23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. — Romans 3:23
by Josh Lynn
West Franklin Campus
“Based on your religion, explain why a serial killer like Jeffery Dahmer could go to heaven when a figure of peace and justice like Gandhi would go to hell?”
I have heard this or similar questions time and time again. One of the most confusing, infuriating, seemingly inconsistent things for people outside of the Christian faith is the question of why God would offer salvation to the “worst” of us and allow the “best” of us to be sent to hell. I won’t speculate on the eternal home of either Dahmer or Gandhi, but the question raised is an excellent on-ramp for gospel conversations.
Paul tells us in Romans that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. That includes our sweetest family members, the nicest person we ever met, and historic figures who inspire us to action, justice, peace and joy. On its face, this is terrible news. None of us are worthy to stand in the presence of God. We all fall short of His glory—even the person you admire most and the person who makes your blood boil. We all fail the test. Even worse news, as Paul reminds us in Romans 6:23, is that the wages of sin is death. We have all earned a wage for the sum of all of our works on earth—and that wage owed us is death. Great.
However, the gospel news is that our standard of righteousness is NOT what we do or what we abstain from. We all fail that test. The standard for righteousness comes only through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23). It is not for us to know whether or not Jeffrey Dahmer’s apparent conversion and profession of faith in Jesus was genuine—but we can know that the only way we can access righteousness, eternal life and God’s presence is through the work and blood of Jesus. Regardless of their past, the work of Jesus can cover anyone, anywhere, and at any time in their life.
We have all fallen short. Let’s point everyone to the righteousness which comes only through faith in Jesus.
- Does it make you uncomfortable to know that Jesus offers forgiveness to someone the culture and world labels as unforgiveable?
- Does it make you uncomfortable to realize that people who have good morals and actions are not saved on their own merit?
- Allow some time in prayer to reflect on the fact that you have fallen short of the glory of God. Allow time in prayer to reflect on the fact that it is only through faith in Jesus that you are in right standing with God.
- Who in your life needs to be reminded of this message—or hear it for the first time?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.