How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell? - page 5


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From the Summer 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

by Bill Kynes, Ph.D.
C.S. Lewis Institute Senior Fellow, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church

 
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  First, I would say it does seem a bit presumptuous on our part to prescribe to God just how He ought to execute His justice. Reverence alone ought to engender some reticence to make such judgments. But still, we might well ask, how can our finite and temporal sin merit an eternal consequence? Could it be because the One we sin against is of infinite and immeasurable holiness and goodness?

The Rebellion Persists

  But why does it have to go on forever? Wouldn’t a thousand years be enough? But that’s a misunderstanding of what hell is about. Hell is not full of people with humble and repentant hearts who long to worship God in heaven. Consider what we find in the Book of Revelation. There the wrath of God is being poured out on humanity, and we read, “People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done” (Rev. 16:10–11).
  That’s what hell is like: in hell the sinner’s hardened heart will become harder still. Just as in heaven, where the transforming power of the gospel culminates in hearts that never again desire to choose evil, in hell, the corrupting power of sin culminates in hearts that never again desire to do good or to worship the God of all goodness. Hell goes on forever because sinners never stop sinning. The rebellion against God’s righteous rule never ceases.
  But doesn’t the continued existence of hell detract from the ultimate victory of God? How can people rejoice in God’s presence in that heavenly city described in Revelation 22, knowing that outside that city are the wicked (Rev. 22:15)—suffering, it says, in “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Rev. 21:8)? On the one hand, the prospect of anyone suffering the agonies of hell ought to terrify us. Jesus warned of it in the strongest possible terms. And He was grieved as He thought of the fate of many in the coming judgment. He wept over the city of Jerusalem, which seemed dead set against Him. As we read in Ezekiel 33:11, the Lord takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” And in 1 Timothy 2:4—the Lord “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
  And the apostle Paul grieved as he thought of the possible fate of his own countrymen who rejected the gospel of God’s grace: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Rom. 9:2–4). It is that anguish of heart that ought to move us, as it did Paul, to pray and to work so that those without Christ may know of Him and turn to Him and find rescue from the awful captivity of sin in their lives.
  But at the same time, I refuse to believe that my own horror at the thought of God’s eternal wrath being poured out on sinners somehow means that there can be no heaven if there is a hell.8 It seems to me that the coexistence of heaven and hell is not a problem for God. Why is that? How could hell possibly fit into the grand purpose and design of God for His universe?
  And the apostle Paul grieved as he thought of the possible fate of his own countrymen who rejected the gospel of God’s grace: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Rom. 9:2–4). It is that anguish of heart that ought to move us, as it did Paul, to pray and to work so that those without Christ may know of Him and turn to Him and find rescue from the awful captivity of sin in their lives.

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