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Equally Unrighteous

On January 2nd, Cal Thomas wrote this about the execution of Saddam Hussein:

In a final blasphemy, Saddam Hussein, who spent most of his life as a murdering secularist, went to his justified death holding a Koran and offering his soul to God, if God would accept it. If God does, He will have to commute the sentences of Saddam’s mass murdering predecessors, including Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. (italics added)

I have read enough of Thomas’s writing to know that he understands the Gospel better than that, so this is not intended as an attack on Cal Thomas. However, it is way past time to send this horrible cliché to the gallows.

Saddam Hussein is not in hell today for being a mass-murderer. He has done no more to earn his eternal damnation than I have. Put another way, he deserves to spend eternity in heaven just as much as I do—which is to say, not at all.

Saddam Hussein, brutal dictator, torturer, and mass-murderer, would be in hell today even if he had been a benevolent leader of his country. Being a “good man” or a “nice guy” would not have saved him. Only one man has been good enough, and that is Jesus Christ, the son of God. The rest of us—you, me, Saddam Hussein—have failed to measure up to God’s standard, which is no less than perfection. This failure has not taken place over time, as we have made “wrong choices” and sinned against God and our fellow man, either. From the moment of our conception in our mothers’ wombs, we are imperfect (Psalm 51:5). We are sinners, and as sinners, we deserve condemnation and eternal punishment in hell.

What, then, is to be done? Should we try really hard to do good and earn our place in heaven? I certainly don’t want to discourage good behavior, but know this: you won’t get to heaven by being good (Romans 3:20). If Saddam Hussein had been your neighbor, if he had blown the snow out of your driveway, fed your dog while you were on vacation, and bought Girl Scout cookies from your daughter, he would be in hell today. If he had been a Peace Corpse volunteer who died of a disease contracted in a third-world country, he would be in hell today. If he had been an American President who went to war to overthrow a murderous tyrant in the Middle East, he would be in hell today.

John 3:18 tells us, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Saddam Hussein is in hell for one reason only: his faith was not in Jesus Christ. It is that simple. And if your faith is not in Jesus Christ, it won’t matter how nice you are, how many good deeds you’ve done, or how much you’ve donated to charity. It won’t matter how faithfully you’ve attended church. It won’t matter if you’ve sung in the choir or taught Sunday School. It won’t even matter if you have been the pastor. If you believe you are in any way worthy of God’s mercy, if you are trusting in anything but the blood of Jesus Christ to atone for your sin, you are utterly without hope. You are on the road to hell, just as surely if you were a genocidal dictator.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message of hope for good people. In the Gospel we do not see the good rewarded and the bad punished. The biblical Gospel is a message about and for bad people. It is the story of the Son of God who came to do what we could not: live perfectly, without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It is the story of the Lamb of God who came to be what we could not: the perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9). It is the story of the one true God, who credits the perfect righteousness of his son, Jesus Christ, to all who believe (Romans 4).

Saddam Hussein is in hell today because he did not believe that, and for no other reason. It does not matter one iota how good I have been. If I do not believe in Jesus Christ, if I am not trusting in his righteousness for my salvation, I am lost and will spend eternity in hell. If God lets me into heaven because of my own goodness, then he truly will owe Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot—and Saddam Hussein—an apology.

Posted 2007·01·05 by David Kjos
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Posted in: The Gospel · Total Depravity
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#1 || 07·01·05··22:33 || Even So...


#2 || 07·01·06··08:46 || Hannah

Very true.

#3 || 07·01·06··10:05 || Kristina

Excellent, David.

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