How Can a Loving God Send Someone to Hell?
One of the biggest problems that people who don’t know God have with Him is figuring out how a loving God can send anyone to hell. Hell is supposed to be this terrible place of eternal fire and weeping and gnashing of teeth. How can a God send people He claims to love to that extreme agony?
For some people, the idea that God would even create such a place brings into question His goodness. In their minds, if God is all-loving, then He could never create a place that was so full of all this pain and suffering. I might agree with this assumption. However, I think that we would need to first look at what hell really is.
What is Hell?
One common definition of hell is that it’s a place of eternal separation from God. While this is not specifically stated like this in the Bible, there are passages that lead us to this view. Particularly the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). The goats that didn’t love others are told to depart from God to go to the eternal fire prepared for the devil.
The sheep, in turn, inherit eternal life. Jesus is the life and gives us abundant life (John 14:6, 10:10). The wages of those who don’t come to Jesus is death (Romans 6:23). Those that go to heaven come to God; those that go to hell depart from Him.
What Would Separation From God Be Like?
If hell as eternal separation from God is the proper definition of hell, then what would that be like? Well, we are told that every good thing comes from God in heaven (James 1:17). Therefore, if we are removed from God, we are then removed from every good thing. Hell is a such a terrible place because God is not there.
Love comes from God because God is love (1 John 4:8). Joy is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Laughter is even from God (Job 8:21). To think hell will be one big party without God is just ludicrous. God is the source of every good thing.
I Know the Wicked Have Fun
But wait, I know that people who don’t know God have fun, love others, and enjoy life. This is true. What they don’t recognize is that their ability to enjoy life is from God. While on earth, they are experiencing a bit heaven. God allows His blessings rain on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
In Hosea, God talks about how Israel was using His blessings over them for the worship of another god (Hosea 2:8). Just because we receive His blessings of love, joy, laughter, good fortune, etc., that doesn’t mean we will recognize it comes from God.
God Wants Everyone to Come to Him
We must remember that God created each person. He loves every one of us. He doesn’t desire anyone to ever live apart from Him (2 Peter 3:9). God is trying to win us over with His blessings so that we will see He is worthy of our affection (Hosea 2:14-17).
The problem is that not everyone sees that God is someone on whom they want to place their affection. This is in essence what sin is, doing things apart from God. Adam and Eve didn’t sin because they ate the forbidden fruit; they sinned because they wanted to have their own way instead of what God said.
What is Sin?
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Forget the idea that sin is all about wrong behavior. It is defined as falling short of the glory of God. The ideal for which each of us was created is not being achieved on our own. We have all fallen short. We have all sinned.
The heart of sin is wanting things without God. When we get angry at the person who just cut us off in traffic, we are telling God that we don’t care that He wants us to love this person, I want to feel angry.
When we decide to walk away from someone who is hurting instead of talking to them or acknowledging them, we are telling God that this person He created is not as important as us. We are choosing in these moments, no matter how brief, that we would rather live on our own apart from God.
God Doesn’t Send Anyone to Hell
If we want to live apart from Him on earth, then God will allow us to live apart from Him after we die. God is not sending anyone to hell; He is allowing them to go where they had chosen – someplace without Him.
We have all lived this way at some point. That is why God has made a way for us to be with Him. He wants everyone with Him. Jesus came to make a way for us to be with God (John 14:6). Jesus makes it easy for us to avoid hell.
Still, in order to not go to hell, people have to want to be with God. God doesn’t force anyone come to Him. Therefore if someone has spent their entire life refusing God, He will not make them come to Him in the afterlife.
Therefore people are not sent to hell but are given what they always wanted… eternally without God.
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