WHY WOULD A LOVING GOD SEND SOMEONE TO HELL?
By: Norm Rasmussen
This is a question God wants everyone to have the answer to! It is not to be some big mystery.
This may astound you ... but the love of God does not send someone to hell. The love of God keeps someone from going to hell ... providing they accept it and respond to it!
God proved His love for you and I by dying in our place on the Cross. Our response to His incredible display of love is the difference between spending eternity in heaven ... or spending eternity in hell.
To help those who may not fully understand that God's highest expression of love for humanity was demonstrated on the Cross some 2,000 years ago, it is necessary to talk about the attributes of God.
An attribute is not a part of God. An attribute is God. This is important to realize.
God has several attributes. You may have heard: 'God is love.' God is a perfectly loving God. That is very true. When God loves, He is simply being Himself. But this is just one of many of His divine attributes. God's love does not take priority over His other attributes. All of God's divine attributes work in perfect harmony.
This writing will not address all the attributes of God. It will address just four attributes that help us understand the question asked: "Why would a loving God send someone to hell?"
After briefly explaining these four attributes of God, we shall see how they work in perfect harmony, and then we'll see how a 'loving' God can and must send someone to hell ' if God's holiness and justice is ignored.
A first key attribute of God is His love. God is a perfectly loving God. God is the God of love.
A second key attribute of God is His mercy. God is a perfectly merciful God. God is the God of mercy.
A third key attribute of God is His holiness. God is a perfectly holy God. God is the God of holiness.
A fourth key attribute of God is His justice. God is a perfectly just God. God is the God of justice.
Loving, merciful, holy and just ' are not all of God's attributes, but they are the four that we must have basic understanding of to answer our very important question.
God has written in the Holy Bible, (His Word), that He cannot (and will not) allow sinners to be in His full presence and certainly not in His presence for eternity. His holiness is what makes it that way. A holy God will not tolerate sinful created beings.
All wrongdoing against God the Creator and righteous Judge must also be punished, God has also decreed to humanity in the Holy Bible. Whenever a created being sins, they are sinning against their Creator. Therefore, the moment a created being sins, it becomes impossible for that being to ever be able to be in the full presence of God ever again, because the holiness of God necessitates it.
Furthermore, because that created being sinned, the justice attribute of God decrees that created beings must be punished for their sin, or offense (criminal act) against God.
Now ' before God created the human race, He knew when Adam and Eve would be tempted, they would sin. He also knew that all of their offspring would be born with a sinful nature, and they couldn't help but sin either. If He knew this, which He did, what purpose would it then serve to create human beings in the first place? Create them only to send them to hell? Love couldn't tolerate that. Mercy couldn't tolerate that.
Thus God had to come up with some means by which sinners against Him could be spared from eternal punishment for their sins (rebellious criminal acts) against Him, if He chose to go ahead and create human beings.
Enter the Cross of Calvary! At a time of His own choosing, God would manifest Himself in the form of an infant child here on earth. He would be born of a woman, yet the egg of that woman would be impregnated not by human sperm, but by none other than Himself ' through one of the three Person's of the eternal Godhead. This Person would be the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the chosen woman to bear the infant of God was Mary.
What was the purpose of this infant being born? To satisfy God's attributes of holiness and justice once Adam and Eve sinned against God, and all of their offspring as well, all the way down to you and I. This infant was not just born to die -- this infant was born to take all of God's wrath against sin for each person born on planet earth because of God's righteous judgment against humanity's sin.
In other words, instead of punishing the guilty sinner for sinning, God would punish this infant (Jesus Christ the Word - See: John, chapter 1) instead ' satisfying His attribute of perfect justice.
Wrongdoing demands judgment against the wrongdoer. Fair justice necessitates and demands it. The judge of the universe must execute judgment against wrongdoers who have broken the law of God. God has recorded in the Bible that anyone who sins against Him must die.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Romans 6:23
Holiness necessitates and demands that no sinner can be in the presence of God. The only way God will allow someone to be in His full presence is if they are perfectly holy. The Bible has recorded that no human is capable of being holy enough by "doing good righteous deeds" to meet God's demands that they be holy like He is, because they are born sinners.
Now here's the good part! Love necessitates and demands that a way needs to be provided for a sinner to be forgiven for their sins, and be made perfectly holy.
When Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of every person ever born on this planet, God was forever completely satisfied in that justice had been fully served to satisfy justice's demands within Himself. Payment for humanity's sin had been satisfied, as well as God's demands that a person must be perfectly holy to be in God's full presence.
When Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of every person ever born on this planet, God put our unholiness (lawless deeds; criminal acts against God; sin - in other words) upon Jesus Christ, and gave to those who identify with Jesus Christ His holiness. That is called imputed holiness. God imputes His holy righteousness to those who identify with Jesus Christ. And when Christ took our sins at the Cross, I can only assume that He took them all the way to hell and LEFT THEM THERE so Satan could have them!
The Bible promises that when a person identifies with Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ literally became their sin ' and they literally were freely given the righteousness of God. (In fact, it is God's righteousness given freely to us who are in Christ Jesus that saves us, because it is impossible for us to muster up enough righteousness of our own to meet God's demands for us being holy and righteous enough to remain in His presence for eternity)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -- 2 Corinthians 5:21
This is called the 'Greatest Exchange' ever to take place for all time and eternity, in every and all places throughout the cosmos and the heavens, or any new heavens to be yet created!
Thus for the sinner saved by the grace of God's death upon the Cross of Calvary ' it becomes impossible for God to see that sinner's sin when they stand in God's holy presence. When God the Father looks upon them ... all He sees is the holiness of Jesus Christ covering them that was imputed to them, or given freely to them, once they identified with the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God. This meets the demands of the holiness attribute of God.
When officially were sinners allowed to be in the holy presence of God because their sins had been judged and punishment for their sins had been fully administered ... and they somehow acquired the ability to be perfectly holy? When Jesus Christ took their punishment upon the cross, suffered and died, then resurrected from the grave in complete victory over death and hell and the powers of darkness . . . some 2,000 years ago now.
So ' it is not God's love that sends someone to hell, which answers our question. In fact, it is God's love and mercy that keeps a person out of hell ' as long as God's attributes of justice and holy demands are met, or satisfied. (See: John 3:16).
God's justice and holy demands were met in the Son of God when He spilled His innocent blood upon the ground at the Cross of Calvary for the sins of every person.
That is all well and good ' but how do you and I appropriate and/or personally qualify to pass God's just and holy demands then? Excellent question! Here is the answer: By identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, we are telling God that we acknowledge His attributes and demands of holiness, justice, and love.
Thus when you hear the truthful statement, that identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way God ever has, or ever will, provide for a human being to enter into His full presence ... and remain in His full presence for eternity ' because His righteous judgment and wrath against sinners has already been dumped, or poured out, on His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross ' maybe it now makes more sense. At least I pray and hope that it does.
Sometimes it is difficult to believe what you are learning here, because it seems almost too good to be true at first. Dear one ... why anyone would not want to identify with the Lord Jesus Christ to receive the gift of eternal Salvation that God has provided for humanity, so they can be in His full presence for eternity, is beyond my wildest comprehension, yet the Bible states that out of the masses of humanity, very few will choose to identify with Jesus Christ.
People who claim that there are other ways to be in the presence of God for eternity have either never heard clearly what you have heard in this writing ' or they have willfully chosen to disbelieve what they have heard in this writing.
For those who willfully refuse to identify with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible promises that God's anger and wrath MUST still be executed against them in their refusal to accept the ONLY means by which God has made a way for the consequences of their sin to be removed from them. That one way was for God to take your and my punishment upon Himself so we would never be punished for eternity for committing those acts of sin. Here is a key scripture passage that clearly states such:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. - Romans 5:8-9
Makes no mistake ' God already legally emptied out all His anger and wrath upon Himself at the Cross of Calvary against both sin and the sinner that would otherwise force every person to agonizingly PAY for their sins in eternity. [Note: This eternal truth does not nullify the temporary coming wrath God is going to pour out on those who take the mark of the beast during the 7 year tribulation period at the end of this age on planet earth. See: Revelation 16:1-2].
Yet to receive this unfathomable gift of pardon for our sins ' one has to do something to be able to receive this gift of pardon. What must someone do? Identify with the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament Bible is God's "instruction manual" to show us how to do that. It can be accomplished this very moment by clicking on the following link: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/a-e/BeReconciled.htm
It starts by one's willingness to do so. Once the willingness is there, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to make certain it happens -- again, with our full on-going cooperation with the Spirit of God.
The Spirit of God cooperates with our will, when we first show a genuine willingness to cooperate with Him ' and here is what is so amazing about this process. God knew before He created the human race who was going to be willing to cooperate with Him through the sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross of Calvary and who would not.
He knew whether you, dear one, would smile at hearing ' with peace and hope with proper actions following ' this Good News you have just heard, or come up with reasons to scoff at the whole thing, and take your chances passing over into eternity that God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary is all a bunch of lies, and/or nonsense, or that you believe you aren't worthy enough to be granted it [which too is a lie].
In conclusion, I repeat ' it is not God's love that sends a person to hell. It is God's love and mercy that keeps a person out of hell, when justice and holiness are satisfied by God's standards, not ours. These two attributes were fully satisfied when God dumped all His eternal wrath upon Jesus Christ on the Cross for your and my sins.
It can't be explained any better than what the following two passages from God's Law Book tell us:
'He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.' -- John 3:18 (Here we see the attributes of God's holiness and justice expressing themselves).
'He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.' -- John 3:36 (Here we see the attribute of God's love expressing itself. We might also say it is God's grace expressing itself, which many would say is the expression of God's love and mercy combined).
Following are some key Bible scriptures that reveal the different attributes of God we have discussed, and the important priorities of them as they relate to each other:
God's wrath is the ultimate expression of His divine holiness and justice attributes executing His judgment against sin, with love and mercy omitted. It can be said that you and I essentially add the love and mercy to holiness and justice when we show our love to God for giving us a way to be freed from God's wrath against our sin (criminal acts against Him). We demonstrate that love and mercy by identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ and our willingness to obey His commands.
In our identifying with Christ, let's not lose focus of something very critical in all this. What was the very first command Jesus Christ gave to humanity when He first began His ministry?
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." -- Matthew 4:17.
What is the very first word of His command? REPENT. (Notice it wasn't: "Love God back!). Repent means to change the way a person thinks about God and others, which then triggers the way one acts toward God and others. Repent means to do whatever is necessary to begin obeying God's commands in New Testament scripture, rather than just relying solely on God's forgiveness for one's sins -- continuously repeating that sin over and over with no lasting Godly sorrow nor serious intention of relying on God's Spirit to help you to put that sin to death.
Having said the above, let's move back to love. Saying it just a little different way to help you understand . . . the love of God is what cancels God's wrath against us, but the Bible clearly states that God's wrath is impossible to cancel against us ' no matter how much He loves us ' without our believing on the Son of God as the means to have our sins fully forgiven. You cannot believe on the Son of God and reject the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary some 2,000 years ago ... not according to the Judge, anyway.
The love of God is wonderful beyond comprehension. Yet wonderful as it is, it does not cancel out nor over-ride the justice of God, nor the holiness of God. Holiness, Justice and Love must flow in perfect harmony with each other to keep a person from being sent to hell.
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is God, perfectly harmonizes all of these three attributes of God ... to satisfy God's demands.
So then ... if God was to paint a picture of His love, all He would be able to paint is Himself hanging on the Cross ... taking your and my punishment ... so we could have His holiness and righteousness imputed to us, free of charge.
Only His holiness and His righteousness
imputed to us at the Cross is
what will enable us to spend eternity in His full and glorious presence.
Thus far, a lot of words have been shared, and you may not still clearly understand "why an all-loving God would send someone to hell." Here is an analogy that may be easier to understand. Let's say that your spouse, or your son or daughter, whom you love and adore very, very much, was brutally murdered before you, while you were tied up, yet forced to watch it all happen (or something of the sort).
The person responsible for murdering your innocent spouse or child is now standing before the judge in a court room. You are there present, hoping the judge will give the death sentence to this cold hearted murderer. Why do you want this person to die? Justice, correct? You want this person to suffer just as much (and probably more) as your spouse or your innocent child had to suffer? No punishment is too severe for this person who killed your loved one, right?
Then the sentence comes down from the judge, and you can't believe what you just heard. The judge let's this murderer go free! You are outraged. You are ready to choke both the murderer and the judge now!
Why? Because justice has not been served, has it? Something in everyone of us demands that justice be served when our loved one has been wronged, and/or we've personally been wronged.
We are told in the Book of Genesis that we have been made in God's image. That part of us that demands justice when wrong has been done is that same attribute in God that also demands justice when we've either done Him wrong, and/or done others wrong. Does that help you to understand a little better how The Judge can send someone to hell? I hope so.
Using this same analogy ... let's say the judge does do the right thing, and pronounces the death sentence upon this person who killed your spouse or child. Before this cold blooded murderer is handcuffed and escorted to prison ... a stranger in the courtroom stands up and says to the judge:
"Uhhh - your Honor - I wish to say something if I may. I would like to take the full punishment for this murderer, so he can go free. I desire to die in his place instead, so he can go free. I love him so much that I know of no other way to show him just how much I love him."
This stranger in the courtroom is representative of what God has done for every person on this planet -- taken our punishment on the Cross so we could go free, when The Judge of all creation determines our eternal fate on the Great Judgment Day when each of us must give an account of our actions while we lived here on earth.
To the curious observer, the question may
If the attributes of God flowing in perfect harmony is what provides salvation for us ... why didn't it provide salvation for the angels?
Angels were able to be in the presence of God, before being thrown out of heaven. They had opportunity to know everything about God and to experience His majestic glory. They were not born sinners like you and I, cut off from the spiritual life of God at birth.
With all they had going for them, many willfully rebelled against God. Why they chose to turn their devotion and worship to Lucifer, away from God -- God has kept that mystery to Himself.
We do not have enough Bible scripture given us to build on as to why that happened, which then means we are doing little more than speculating. God will reveal to us all we need to know sometime in the future.
The main thing to stay focused on is that God has provided salvation for you and I, and it was not provided for the fallen angels, and because of it ... we need to grab hold of this priceless gift, rather than reject it.
In all spiritual matters, we must never forget another of God's attributes: wisdom. God is wisdom. God knows what must be done to cleanse His creation from all rebellion -- to make certain it never happens again like it once did before in the heavenlies. Rest assured His plan is in full motion.
A concluding truth ...
It is commonly taught that God's love is such that He 'accepts me just as I am.' This is true ... with one major qualifier. It is vitally important to know why and how God does so. He accepts us 'in Christ." God cannot and will not accept our sin! Yet for those of us who have made Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord ... we are fully accepted because Christ's righteousness was imputed to us on the Cross. It is Christ's righteousness that God the Father finds acceptable in us. We must never forget this incredible truth!
Here is a more expanded truth we must always remember: God the Father accepts me just the way I am in Christ Jesus ... but He wisely loves me too much to let me stay as I am!
And so, in love, God disciplines us, moving us in love toward holiness. The love of God is not a guarantee that we will not suffer; it is the assurance that whatever suffering we endure is directed toward making us holy (the process of Santification) by a God who loves us. If it was necessary for Christ to suffer in order to demonstrate God's love toward us, why would we think our suffering is incompatible with God's love toward us? (See: Hebrews 4:15 & 5:1-10)
"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges ever son whom He receives.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? -- Hebrews 12:5-7 NKJV
Love that matters to God is demonstrating to Him our willingness to forgive someone who has done us wrong, when they don't deserve to be forgiven.
Because God IS love, He is delighted and willing to forgive sinners who have done Him wrong, when we don't deserve it. What assurance do we have that God is willing to love us THAT much? He died on the Cross to prove it.
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