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)