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Saturday, April 16, 2011

How Could a Loving God Send People to Hell?

This seems to be a hot topic at the moment. People somehow think that God is unjust if people go to hell. I believe that it is not His unjust judgment but His holiness that place people in hell.

There are laws in the universe. Many of these laws preclude other possibilities. For example, we know that under one atmosphere that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. It means that you will always find water boiling at this same temperature under this same atmosphere. It is a known fact.

God's holiness is also a known fact. However, it is a bit mysterious for those, like me, who are unholy. I truly can't imagine being holy all the time. My holiness comes in such short spurts that I hardly notice it. Yet, God is always holy and perfectly so. There is nothing that cam make Him unholy and we should be very glad that for this fact.

God's whole character would have to change before He could be made unholy. What would He be like if He were not the immutable God we know Him to be. He would be untrustworthy. We could not count on what He has said or what He will do. He might be act in love on one day and with a "to hell with you" attitude on the next. We would never know how to please Him. We would not know that He would act in our best interests in our prayers. We might expect that He only answered the prayers of the ones who sacrificed the most to Him. We might expect Him to be just like us.

Frankly, I am glad that He is not changing. I am glad that He is holy. I am glad that nothing causes Him to change from His holiness.

But that also means that the unholy cannot exist in His presence. That, also, is a fact. That is the purpose of Jesus. Our sins are paid in full by the blood of Jesus. We must accept this gift from God so that we can enter His presence. We are washed in Jesus' blood to be made holy in His presence. Our righteousness comes completely by the work of Christ. We enter heaven based on this fact.

I have never been to heaven or hell (I did attend a ballet once that I thought would never end.). I know that one has God and the other doesn't. One exists in the presence of His holiness and the other doesn't. Jesus described hell as a place where the worm never dies nor the fire ever goes out. He was giving a picture of the trash heaps outside the cities in which the dead carcasses of animals were burned. There, the worm never died and the fire never went out. It smoldered always. I don't think hell has to literally be a place exactly like that. I believe that was the best picture for people to understand what hell is like. However, the garbage heap was the worst visual expression Jesus could give at that time. We should assume that hell is horribly bad.

And why should that be a surprise. Hell will exist apart from God? And apart from God entering into hell, what would bring a person to change? Do you actually believe that our faith comes from within us? Doesn't the scripture tell us that our saving faith comes from God?

So, people go to hell because they cannot enter heaven. I think of this as a fact of God's holiness rather than understanding God as vindictively sending people there.

But also, please consider this: God sent Jesus so that people wouldn't go to hell. He sent Jesus to save the world. Why would a loving God send His only Son to a horrible death if the price of sin wasn't that high?

John 3:17 (ESV) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. Your previous response to my comment about this subject was helpful as well. I've bought a Bible and am trying to find answers I seek from that. I dont always know what I'm looking for (or where to look) but it does stand to reason that if I'm seeking God I should check out the book that's all about God. Again, thanks for taking the time to offer your insights.