A reader asked:
Why would God send ANYONE to hell? He is the Good Shepherd. He has unimaginable love for EVERYONE, especially those who are lost. Doesn’t it hurt Him? Does He send anyone who is truly sorry for their sins, even after they died? I know you really can’t answer these questions in full knowledge, but I’d like your take anyhoo.
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Why would God send anyone to hell? First of all, God doesn’t send people to hell; people choose hell. They choose hell by rejecting the free gift of eternal life on God’s terms. For those who want eternal life on their own terms, rejecting their Creator, they choose hell willingly. God, like any Just Judge, is simply pronouncing the sentence.
For those who have a hard time grasping the concept of a “loving God” enacting punishment and eternal condemnation, see if you can understand it from human terms:
A man breaks into the home of your children then rapes and kills your granddaughter. He flees the scene, jumps into his car and takes off speeding through town. Despite clear warnings of a school zone, he barrels through a crosswalk of children at 60 miles an hour. The cops finally catch up to him and coincidently the first policeman on the scene is your son. The man pulls out a gun and shoots your police officer son dead. He is finally subdued and brought into custody by other officers.
When the man is brought into court and tried, with all the testimony and evidence being irrefutable and overwhelming as to his guilt, the judge gets up and sentences him, “I know that you are a bad person and you are guilty of all these bad things. But the fact is, I’m a loving guy. I love my children and I tried to love everyone. I don’t wish anyone would ever suffer or have to be punished. So because I’m such a loving guy, I’m going to let you off the hook.”
Is that justice? Is that love? Of course not. We understand from a human perspective that true love and true justice would enact the deserved and expected punishment for the crimes. How hard is it to understand that God, being perfect love and perfect justice, would enact perfect love and perfect justice and condemn those who have willingly chose that condemnation by rejecting God’s free gift of eternal life and choosing instead their own life of sin and wickedness?
We are all sinners and have “broken the law.” (Ever lied? Liar. Ever said God’s name flippantly? Blasphemer. Ever put something before God in your life? Idolater. Ever lusted? Adulterer. Ever stolen or been lazy on the job? Thief.) We all await the same just punishment, but God has LOVINGLY offered a “rescue” from it NOW. Reject that rescue, and you justly will be sent to your eternal doom.
In our analogy, you might say, “Couldn’t the judge just forgive him?” Yes he could, no analogy is perfect but would arbitrary forgiveness be fair? Would arbitrary forgiveness honor the sacrifice of those who keep the law or the victim’s family? God has opened the door NOW for anyone who wants forgiveness for his sins. That door is open, the gift of eternal life is free, but it must be accepted on God’s terms and not man’s. And that is the problem. Because of pride, man does not want forgiveness on God’s terms even though God is the creator and is a just and loving judge of man. God would be violating His own perfection if He arbitrarily “forgave” someone who dies in their unforgiven sin. It would make God a liar, insult Jesus’ sacrifice and send a message of unfairness to all those who were saved. Of course, God cannot do that. So He righteously and lovingly sentences each person according to His unbreakable Word.
You are correct in saying that God has unimaginable love for everyone. He demonstrated that by sending his one and only Son to be punished on our behalf. Jesus became a man and lived the perfect sinless life and deserved no punishment, thus making him the only human qualified to be punished on our behalf. God’s unimaginable love was fulfilled in Jesus and is available to all. So those who reject the unimaginable love NOW fully deserve the unimaginable eternal condemnation in the FUTURE. God would be less than loving and less than just if He were to simply act arbitrarily.
Many people are “sorry” for their sins. Being sorry is not the same as responding to the Gospel on God’s terms. Responding to the Gospel requires repentance, submission, obedience and turning away from human pride. That is a whole lot more than simply being sorry. Being sorry now, or being inevitably sorry when you finally face God on Judgment Day, is not “God’s terms” for eternal life.
As for second chances, and those religions that put forward a second chance doctrine such as Purgatory, the Bible simply does not teach that. You will find NO reference or principle supporting the idea of purgatory in Scripture. You will find no indication of second chances after death.
Our chance is NOW, and God makes that chance available to all. To give people a second chance after death would denigrate Jesus’ death on the cross and cause the Bible to be inaccurate in many ways as it clearly describes the finality of the Judgment. If the Bible cannot be trusted about Heaven, Hell and Judgment, then it really can’t be trusted at all.
Better to put your faith in God’s Word than hope that some man-made idea about second chances pans out in the end.
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