Why would a good God send someone to hell?

(Stewart Andres) #1

Hi everyone, so I ran into a old friend and started to chat with him and we both know a person who had recently passed away, he told me he was good and with God. Then we started to talk about life and the afterlife, well this old friend has come to somehow believe there is No hell and I quote “why would you think that God would lead his flock to slaughter”. I have to major problems with this first he blaming God and second the denial of hell. I told him that even Jesus in Matthew 13 says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, And in many places in the Bible it talks about a lake of fire. Now he did not respond really but to say well you believe what you want to and I’ll believe the way I want to.
Has anyone ran into this disbelief in hell and how did you handle it is my question.

(Josephine Dearsley) #2

Hi, a good question… I don’t really have an answer, but it is something I’ve come across before. I’m interested to see what other people think.
One thing I noticed with someone who brought up that they didn’t believe God would send someone to he’ll was this: They said that they found it hard to believe and hard to comprehend that’s their unsaved friends and family would go to hell. Therefore they concluded that there was no hell.
As someone with a family of mostly atheists I can appreciate the difficulty and understand the pain it brings. My hope is that my family and friends will come to know Christ before they die, and I use this hurt and fear in me to make extra effort to evangelize and share my faith. I’ll admit I don’t always find it easy to share my faith, especially with those close to you, when you get insulted and hurt for it. But even if they don’t respond immediately, it’s worth trying to plant the seed… and with persistence and prayer one day they may come to know God.
I know I sort of ramble a bit, just some thoughts…
Good question.
God Bless

P.s. I think what I’m trying to say in a way is that maybe some people choose to live in denial because its too painful or hard to believe…

(Kathleen) #3

Thank you for this question, @Duke! It’s one that always draws a crowd at missions weeks at universities, and there are always a number of ways one can approach addressing it.

And thank you, @MoveMountains for your keen insights, born of your own pain, no doubt. I pray that God strengthen you in wisdom and resolve as you seek to shine the light of Christ into your family’s darkness!

If I may, Stewart, I wanted to reflect a bit on your friend’s comment.

I, too, agree at the outset with this statement, because, indeed, God does not lead His flock to slaughter. He, the Good Shepherd, pursues His sheep through the struggles in their lives and leads them into rich pasture. And he will not lose even one that His Father has given him. (John 10)

But I suppose we need to get a better picture of who your friend means when he refers to ‘God’s flock’. Does me mean every single person who’s ever lived or are there some who are not considered a part of His flock? If, in his mind, it’s everyone, then we need to ask a number of follow up questions. Probably one of the more important ones being: What about those who care nothing for His kingdom and, in fact, actively work to destroy it? Will he override their choice to not be a part of Him?

Maybe probe a bit and see what his thoughts would be on the idea of final judgement? Will we or will we not be held to account for the things that we have done? It’d be interesting to know.

As a side bar, God’s goodness and His just judgements do exist simultaneously; they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, His justice (along with His mercy) is one of the things that undergirds his goodness. Goodness necessitates justice, and justice, in turn, necessitates judgement. So maybe a better way to frame the question would be: How can God remain good and carry out his just judgements?

(Brian Weeks) #4

Josephine has given what I think is a very wise answer as she encourages those of us who encounter this objection to ask why someone might be rejecting the doctrine of hell. Josephine is so keen to point out that it very well might be because they can’t stand to think of a loved one going there. Thank you for this compassionate wisdom, Josephine.

I like Kathleen’s reframing of the question: How can God remain good and carry out his just judgements?, and I like it because of the direction it takes the conversation - namely, toward the cross.

When faced with this objection from both within the church and without, I’ve found it helpful to reframe the question as well, but with a slightly different approach of, Why would a holy God save anyone? That, to me, is still a stunning question. R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God really helped me to see and better understand (I still don’t fully understand it) the purity, the exalted majesty, the absolute perfection of God. And when I consider his holiness in light of my sinfulness, along with the incomprehensible mercy and grace he’s shown me, as the song says, I’m amazed.

But, if I’m not careful, I can tend to be more amazed by God’s justice than his grace. And that might be where your friend is. Perhaps helping him to see that God doesn’t owe any of us mercy or grace, but only justice, might help him to see how he seems to be treating God’s mercy as obligatory when, by definition, it can’t be. And, as we begin to see and understand that God doesn’t owe us mercy but only justice, the glory of the cross shines all the brighter.

And regarding rejecting the doctrine of hell, I think the bigger, more fundamental, and more potentially dangerous issue at hand is one’s hermeneutic, or the method one uses to interpret the Bible. If we come to the Bible with an a priori commitment to a philosophical presupposition (such as, there’s no way a good God can send deserving sinners to hell) and use that to cancel clear biblical teaching, then that’s a problem. So, while your friend’s hermeneutic is manifesting itself in this instance with regard to the doctrine of hell, it might manifest itself in untruthful ways with other doctrines as well, and that would move me to ask my friend something to the effect of, When you study the Bible, how do you go about interpreting it, especially the more “difficult” texts? Do you tend to let the Bible tell you what the truth is, or do you find yourself resistant to embrace some of the more challenging things it says? This might give you an opportunity to talk with him about his thoughts on the inerrancy of Scripture, how we should approach interpreting it, the objectivity of truth, and the like.

As increasingly common as your friend’s objection is, Stewart, I’m looking forward to learning how others would handle it as well.

(Stewart Andres) #6

Thankyou @kmac my friend that I hadn’t seen in years was one who I use to fellowship with but somewhere he strayed and ate the wrong fruit. His belief is a all forgiving all loving father could not send his children to a place like hell. Instead We will see God and realize are fooly and he will forgive us and welcome us into his home. No judgment or judgment day.

(Stewart Andres) #7

@Brian_Weeks one thing I read this past week is by DL Moody and he points out that when we almost die are life flashes before us we remember things we had long forgot all in a blink of a eye. And that memory and are own conscience in the presence of a righteous perfect God will condemn us if not covered in the blood of the lamb. Hear is a poem by him enjoy.

I sat alone with my conscience,
In a place where time was o’er.
And we talked of my former living,
In the land of the evermore.
And I felt I should have to answer,
The question it put to me.
And to face the answer and question,
Throughout an eternity.

The ghosts of forgotten actions,
Came floating before my sight.
And things that I thought had perished,
Were alive with a terrible might.
And the vision of life’s dark record,
Was an awful thing to face.
Alone with my conscience sitting,
In that solemnly silent place.

And I thought of a far away warning,
Of a sorrow that was to be mine.
In a land that then was the future,
But now is the present time.
And I thought of my former thinking,
Of the Judgment day to be.
But sitting alone with my conscience,
Seemed Judgment enough for me.

And I wondered if there was a future,
To this land beyond the grave.
But no one gave me an answer,
And no one came to save.
Then I felt that the future was present,
And the present would never go by.
For it was but the thought of a future,
Become an eternity.

Then I woke from my timely dreaming,
And the vision passed away.
And I knew the far away warning,
Was a warning of yesterday.
And I pray that I may not forget it,
In this land before the grave.
That I may not cry in the future,
And no one come to save.

I have learned a solemn lesson,
Which I ought to have known before.
And which though I learned it dreaming,
I hope to forget no more.

So I sit alone with my conscience,
In the place where the years increase.
And I try to fathom the future,
In the land where time will cease.
And I know of the future judgment,
How dreadful soe’er it be.
That to sit alone with my conscience,
Will be Judgment enough for me

(chandra kishore sardar) #8

@Duke I believe the question should be more like does God really send someone to hell rather why God would send someone to hell. God is kind and compassionate and longs to see His children come to Him and His earnest desire is to have all His children with Him in heaven but He would never force anyone to choose between God and someone else. He loves us but freewill is an elementary part of the love. God is love and he would never ever go against His own character. Its us who chooses other things over God. I think its CS Lewis who has said- there are two kinds of people on this earth who bow on their knees and say God thy will be done and other whom God says thy will be done. And even as I say that it is no false that God’s heart doesnt ache badly when He sees His flock in hell.
And about the existence of hell, i think when we debate or argue with someone about it making sure both parties share some common ground is really vital.
I am a man of little knowledge but i hope that helps a bit. May God continue to work in the hearts of those in your family.

(Stewart Andres) #9

@chandrakishore I would agree with everything you said but like @kmac said God does not send his flock to hell for his flock knows his voice and follows him. Those who are not following him are not apart of his flock and he will tell them to depart for he does not know them.

(Dennis Gladden) #10

@Duke perhaps another way to look at this question is to ask, “Why would a good God accept any of us into heaven?” @Brian_Weeks asks it this way, " Why would a holy God save anyone?"

Whenever I begin to think along the lines of your question I have to check my own hypocrisy. For example, I am very glad that my bank has gone to considerable trouble to secure my accounts. Not only does the bank demand that I have a login id and password, but it also requires a second form of authentication, such as a challenge question or one-time random code sent to my phone. This security is disagreeable in the sense that it requires effort to get into my accounts, but I agree with its necessity. It reminds me of the corrupt world I live in therefore I secure my accounts for the ones I know and love.

Now, if I will not grant unfettered access to a bank account, how hypocritical for me to think God should open the treasures of heaven to everyone. I insist on limited access to my things and I would be wrong to insist on anything less from God. He does not disappoint. Heaven is pure, and He will not allow corruption to enter (1 Corinthians 15:50). Yet — and this is amazing grace — God has keys to his kingdom and has given them to us despite our record (Matthew 16:19).

This leads me to Jesus. When I murmur about God sending people to Hell, Jesus reminds that the door to salvation is narrow, but it is open (Luke 13:24). “I am the door,” says Jesus. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

A secure heaven with unlimited access to those enter through Jesus. Such is the wisdom of God that He secures His kingdom and our salvation in perfect balance.

(Jimmy Sellers) #11

@Duke, I have added this link for you. It has some good resources. The material will challenge your position and it might give some idea of why your friend feels the way he does. I have read the Francis Chan book. For right now this is the positions that I would defend. But in fairness I have never read a book or attended a study on the subject of hell until @SeanO broached the subject. Good question and here is to good study.

(Stewart Andres) #14

@MoveMountains read the Bible everyday, pray and form a relationship with God that when your praying it’s like a natural conversation. Surround yourself with Christians that do the same.
I would read psams and the 4 gospels a few times before reading the rest of the Bible.
The hard stuff is when we as sinners see someone in pain and we make the mistake of changing what the Bible really says to fit there worldview.
Maybe I could share with you some things that have happened to me.
I had a girl that I went to school with that ended up becoming a Lesbine, I never turned my back on her like almost everyone ells did, I prayed for her and would give her a shout once in awhile she knew my views but she also knew I still loved her even though she was living in open sin defying God. Today she is married to a man and has 2 girls and now I’m pray that she will start going to church again and bring her family with her.
The most important thing is to love everyone no matter what there sin because that’s the light that sinners sees that draws them to God.
I had a co-worker ask me about my views on Abortion and I told him I detest it, but I don’t detest the person just the deed I love and pray for the person and the Dr who performed the deed. God has called us to love not to judge.
I have lost my 2 best friends growing up, my Grampa and a kid who I use to babysit. there family’s and mine have gotten mad at me time to time because of my Christian views. The issue was not with me or God it was that all 4 of these people who died were not walking with God. Everyone who Believed in God changed there views on what Christ really said and became a once saved always saved Christian and exspected me to change my views, but when I didn’t they got angry. Other believers I find are the hardest for they know the truth but have distorted it to fit there view and damning themselves. All we can do is pray at this point and show them that we love them and forgive them for any offenses. One thing to add is let the dead burry the dead you follow Christ.
I have a father that is on his last legs and I pray for him and give him a shout hear and there mostly there because he is a very sinful man but he know I love him and I pray for him. No matter where he ends up heaven or hell I know my heavenly father is perfect and his judgement is righteous and I take comfort in that.
Let me give you a few pointers

  1. Read your Bible, learn what it really says.
  2. Pray, Pray and Pray and if it’s raining outside pray some more.
  3. Sometimes it’s best to walk away from a question when the only answer is going to make the individual mad.
  4. Always love and respect everyone.
  5. Forgive in your heart and mind immediately, never hold a Grudge.
  6. Surround yourself with like-minded Christians, not just young people but old as well.
  7. Except that you can not save even one person cuz only God saves.
  8. Be God’s light in a dark world, show compassion, respect and love all the time and you will be apart of bringing family, friend and people you don’t yet know to the Father.
  9. Repent for your own sins and know your truly forgiven.
    I hope this helps I would like all on this post to give you there experiences as well we all go thru. Much of the same God bless you and I’ll be keeping you on my prayer list Josephine.
    Ps there is a online prayer group at time square church every Tuesday night if your interested.
    @kmac @Brian_Weeks @chandrakishore @dennis.gladden @Jimmy_Sellers @LoriW

(Mike Sweeney) #15

Stewart, a side note and then my thoughts on your old friend’s comment. In Matthew 19:17 Jesus said " Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God… " I interpret that to mean that the Father is the only one who is good by Jesus’s standards. I am unaware of any Scripture which describes God leading anyone to either Heaven or hell. The choice is left up to each individual to decide. I think that the case is settled when you study the life that Jesus lived and the death that he died.

(Stewart Andres) #16

Well Rc sproul might have a argument for you Mike but I also belive in free will it just makes a logical sense to me. but there is a argument there for sure. You should do a post on it I think it would be Fun @mike maybe you have some wisdom for @MoveMountains on sharing the gospel.

(Warner Joseph Miller) #17

Hey there, everybody!!! I’m a bit late to the convo although I had been checking in, here and there. Thanks, as always, for the deep questions and thoughtful, grounded answers from everyone. That’s, ideally, one of the main functions of this community (and the Church body, universal): to teach, encourage, correct and build up. So again…thanks a milli!!!:wink:

For the sake of offering what I believe is an additional healthy perspective, I’ll humbly ask you to bear with me a sec as I submit this:

So, I was reading this passage of scripture in
the book of Luke a while back and saw something interesting (at least, interesting to me🤓). Using the NLT, it reads:

Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” ~ Luke 16:19‭-‬31 NLT

So we have a guy who is in what appears to be hell or hell-like place. We can, at least, be certain that it isn’t a place he wants to be. Take note of what this man – in torment and sever anguish – asks for. He asks for water to ease his pain and for his brothers to be warned not to go down the same path he’d gone. What’s just as interesting – if not more interesting – is what the man doesn’t ask for. He never, not once, asks for God. I’m sure he could have. I mean, even the secularist athesit…if they stub their toe or experience something tragic and wrenching, the visceral response (after, maybe a couple four letter words😉) is “GOD!” or “Jesus Christ!!!” or something like that. It’s an innate almost automatic response to something - good or bad. My point is, the man was in what I’d imagine to be the most extreme of circumstances, not once asks or cries out to the only One Who could save him. Why? Welp…I’d posit this as a possible: he didn’t want God. While, yes…he may have absolutely not wanted to be in hell…he also didn’t want God…at least, not God on God’s terms. And keeping consistent with God’s character and nature, God doesn’t force Himself onto anyone. He suggests, woos, persuades and please, even…but never forces. So given that the choices are to either be with God or be without God, the rich man - of his own volition - CHOOSES to be without God. God – informed by His LOVE, believe it or not - grants us our choice and obliges. In the words of CS Lewis,

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” 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. Those who knock it is opened.

What is true for the rich man is also true for any man or woman throughout history and today. Again, while it is ABSOLUTELY true that no sane, reasonable person wants to suffer and be in pain or in Hell…in point of fact, not every “sane”, reasonable person wants God, either. And yet those are the choices: God (on His terms) or no God. It’s OUR choice. No one gets sent to Hell. Rather, they are obliged. Hope that made some sense.

(Stewart Andres) #18

I would say the Rich Man knew he was guilty and God judgement was perfect. What he was crying out for was not himself for he had been judged but rather his family that he himself had lead astray. This is a passage of Scripture that pastors pray about lots. The Rich man could have known the truth but he was so comsumed by his earthly riches he forgot about his Heavenly account and it was bankrupt. But wores yet he lead his brothers to follow his ways, to a heavenly backrupt account and so he wept and cryed out for someone to save his brothers for he knew there destination was not in heaven.

(Patrick Teo) #20

The event of the richman was only a parable. It was not even in a hell. I can not even be sure whether hell is in existence just yet as judgement day is to come.
The moral of the story is even if Larazus went to warn the five brothers of the richman, they would not repent as God said that He sent Moses and prophets to warn the Isralites they still were not repent, what made the richman think that his brothers would repent!

(Mike Sweeney) #21

Patrick, every step outside of Scripture, and I suggest that the interpretations such as Calvinism that you mentioned risk such a step, carries the danger of misinterpretation. I do not believe that it has been left up to each individual to decide. I am familiar with the concepts of determinism. I acknowledge that we humans all carry wickedness in our hearts. it is perhaps our greatest weakness. In my opinion, there are perhaps fewer choices than you do. In my case, I worry that I might make choices that more reflect my wicked heart than the will of God.

(Josephine Dearsley) #22

Thank you for your tips and prayers. Your stories and insights are very helpful, I will keep you and your father in my prayers…
God Bless you

(Warner Joseph Miller) #23

Thx, @Duke and @ptengineering! Your positions are absolutely valid. Whether or not you agree exactly with every point I’ve gleaned from the parable is minor compared to my bigger point:

while it is ABSOLUTELY true that no sane, reasonable person wants to suffer and be in pain or in Hell…in point of fact, not every “sane”, reasonable person wants God, either. And yet those are the choices: God (on His terms) or no God. It’s OUR choice. No one gets sent to Hell. Rather, they are obliged.


PS - Parables are simply stories; teaching aids cast alongside a truth in order to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. The object of this parable wasn’t to necessarily prove that hell existed or not. However, it did illustrate that “there is a great chasm” between the righteous and unrighteous after this life. “No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.” (v26) This chasm needs to be understood as revealing that there is no passing back and forth; no crossing over from one to another.

(Tabitha Gallman) #24

My husband and I have discussed hell and what it could literally be. I have never noticed that the rich man never cried out to God. I do believe that every person will have the opportunity to make a choice to love or not to love their Creator and believe in Jesus or not believe. To keep refusing God’s gift of mercy would warrant a good God to separate the good from the bad. But to me it’s still a mystery if its an actual lake of fire or just eternal separation from God. But it would almost seem kinda ok for the bad angels to be cast into the lake of fire, because wouldn’t they have known God better than humans…hmmm, maybe not because they can’t have a relationship with God through Jesus? Sorry, just thinking out loud.