April 21st, 2011
12:01 AM ET
My Take: Is Judas in heaven or hell? God only knows
Editor's Note: Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com. He has written seven books and speaks across the country on a range of topics. He just turned 35 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California.
By Craig Gross, Special to CNN
I heard a news clip promoting my recent speaking engagement at a church, and they mentioned that I deal with some of "the greatest sinners of all time."
I thought to myself: Do I? Would people who are caught up in porn and sexual sin addictions consider themselves some of the greatest sinners of all time? Probably not.
Without a doubt, Judas, the biblical disciple of Jesus, is considered the greatest sinner of all time because of what he did to Jesus.
Here is the passage from Luke 22:21-22.
No surprises there. But for the one who turns him in - who turns traitor to the Son of Man - this is doomsday.
Let me tell you a little bit about what the Bible says about Judas:
He was personally chosen to be an apostle by Jesus.
He spent 3 1/2 years traveling with Jesus.
He saw all the miracles of Christ in person.
He watched as Christ healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons.
In terms of experience with Jesus, whatever you can say about Peter, James and John, you can say about Judas.
On top of all this, he handled the money, which is most of the time the most trusted one in the bunch. No one suspected that Judas would betray Jesus, which tells me he was a believer.
His life was changed.
He knew Jesus personally.
In a dark moment of his life, he made a mistake. A big one. He sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins or so. The moment he knew what he had done, he felt remorse, and he killed himself.
I am not here to debate theology. The facts are the facts. I don't think Judas was “The Mole,” like the reality show character who's there to sabotage the game from the beginning. I think he made a mistake and now has gone down as committing the biggest sin of all time.
Judas heard every message, saw every miracle, and still screwed up.
Recently, I asked on my Facebook page: "Is Judas in heaven or hell?"
The first response was:
There is a button on Facebook that I have started to love. It is called “unfriend.” I won't unfriend you because you believe differently than I do, I just don’t need more theologians as my friends on Facebook who speak with such confidence when it comes to someone's place in eternity.
A debate continues on my Facebook wall. I love how everyone is so convinced they know whether Judas is in heaven or hell.
I don't know who gets in, actually. Do I believe in heaven and hell? Yes. I believe one is dark and one is light, and they both last forever.
Belief Blog: What if there is no hell?
What is interesting to me is that in the upper room where Jesus and his disciples shared their last supper together, the 12 disciples all talked about how they were so great. Peter left the room and denied Jesus three times. Judas left the room and sold Jesus out for 30 coins.
One committed suicide, and one went on to build the church as we know it today. Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin. They both denied Jesus. But why do most people think one goes to heaven and one goes to hell?
This is not the debate Christians need to be engaged in. We don’t know. Instead of wasting our time on these types of arguments inside our little Christian world, maybe we should look inside ourselves this Easter.
It is easier to debate these issues and make speculations about others than it is to actually look at ourselves in the mirror. It is always easier to think someone else is worse off then we are.
But maybe as we approach Easter, we can be reminded that for Christians, the cross and the grave should silence all of these debates. We all fall short and deserve death, but because of what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago, we are able to have life. And I believe that where you end up, God only knows.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Judas was Jesus's best and most trusted friend. I believe Jesus asked him to make this great sacrifice to fulfill his plan. He needed him to play a part. You can't believe Jesus was God and had poor judgements in friends. This was the greatest sacrifice in history. Judas would be remembered for all eternity as a betrayer and yet he did as he was asked unselfishly because his friend who he loved and believed in requested it.
Very well said. This is more in line with what I beleive most likely happened. The found "Gospel of Judas" (if it was actually written by Judas) says this is what happened. Jesus was an ascended being and wasn't unwise, he knew what was going on, and knew that the only person he could get to obey him to betray him, was the one who was most devoted to him, and closest. Judas simply did what he was told, although it was the hardest thing he ever had to do since he loved Jesus.
He lives in Rome these days
The bible says that......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.............
The apathetic usually believe that they will make "peace" with the "Creator" in the eleventh hour. Unfortunately for them, they usually die at 10:30. How sad to be so causual about the conditions you will live under for eternity. God is justice, light and love. God allowed evil into this world to give us a choice. He wants those around Him who WANT to be there. If you choose separation in this life, He will honor that in the next – no arm twisting. If you prefer the opposite of justice, light and love, you are choosing evil, pain, and separation. It is worth considering.
Let's go back to what God's Word says when Jesus prays for his disciples: "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction, so that Scripture would be fulfilled." John 17:12 NIV
This subject is weird and sick!
Sorry you feel that way, but as for me, I would rather live as if there is a God and die to find out that ther isn't, than live as if there is no God, and die to find out that there is. You may not believe it now but someday every knee will bow before him.
It is widly believed that Judas Iscariott was a Zealot, one of a group who believed firmly that Jesus was the Messiah who would set up a new kingdom in Isreal and return her to the glory days of King David. Many believe that Judas, along with the Zealots, felt that, if pushed to the brink of death, Jesus would declare himself King, and bring about this new kingdom. The country was suffering under Roman rule, and the Zealots were tired of waiting for it to happen, so Judas embarked on a course that would lead to the opposite end than he expected. When he threw the coins back at the Pharisees, he acknowledge that he had betrayed "innocent blood". He was filled with pain and remorse indicating that he recognized the grievious sin he had committed, but only God knows if Judas asked for forgiveness. I believe that even he would have rather not been born than to bear the stigma of having betrayed Christ and delived him to certain death. Perhaps his last thought before the noose tightened around his neck was "God forgive me", and he was show mercy in his final moment. Only time will tell.
Good and evil do matter, however, just being good doesn't get you into heaven. You see, what lived inside Adolf Hitler lives inside all of us. We are all capable of the most atrocious of acts. We all have a sin nature. God is holy. He can't tolerate sin. All sin is the same to him. We are the ones who put degrees upon sin. It helps us justify our own actions. Mother Teresa was a wonderful person. However, she was still a sinner who without the saving power of Jesus Christ would have gone to hell no matter how many hungry people she fed. You see God as egotistical. I see Him as a loving God who sent His one and only Son to go through the most horrible form of execution that the world has ever known in order to save my soul. All I have to do is accept. My prayer is that one day you will accept His gift also.
I don't know were Judas is. The views in the article show a compassionate and realistic question that lacks a definitive answer. It is odd that a person's faith tends to lock them into a rigid answer and asking the question marks you (to some) as an unbeliever. Asking questions is fundamental to humans. As teacher, Jesus must have answered many interesting questions. I would like to believe God has a great sense of humor just to appreciate the questions that are asked. Add the Judas question to the list with 'how many angels dance on the head of a pin' or the hilarious 'can God create a boulder He can't lift'. Jesus and the 12 must sit around the heavenly campfire with George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman, and Gilda Radner and laugh.
So Heaven has campfires where you get to hang with dead celebs. Sweet! This is sounding better and better all the time....and totally realistic! Sign me up!
Does singular moment of weakness negate all others ?
Without the crucifiction Jesus would just be another prophet.
The Bible tells us that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God's definition of love. The most well known verse is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Was God a co-conspirator ?
Peace be with you, Jesus said. The peace, Paul said, that passes all understanding: we can not fully understand god love.
Did I miss something in this article? I didn't really see any answer to the question that was posed. The whole purpose of Christ's life wa to die a martyr for the sins of the world. If not Judas, then who would have turned him in and brought about the final phase of this prophecy? Someone had to do it. If Christ had turned himelf in, wouldn't that have been viewed as a form of suicide?
I am starting to think that the purpose for Jesus' life was to mislead a huge portion of the poeple on Earth to distract them from what is really going on and where they really need to be.
I am starting to think your are going to hell. Not everybody is going to Heaven and I hope you are one of the ones not going.
"I am starting to think that the purpose for Jesus' life was to mislead a huge portion of the poeple on Earth to distract them from what is really going on and where they really need to be"
Interesting statement. However, I think you're getting religion and being a follower of Jesus mixed up. The few words we have that we feel were actually spoken by him, albeit written down by another, say otherwise. Jesus didn't demand people to build big churches to fill up with people on a given day. Jesus told us to take care of the widows and the orphans, to take care of the sick, to visit those in prison, to treat every person we come in contact with in the same was we ourselves would want to be treated by them. That's all there is to it. Believing in him is easy, once you sift through all the stuff that man has thrown in the way.
You have deeply offended me. But that is okay. Unlike your God I am forgiving.
"Our Lord God, whether you choose to believe or not, exists", "Any true historian, from any country in the world would acknowledge that because there is the evidence. " – thanks for clearing that up. If you could send me this historical evidence that God exists that would really help clear a few things up.
"Perhaps what is needed is some devotion to trying to find out what the truth is, through your own study, of both the Bible, and history. " – I could not agree more. Look up the evidence that evolution exist while you are at it and stop holding American Science back in the Dark Ages. Take your own advice and look a little deeper for the "truth" this time.
Please provide your "proof" that evolution is the truth. Evolution has not and cannot be proven. As a scientist, I have spent many years researching the science behind evolution, as I want to know the truth as well. The basis of the theory of evolution is as follows: if all of the materials to form a protein (the most basic component of DNA) are present in the environment, they will bond together to form a protein. Multiple proteins will hypothetically then bond together in an extremely complex structure that dictates an organism's formation. This most basic idea cannot be recreated and therefore is an unjust assumption. If one simple protein (there are millions of proteins in 1 single strand of DNA) cannot form on its own, how could such a complex form as a cell form on its own? Contrary to popular opinion, there is actually more proof that the events in the Bible actually took place than there is proof that evolution is even possible, much less likely. Science is worthless unless scientists are willing to accept the results and follow the proof wherever it may lead.
Anon, clearly you are not a scientist. I agree with you in one sense though: the greatest mystery (and one of the few left) is that "moment" that life began. That is the only true mystery of the universe left and what it all boils down to. If you would like to have a non-biblical, spiritual discussion of that I would welcome it. You are correct, that has not been replicated....yet. But, I have much more reason to place my faith in science, that we will eventually find the answer, than I do these ridiculous myths. The fact that you, as a scientist, have seen more evidence for biblical events than for evolution is laughable. If you have truly studied it, you cannot deny the fossil evidence that most (okay – all) species on Earth can be traced back to common ancestors. You must know about the evidence of evolution that we have seen just in the few hundred years that we have been aware of it (ex. the moths in England that changed from white to gray/black after the Industrial Revolution)..
The Jesus "theory" is just a plausible as the "ancient alien theory"... but the difference is the ancient alien theory is based on more archeological fact than the Jesus "theory"... Judas was a malevalent alien.. Jesus was benavelent alien.. Jesus used his "power" (really just far advanced medical and molecular manipulative abilities and know how) to help ppl..
What law says that extremism and satire become indistinguishable?
so my belief in aliens providing technologies to early man is more extreme than a mysterious being in the heavens that send ppl to eternal burning, pain and suffering in the afterlife is extreme? sounds one in the same to me..
IMO, ancient alien theory is far more plausible than anything religion has come up with.
Actually, I'm saying they both sound silly, but specifically, if it's not satire, then how do you back this up?
"...the ancient alien theory is based on more archeological fact than..."
I like you nominus.. there is no archeological evidence other than a book written by man for Jesus, however, there are the mayan, egyptian, nazca reliefs that show curiously dressed "beings" in what appear to be full bodied suits much like astronauts of our time, there is evidence in ancient Indian art and literature (India Indians, not native americans) and cave paintings that depict strange looking beings on cave walls.. now i am not saying that this is conclusive evidence but even the "good book" (esp Job) that depict curious events and physical anomolies surrounding the appearence on "angels" that are a lot like when the space shuttle enters the atmosphere... and who wrestles with an angel, no one.. but one could wrestle with a being... say an alien?
And who, exactly, created the aliens?? When will people understand that God is omnipotent, all powerful, and created us all and everything else. Even scientists are finding that – trying to explain the existance of life going back to the "big bang" that the dust had to come from somewhere!
Those who believe that everything came from NOTHING have a greater faith than I do. Remember – NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING. The songwriter had it right.
the big bang was as a result of a recycling of the universe... stuff just exists.. can you not come to grips with that? Why is jupiter in the solar system? same reason everything else is in the universe.. it has been here FOREVER... there is not some "magical" finger that pushes stuff around... hello? Why does there have to be a conclusive answer for everything?? The simple fact is that if matter can neither be created or destroyed in a normal chemical reaction than how does the "god" come up with something out of nothing... remember matter CANNOT be CREATED or DESTROYED, so if this god follows the normal physics and chemistry than it could not have created the universe either... it just exists b/c it exists..
Geez stop conveniently ignoring facts for your own sake of argument, expecially facts of 'THE BOOK' (the Bible, duh). Simple as this, you take your own life, you go to hell. Thats word in the book (well maybe except to some Eastern Orthodoxy, but still). Simple. Now, with that said, not ONLY did Judas commit one of the ultimate sins (suicide), but he SCREWED OVER the Son of GOD! (not 'Son of Man' – Quit playing with that by the way). So add that bit of dressing on top of the goose HE COOKED HIMSELF BY [ HANGING HIMSELF I THINK? ] and you have a first class ticket to Hell. It's not up for debate or speculation. I'm 24, raised Southern Baptist, but it's stupid topics of discussions like these that had caused me and countless others to challenge my faith sometimes and IMO you too are sinning. Through 24 years of living all I can TRULY say for sure now is that I KNOW there is a GOD and I always will, but his role and the role of others keep changing every few decades or so, before you know they are going to be proposed GAY biblical icons and then I'm through with Christianity all together. I don't mind gays, that's their choice between them and God, but one thing I'm sure of : the more and more "Liberal" this world gets, everyone and every group is going to want apiece of God and history 'til eventually someone is going to "Liberate" us FROM God (Already having some try) and when that happens.... Wel,l I guess thats when one of those asteroids is gonna smack that crap outta us.
but it's stupid topics of discussions like these that had caused me and countless others to challenge my faith sometimes and IMO you too are sinning'
Asking questions is a sin?
Lighten up Francis
What verse in the Bible says if you kill yourself you are absolutely going to Hell?
You poor, brainwashed young man....
Jesus called himself the Son of Man. It's right there in that book you claim to have read - look it up.
Jesus was God incarnate and, as such, had all of the powers of God at his disposal. Jesus cold have removed himself from the cross with such powers (hard to believe that the powers which created the universe could not remove a nail from a piece of wood). Since Jesus chose not to save himself from death, and it was a conscious decision to die, mind you, then we can take that one step further and say that Jesus committed suicide. As such, since you insist that everyone who commits suicide is in Hell, then we can take it to be that Jesus is in Hell, too. Imagine him and Hitler looking at each other and asking, "How the heck did we end up Here?"
Daniel, please read Mark 8:38 for a little clarification regard the Son of Man.
WHY WOULD HE BE IN HELL BECAUSE THAT WAS THE DESTINY HE WAS GIVEN AND HE DIDNT ASK FOR IT?? THAT WOULD BE UNFAIR TO HIM SINCE HIS DESTINY WAS TO BE PART OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE CHRIST TRIBULATION...I THINK HE IS NEITHER IN HELL OR HEAVEN...HE CAN REACH BOTH LIKE THE SUN, HE BURNS FOR THE DAY AND COOLS OFF AT NIGHT IN PARADISE...
If it is true that Jesus died for our sins and we are all forgiven, then Judas should be in Heaven. He felt such remorse that he took his own life. The magnitud of the sin is irrelevant if in deed someone truly repents. I don't believe there is hell, my brother passed away and he came to me while I slept and he showed me. The true hell is what we live day to day with the pain of betrayal or the guilt of having hurt someone; or even worse, not being able to change the world so no one will suffer.
John 12:47 [Jesus speaking]: "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." Chris I enjoyed your article. For me it was a reminder that we are not to judge.
Jesus bore all that person's sins, including suicide. If Jesus bore that person's sins on the cross 2000 years ago, and if suicide was not covered, then the Christian was never saved in the first place and the one sin of suicide is able to undo the entire work of the cross of Christ. This cannot be. Jesus either saves completely or he does not.
Ryan...How can he ask for forgivness if he is dead? I've seen so many misconceptions from Christians and non-christians. There is no magic wand that saves u on ur death bed or right before instant of death. No....Christians are to remain strong since the day they turned from their evil ways repenting from their sins and personally professed to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Once we do that we are walking in his spirit and clean from sin. But if i don't do it like that and I have one sin in me when I die. I'm not going to Heaven. No Sin can enter heaven. God gave us life on this earth to have eternal life in heaven. By us taking our own life ends everything.
Finally! Thank You for a great article! For us to sit here and make such authoritative statements on what happens after we die...well that would put us on the same level as being God, no? Take a step back people and try some humble pie.
Sometimes God influences people to speak the truth!
Is that God, the devil, or just psychosis?
Oh, good thinking NORMMMM. Seems that the opposite would also mbe true – Sometimes God influences people to speak the untruth! You can't have it both ways.
"Sometimes God influences people to speak the truth!"
Doesn't the devil also influence to speak what they believe is the truth, but is actually a lie? How do you ever know which is which?
Where is the "Like" button!
All these questions, suppositions and mysteries..... Everyone passes away.... And when you do pass away...
Then you will know the answer... Think of it in this manner.... Why live 60 or 80 years then return to dust?
No all regenerates, no energy is lost... you cant destroy life...life goes on... And what is at the other end
of life is a mystery.... But I tell you this...Why would someone make miracles that no one else could do.
and then lose his life when there is no purpose.... Put yourself in his place... Why would you go
through all the pain and suffering .? BECAUSE HE KNEW THE AFTERLIFE.... He knew there is more to
life than living so many years on earth. So, you can be guaranteed that when we all pass on... we go somewhere
our counsciousness...or soul departs earth and goes where it is supposed to go.. in another dimension where
THERE IS A HELL AND A HEAVEN,,,,Where YOU will go after you die... will depend on how GOOD YOU WERE.
OR HOW BAD YOU WERE. It is simple when you die... you go to this other side and this other side has rules
BAD you do to a place called HELL, Good you go to where HE went after he was crucified and then resurrected.
Think about it! Why would he allow himself to die? Because he was in the KNOW! He knew where he was
going and knew that all others that die go to the same place. This other dimension called spirit world called HEAVEN..
or Hell... I for one would not DIE for a cause if I did not know what I am doing... HE KNEW WHAT COMES AFTER
IN THE AFTERLIFE... otherwise it would not have made any sense to die for nothing!!!
Believe it in the afterlife there is a place in the spirit world called HELL and HEAVEN.... Otherwise it makes absolutely
no sense to think otherwise... I WOULD NOT DIE FOR NO REASON, WOULD YOU????
You are making assumptions that Jesus existed (questionable) and that he performed miracles (!? – I know "the bible told you so") and using that to follow "reason" to the conclusion that there MUST be an afterlife? Wow!?
Norm, I respect your faith, but he died because a bunch of threatened people grabbed his ass and crucified him like they did on a regular basis back then. Assuming he ever lived, because the Bible was written by people hundreds of years after the event, all with their own agenda, just like all of the people writing here.
Ever wonder what has happened to all those that died over all the years that never heard of your god and jesus ?
You would first have to convince me that such a person ever existed and did anything that people claim he did. After that we can discuss how idiotic his actions were.
Normmm, salvation cannot be earned. You don't go to heaven by doing good works. You are saved by the Gift of God, by believing in Jesus and entering through His righteousness. However, all of our works will be tested, and whatever remains righteous will be rewarded. For many years I believed, like you, that it was a matter of whether I did more good than evil to be saved... until I discovered otherwise. Please see Galatians 2:16 for an example.
Sorry NORMMMM, gotta disagree with you on one point. Too many people hold the same belief that you do, i.e "Where YOU will go after you die... will depend on how GOOD YOU WERE. OR HOW BAD YOU WERE". No, NORMMMM, where you go depends solely on whether or not you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and surrendered your life to Him. None of us are good enough no matter what we do. Remember the Bible says that "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)". That is why Jesus came here – to save us -and by accepting Hm and His sacrifice on our behalf, we exchange our filthy rags for His righteouness. When God looks at a life surrendered to Jesus he no longer sees our sinfulness, but Christ righteousness covering us. Those who believe that we can someday go to heaven on the basis of our own merit and "good works" are sadly mistaken. God honoring good works only happen after a heart and mind are surrendered and transformed by the saving grace of our Lord.
I agree, but also realize that HE was good all his life to set the example for manking....Realize that
HE had not a molecule of evil in HIM... Then realize that HE only was without a blemish giving
us an example of how to be good in life to inherit the rewards...
Jesus was good all his life.... it stands to reason that good people follow HIS example throughout their lives.
God sees all things... If you are Good in life as HE was then ONE falls automatically in HIS grace and
so you can be assured to get the rewards HE promised. When you lead a GOOD life HE enters that life
and influences that life. To be GOOD is to FALL as you say in HIS grace. To be EVIL is to fall in
to other guy wishes...
So if you are good in life, you follow the example that Jesus said you should follow and will
enter in HIS rewards.. Not to argue with anyone, just telling the truth as it should be...