05 Apr A loving God would not send people to hell?
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. –2 Peter 3:9
In a very important sense God doesn’t send anyone to hell. The only ones there are those who have rejected His revelation, choosing to suppress the truth He made plain to them.120 God made people in His image, after His likeness, with the power to say no and to reject the universal revelation of Himself. Subsequently, sinners have no one to blame but themselves if they are damned.
To get to hell people must reject the God who shows them His goodness121 and, out of love for all “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything”;122 reject the Spirit who “convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”;123 and reject the crucified Son who said, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”124 Obviously, God has been exceedingly gracious to sinners.
The Lausanne Covenant (1974),125 an evangelical manifesto that is one of the most influential documents in Christendom, puts it this way:
People who reject Jesus in this life will not rejoice in Him after this life. Revelation tells us that all sinners flee from the vision of Jesus precisely because they do not desire Him.127 Unrepentant sinners hide from Him, even preferring death to seeing the face of Jesus.128 Even when faced with the unmistakable reality of Jesus, they “did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”129
Hell is only for those who persistently reject the real God in favor of false gods. So in the end, people get to be with the god they love. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, either people will say to God, “Thy will be done,” or God will say to them, “Thy will be done.”130 Not only is God loving, but He is also just. Heaven and hell are the result of His love and justice.
Take time today to thank God for all the people that you know that God has saved from hell.
120 Rom. 1:21, 24–25.
121 Acts 14:17.
122 Acts 17:25.
123 John 16:8.
124 John 12:32.
125 In July 1974, 2,700 evangelical leaders from 150 countries convened the Lausanne Congress, made up of an unprecedented diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, ages, occupations, and denominational affiliations. Time magazine described it as “possibly the widest-ranging meeting of Christians ever held” (“A Challenge from Evangelicals,” Time, August 5, 1974, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ article/0,9171,879423,00.html). They composed the Lausanne Covenant. In faithfulness to Jesus, it was a direct challenge to the widely held philosophy that Christians do not have the right—let alone the duty—to disturb the honest faith of a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Jew by evangelizing them.
126 The Lausanne Movement, “The Uniqueness and Universality of Christ” (par. 3) in The Lausanne Covenant, http://www.lausanne.org/covenant/.
127 Rev. 20:11.
128 Rev. 6:15–17.
129 Rev. 9:20–21.