depart, He was sending them to where they belong, “hell.”

Who goes to hell? Those who are not saved, who did not put their faith in Jesus Christ. We could also say that those who are not part of the Kingdom of God will go to hell.

Conclusion

Christians do not go to hell. By Christian, I mean those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, for reconciliation with God. There will be many who rely on their works to impress God and earn their way into God’s Kingdom. However, they will be judged accordingly. If your name is not written in the Lambs book of Life, you will go to “hell.” See Revelation 20:15.

Therefore, Christians should not think that they can get before God in the judgment and discover that they did not do enough to get to heaven. The only thing we need to do to be with God for eternity is to have eternal life instead of eternal death (Revelation 20:14). We get eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 (NKJV) — 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Harry Truman Warner

    Not everyone who say lord lord will enter the kingdom of God,unless your name be written in the Book of Life

    Reply
  2. Ramon Davila

    I believe in his ten comment if you follow this you enter the kingdom of God

    Reply
    • Pastor Bill

      Thanks for your comment. Did you mean ten commandments? If not please elaborate. Thanks. The question becomes, how does one enter the Kingdom of God? Simple. Jesus told us. We must be born again to not only enter, but to even see it (comprehend id). Entering God’s Kingdom after the resurrection of Christ, is a matter of putting one’s faith in Jesus for salvation and being reborn by the Holy Spirit. That enables us to live righteously.

      Reply
      • Blake

        I read your comment.. about reborn in the Holy Spirit. And live righteously… what if we sin after we ask Jesus into our hearts.. and believe that he died on the cross for our sins… I’m so lost and confused on the part of after we accepted Jesus and believe that he died for us. So my question is this after we make that alter call of salvation. If we sin after that are we still saved bc I have sinned after that and it burdens my heart. I feel like I don’t want to sin and it’s hard at times not to sin.. I’m not trying to justify sin after Accepting I’m just confused on that part of life.

        Reply
        • Pastor Bill

          Hello Blake. It is extremely important to understand that our salvation is not based on how much or how little we sin. We are always going to sin (See 1 John 1:8-9). Our salvation is secured by Jesus Christ and our faith in him (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16). Do not spend your time counting your sins and assuming that God is keeping track of them. Even the Apostle Paul wrestled with what you are going through…what many go through (Romans 7:21-23). We wrestle with the flesh to live in the Spirit.

          Your righteousness is from faith not works. Spend your life walking more and more in the Spirit and don’t focus on sin. Remember, when you were born again, a real change took place in you. You are indwelled with the Spirit of God. Unfortunately, sometimes we give in to the flesh and sin. Confess your sins and move on. You are forgiven. As you grow in Christ, your sinful acts will diminish as you become increasingly consistent with the Spirit of God. You do not lose your salvation because you sinned.

          Reply
          • Kerry

            I have struggled with the concept of “free work salvation” as I grew up Pentecostal. I understand that we are saved through grace by faith. But the Bible also says, “faith without works is dead” and to “workout you own salvation with fear and trembling.” If we profess salvation with no works doesn’t that mean our faith in Christ is not activated which is the requirement for salvation?

          • Pastor Bill

            Hello Kerry. You have expressed a sticking point for many people. Usually it is because people misunderstand the relation of works and faith. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is freely given to us by God if we believe. We cannot work to earn it. A real change takes place inside when a person is saved. The Holy Spirit indwells them and gives life to their dead spirit, which will affect all aspects of their lives. We are then capable of producing good works.

            Therefore, your salvation brings forth good works. Jesus said let your light shine so people would see your good works. That means, follow the Holy Spirit as He bears fruit through you. Jesus said a good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree brings bad fruit. Being saved, you are the good tree that will bring forth good fruit.
            Faith without works is dead means our faith should be evident by how we live. Jesus said you will know a prophet by their fruit. A person who is truly born again will produce good fruit, i.e., fruit of the Spirit: kindness, self-control, peace, love, etc (See Galatians 5:22-23).

            Therefore, it is the works that are activated by your faith, not the other way around. Your good works comes because of your faith, i.e., because you’re saved and the Holy Spirit lives inside you.

        • Jaydin

          Hi pastor Bill, I believe everything you just said, but I’m confused as to why Jesus still mentions idolaters, people who do witch Craft, idolaters, drunkards and all of these scriptures that mention that these people will not enter the kingdom of god. There’s so many passages where Jesus mentions these type of sinners will not see the kingdom of heaven “verily verily I tell you” I’m confused

          Reply
          • Pastor Bill

            Hello Jaydin. I will try to help you understand. First of all, consider that being born again or saved is a choice. It requires we come to a mindset where we know we are sinners and in need of saving. We then come to believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. This is why we are saved by faith, not works. THere are some people with mindsets that do not permit them to understand the Kingdom of God. They are trapped in their own ways, e.g., idolators. This is the same reason Jesus said that it would be difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. Their faith is most likely in their riches and their ability to acquire it. We must be open with a heart to accept the Gospel and confess that we need a savior and salvation is not based on our efforts. A witch depends on their witchcraft. An idolator depends on other gods, which God is vehemently against (the first and second commandments). I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out if you need more explanations.

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