In answering the question ‘How can a good God send people to hell?’ I propose we answer three further questions in answering this question
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- Who is ‘God’ that we meet as a Church to worship?
In the Old Testament book of Habbakuk, it is made clear that God is not a god of our making or to serve us, as the plethora of gods mankind has created which are empty, lifeless and speechless. The God of the Bible is the creator of the world and everything in it. In his book ‘Honest Evangelism’, Rico Tice says ‘Everything good that we enjoy now is, whether people realise it or not, a gift from God. In hell there are no gifts. That’s God’s punishment on those who choose eternity without Him. God gives us this life to make our decision – life with or without Him – He gives us what we choose. The reason Jesus died was so that people wouldn’t have to go there.’
- What is ‘good’ and ‘hell’?
The dictionary describes ‘good’ as that which is morally right; righteousness. God, by his very nature revealed in the Bible embodies these attributes and is therefore bound to exercise judgement and punishment on injustice (a consequence of sin) by sending people to hell.
The bible describes ‘hell’ as being totally separated from God’s mercy and blessing after death.
- How do we show others how injustice should be dealt with?
As we look around the world we see unfairness and injustice. We can’t trust people or judicial systems to protect us in this world, even though they call for restitution or punishment.
God tells us that this state is because we have rebelled against Him. To be restored, we need to trust Him and accept that a price needs to be paid, which He has enabled through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His son. Those who receive this gift will spend eternity with Him in heaven and not in hell, separated from Him and His goodness. As a good God, we know He will be true to His word and dispense justice for eternity, not just in this world. Therefore, we show the world by trusting and obeying Him.
Head: Reflect on a good God who will deliver judgement and punishment on sin.
Heart: Thank God that He is good and has revealed to us the way to be reconciled to Him, so that we don’t have to go the hell (eternal separation from God) as punishment for our sin.
Hands: Be prepared to tell those who ask, why our good God has provided a way for people to go to heaven.
Prayer: Merciful God, I thank you that you are good, and have provided a way for all to escape hell. I pray that we as a body of believers, who have been given the ministry of reconciliation, would live this out in our lives so that unbelievers will ask questions and be answered, and many saved to know you.
A song to listen to: Who You say I am
Sandra Hinrichsen- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina