Can you believe in Jesus and still go to hell? The short answer is yes. The longer answer has many more nuances, which we need to look at as we traverse through lent. Lent is the time for us all to look at our Christian walk and make changes. These are not supposed to be simple idle changes in various behaviors, but changes that will assure us that we will be saved on the last day from eternal damnation.
Romans 10: 8-9 The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
This is the verse from Romans that many have used to espouse the “once saved, always saved” theology. This is a false theology. The fact that we simply say something, does not believe that we have altered our lives to conform to whatever we spoke. If you listen to yourself on a normal day, we say things we don’t truly believe all the time. “How are you?” This is a normal greeting. The answer is, 99% of the time, “Oh I’m fine, thanks for asking.” Most of the time this is not the case, yet we say it because it would be unreasonable to give everyone we meet in the day our long laundry list of issues each one of us faces in the day. We speak but do not believe. Believing with your heart, as the verse clearly states is life changing.
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come
We are a new creation; totally changed. The moment we come out of the font, even if we are baptized as an adult, we are gifted the Holy Spirit and adopted as God’s own, but we have yet to be a new creation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, though, we can change. This is a process called sanctification.
Ephesians 4: 25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
We are called to be a new creation, to change our lives. It is that change, that new creation which emerges, that is found good in the sight of God. We should look at our conduct in our overall lives this lent and see if we need changes to become truly new.
Galations 5: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Put away the things of this world, as difficult as that may be, and live only to God. We are all convicted by Paul’s writings to the Galatians, what can you change right now that would make you a new creation?
But all this is personal, we also have each other to worry about. Yes, if we truly believe in Christ we will want to spread His word AND help each other in our walk, this means meet together; or in other words, come to church!
Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We are called to evangelism, and if we are truly confessing Christ, we are unable to hide our light. We should be drawn to spreading the Gospel just as we are drawn to eat daily. (and in my case that is a pretty strong draw!) Who is the last person you spoke to about Christ, or about your church? If you are to be a new creation, you must be evangelical.
Lastly, put God first, Jesus’ parable gives us fair warning.
Luke 14 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
We are all busy; we have busy lives. But if we truly believe in Christ, in our hearts, we will become new creations in how we calendar our lives; giving God our first priority above all else.
Do you confess Jesus with your lips? Good! If we do this and believe in Him with our whole hearts than we will be compelled to be new creations in Christ, and we will embody the scripture we just looked at in this article. Let us all this lent make the basic changes in our lives to become saved through life long sanctification and works.