Many today, leave their brains and their bibles at the door of the church. They would rather have someone else tell them what to believe. And just like babies, they need someone else to chew their food and deliver it to their mouths with a silver spoon.
Is there truth in the pastor's statement above? Of course. Jesus is the only Savior of the world and no man will come unto the Father but by Him. But, let's re-insert our brains and examine our bibles to see if it's the full truth. What sends a man to hell?
"The only reason people go to hell is because they don't have Jesus in their hearts." As true as this is, it doesn't give the full explanation of man's doom. John 3:18 states,
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "Many who hold fast to the quotes above will stop after reading the first part of John 3:18. What they're saying is truth, but by neglecting the rest of the passage, we miss some very key ingredients to man's condition. Notice the rest of the verse: "he that believeth not is condemned already..."
This is a staggering statement recorded by the apostle, John. Did you catch it? He said they were condemned already. The sentence has already been passed; the natural unregenerate man is under condemnation now and has been since the fall of Adam. The word for "condemned", in this verse, is the perfect passive indicative form of the Greek word "krino". The "perfect" tense in Greek denotes an action that has been completed but the effects of the action are still continuing. John, in this one small sentence, gives us great insight to sinful man's state of being.
You may ask, "When did this judgment come about?" or, "Was the sentence passed after a person sins or was it passed before the person sinned?" These are fair questions that deserve a biblical response.
The apostle Paul while speaking on the sufficiency of Christ in Romans 5:18 tells us this:
"Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. "
Because of Adam's sin, all of humanity was condemned. Adam was our representative and he, like us, failed. We, in turn, inherited Adam's nature as well as Adam's condemnation. We can say as David, in sin did our mothers conceive us and we were shapen in iniquity. Our outward actions are manifestations of what's on the inside. We're not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. Our outward sins are the fruits of an inner corruption and inclination toward unrighteousness. It's our nature to come forth from our mother's wombs speaking lies. Yes, this even goes for babies...no one is born innocent. Does this mean that babies who die, go to hell? I'll save this for another topic, but the short answer is "no".
Back to John 3:18, some will say, "But the rest of the verse tells us why they're condemned...because they haven't believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." To this I would ask, were you born believing? No, no man is born a believer. We were by nature children of wrath, Eph. 2:3. So, every man is born an unbeliever, a child of wrath, with their carnal minds at hatred with God Rom. 8:7.
So, what do the quotes at the beginning have to do with all of this? Why are they wrong? Looking back on what was just discussed, let me try to put this in an analogy... Let's imagine you were born with a deadly disease, and let's give it a catchy name like "sindebt" disease. It's fatal. It absolutely will take your life. You might last 1 day or possibly live up to around 100 years, but this disease is going to kill you. You never knew you had the disease until a doctor examined you one day. He then pointed out the symptoms that the disease was manifesting in your body. After informing you of it's effects, you immediately recognise them in yourself. Once he explains your fate and shows you the fatality statistics of all those who've ever had the disease, you then tremble in horror. What will you do?
Graciously, the doctor then informs you of a medicinal cure. After contemplating the horrors of your fate, you eagerly ask for this cure. After taking the medicine, you feel life pumping through your veins as the effects of the disease began to fade away...your finances, your trials, and hard times you've been through and are going through now mean nothing. The medicine never promised worldly success. You're alive!
Now, suppose you refused this cure. Or, suppose you never heard of the cure, and yet you were still born with this disease. Would you die because you refused medicine, or would you die because you had a disease? The disease is what kills not the rejection of the cure. Evangelist Ray Comfort gives this analogy: if a man jumps from an airplane, he splats on the ground because he's breaking the law of gravity not because of his failure to wear a parachute. In the same way, mankind will go to hell because they're infected with sin and in fact, they are sinners who love their sin. The tribesman in the deepest jungles will go to hell because he's a sinner who's broken God's laws not because he's never heard of Christ.
The good news, however is this: even though you're dying with the disease of sin, God in His grace has provided the remedy through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through His death on the cross, He absorbed the wrath of God for everyone who believes. After 3 days in the grave, He was resurrected by the power of God and now offers you the cure to your sin disease through repentance and trust in Him as your only Lord and Savior.
Let's get back to biblical doctrines of sin and its effects and leave the feel-good man-centered-messages to the motivational gurus.