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As Christians, we have probably all heard people ask the question, “why does God send people to Hell if He is such a loving God?”
I won’t lie; it is a legitimate question if you don’t fully understand Heaven and Hell and what salvation means.
So in this post we are going to explore the question ‘why does God send people to Hell?’ and what salvation is all about.
What the Bible Says About Hell
To understand the question ‘why does God send people to Hell?’, we first have to seek to understand what Hell is.
So what does the Bible say about Hell?
A righteous and holy God cannot dwell with sin. It is why Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise.To understand the question 'why does God send people to Hell?', we first have to seek to understand what Hell is. Click To Tweet
Adam and Eve Cast Out of the Garden
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.Genesis 3:22-24 NKJV
The issue here was the concern that man would take from the Tree of Life and live for eternity in a state of knowing good AND evil. God could not allow that. God and sin cannot dwell together.
So Hell is a place of separation from the Lord.
Exile From God
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.Psalm 16:10 ESV
Sheol is defined as:
a place of no return, without praise of God, of the place of exile
A place of exile! I can think of no better description for Hell than a place of exile from God.
One common name for Hell is found in this verse in Mark:
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—Mark 9:43 NKJV
The Greek word here for hell is ‘geenna’ or Genhenna.
It is sometimes referred to as Gehenna of fire. According to The Dictionary of the New Testament found in Blue Letter Bible, it was the valley of Hinnom which was found to the south of the city of Jerusalem where they would bring their filth and their dead animals to be burned.
The text was drawing a parallel between this place and a place of eternal destruction.
More Bible Verses About Hell
where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.Mark 9:48 ESV
The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.Proverbs 15:24 ESV
And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.Isaiah 66:24 ESV
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.Ezekiel 18:4 ESV
There are MANY other references to hell in the Bible and I recommend researching them. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about Heaven so it was THAT important to Him that people avoid it at all costs.There are MANY other references to hell in the Bible and I recommend researching them. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about Heaven so it was THAT important to Him that people avoid it at all costs. Click To Tweet
So Why Does God Send People to Hell If He Loves Us?
This question presents a very faulty thinking. It first assumes this is God’s doing.
Let me give you some examples to demonstrate why this is faulty.
There is a difference in this world between punishment and consequences. Some people believe they are they same but let me show you why they are not.
If my child refuses to eat her dinner, she will go to bed hungry. Is her hunger in the middle of the night a punishment? Did I withhold something from her?
No, the hunger is a consequence of not eating.
Another example would be if I tell my child she has to wear a coat to go out and play on a cold day. If she refuses and goes out the door but soon returns to the house cold, is the fact that she is cold a punishment? No, it is a natural consequence of her own refusal to wear the coat. I did not cause her to be cold. Her own choices caused the consequence without there being a punishment.
God is a holy and righteous God. He cannot dwell with sin. Where light exists there can be no darkness. Darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. When you remove light, when you remove God from your midst, darkness is what you are left with.
Why Does God Send People to Hell? – A Consequence Not a Punishment
You see, God doesn’t choose hell for anyone. They choose to reject the light and instead choose darkness.
Let’s say you hold a lamp in your hands but your lamp lacks a bulb. I try to explain to you that without the bulb, the lamp will not provide you with light. I hold the bulb out to you, I plead with you to take it, but you refuse.
You insist your lamp is enough.
Then the darkness comes. Your lamp, for all it is worth, provides you with no light. Even though you hold that lamp in your hands it does you no good, because you refused to accept the source of its light.
Did I cause your darkness?
God is holding out a bulb to you, a light for when the darkness comes. It is a free gift.
But if you refuse to take that gift, it is not yours. It is there for you but until you accept it, it doesn’t become part of you.
If we refuse to take it, how can we blame God? How can we ask ‘why does GOD send people to hell?’…because it takes the responsibility off of us and puts it on Him.
The Bible says:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:23 ESV
ALL…not some. Not just certain people. Not just people who look a certain way or have certain behaviors. ALL. That means you, that means me.
Man is born with a sinful nature! If you ever doubt that, look at a toddler who has never been taught to steal. They will grab a toy away from another child without ever being taught to do so because inherently we are selfish and sinful. We want what we want when we want it and that begins as soon as we can move!
But God did not want us to be separated from him so He made a way back for us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.John 3:16 NKJV
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 NIV
Why Does God Send People to Hell? – God is Not Willing That Any Perish
God doesn’t want to lose a single soul to separation.
It is why He stepped off Heaven’s throne and paid the price for us.
Atonement was required for sin. God’s law required it.
If you failed to atone, there was not a punishment but a consequence.
Blood was required for atonement and this blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat each year by the High Priest for the sins of the people.
Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice for you and for me! He took the place for us. He went before the Judge and paid the fine, took the sentence, on our behalf. He bore the consequence for our sins. Why?
We would do no less for our children. What parent wouldn’t step in and take their child’s hurts, sickness, pain?
He did it not so you could join some church and follow a bunch of man-made rules! He did it because He loves you and can’t stand the thought of an eternity without you!
And all He asks is acceptance. All He wants is relationship.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.Romans 7:15-20 NIV
Paul, the great apostle, the great man of God, KNEW mankind could not ever live a sinless life. This man of God said he doesn’t understand why he WANTS to do good but yet does the opposite! He knew it was not him but sin living in him.
And Jesus came to defeat sin in our lives – not to make us sinless because we still sin – but to make us forgiven and righteous, not in ourselves but THROUGH Him.
Come as You Are – Just Come
He doesn’t say ‘wait until you get your act together!’ He says come as you are and I will help you get your act together!
He doesn’t say ‘don’t come to me until you get off the drugs!’, He says come to me and I will help you get off the drugs!
He doesn’t say ‘you’re too much of a mess…get your life straightened out and then we will talk!’. He says yeah, I know your life is a mess! Look at my disciples! Just follow me and we will do this together!
Following Jesus – Jesus Calls the Disciples
Let’s examine the Book of Matthew in Chapter 4.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.Matthew 4:18-22
Jesus had just been tempted in the wilderness by Satan and had begun His ministry, preaching in Capernaum.
He then comes across these fisherman while He was walking along by the Sea of Galilee. He approaches these two brothers, Peter and Andrew, as they were casting their nets.
He approaches these two brothers and tells them to follow Him and He will make them fishers of men.
What is next is quite striking if you think about it.
It says IMMEDIATELY they left their nets and followed Him.
These were fishermen who earned their living from the Sea. It wasn’t as though these brothers were just out having a leisurely day fishing. This was their livelihood. This was their life.
Yet immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Then He comes across two more brothers, James and John, who were mending nets in a boat with their father.
Jesus calls them and again, IMMEDIATELY, they leave their boat, their nets AND their father Zebedee and follow Jesus.
There was no hesitancy. No excuses. Their response to the call of their Messiah was immediate. They left all behind them and followed the Lord.
They left behind their lives of fishing for a living to fish for the Kingdom, following Jesus and His call.
Jesus didn’t shout out to Peter and say ‘Hey, when you straighten up and stop being loud, obnoxious, and clean up that filthy mouth of yours, then come see me!’
No, He simply said ‘Follow me!’
And they did.
Abandoning it All and Following Jesus
This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is not as though He had been preaching to the crowds for long.
In fact, if we go back a little to verse 17 it says “Jesus BEGAN to preach.”
Yet these four fisherman left it all to follow Him.
Mark 1:16-20 tells the same story with the word “immediately”.
They abandoned it all to follow Jesus’ call.
They heard the call of their Savior and they heeded it. They recognized their Messiah and knew what He had for them was far more important than fish.
They were to fish for men. They were to bring people into the Kingdom.
Because Jesus didn’t want Heaven without you.
Because God wanted to restore man to Paradise WITH Him.
Jesus is calling to you and saying “follow Me”. Will you heed the call?
He doesn’t want to spend eternity separated from you but God is not a puppeteer. He won’t pull your strings and make you do anything. The choice is yours.
If you choose to heed the call and follow Him, all you have to do is ask Him into your heart and ask His forgiveness. It is that simple.
Why does God send people to hell? He doesn’t at all. We choose!
A Simple Prayer
You can pray these words:
Lord Jesus, I ask you into my heart. I am sorry for my sins and I choose today to leave my nets, my trappings of life, behind me and follow you. So come into my heart and make me your own now and forever. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Follow His call like so many did. Here is another incredible story of people who left it all behind to follow Him and still serve as a witness to this day, as well as an amazing song by Steven Curtis Chapman! You can find their full story in the movie End of the Spear.
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Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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