If God is Love why would He want anyone to go to hell?
“If God is loving, why does He send people to hell?”
It is that picture, sometimes, of “God sending people to hell” that keeps people from trusting Him. We ask, “Isn’t He too loving to do that?” But if God would not punish sin, if He would let everything pass, then what kind of God would He be? He would be kind, yes, but He would also be spineless, wouldn’t He, by not having any standard nor value to uphold.
No, God upholds the highest standards. It is His standards by which values, thoughts and actions are measured against. Otherwise, where would we look for absolutes? Where would we look for truth? Everything would just be chaos and result in anarchy. God is good. He will uphold good and reject evil. Therefore, He is just.
And if God upholds the highest standards, then we are measured against those standards. We might think, “I’m not that bad.” Despite our best intentions, we are flawed. We fail to meet His standards in both our actions and our thoughts. Just think of how we treat God: we have no room for God in our lives; it is we who rule our lives instead of letting God be God. We are both rebellious and indifferent towards God. In many ways, we have rejected God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) What then is a good and just God to do to people who reject Him?
We are familiar with law. When we break a law, we pay for it. Yes, the judge may send us to jail, but he doesn’t do it on a whim. So in a sense, it is not the judge that sends the guilty to prison, but a man’s criminal act sends him to prison. In the same way, in the face of sin, a just God does send us to hell; but on the other hand, He does not do it capriciously, and so it is really our sins that make us deserving of hell.
Let us then take a look: What should God, the Author of justice, do when people reject Him? His justice would require that evil is punished. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) The place for that is hell, a place He created where He would not be present. Isn’t that truly “hellish”, if one would be deprived of God’s presence forever?
If justice were all that would describe God, then hell would be it — His sense of justice is satisfied by the fact that He created a place where sinful man (that would be all of us) would be punished.
But that is not all there is to God.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9
God does not want anyone to perish. This is why out of His great love for us (“For God so loved the world“) “He gave His only Son,” Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross of Calvary. His life for ours. An act of love that satisfies His sense of justice by Jesus taking the punishment for our sins. “so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John. 3:16) This is an act of mercy on God’s part – with us not getting what we deserve, which is eternal punishment. It is also an act of God’s grace – with us getting what we do not deserve, which is eternal life granted to those who repent, turn from their sins and put their faith in this Savior “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
And so, in light of who God is – a good, perfect and just God, and who we are – sinful, imperfect and fallen rejectors of God, should we really ask the question, “Why does He send people to hell??” Maybe the question we should ask is, Why would You even save us? “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4) But we thank You that You do.
Father, thank You for caring for us. You are just in saying that we have sinned, and in truth, we are deserving of hell. But thank You that hell is not the final expression of Your justice. You sent Your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins on the Cross to satisfy both Your sense of justice and Your great love for us, so that as we recognize Your mercy and grace and respond in faith, we can turn back to You and be forgiven. Help us to understand that, and embrace You as a God of both justice and love. Help us to talk about You to others that they may respond to You in trust and faith. Amen.
1. Can you identify with the question posed, “If God is loving, why does He send people to hell?” Have you ever asked that question yourself? If so, how would you now answer that question?
2. Is this your first time to understand what Jesus sacrifice on the Cross means for you? If you acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, then God invites you right now to receive His gift: His offer of forgiveness and salvation made possible to us through Jesus substitutionary death on our behalf. You can respond in faith by praying to Him, based on His promise in John 3:16 (see above). You could speak to Him from your heart, and pray something like this. “Lord God, I know that I have failed You in many ways and that my sins make me deserving of hell. But I thank You for making a way for me to be forgiven. I believe Jesus died for my sins on the Cross, and would like to receive Your offer of forgiveness through Him. Thank You for Your promise of eternal life to all who believe. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
3. If you have been a Christian for a while, this discussion is a reminder for us to walk humbly before God and others as we remember that we are but recipients of His grace and mercy. It is also an invitation for us to remember others for whom Jesus died. If the question posed at the very beginning is the reason why they are indifferent toward God, how would you address their concern?