How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

There is a question that has likely been asked worldwide from generation to generation. That question is: “How can a loving God send people to hell?” It is a question that usually surfaces when someone hears the gospel and recoils from the thought about a place of eternal torment and suffering, a place the Bible refers to as the lake of fire and what Jesus referred to as hell. However, the truth is God does not send anyone to hell or cast them into the lake of fire; instead, people choose to go willingly.

The choice to spend eternity in heaven or hell rests in the hands of each individual. It is a choice about life or death. For example, a diver in the water has a choice; the diver can either swim towards the light at the surface for life or sink into the ocean’s utter depths towards imminent death. In life, we have a similar spiritual choice in that we can either run to Christ’s light for eternal life or sink into the depths of sin and imminent eternal death, i.e., eternal separation from God in hell.

The Bible teaches us that the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), not physical death, for even those who believe and have forgiveness will one day face physical death. The death I refer to is spiritual death, the second death according to Scripture. While physical death is a direct result of sin entering the world, “for it is appointed unto man once to die (Heb. 9:27),” spiritual death refers to the eternal separation from God as a result of one who chooses to reject Jesus as Savior and Lord. Since God is a respecter of free will, He honors a person’s choice to be with Him in heaven or with Satan in hell.

God neither forces anyone to go to hell nor does He force anyone to go to heaven. Instead, it is a choice He gives to each person to decide for themselves. Therefore, “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)


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22 thoughts on “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?

  1. Arkenaten September 22, 2020 / 3:45 PM

    It isn’t really much of a choice if there are only two options.
    And why should anyone be punished/tortured eternally simply for not believing in your god?

    This sounds more like a psycopathic monster rather than a ”loving father”.
    In fact, even if I was destined for Heaven I would seriously recconsider this option bearing in mind how obviously unstable Yahweh is.

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    • Darryl Orrell September 22, 2020 / 5:17 PM

      Thank you for following A Faithful Sower and sharing your perspective on the subject of this post, Arkeneten.

      You pose some interesting, engaging questions. Two options will always present a choice, and the Bible states that the wage of sin is death, spiritual death — eternal separation from God. Since God is righteous and just, His judgment is based on the decision each person makes, i.e., to obtain forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ, or live in sin by rejecting Christ as Savior and Lord. Non-belief is a form of rejection, a decision each person makes for oneself. It is a decision that God honors not in-spite of His love for that person, but because of it.

      In society, we expect those who violate the laws of the land to be punished for their crimes in the name of justice. If we take your question and apply it to society, it would ask, “why should anyone be punished simply for breaking the law? When people are held accountable for breaking the law, does that make justice a monster? If we expect and demand justice for all under man’s law, why then should we expect less of God upholding His law?

      I believe if a person could spend 5-seconds in heaven and 5-seconds in hell, the choice would be obvious. As for God being unstable, I respectfully disagree, but I would welcome any specifics that you could provide that speak to the contrary in the interest of good dialogue because these are all important questions to discuss.

      Blessings,
      Darryl Orrell

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      • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 7:57 AM

        In society, we expect those who violate the laws of the land to be punished for their crimes in the name of justice.

        Indeed we do.
        And, in democratic societies at least, our justice system also incorporates forgivensss for ”time served” – even for murderers.

        If any judge were to sentence someone to be tortured eternally (if this were possible for a mortal) – said judge would be regarded as a monster and those who agreed with this judge would be regarded in a similar fashion.

        That you claim your god behaves in this fashion is evidence enough of his unstable, psychopathic nature.

        However, we are fortunate that the notion of Hell as put forward by certain sects of Christianity is of course, nonsense, as the character Jesus of Nazareth is described as being a Jew. He was born a Jew, raised a Jew and died a Jew and nowhere in Jewish thought is such a notion of a ”Christian Hell” taught or believed.

        In fact, the character Jesus of Nazareth was referring to Gehenna.
        Maybe you should research this a little more?

        Regards
        Ark.

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        • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 9:10 AM

          Thank you for your follow up comments and for engaging in such an interesting dialogue.

          That is a good point. You are quite correct; there are democratic societies that employ a parol system that weighs various circumstances, i.e., the severity of the crime and whether the person has demonstrated behaviors that indicate he or she has turned away from criminal conduct. It is a system of facts and assumptions based on outward actions, but no judge truly knows what such a person thinks or who they are on the inside.

          Similarly, but much different, God offers full forgiveness to everyone who chooses to turn away from their sinful conduct and follow Jesus as their Savior and Lord. However, unlike the judges of the human justice system who can only assume based on outward expressions that someone has turned from criminal behavior, God sees straight into a person’s heart and knows without a doubt whether a person is genuinely penitent of his or her sin.

          Another point to consider is unlike crimes against society that vary in severity, i.e., misdemeanors, felonies, etc., the Bible states, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). Therefore, the penalty is the same whether a person tells a little white lie or a whopper of a lie; both are equivalent to sin in the eyes of God.

          Again, it is not God who chooses to send someone to eternal torment and suffering in a place referred to in the NT as hell, which is a term that was introduced, in the 17th-century KJB to refer to Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna. The Greek word Gehenna was translated to the English word hell. Nonetheless, to be more specific and in line with Scripture, God does not choose to cast anyone into the Lake of Fire at the final judgment; people decide for themselves in this life.

          Blessings,
          Darryl Orrell

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 2:41 PM

            God sees straight into a person’s heart and knows without a doubt whether a person is genuinely penitent of his or her sin.

            I would be interested in the evidence you can provide to support this statement.

            I am fully aware of how the (writers of) KJB arrived at the catch-all word ‘Hell’, but this still does not explain the fact that the character Jesus was a Jew and the Christian version of ”Hell” (eternal tortrue etc) is wholly a Christian construct and something that Jesus never taught nor ever would have.

            Therefore, why do certain Christian sects indoctrinate children and, ostensibly, terrorize people with this fallacious doctrine?
            Furthermore, as it is fallacious, this renders your final sentence moot, does it not?
            Thanks.

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          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 3:31 PM

            One piece of evidence that comes to mind is the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus and said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus knew the thief was truly penitent of his sins, but not by the thief’s words, but by what was in the man’s heart. In the world, anyone can say they are sorry or apologize, that does not necessarily make it so in their heart.

            As for the term “hell,” I suppose we could discuss back and forth the origin of words and their application in various translations of Scripture to no end. Jesus, in fact, taught on the subject of hell, or whatever term one chooses to apply, more than He spoke about heaven, so I must disagree with your claim that Jesus never taught on the subject.

            The book of Revelation speaks about the Lake of Fire as part of the Great White Throne Judgment and the eternal destination for those who chose to reject Jesus as their Savior and Lord. It is not for one to use as a means to terrorize others; to scare someone into heaven, as some would say. It is, however, a necessary part of the gospel. We must share the truth with people, so they can appreciate the good news of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness of sin by understanding the ramifications of rejecting that forgiveness. That is what I believe, that is what I anchor to as the infallible word of God. If others choose not to believe, then that is their God-given right, and I respect their choice as God does.

            It is evident we are at an impasse on this subject, as neither of us will alter our position; however, I thank you for the engaging and healthy conversation shared and wish you all the best.

            Blessings,
            Darryl Orrell

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 4:22 PM

            One piece of evidence that comes to mind is the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus and said …

            This is a claim and unless it can be independantly verified remains a claim, not evidence.
            Have you any evidence that can be substantiated?

            Jesus, in fact, taught on the subject of hell, or whatever term one chooses to apply

            The term was Gehenna and NOT the version of Hell you subscribe to, which is Christian doctrine.

            Once again, the character Jesus of Nazareth was born a Jew, raised a Jew and died a Jew. The Christian version of Hell (eternal torture/torment would have been a total anathema to a Jew, hence Jesus never taught it.
            Again, as Jesus never taught the Christian doctrine of Hell, why do certain Christian
            sects – evangelicals for example – teach what is ostensibly fallacious doctrine?

            Revelations is a late edition to the bible and its author is unknown, although tradition would have us believe is was someone called John the Elder.
            Some Chrisitans sects to this day reject is.

            We must share the truth with people,

            I agree, truth is crucial so I will ask once again: please supply evidence to support your claims, especially regarding this Christian doctrine.
            Thanks.

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          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 4:36 PM

            The evidence upon which I rely on is Scripture, the word of God. Jesus chose to refer to places and use terms the Jewish people could relate to when he spoke of hell or Gehenna as some prefer. You continue to ask for evidence, and each time I have referred to the Bible, God’s written word. Whether someone chooses to believe it’s authenticity is up to that person. As I said, we are at a definite impasse on this subject, and I suspect it would be the same on others as well. Therefore, let us simply agree to disagree.

            Blessings,
            Darryl Orrell

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 5:01 PM

            The evidence upon which I rely on is Scripture, the word of God.

            I credit you with enough ”savvy” to realise that much of the bible is not to be taken literally, therefore in itself it is not evidence of the claims it makes.
            Consider the tale of Adam and Eve for example.
            You are surely aware that the Human Genome Project (once led by Francis Collins) has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that an original homo sapien couple as per the biblical tale is nothing but myth?

            And given the time one could easily fill pages of similar examples.

            Jesus chose to refer to places and use terms the Jewish people could relate to when he spoke of hell or Gehenna as some prefer.

            I must not be making myself clear.
            Let me try to be more succinct,
            Jesus did not teach of eternal torment/torture.
            This concept was unknown in Jewish thought/theology and would have been anathema to him.
            Hell as you understand it cannot be adequately sourced from the Bible and is a wholly Christian construct, mainly attributed to Augustine.

            Suggesting we are at an impasse is effectively closing the door to further dialogue and suggests you are not open to the possibility you may be wrong.
            I would like to believe this is not the case?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 5:44 PM

            Thank you for the compliment, and, if I may, I will add that whether components of the Bible are taken in a literal or metaphorical sense varies from one passage to the next.

            For me, the Bible is the inspired, infallible written word of God, and everything from beginning to end is true, regardless of what any one person states to the contrary. You ask for evidence, but for me, there is no higher, more substantial evidence than God’s word. If that makes me a fool in the world’s eyes, for the world see’s the cross as foolishness, then a fool I am.

            My suggestion or recognition of an impasse is not as you suggest; instead, it recognizes that neither of us is moveable in our belief. Therefore, any further dialogue on the subject would only result in a continued circle of questions and answers without end or resolution.

            Blessings,
            Darryl Orrell

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 6:11 PM

            it recognizes that neither of us is moveable in our belief.

            I beg to differ.

            I am always open to the possibility I am wrong in my beliefs. In fact, I welcome it as this is the best way for one to grow as an individual.
            I am sure that,, like me, you shake your head in bemusement at the thought there are people who (still), in the fsce of ocerwhelming evidence truly believe the world is flat!
            Fortunately, most of us do not and hence have no fear of falling of the edge! 🙂
            Therefore, if you were open to the posibility that you may be wrong regarding your current belief about ”Hell” ( eternal torment/torture etc) would you not want to at least explore this possibility?
            To this end, let me ask you:

            Why do you consider the doctrine of hell(eternal torment/torture ) to be biblical when it does not feature in the bible, and was not taught by Jesus?

            Also, do you acknowledge that this doctrine derived primarily from the like of Augustine?
            If not, where do you consider it did derive – and can you please supply specific evidence to support such a claim.
            Thanks
            Ark.

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          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 11:03 PM

            I consider the reality of hell’s existence because of what is found in God’s word. For example:

            Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

            Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43).

            When Jesus taught about His Second Coming and the final judgment, He spoke about separating the sheep from the goats, i.e., separating believers and non-believers. To the sheep, he will say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). To the goats, he will say, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels,” and to His disciples, He concludes by saying, “And these, [referring to those who chose to reject God’s grace], will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46).

            Jesus shared a parable that speaks to the coming final judgment. He said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:47-50).

            Those were the teaching words of Jesus some 300-years before Augustine of Hippo was born.

            Apostle John revealed the scene of final judgment at the Great White Throne. He wrote, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).

            John also wrote, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

            You ask for evidence, I have provided evidence drawn from Scripture, the inerrancy of God’s written word. If the evidence you seek is some form of empirical evidence based on the science of man’s understanding about the existence of God’s divine grace, forgiveness, and the reality of hell, that I cannot provide. For that, I am most grateful because the existence of such evidence would negate the necessity for one to have faith and Scripture teaches that it is by grace, through faith, that we are saved.

            Thank you again for this engaging dialogue, and peace be with you.

            Blessings,
            Darryl Orrell

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  2. Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 7:58 AM

    And may I ask why you moderate my coimment?

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    • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 9:20 AM

      Yes, we moderate all comments to ensure they are suitable for everyone who visits our website, e.g., free of inappropriate language, hate speech, political entanglements, and so on. We welcome comments, even those that disagree with what we believe and profess, as long as such comments are in good taste and the interest of having a healthy dialogue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 2:44 PM

        As I do not moderate any visitors on my blog, as you are now following my blog – thanks, by the way – do you think I need to
        moderate any comments you may leave?

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        • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 2:51 PM

          Whether you would need to moderate my comments or not depends on your preferences for your site and your audience.

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 3:07 PM

            I meant, are you likely to post anything inapropriate (language, hate speech etc) that would cause me to moderate?

            Like

          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 3:39 PM

            In my opinion, and in terms of inappropriate foul language or offensive hate speech, I will answer no, but how can you, the site owner, be sure that applies to everyone who visits your site? The system is designed to moderate none or all, no in-between so we chose to moderate for the earlier aforementioned reasons.

            Blessings,
            Darryl Orrell

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          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 4:30 PM

            I will answer no, but how can you, the site owner, be sure that applies to everyone who visits your site?

            I cannot guarantee everyone will ”behave” themselves but have enogh respect for my visitors that they are grown up and do not to need moderating.
            However, should anyone overstep the line I always have the option of deleting their comment or put them into moderation.

            I have found that moderation is little more than censorship, creates a degree of distrust and invariably frustrates real-time open dialogue.

            Perhaps you should have a little ”faith”?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Darryl Orrell September 23, 2020 / 4:37 PM

            I appreciate the point you make here, and I will discuss it with our team. Thank you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Arkenaten September 23, 2020 / 4:38 PM

            And so we move forward. Excellent!
            Regards
            Ark.

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