Do Good people go to hell? Would a bad Christian go to heaven? What about Gandhi, is he in hell? Or what about Hitler, did he go to heaven?
The Bible plainly teaches that no one is good:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
The question of whether or not good people go to hell is a misunderstanding of man’s fallen state. We are all sinners in the eyes of God, and there is no one who is truly “good” according to His standard. If you have broken even one law, or sinned one time, you are a lawbreaker, and you need a savior.
How Can a Person Get to Heaven? What Does God Require of Us?
Some think that a person can get to heaven by doing good “deeds” or by simply being a “good person,” even if they have broken a few of God’s laws at some point. This isn’t exactly true, and here is why:
We have all broken one of God’s laws at some point in time. None of us are “perfect.” Each time that happens, we are disconnected from God. We have “sinned” in other words. Each time we “sin,” we have broken a fundamental law of God.
Now, let’s back up for a minute and think about what happens in our life if we break a law. Suppose there is a great person who one day accidentally drives over the speed limit. A police offer sees them, and pulls them over. Would the police officer just let the person go? Or would he or she give them a ticket?
The police officer would give them a ticket. Why? Because they broke the law. It doesn’t matter if they were a great person in other areas of their lives. They could have donated all of their money to charity. Or perhaps volunteered in soup kitchens every day. It doesn’t matter–they still broke a law. The law holds us all accountable, regardless of how good we may be in other areas of life.
Okay, back to God. So we can be a great person in life, right? But if we have broken some laws, we are held accountable to those. God will pull those up in judgement day and show us. But the question isn’t do some people sin and others live without sinning. We have ALL sinned. Me, my wife, all of my friends, and even you. The question is, does God give us a chance to redeem our “sins” and forgive us? The answer is YES. Through Christ we can have forgiveness of sins.
If we repent and turn to faith in Christ, we can receive forgiveness of our sins and be reconciled with God. We are then cleansed and counted as righteous.
So What About Gandhi and Hitler? Will They Both Go to Heaven or Hell?
Obviously Gandhi was a man who tried to do a lot of good in his life. But with that being said, we also know that by default he committed a sin at some point (or multiple sins). The question is, did he follow God’s laws, and did he seek forgiveness and repent? That is the question we must all ask.
Unfortunately, only God can answer this question definintely, but we can also say with confidence that anyone who places their complete trust in Christ and repents, will receive eternal life. Whoever rejects Christ, will not. If Gandhi accepted Christ as His savior, he was saved. If Gandhi rejected Christ’s free gift of salvation, he will perish.
Perhaps Gandhi, while being skeptical or unsure about Jesus, did ask for forgiveness and then followed God’s laws? We do not know. That is why it is so important for us not to judge others. Only God can fully know our minds and hearts. It may be that Gandhi does go to heaven. We don’t know. It is up to God, and only God can objectively look at his entire life and make that decision.
Okay, but what about Hitler? He was obviously an evil man. Just because he believed in Jesus, does that mean he is guaranteed heaven? Absolutely NOT! Belief alone doesn’t save anyone. The devil doesn’t have to believe, he KNOWS God exists. It is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of following God’s laws (obedience), and asking for forgiveness (repentance) when we break one of those spiritual laws, and trusting Christ totally.
Jesus even talks about this in the Bible. Here is what Jesus said about these people who act like they are “Christians,” yet commit sins and do not follow God’s commands:
(Matthew 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
This verse is saying that even though some may “pretend” to be such high and mighty (and perfect) “Christians,” in truth they will not pass the judgement of God. Why? Because even though they may sit in church every Sunday, and call themselves “Christians,” they are not truly saved. They have not been born again, and do not seek God’s ways. We all make mistakes, and we all must seek forgiveness for our sins.
Only God knows the fate of Hitler, but I am fairly confident that Hitler did not show evidence of true repentance in his life. Why? His death (suicide) likely illustrates that he did not receive Christ.
It doesn’t matter how much we attend church, how much money we donate, how many good deeds we do, or any other measure such as this. What matters to God is our relationship to Him. We must surrender to Christ.
How often will God forgive us? Every single time we genuinely pray and ask for it! Even if it is 1,000,000 times. God will forgive us each time. But when we ask, we must mean it. That means we turn from our sins and turn to Christ.