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‘If God Is Loving, Why Does He Send People To Hell?

'If God Is Loving, Why Does He Send People To Hell?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Some our deepest longings, played out in box office hits, call for swift justice against wrongdoing. Yet, our society is built on the foundation of the rule of law and justice for all — the very antithesis of this spirit of vigilantism. We go to great lengths to ensure even criminals receive equal protection. We settle for procedural justice, knowing it isn’t perfect, while longing for a primitive yet perfect justice, where the criminal meaningfully pays for the wrongs he committed.

Yet, who among us is capable of determining and executing this perfect justice? We reject vigilantism in real life because it is private, unaccountable and quickly corrupted. We fall back to a legal system built on procedure, and vicariously enjoy our desire for vengeance on the movie screen.

Must we always choose between the two? Is there any hope for real justice in the world?

God has revealed Himself as an avenging God (Nahum 1). We recoil at the thought, but the omniscient, holy God is the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice. We are conflicted, because we know this vengeful God can finally judge evil — but we also know that puts us in jeopardy, because we, too, have done evil. So we imagine that God is like us, that He hates the things we hate, and will put the Hilters and Stalins and serial killers of the world in hell … but not people like you and me.

But what kind of God is that? The sort of God who is partial and plays favorites isn’t one to trust.

Because God is perfectly and always good, He isn’t partial; He must put an end to sin, and all sinners, for His justice to be perfect. Therefore, a good God must be a God who judges all evil—including the evil in me. If real justice is what we seek from God, the irony is that very goodness is what we can least endure about Him in our own lives, because He demands perfection.

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And in Jesus Christ, the God of towering, unimpeachable and unbending justice shows mercy to any and all sinners who bow their head and put their faith in Him.

What is our situation (Romans 3:10-20)?

'If God Is Loving, Why Does He Send People To Hell?In a word, bad. Everyone is in trouble—separated from God. We are spiritually condemned. We are characterized by faithlessness, unrighteousness, sin and rejection of God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans makes it clear that we’re depraved. We have rejected God.

You have a problem with justice—or, perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that justice has a problem with you. If you don’t understand this, you won’t understand Jesus’ claims.

Paul’s indictment is also aimed at you. People have two defenses they tend to make against the accusation that they are sinner—either: “I’m not that bad,” or “God isn’t really that good.” The Bible says you are, in fact, that bad. The human reaction to these truths might be a resolve to “do better,” but Paul sweeps that hope away. No one can make themselves righteous.

God is holy—He does not just fudge to get His children out of trouble. The perfect Judge will condemn sin, including yours and mine.

Where does that leave you?

How can we be saved from this Judge (Romans 3:21-26)?

Your greatest need is for God to declare you righteous, and Paul declares that need can be met. God’s throne is built on righteousness and justice; this demands our sin to be dealt with.

How can He show mercy to the guilty?

God showed mercy and provided Christ to prove His commitment to justice. We often act on a presupposition that we deserve to be forgiven. But if you understand who this God is, you know this isn’t the case. God owes you nothing.

Christ’s death was an atoning sacrifice. Jesus took God’s wrath on our behalf, and God punished all our iniquities. This means the justice that demanded our death now pleads our case. God’s sword is no longer raised to strike us, but rather, to defend us.

This salvation is for all who will come (Rom. 3:26). It’s not something you work for or earn; it is a free gift by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). You must reject any notion that you play a role in your salvation. It is all by faith alone, in Christ alone, by His grace alone.

So, why would God send people to hell?

The world says, “How can God be love and send anyone to hell?” But heaven says, “How can God be just and allow anyone into heaven?”

The one who minimizes the gravity of hell minimizes the gravity of the cross. If hell isn’t real, Jesus was all bluster. If hell isn’t real, we ought to say, “Give it a rest, Jesus. We all know you’re just being metaphorical.” But not even one door in hell is found the word “exit.”

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The fact that God is love doesn’t mean there is no hell. It means that if God abides in you and you in Him, there will be no hell for you.

Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven during His three year ministry (Matthew 13:41-50; Mark 9:43-49; Luke 16:19-31, etc.).  And the Bible isn’t sentimental about heaven and hell—not hesitant, not mushy. The message is clear and alarming (Isaiah 65:13-15).

All sin costs. It is very easy to go to hell. Simply do nothing. Or lots of things. Either way. Part of our sin is that it blocks out a feeling of sin. The “little” sins of everyday life will send us to eternal hell. The Quran says that God sends bad people to hell. The Bible says that, at the cross, God went to hell for bad people (Galatians 3:13). If God let every person run head-long into hell, He would still be just, and His reputation would remain untarnished.

'If God Is Loving, Why Does He Send People To Hell?

Image source: Pixabay.com

The wages of sin cost God His Son and Christ His life. It costs believers repentance and unbelievers hell. Sin always costs. The next time you think you’re a good person, remember that God had to kill His Son to keep you out of hell. God says the worst about me (I deserve hell) & the best (I am loved & justified), so what you say about me is held in this perspective.

There are many paths to hell, but only one way to heaven. If everyone escapes hell and goes to heaven without trusting Christ alone, then Jesus was just wasting his time. Salvation is not just getting man out of hell and into heaven, but getting God out of heaven and into man.

Why, then, is it that some people are more sad by how many people unfollowed them on Instagram and Twitter and unfriended them on Facebook than by how many unbelievers went to hell today?

And if, at your church, you never hear about the righteous wrath of God, unleashed either at the cross or in hell, run.

The word of Christ’s finished work changed me, rescuing me from sin, hell, shame, depression and suicide. No church marketing gimmick can do that.  If we really believed in hell, our teaching, preaching and evangelism would be far more convincing.

One of the most loving and merciful things Jesus did was preach about hell. Unless you believe in hell, you will never know how much Jesus loves you. Hell is full of sincere, religious people, never born again, and heaven is full of immoral people who repented and believed in Christ.

Friend, if we didn’t wake up in hell today, we should be dancing. If we don’t know we deserve hell, we don’t know Christ.

This is why the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

“When men talk of a little hell it’s because they think they have only a little sin and believe in a little Savior.”

God is good, and He’s a refuge to everyone who trusts in Him. But because He is good, He will also judge those who oppose Him to the bitter end. The cross is proof of that. On the day you appear before God, He will be good. The only question is what His verdict on you will be. Trust in God, trust in His goodness, and find Him to be good to you—all through Jesus Christ.

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19 comments

  1. Awesome article! We must remember, God does not send anyone to hell, we make that choice for ourselves by rejecting Him. Thank you for speaking the truth.

  2. A friend of mine brought it up the other day.
    This is tough to argue with:
    A reward for the righteous, a punishment for the wicked and a God in heaven.

  3. It is hard to describe in words how amazing it was to read your article. I have heard this message before at my church and I know it and believe it fully, but it still brought tears to my eyes because I have never heard or read it outside of my church. It brings me joy to see the Spirit of God awakening and reviving the Church, his Bride; He is moving like fire and wind across this nation. Thank God for your courage! ❤️

  4. How can you call God just? God is not just at all…not even close. The main reason God cannot be called just (based on your particular conservative evangelical world view) is that the punishment (eternal torture in hell) does not fit the crime. Not even close. If the punishment fit the crime, then the most God could do would be to send someone to hell for the span of the time they spent on earth. That would surely teach someone. But no, you go to hell for eternity. The torture never ends…ever!! Do you know how cruel that sounds?? Have you ever considered this? Also, God apparently couldn’t care less about the type of sins committed. Tell a lie, torture in hell for eternity. Torture and kill 30 people, same sentence.

    Not to mention any suffering endured by the person while on earth…you know that life on earth for many people can be a living hell, right? Many people suffer more than enough in this life and then you say…the suffering is just beginning!! Please…spare me this nonsense. There are moral and immoral ways to live, but these were not handed down by some vindictive God on high. Humans have come to a general consensus on what is moral and immoral based on logic and reasoning.

    • Sean,

      A reasoning person would repent for their immoralities. With repentance comes forgiveness. Jesus is your advocate. It’s hard for me to tell if you believe in God, but if you don’t, you have a lot of emotion about something you don’t believe in. God is not vindictive, he is loving and patient. Brother, I pray that you will let go of your pain and seek God with humility. God is love. I can see you are a good person. Please try to look past the deception of this world and seek God with the same patience and forgiveness he offers you. Good luck brother.

      • Mark,

        What immoralities to I need to repent from? God is not loving and patient…read the Bible and you’ll see how unloving and impatient God is. Read the newspaper of horrors that happen across the globe and a daily basis and then tell me about this loving God.

        No, I don’t believe in God. I used to, but I arrived at atheism because it makes the most sense. I no longer have to attempt to reconcile the dysfunction and suffering I see and experience in the world with a good, loving, all-knowing God. The world makes so much more sense to me now than it ever did as a Christian. I feel atheism to my core…I feel it in my bones. I feel it in a way I never felt Christianity. I am so glad to be an atheist…I love it actually. As a Christian, I was always carrying around guilt and shame. I could never live the Christian life right. Some will then say, “well that’s why there’s grace!” Or, “that’s why God sent Jesus to die for your sins!” Of course the vicarious redemption through the brutal killing of a Jewish rabbi over 2,000 years ago never really made sense to me either. The whole thing is just weird. God could have just chosen to forgive us (it never made sense why God was so put off by his own creation btw) without killing someone, but this God was invented by an ancient culture, so it’s not surprising there needed to be a sacrifice to please this God.

        Anyway, I probably have so much emotion about it because being indoctrinated with Christianity, specifically evangelical Christianity, while growing up damaged me. It gave me a worldview that I knew, even back then, really didn’t make sense. I knew this in the back of my mind, but I never gave myself permission to really look into it and question it until I became an adult and moved away from home. I’ve been seeking the truth for the past 8 years of adulthood and I feel that I’ve found the truth…even though it might not be a pleasant truth (i.e. to live is to suffer. Or, there is no inherent meaning to our existence…the universe doesn’t need humans to exist). I’m glad that Christianity gives your life meaning and purpose, I really am. However, Christianity never did that for me and I am enjoying life so much more these days without religion.

        • Hi Sean,

          I don’t know if you will read this, but the holy spirit has been encouraging me to respond to you again, even though I am at a loss to respond to some of your comments. I have been brought to tears more than once as I consider how your experience with organized religion has damaged you. I am an older man, but I am a young Christian, and I have found that I cannot trust anyone but myself and close friends to help me learn Biblical principles. One of the most unlikely resources was a book that my mother gave to me to read to my children called the “Step-by-step Bible” by V. Gilbert Beers. I am amazed by how much I have learned myself, let alone how my children have benefited by it.
          I say that I am a young Christian, but I was raised Catholic, and the problems with that religion are well-known. When I became an adult, I stopped going to church, but I could feel the holy spirit and I knew that God was out there. Forward twenty years to a second marriage and 5 children later, and I have finally found faith and feel I can begin to understand and accept the Christian God.
          Many people reach a point in their life where they have done something that they can’t forgive themselves for, and that clarifies the meaning of Christ, forgiveness and Grace for them. You seem to have ironically found peace through self-forgiveness or by moral relativism. That is no small feat in my opinion. Guilt and regret are not of God. Forgiveness and redemption are. God is not vindictive, he is like any father that must deal out punishment when his rules are broken in a way that will ultimately harm his children. The punishment is not dealt with satisfaction, but something akin to sorrow.
          God is not responsible for the evils of this world. Someone has misinformed you about this. God gave us free will, and he allows us to use it, even when it is something he doesn’t want. I question the value of a life without free will, and I honestly don’t see any purpose in that type of life. I would ask you why you allow the world to be like it is, and what you are doing to change it. If you are familiar with the Bible you would point out many examples where God has turned the wickedness of men around to the benefit of those with faith (The stories of Joseph and Moses are good examples).
          I do not know why blood sacrifice of an innocent is necessary in Judaism, but you know that Christ ended that practice. The first sacrifice was the animals that were killed to clothe Adam and Eve, and obviously Christ was the last sacrifice. As you mentioned, he died to provide the “Grace” your imperfection required as a chance to live with him in heaven.
          Jesus told us how to reach heaven — love the lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. There is some evidence that you don’t even need to be baptized or believe in Christ. I believe it was Paul that said something to the effect of — God is love. If a man loves, he shows that God lives in him, and that his teaching is written on his heart, even though he may have never heard the word of God. Paul realized that Jesus died for the gentiles too, not just the Jews. He also said that you are better off never hearing the word, than to hear it and reject it. I would reiterate that I don’t think you have heard the word properly. I bought another book by Gilbert Beers a couple days ago that has many reasonable answers to the questions you have been asking. It’s called “What everyone should know about the bible.”
          I certainly agree with you that many things in the Bible don’t make sense to us, but I don’t agree with many of the things you claim that the Bible shows us. The Bible is replete with examples of God forgiving men when they repent. If you are familiar with the Bible, I’m sure a couple of examples will come to mind immediately. As a student of the Bible, you know that it also says that God’s thoughts are beyond our thoughts and his morality is beyond ours. You can’t judge the timeless creator of the universe by man’s morality. The morality of men was created to govern us in this life. The bible also says that the righteousness of men is like bloody menstrual cloths in the eyes of God. That is meant to indicate how much lower our sense of justice and morality is compared to the wisdom of God.
          Please, I hope you can tell I am trying to say this to you with humility, and I fully respect your beliefs. From your post I can see that you are an intelligent and eloquent writer, and you have a powerful and convincing testimony of atheism. I just feel that it could be part of your journey back to faith. I would like to imagine that if you continue to seek the lord, some day you will have a testimony of that new journey, and you will be able to help and inspire people who have had experiences like yours. I pray that you will seek the truth about the Father of forgiveness and redemption. My path was a long one too. Read that book by Beers if you have the inclination. Even if God doesn’t exist, you’ll have a better understanding of how some other Christians see God, and how they try to explain all those things that don’t make sense. I wish you the best of everything in this life.

        • I found one point particularly reminiscent of one experience my wife had, relative to the issue of theodicy you bring up. While in philosophy class at university, the prof there made an aside about “You wouldn’t believe in God if you knew someone who went through bone cancer.” I found that interesting, because my wife’s mother had just died of bone cancer a few year before, after suffering for a dozen years – much longer than the prof’s un-named significant other – and would thereafter lose a beloved step mother who finished raising her after her mother died. What is interesting is that the exact same event had precisely the opposite effect on two different people.

          I am confused, as well, why you are concerned about suffering. If you are, as you maintain, a materialist, then whatever is, is right. End of story. Your objection to the existence of evil is merely personal preference, and nothing more.

          Sadly, what I seem to read between the lines is that somewhere it **appears** you grew up in a legalistic or dysfunctional home that at least gave a “hat tip” to Christianity, and then conflated that “Christianity” with God. That is conjecture, but your commend that you are so happy to be an atheist seems, to me, to speak volumes. Otherwise, there is no reason to be happy or sad, either way that you are an atheist.

          But I will admit, I am much happier since I chucked – to use your words – “religion,” and replaced it with a personal relationship with a risen Christ.

  5. The word hell is an English interpretation of the Hebrew word sheol, found in the Old Testament, and the Greek word Hades, found in the new testament, meaning mans common grave, not hell. Was Jesus sent to hell when he died. No, he was in Hades, or the grave.

    • I’m surprised that no one has commented on this truth. It is critical that we analyse the meaning of words within the context of the time written. Truth: We will ALL end up in the grave.

      • The concept of hell evolved over time. The Jews didn’t believe in a specific Devil as the Lord of Hell – that’s a Christian development and may have been an apocalyptic development that derived from the group that Jesus emerged from. Hell is a great scare tactic that Christians have been using to lord over people for centuries to keep folks in line.

        I believe in a Source that I’ll refer to as God for the sake of argument but my God is not the same as the very human one portrayed in the OT.

  6. Wow, the article was inspiring and the comments were heartfelt and direct. Fact is we are in a forge and our spirits are being shaped and tested by a being far superior then we. Believe in Christ and what He accomplished and “it is finished”, go it alone and that is where you shall remain, forever. Call it what you will, it is better to have existed and had the opportunity to receive a “spiritual body” to inhabit for eternity than to never had existed at all. God told us what the rules are, they’re like the laws of physics to the natural realm, inescapable; Jesus showed us what it is to be perfect in God’s eyes, and how to achieve it through Him. “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name (Yahashua, salvation), He gave the right to become children of God, children born not of blood, nor will of the flesh, nor will of man, but born of God.…”

  7. In all honesty, God has only appointed Satan to hell. We, on the other hand will send ourselves to heaven by our obedience or to hell by our rebellion.

    “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭KJV‬‬

  8. God does not send people to hell.They go by their own choice.

  9. A lot of people do not believe in Hell because they say the punishment does not fit the crime. In fact, I heard a story about a Muslim taxi driver in Iran telling his Christian passenger that when he went to be judged, he could escape Hell by having enough good deeds to outweigh a feather – as this is the Muslim standard. To this the Christian passenger posed a question. “Sir,” he asked, “if I were to hit you, what would you do?” The taxi driver laughed and replied, “Throw you out of my cab!”
    The Christian continued, “And if on the street, I were to hit a police officer, what would he do?” The taxi driver said, “You would be arrested!” Then Christian nodded and asked, “If I went to court and stuck the judge…?” The taxi driver stopped laughing and replied seriously, “You would be in a lot of trouble.” The Christian was quiet, then asked. “If I could go to the King, and hit him, what would happen?” The taxi driver looked astonished and declared, “You would surely die!”

    The moral is that the action (hitting a man) is the same in case every case, but the power and honor of the man offended determines the punishment. To offend the Lord of Lords, the King of the Universe, the infinite and eternal One, is to warrant an infinite and eternal punishment.

    Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He became man to bear the sin of your offense and to die and rise again according to the Scriptures. If you believe in Him, and repent of your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you. Anyone who believes in Him will never be judged but has passed from death to life.

  10. TheChristianFilter

    Couldn’t pass this one up. Hell, and the belief that God will send individuals to a place of ETERNAL,NEVER CEASING torment is a concept formulated by our adversary the Devil who seems to always want to profane our creator God and cause anyone he can to think errantly about the truth.
    If there is a little bastion somewhere of Godless individuals who are eternally in torment, cursing God, then when is sin ever eradicated? So right there we have to pause. The unrighteous will be cast into the Lake of Fire and destroyed. Like dry sticks and stubble they will be consumed and when there is no more fuel to be consumed the fire will go out. A perpetual fire contradicts the very physical laws of God’s creation. Our sun will burn out. A campfire will burn out. A match will burn out. Whenever the fuel is completely consumed the flames cease. Sin is to be completely eradicated. God is just and righteous.

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