The other day, I was reading a book that discussed objections that some people have for not believing in God. One of the reasons was that they couldn’t (wouldn’t) believe in a God that would send good people to hell. It’s hard to think about good people possibly ending up in hell. We all know people who, while they don’t especially believe in Jesus, they are good people. They do good things. This objection also comes up in discussions about “alternate” ways to heaven. Lately, a lot of people have been espousing ideas that although we have chosen Jesus as our way to God, they believe that there are other ways to come to God. The argument goes, who are we to know the mind of God? Could a Buddhist, or Muslim who is devout still go to hell?
On the first day teaching his class of 250 college freshmen, R. C. Sproul carefully explained the assignment of three term papers. Each paper was due on the last day of September, October, and November. Sproul clearly stated there would be no extensions (except for medical reasons). At the end of September, some 225 students dutifully turned in their papers, while 25 remorseful students quaked in fear. “We’re so sorry,” they said. “We didn’t make the proper adjustments from high school to college, but we promise to do better next time.” He bowed to their pleas for mercy, gave them an extension, but warned them not to be late next month.
The end of October rolled around, and about 200 students turned in their papers, while 50 students showed up empty-handed. “Oh, please,” they begged, “it was homecoming weekend, and we ran out of time.” Sproul relented once more but warned them, “This is it. No excuses next time. You will get an F.”
The end of November came, and only 100 students turned in their papers. The rest told Sproul, “We’ll get it in soon.”
“Sorry,” Sproul replied. “It’s too late now. You get an F.”
The students howled in protest, “That’s not fair!”
“Okay,” Sproul replied, “you want justice, do you? Here’s what’s just: you’ll get an F for all three papers that were late. That was the rule, right?”
“The students had quickly taken my mercy for granted,” Sproul later reflected. “They assumed it. When justice suddenly fell, they were unprepared for it. It came as a shock, and they were outraged.”
Like the teacher, God has given us the assignment ahead of time. Jesus said that He is the only way to the father. No one comes to the father except through Him. God is gracious. He demonstrated his grace by sending his son, Jesus to pay for our sins. If we ignore that grace and decide that there are other ways to God, then we decide (either consciously or unconsciously) to face His judgement.