Would a Loving God Send People to Hell?
Many articles and books have been written in an attempt to answer the question, “would a loving God send people to hell?” The thought of torment and darkness makes people fearful and uncomfortable. For some Christians, they reject the notion of hell completely because the idea of eternal punishment seems too harsh.
However, it is a real place whether we want to accept it or not; scriptures are not silent about this. To put it very simply, hell is the abode where God’s presence is absent. Before an answer is given on why a loving God would send people there, I want us to understand two concepts because they play a vital role in understanding God’s judgment: sin and God’s holiness.
When we have the proper understanding of sin we will start to see God’s judgment differently. The Greek word for sin is hamartia which means “to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, to violate God's law.”
When a person disobeys God’s commands by sinning, they’re rejecting His sovereignty over their life to live a life that is self-ruled and pleasing in their own eyes; they “wander” from the path God set for them through His laws. They either become their own god or their god is whatever caused them to take their eyes off of the one true God and dethrone Him. Simply put, sin is rebellion against and withdrawal from God. It causes one to be defiled, “listen to no voice, accept no correction, not trust in God, and not draw near to Him” (Zephaniah 3:1,2).
As a result, sin causes a separation between God and the person who sins (Isaiah 59:2). God removes Himself because He sees the rejection of His place in their life.
Understanding God’s Holiness
Holiness is defined as, “in a moral sense, pure, sinless.” Nothing evil is found in God. In fact, it is impossible for Him to be evil, to sin, and to be in the presence of either one for He is Holy itself. His Holiness demands abstaining from every appearance of sin and evil. So when humankind violates God’s law by sinning, He immediately separates Himself because His “eyes are too pure to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13a).
Knowing that sin is the rebellion and rejection of God’s law and holiness is the absence of sin, we can understand the reason why that if one were to die in their sins, they die separated from God and thus receive the eternal consequence/punishment for it. Our loving God doesn’t send people to hell, we send ourselves when we reject Him.
Having the Proper Outlook
In the end, focusing on the concept of hell and who is going there misses the point of the overall message of Christ: redemption. Instead of getting wrapped up in the idea that people can go to hell, rejoice at the fact that God provides a way for us so that we won’t have to go there. Hell was neither meant for nor created for humanity. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 41b). In the beginning, we were created to share in the goodness of God, to be the crowning jewel of everything He created, and to have an intimate fellowship and relationship with Him (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8; Micah 6:8). Because hell was not meant for us, consider what God does:
He extends mercy daily and outpours an abundance amount of grace (Lamentations 3:22-23).
He takes no pleasure when people die in their sins, so He calls all people everywhere to repent (Ezekiel 33:11; Acts 17:30a)
He is patient, not wanting any to perish but all to change their way of living to live for Him (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3,4).
He came down in the Person of Jesus and underwent the most brutal crucifixion so that we might be redeemed from the eternal consequences of sin and have our relationship with Him restored (1 Peter 3:18a; Colossians 1:22).
It is up to us then to not wander from God’s law and not live for self but to come to Him and be united with Christ through water immersion. This is His plan for redemption. When one fails to obey His plan and continue in sin, they have no one to blame but themselves.
Who is man that they, being violators and breakers of the law, should tell the Lawgiver that His judgment is unjust or that He’s not loving?
Grace and peace be upon you.