I’m not a Christian because I can’t believe in a God who would send people to hell. Why God do that?
A: I heard a very wise man once say, “The only people who go to hell want to be there.” Shocking as this sounds, it’s true. God doesn’t “send” people to hell. They choose to go there on their own. This is the downside to the free will God gives us. We are free to choose where we end up.
Let’s start at the beginning: The place called hell was created for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:21.) It was never intended for mankind. You see, Satan lurked in the Garden of Eden before human beings existed. He was already there waiting to tempt them with forbidden fruit, which they ate. The fact that Satan was on the earth at that time means he had already been kicked out of heaven for betraying God. When the devil fell to earth, (Jesus tells us exactly how it happened in Luke 10:18) he convinced one third of the heavenly angels to go with him. The Devil is now allowed to roam our planet, but soon his time is up and he will go to the place God prepared for his disposal. This is why hell was created—not for us, but for Satan and his angels-turned-demons. Hell is God’s dumpster, waiting for the day God takes out the trash.
But there’s a problem. When God made human beings, he also decided he wanted a relationship with us. You can’t have genuine relationships with people who have no natural feelings or thoughts toward you. So God gave us our own mind, our own will and our own emotions. These three things make up the unique and colorful personality of each person. God took a risk in giving us a personality because he knew that built into our DNA would be the freedom to choose right or wrong. Unfortunately, our “will” sometimes has its own agenda. When Adam and Eve used their free will to step outside God’s plan, they committed sin. (“Sin” is a churchy word for evil.) The garden they lived in was created as a holy place, and evil couldn’t be a part of that world. So, they were sent outside the garden gates and into the world we know today. Yet God had a rescue plan in case they goofed up, and Jesus came to save the day several thousand years ago. He saved Adam and Eve, and he’s still saving people from hell this very minute.
The message of God’s rescue plan in the form of his son Jesus Christ has caught on like wildfire. Christian churches have been built and missionaries have gone out. Every nation, tribe and people group, we hope, has heard the good news of God’s eternal rescue plan through Jesus. Yay! No one has to go to hell now!
But people still choose. They choose to ignore the plan of salvation, which is the repentance of sin and trust in Jesus. They choose to put their faith in other gods instead, or worse—they declare God a non-entity. They hear about Jesus, about Christianity, but they reject the information because it’s inconvenient. They choose their lifestyle or their excuses or their faulty belief system over God’s rescue plan. They choose hell.
God is made of pure love. Love is good and sin is evil and they can’t exist in the same space. Evil has to go where God decided it would, which is the opposite direction of where he is. Sadly, when people reject Christianity, they forfeit their ticket to heaven. Their only other option outside of Christ is to join Satan in the dumpster.
I tell you for sure that God doesn’t want anyone to die and go to hell (2 Peter 3:9.) He is continually reaching out to each person in specific ways to make sure they hear the good news. Are you listening?
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.