How Can A Loving God Condemn People To Hell?
Hell is a condition of being in an estranged relationship with God. A condition that worsens as an individual continues to reject God’s overtures of reconciliation.
All We Sinners –Crowder
How Can A Loving God Condemn People To Hell?
We’ve all heard of it: Dante’s Inferno, fire, torment, remorse, weeping, utter darkness, smoke, worms, bottomless pit, demons with pitchforks and the horned pointy-tailed devil himself. Hell, the place for unrepentant sinners with no escape for all eternity.
Today with a heavy dose of my interpretation we are going to find a more biblical understanding of Hell, and then answer the question How Can A Loving God Condemn People To Hell?
The Bible reveals to us that there is an experience that we today call Hell. To me it doesn’t matter if you believe in a literal Hell or a figurative Hell, what matters is you realize that there is an experience that we can call Hell. That’s why I can say Hell is real. I believe it is not so much a place, but rather a state of being, a way of existing apart from God. Hell is a behavior destiny that begins to manifest itself in this life.
You can read the scriptures and conclude that God created Hell (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). The King separating the sheep from the goats in Mathew 25 condemns the cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (v.41). You can reason that God prepared or created this place called Hell. Therefore you might conclude that the answer to our question is yes, God does condemn people to Hell.
But maybe He didn’t create it. Maybe Hell is a condition of being in an estranged relationship with God. A condition that worsens as an individual continues to reject God’s overtures of reconciliation. God didn’t create Hell, free will beings created Hell, by rejecting God’s authority.
That might be a new idea for you so let’s go over it again. Hell is not so much a place, but rather an experience, a condition. Estrangement from God creates this condition. Hell was not part of God’s original design; rather Hell came into being with the choice to reject God’s conditions for righteousness. Hell is a metaphor for existence apart from God’s grace. Even though aa metaphor, Hell is a reality.
The Bible uses word pictures to describe what the Hell experience is like. Hell is like being thrown out into the utter darkness where there are weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12). Hell is like a blazing furnace with tears and bitter regret (Matthew 13:24-42). Hell is like a fire that never goes out and a place where carrion worms live forever (Mark 9:48). Hell is like being thrown alive in a lake of fire (Revelation 9:1). Hell is called the second death (Revelation 20:14). That’s what Hell is like.
These are not pleasant pictures. Jesus gave us this story:
Luke 16:22-24 (NIV)
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire.'
The Hell experience features torment and agony. You do not want to find yourself in hell. Or do you?
Here’s the answer to our question: Does God Condemn people to Hell? No, God does not.
Jesus, his teachings, testimony, and the new covenant, supersedes the Old covenant revelations of God. To supersede is to replace. From Jesus’ revelation, we learn that God is love.
The kind of love that God lavished upon His creation is agape love. Agape love is treating everyone with respect, seeking to meet their need often at the cost of personal sacrifice, regardless of feelings.
There are some Christians who teach that before the beginning of Creation, God chooses some people to save, and others to damn. The teaching is called predestination, it means before it came to pass, God planned it all out, God knew who He would allow into Heaven and who He would cast into Hell.
There are other Christians who teach that God created humanity with free will because a love relationship requires reciprocity. This group teaches it is up to each individual to enter into a right relationship with God or reject God overtures to salvation. I am solidly in this camp.
The position you adopt has a direct bearing on how you can answer our question.
With predestination understanding, you are stuck with the answer of “Yes, A Loving God Does Condemn People To Eternal Hell. With a free will understanding each individual is given a choice as who they will live their lives. You choose to live your life in such a way that God will give you the desires of your heart, receiving you or leaving you alone.
The scripture tells us of God’s desires for humanity. The scripture reveals that God is for us, not against us, sinner and saint alike.
Ezekiel 33:11 & 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV)
“'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all [people] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
It is God’s desire that everyone enter into a right relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might be spiritually born again. Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation are the gifts given to those who will bend the knee, pledge allegiance and servitude to God with the intent of living under His authority.
Such a choice must be freely made. God endowed humanity with free will. We have a degree of free choices that we can make. Choosing to respond to God’s agape love, we acknowledge that we are sinners, we believe that Jesus can forgive our sins and reconcile our relationships, we commit to being followers of Jesus and ask God to accept our faith. It’s our intent to obey, we willingly place ourselves under God’s authority, saying “not my will, but yours.”
When a person refuses to receive God’s gift of salvation, they remain a prisoner of their own egoism. The core of egoism is the temptation in the Garden:
Genesis 3:2-5 (NIV)
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
You will be your own God, you will be the one to decide what is good and what is evil. That’s where egoism gets its foothold on humanity. Egoism is that propensity within us to do what we want, when we want, in the way we want, no matter how it may affect other people, or even regardless of the consequences of our actions. Egoism is the demand to rule our own lives, be the one in charge, masters of our destiny. Egoism will not allow God to call the shots. When a person rejects God’s invitation of reconciliation they are basically saying “they just want God to leave them alone.” Being left alone by God is what the experience of hell is all about.
Matthew 7:13 (NIV)
“…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction.”
The road to Hell is humanity’s default path. I don’t think people reason this out and choose to go to hell, but rather by their continual rejection of God grace it leads them down that road. Slowly a heart, that command, and control center of the human being moves further from God. Scripture calls this the hardening of the heart. Ears tune into the voice of personal choice, allowing the noise to create a spiritual deafness. Eyes no longer see the possibility of God. Along this road, there is an accumulation of broken relationships, bad choices, and the real possibility of falling into the worse kinds of depravity. The Bible lists behaviors that describe Hell as manifesting in the lives of people.
Galatians 5:19-21 & Romans 1:25 & Romans 1:29-31 (NIV)
“…sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…” “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
Egoism descends into suffering, pain, and misery, creating a Hell on earth that will be fully realized, as a total separation from God if such a person persists in their egoism and refuses to humble themselves under God’s rule.
Hell in its infancy is rejecting God. It’s as if a person is telling God by their thoughts and actions: “Go away, leave me alone, I want nothing to do with you.” It’s as if God, with a broken heart, is telling such a person: “I love you so much, you can choose, I will leave you alone.” Hell in this sense is the ultimate testament to human free will. Hell is the final result of wanting nothing to do with God.”
The punishment of God, the wrath of God, is giving a person who does not want Him exactly what she or he wants. In my own personal speculation, such a person wants to be god, so they get to be god, in their universe of one, by themselves, isolated, alone for eternity. I think of Hell as solitary confinement in a small 8 by 10 room with no doors, no windows, no air conditioning, nothing to do but be my own impotent god.
Personally, I have chosen to seek God. My desire is to submit my will to His. His will is to love. I urge you, walk the path of the gospel. If you draw near to God, He will come to you. If you seek God with all your heart, you will find God. Wide is the gate that a person enters to walk the path of egoism. Narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life. Jesus is that gate. Read the gospels and believe. Die to egoism and you will live. How will you use the free will God gave you?
The Narrow Road—Rick Pino
Hell is not so much a place, but rather an experience, a condition. Estrangement from God creates this condition. Hell was not part of God’s original design; rather Hell came into being with the choice to reject God’s conditions for righteousness. Hell is a symbol of existence apart from God’s grace.
I don’t believe that God condemns any person to Hell; not the monsters of history, the molester of children, the murder, the rapist, the abuser. God does not condemn the sinner to Hell, but God does not block the way of a person choosing to enter into such an existence.
Hell is a consequence of your own choices freely made to reject God. God condemns no one to Hell. The Bible reveals that in the end “Death and Hell are hurled into Lake Fire” (Rev 20:14 (MSG). For neither death nor Hell were God’s creation.