Many people believe that as long as they don't commit a major sin or crime while on earth, they will go to heaven when they die.
Pastor J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, has bad news for these people: They're wrong.
On his March 20 blog, the 43-year-old megachurch pastor said hell, not heaven, is everyone's default destination.
Greear said although "God created us for heaven ... the rebellion of the human race, in which we are all participating, has destined us for hell."
The Southern Baptist pastor said as described in Revelation 21:8 (ESV) those who are destined for hell are not only the "really bad guys" but also those who could be found in church: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
Greear described the cowardly as "those who would never stand for Jesus in front of their friends" while the faithless are "those who went to church but never really trusted God enough to obey him with their relationships or their money."
The idolaters, he said, are "those who wouldn't put God first in their lives" while the liars are "those who came to church but whose submission to God was not sincere."
He said all of these people are deserving of hell, which is described in the Bible as a place of fire, burning sulfur and eternal death.
Greear noted that some people may think that hell may just be metaphorical, not literal.
"But even if these things are symbols, whatever they are pointing to is unspeakably awful," he said. "And, we have to assume hell is eternal, because the same word that is used for 'everlasting life' is used for 'everlasting death.'"
According to the latest Pew Research Center study, more Americans believe in heaven than in hell, with 72 percent believing in heaven and 58 percent believing in hell.
Compared with people belonging to other faiths and those with no faith, U.S. Christians are more likely to believe in both heaven and hell, the study says.