Hell: Who Goes There?
Who Goes to Hell?
The simplest answer to the question “who goes to hell?” is to answer: “unrepentant sinners who do not have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go to hell.” In fact, when the Philippian jailer asked the most basic question: “what must I do to be saved?”, Paul and Silas responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved...” (Acts 16:31). This is salvation from judgement, condemnation, and hell.
Likewise, at the end of Revelation, Jesus showed that those who are cleansed having their robes washed in Jesus’ blood and righteousness inherit the blessings of the eternal city and the tree of life. Those who are immoral are outside this city (Rev. 22:15). Elsewhere, Revelation is clear:
Rev. 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev. 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Likewise, Paul describes it as sinners who face the judgment and do not inherit the kingdom of God:
1Cor. 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The sinner is sent to hell because of the guilt of their sin. The sin of an individual leaves them as guilty and condemned before God. The fair and just punishment of any offense against the holiness of the eternal God is sentencing the sinner to hell. The Bible says, “[for] all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
We should point out that in the teaching of Jesus it is often the religious person who is in danger of the condemnation of hell. In Matthew 23, Jesus lists a long extensive list of the hypocrisies of the Pharisees. They pretended to be moral and upright. They followed the very letter of details in the ceremonial laws and even added traditions to it in order to pretend to be extra zealous in their obedience to God. But they did not love others. They did not care for the hurting and the weak. Instead, the piled moralistic burdens upon the weak and weary. They created their own moral loopholes to excuse their behaviors. They pretended to look good on the outside while inside they had no cleansed heart. Jesus says to them, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matt. 23:33). Of course, the solution was not to try to be more righteous on their own. None of us can produce the righteousness required to enter heaven (Phil. 3:8-9; Isa. 64:6).
There is a lesson here for us. It is entirely possible to be a good church going religious person and still go to hell. It is possible to outwardly convince everyone that you are a Christian and even look Christian in some of the things you do, but be doing it in an entirely a hypocritical spirit without any saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
So we return to the question: who goes to hell? We need to turn this question to ourselves. If I remain in sin, I will go to hell. That is what my sins deserve. I will go to hell if I have not placed a personal faith and trust in the LORD Jesus Christ. I stand as a condemned person unless I surrender to the LORD Jesus Christ and believe upon his name. Consider Eph. 2:1-3—
Eph. 2:1-3, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
This is a statement of who I am if I remain and continue in my sins. However, if I enter into a relationship with the LORD Jesus, I can come under the blood of Jesus Christ and I will not go to hell because his death has paid for my sins. Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is the good news of the gospel.
Tim Bertolet is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College and Westminster Theological Seminary. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is an ordained pastor in the Bible Fellowship Church, currently serving as pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in York, Pa. He is a husband and father of four daughters. You can follow him on Twitter @tim_bertolet.