One of the classic problems that people bring up is: How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Well, there are several answers to that.
One of course is that God doesn't send anyone to Hell. You send yourself there. God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of Hell and still leave you as a person with free will and not just a robot. That's the way He made us--after His image, after His likeness, the power to say “yes” or the power to say “no,” the power to reject our own Creator, and of course to take the consequences.
In one sense you can say He doesn't send anybody to Hell, because across the road to Hell he has placed the cross of Christ. There are also the prayers of parents, pastors and Sunday school teachers, and all the other things that God brings into our lives to stop us on our selfish way and to bring us to the Savior. We have to go wandering on past it all and put ourselves in Hell.
Sometimes you hear people say, “God wouldn’t send His children to Hell.” God certainly doesn’t send His children to Hell because when we’re His children, we’re in the family of God. We’re born again and part of our salvation includes deliverance from judgment. We’re not all children of God except through faith in Christ Jesus.
Can a God of love send anyone to Hell? You might as well ask some other question to make just as much sense. Does God allow disease in the world? Does God allow jails and prisons for some people? Does God allow the electric chair sometimes? Does God allow sin to break homes and hearts? Does God allow war? All of these things are the consequences of sin entering into the world, and in some cases the direct result of man's rebellion, and the result of greed and pride and egotism and hunger for power that doesn't have any use for people—only the desire to get ahead.
This is the incredible fruit of sin. Sin brings suffering into the world. There's no way of getting around it. And the greatest sin in the world is to reject the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
We have our catalog of sins. We have rape and incest and murder and homosexuality; and we have them all cataloged and classified—but there isn't one of them (or even put them all together in one big hunk) that comes close to the sin of keeping Jesus Christ out of your life. Did Jesus say, “I'm going to send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin because they rob banks” — or, “because they believe not on me”?
It is folly to expect that you or I can trifle with the Lord Jesus and not have a penalty attached to it. What ridiculous thinking people have in this area! We expect penalties for doing much less. Life is just built that way.
You jump off a high building, the law of gravity will take care of you. You might say, “God is love,” all the way down, but you're still going to get splattered when you hit the bottom! You break the law of gravity, and it breaks you! You may love your little child, but if he puts his finger up on that hot burner on the gas stove or the electric stove, he's going to get burned!
Fire burns. Gravity kills. Water drowns. And you can say, "God is love, God is love, God is love," until you're blue in the face. But water will still drown you, fire will burn you, and gravity will kill you, and sin will damn you no matter how much you say about a loving God.
God just set up life that way. He set up the rules. He set up the laws by which we are to live. And if we break those laws, they break us, and we pay the consequences.
I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.
All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will [a grumbling] mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood…
—excerpted from The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), included in The Quotable Lewis, 1989 Tyndale
In a sense, the concept of hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance, that our behavior has consequences lasting to eternity, that God Himself takes our choices seriously.
The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without a conviction of ultimate justice, people's sense of moral obligation dissolves, and social bonds are broke.
Of course, these considerations are not the most important reason to believe in hell. Jesus repeatedly issued warnings that if we turn away from God in this life, we will be alienated from God eternally.
And yet, although “the wages of sin is death,” Paul also says that "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). While breath remains, it is never too late to turn to God in repentance, and when we ask for forgiveness, God eagerly grants it.
—excerpted from Answers to Your Kids' Questions, by Chuck Colson, 2000 Prison Fellowship Ministries.
We may rest assured that no one will suffer in hell who could by any means have been won to Christ in this life. God leaves no stone unturned to rescue all who would respond to the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit.
As for the fate of [the damned] being eternal, it could not be otherwise. Death is not the cessation of existence but the continuation of the eternal being with which God lovingly endowed man--but now in painful separation from God and all else in utter darkness and loneliness.
—excerpted from In Defense of the Faith, by Dave Hunt, 1996 Harvest House Publishers
The Bible says that God prepared hell for the devil and his demonic cohorts (Matthew 25:41), that He is “…not wishing for any [person] to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9), and that He has done everything possible to save us from that terrible, terrible place. Yet in the end God will not violate or overrule the deliberate choice of those who consciously and willfully turn away from Him.
—Daryl E. Witmer of AIIA Institute
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.”
—Jesus Christ, John 3:16-19, NASV Bible