why does a loving god send people to hell
This article is a slightly adapted version of a chapter in Bill s recently published book Seven Pressing Questions: Addressing Critical Challenges to Christian Faith (Minneapolis: NextStep Resources, 2015). I just don t get it. You Christians talk an awful lot about the love of God, and then you tell me that if I don t believe in Jesus I will go to hell, a place of eternal torment? What kind of God are you talking about? He seems to be a moral monster. Why can t you just stick to the message of Jesus, who accepted everybody tax collectors and prostitutes and who said, Don t judge, lest you be judged? What s the deal? Why Believe in Hell? The doctrine of hell what are we to make of it? Even among Christians the subject of hell is a thorny one and rightly so. It s not something we should take lightly, or talk about too easily; this is serious stuff. Frankly, I wish I didn t have to address this topic, a topic that can so quickly offend our moral sensibilities. So why do Christians insist on talking about hell? Why has the doctrine of the eternal punishment of those who stand before God apart from Christ been a part of the understanding of almost all Bible-believing Christians throughout church history? The simple answer is that Christians are bound by the teaching of Jesus. Jesus Teaching on Hell It is our Lord Jesus who, above all, forces us to affirm the dreadful truth that those who stand alone before God as sinners on the day of judgment will face condemnation into a state of eternal punishment called hell.
To the religious hypocrites, Jesus declared, You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matt. 23:33). Those rejected as subjects of the kingdom, Jesus said, will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12
). Stressing the seriousness of sin, Jesus urged, If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out (Mark 9:43; cf. Matt. 18:8). It s a place where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched, He said (Mark 9:48). On that day of judgment, Jesus says that those who failed to respond to Him through His humble brothers will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matt. 25:46). Though it is often ridiculed as a primitive remnant of a medieval age, this doctrine of the eternal punishment of sinners is rooted firmly in the teaching of Jesus Himself. He spoke of hell more than He spoke of heaven. In fact, Jesus, who more than anyone reveals the love of God to the world, spoke more about hell than any other person in the Bible.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot be faithful to our Lord and not speak of this stark reality. The Apostles Teaching on Hell The apostolic witness of the New Testament echoes Jesus weighty words on this topic. Paul speaks of a time of wrath and anger awaiting those who reject the truth (Rom. 2:8). He declares that those who do not obey the gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9). Jude presents the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 1:7). The Bible doesn t say that a loving God sends anyone to hell, and yet they do go to hell. But they don t go there because God sends them; it s the only place for those who have rejected Christ and have no capacity for God whatsoever. When you say that He s a loving God, you ve only described one part of God. God also is righteous and just and holy. And if you think that you can violate all the different attributes of God and then depend on His love to save you, you re entirely wrong. Because you cannot insult and blaspheme against God. He s told us that we re sinners and cannot come into His presence, that we do not seek after God, that we re alienated from Him.
Do you think He s going to bring you into His presence when you have ignored Him and turned your back upon Him? No. He is a holy God. He had to give His Son to die on for our sins, and if you re going to reject the only way He could work out for your salvation then you must understand that this is the place for you. Don t say that a loving God sends people to hell. Say that there is a holy God, and when you do not meet His standard you cannot go into His heaven where He is. That ought to be very obvious to you. In your home I m sure that you have a standard and there are certain people that you would not let come in. God does the same thing. You have to meet His standard if you re going to heaven. There s only one place for the lost who have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and that s with the devil and his demons. Don t say that a loving God is going to send you to hell - He s not. The thing that s going to send you to hell is that you re a sinner and you don t want to admit it. That s the problem with the human family. It s a self will, a desire to want to go their way. Yet God has provided a way for you to come. And any time you want to make the turn, a loving God will save you. Taken from (used by permission).
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