This just isn’t adding up for me. I have believed in God, Heaven, and Hell my whole life but recently I have done some critical thinking about the concept of hell. When I hurt someone through my actions I feel terrible about it, even if the incident is minor. How can a loving God send someone to hell, a place of unimaginable pain and misery, for eternity simply for not believing in Him? I can barely bring myself to hurt someone’s feelings, how can God find it in Himself to send someone to hell? I know God has much more love and forgiveness in his heart than I do, so it just doesn’t add up. As a more specific example, if a person leads a good life but isn’t introduced to the Christian faith and doesn’t accept Jesus Christ as their savior, but is good to their fellow man, how can God punish them with eternal misery? If this is really how it works, He is not a God I want to know.
This just isn’t adding up for me. I have believed in God, Heaven, and Hell my whole life but recently I have done some critical thinking about the concept of hell.
God is the author of logic and truth, so God’s Word should be high on the priority list when analyzing anything critically. In fact, without the biblical God, there is no logical basis for using the laws of logic, which flow from His nature. So, praise the Lord for the ability He has given you to analyze and think critically about things!
When I hurt someone through my actions I feel terrible about it, even if the incident is minor. How can a loving God send someone to hell, a place of unimaginable pain and misery, for eternity simply for not believing in Him?
This is an example of a logical fallacy known as “false analogy.” Although we may unintentionally do something bad that causes pain to someone else, God doesn’t do anything accidentally. God is perfect and just, and He must punish sin, which is our rejection of Him.
Please note that “simply not believing in God” is no minor infraction. No greater crime has ever been committed than to deny the existence of the Creator of all things or to not worship Him with obedient faith. We have all broken His moral laws written on our hearts and in His Word, and we have done so uncountable times. Such unbelief is inexcusable rebellion and treason against the King of heaven and earth, who has given overwhelming evidence of His existence and nature through His creation and through our conscience (Romans 1:18-20, 2:14-15). Our sin is against the highest Being and, therefore, is the greatest crime. That is worthy of the severest punishment.
No greater crime has ever been committed than to deny the existence of the Creator of all things or to not worship Him with obedient faith.
Now, moving on from there, imagine a world in which there was no god who had given us an idea of what justice is. Everyone would do what his own collection of atoms in his brain told him to do—be it murdering someone who got in his way, or taking food from someone who had more than he did. And why would the collection of atoms that compose my brain be any better at determining what is “right” than the next person’s?
And yet, many were upset at the fact that the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters killed themselves before “justice” could be done to them. We become angry when we are wronged. We all want justice. This sense of what is “right” and what is “wrong” comes only from a standard of morality given in the Bible—apart from it, you have no basis to claim the Columbine and VT killers were wrong, or that someone who stole from you was wrong. You cannot claim that it is “bad” for God to send someone to hell. There is no consistent, logical basis, apart from the Bible, to claim that one action is “good” while another is “bad.” The non-Christian who cries out for justice has borrowed from the Christian’s worldview.
Without God’s standard of goodness, and therefore, without a logical basis for claiming something is “good,” I become the standard for determining what is “good.” In this case, some, such as Darwin, may claim that “good” is eliminating undesirable people. Others claim that lying to get ahead is “good.” Why would my morality be any better than the morality of, say, a promiscuous man who claims that it’s “good” for him to impregnate many women. Who am I to tell him that he’s “wrong,” particularly when he is being so successful in passing on his genetic material?
From the Bible, we know that sin (rejection of God), which came into the world because of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, results in death, suffering, and eternity in Hell. God, who is perfect and sinless, cannot look upon our sinfulness and imperfection. Yet God, due to His love for us, became a man (Jesus Christ) to die a substitutionary death, to pay the penalty for our sins, and to save us from these things and to restore our relationship. He can have communion with those who have Christ’s righteousness to cover their own sinfulness, through His blood that was shed as the only fully acceptable atonement for sin (see Hebrews 10). In this way, God is merciful, yet just. He doesn't allow sin to go unpunished, which would be unjust. Yet some are saved from this fate.
If those who go to hell reject this salvation, who is to blame? The Bible reveals that people condemn themselves by rejecting Christ and His salvation (John 3:18).
I sometimes explain it this way: imagine a person on the third floor of a burning building to whom a fireman says, “Please jump from the window, and we will catch you. You will have safety if you jump.” But the person says, “No, I don’t believe you” or “No, I don’t want to” and goes back into the blazing fire to die. Why would you get angry at the fireman? If someone doesn’t want to live eternally with God in the new heavens and new earth, God simply will grant them what they wanted, which is eternity apart from Him.
God sent many people to tell others about the gift of eternal life, and then finally He sent His own Son from paradise into “fire” (i.e. death on a cruel cross) to show people who didn’t want Him (and who killed Him) the way out of the “blaze” and into paradise. Yet people still refuse this unfathomably generous gift (see Mark 12:1-12)
I can barely bring myself to hurt someone's feelings, how can God find it in Himself to send someone to hell?
Are you implying you have a higher standard of morality than God? (See Mark 7:11 and Isaiah 55:9.)
Would you find it hard to insist on just punishment for a man who brutally killed a loved one? You are again confusing your accidental action that hurts someone’s feelings with the justice that a holy God metes out to rebels who have defied His laws and His righteous claims on their lives as their Creator and Sustainer.
Please also note that all sinners are sentenced to hell, not just the ones we consider to be the worst—a purely subjective standard, since we’re also sinners. Do blind people argue about who’s more blind?
But God isn’t a sinner, and so, He sees all sin as rejection of Him, our Owner and Creator. And since everyone is a sinner, this means we are all sentenced to hell (Romans 3:10). We don’t deserve a perfect world any longer, and we are getting “a taste” of what life is like without God in this sin-cursed world. And, yes, eternal separation from God will be worse. Those who don’t want God are separated from those who do, who become part of His family.
But, for anyone reading this, it’s not too late! If you haven’t already, ask for God to accept Christ’s payment for your sins, so that you may live in this perfect world to come instead of going to hell.
I know God has much more love and forgiveness in his heart than I do, so it just doesn't add up.
You are correct. I doubt you (or I) would send your child to die for someone that hated you, as God did. But God loves people enough to not subject them to the effects of their sin forever, if they will simply repent of their rebellion and trust in Christ.
As a more specific example, if a person leads a good life but isn't introduced to the Christian faith and doesn't accept Jesus Christ as their savior, but is good to their fellow man, how can God punish them with eternal misery? If this is really how it works, He is not a God I want to know.
Again, from where do you get your definition of “good”? Only the Bible provides an absolute moral standard by which we can measure what is “good” and what is “bad.” Consider the alternative: if there is no God, who is the standard of goodness, then there is no basis on which to say an action (or a life) is good. Within this atheist worldview, there is no logical basis for morality, as we are all just a collection of atoms that evolved from non-living particles. Within this paradigm, one cannot logically claim that one life is “good” while another is “bad.” Those who do so are borrowing from the biblical worldview in which a perfectly good God has told us what is good.
No, the only reason you can even begin to understand the definition of a “good” life is because you have accepted (to some extent) the biblical view of morality—the morality given by the very God you are questioning. And the Book that has given you a standard of goodness says that there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12), and that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
God promised that those who seek Him will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Luke 11:9) and be satisfied (John 10:9–10). Sadly, though, many don’t seek Him.
A truly loving God brought salvation to the world by coming into the world, dying, and rising from the dead. Salvation is a free gift available to all. If someone doesn’t want it, God is not to blame; He provided a means of salvation. This is a God that I do want to know. I want to encourage you get to know God more by studying His Word and sharing this loving God with others.