Post Author: Bill Pratt
I find that many non-believers are hopelessly confused about salvation by God’s grace. This confusion was amply illustrated the other day on an Unbelievable? podcast when the atheist debater challenged the Christian debater with the following: “Isn’t it true that the Christian God would have allowed Hitler into heaven if he had repented and trusted in Christ on his deathbed?”
The atheist questioner clearly believed that Hitler, based on his numerous evil deeds (I still don’t understand how atheists can say that Hitler did anything objectively evil, but that’s another issue altogether), did not deserve to be accepted by God, and the fact that the Christian God would accept Hitler under any circumstances was simply unacceptable. He (the atheist) could never believe in a God that would let Hitler into heaven because justice would be denied if this were to occur.
One can sympathize with this point of view if we are dealing with the God of Islam, who weighs everyone’s good deeds and bad deeds on a scale to determine where they will spend the afterlife. It is hard to imagine that Hitler could ever get into heaven under that system, but that is not how the God of Christianity works.
The Christian debater correctly pointed out that nobody deserves to be accepted by God, but that through Christ’s work on the cross, God will accept those who have placed their trust in what Christ did for them. God will apply Christ’s atoning sacrifice to every person who desires it by dedicating themselves to their Savior. Christ paid the penalty for all of mankind’s sins, including Hitler’s. If Hitler had truly repented and trusted in Christ before he died, like the thief on the cross, he would have been welcomed into paradise by God. There is no reason to believe that he ever did this, so this is a purely hypothetical exercise meant to illustrate a point.
That is why Christians are always talking about the grace of God. God offers us eternity with him, but only because of Christ. God knows that if a scale of justice were applied, every single one of us would be condemned for our thoughts and our deeds. According to the Bible and to anyone who has really looked within their soul, we are a million miles away from the goodness that God expects of us. The scale, after all, is calibrated to weigh our deeds against the standard of the righteousness of God. Does anyone really believe they can stand before God on their own merit?
I thank God that I will never have to, and if you’ve trusted Christ, neither will you.