Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 (NIV).
Do atheists go to hell? And what about suicides: do people who commit suicide go to hell?
Let’s get the bad news out of the way: if atheists say they don’t believe, actively reject believing in Jesus, then, yes, they are rejecting God Himself and absorb those consequences now. Pascal’s wager plays out: if you believe in God and He exists, or you believe in God and He doesn’t exist, or you don’t believe in God and He doesn’t exist, you are rationally better off than if you don’t believe in God and He does exist. God offers the proof of His existence in many ways and it’s not only irrational and illogical to actively disbelieve in the miracles of nature, but it’s spiritually dangerous. Jesus came to build relationships with every person, especially folks who don’t know Him or deny Him. If any of us rejects the offering of salvation from Him, they do so at their own peril.
Ditto you and I with our pride because, let’s be real: neither you nor I know other peoples’ hearts. It isn’t our place to judge the heart. Only God can know whether someone truly shuns Him or only claim to reject Him but secretly don’t. Perhaps the best we can say in the matter is to simply say “we don’t know but the Bible says” and leave it at that. Woe to the man who rejects the Son of Man. Woe, too, to the man who judges the man who rejected Jesus.
What about suicides? What about people who reject God’s ultimate gift of life by ending it themselves? Same answer: the best we can say is “I don’t know.” Nowhere in the Bible does is say people who commit suicide are damned. We could what-if the situation endlessly and still be left at the conclusion of saying it’s really up to God because only God knows the heart. If someone rejects life, perhaps they are rejecting God; that isn’t up to me to decide. Who knows a person’s last thoughts except God? Perhaps it’s a whiff at the question but, in fact, it’s above my pay grade.
A called servant of Christ – a pastor, reverend, minister, priest – is someone who received a personal call from God to teach and proclaim Him. Paul reminds us today that those who reject the words of called servants are rejecting God Himself. Yet even called servants are fallible, sinful, human. Only God has the answers we all seek.
For further reading: Ezekiel 36:27, Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Galatians 4:6, 1 John 3:24, 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
Lord, I believe in You. Help my un-belief. Help those who don’t know you, or are hurting to the agony of death.