Does God Send People to Hell?


Dr. John Hoole




Over the last several weeks, we addressed some aspects of the final destiny of the ungodly.  We addressed some of the key factors as it relates o the subject of Hell.


                  1.      Is Hell real?


                  2.      If Hell is real, will it last forever?


                  3.      What will hell be like for its occupants.


We learned that the Bible describes hell as no fantasy.  It is a real place where the ungodly will be sent.  We also learned the Bible teaches that the length of time in the Lake of Fire, will be the same as the godly will enjoy in heaven.  Both are eternal – unending – according to Matthew 25:46.


Today we are going to address another questions.  How can a loving God send anyone to an eternal hell?


In Matthew 26:24, Jesus speaks about the fate of Judas.  He says, “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”  If indeed it is as terrible a fate as this and other verses suggest, and if it is eternal in duration, why would a loving God send people to hell?  The answer, of course, is that He doesn’t.  God does not condemn people, He merely judges them.


Dr. Paul Kopp illustrates it this way.  “The doctor who accurately diagnoses an ailment as fatal, unless the patient submits to an operation, has not condemned the person.  He has only judged the patient.”  If the patient overestimates his health, or underestimates the diagnosis, and dies, he has in fact condemned himself.


In exactly the same way, Christ was and is painfully honest about our condition.  He said, mankind is lost.  They are sinners for whom He has come to seek and to save.  They are suffering from spiritual death and must yield to a divine surgical operation in order that they may have eternal life.  Jesus called it “being born again,” in John 3.


One of hell’s most tragic truths is that this dreadful destiny is the sinner’s own choice.  J. I. Packer says bluntly, “Nobody stands under the wrath of God save those who have chosen to do so.  The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give men what they chose, in all its implications; nothing more, and equally nothing less.”


Like the patient mentioned a moment ago, we have the option to ignore the judgment made – i.e., the doctor’s diagnosis.  We can refuse to submit to this divine operation…..and die.  But the condemnation is ours, not His.  We have condemned ourselves to this fate.


Our lives are filled with decisions.  We make hundreds of them every day.  Not all of them are of the same importance.  But they must be made none the less.


In some cases, when we arrive at the place where we must make a decision, there are multiple options available to us.  For instance, when I come to an intersection while driving, I have a decision to make.  I could turn right or left, or even go straight ahead.  The decision you make is probably based or your destination.


Another example of making decisions where multiple options are available is seen when choosing a place to have dinner.  Any number of restaurants will satisfy your hunger.   There are, however, times when a person needs to make a decision between only two option, where they are already living one of those two options.


Take the example of a driver who’s car has stalled on the railroad tracks, and he can see the train rapidly approaching towards him.  The driver has a choice to make.  He can stay in the car and die, or he can get out of the car and live.  But while making up his mind, he is already living one of those two options.  He is in the car.


Or again, take the patient with the terminal illness we mentioned a moment ago.  He has been told by his doctor that he must have an operation or die.  The consequences are life or death.  But while he is making up his mind, he is already living in one of the alternatives.  He is dying.


Now bring this thought into the matter of final and ultimate judgment.  Each of us have a choice – accept Jesus’ salvation and live, or don’t accept his salvation and die.  But while he or she is making up their mind, they are living one of those options.


John 3:17-18  (NKJV) tells us.


17     For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 

18     "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 


For those who take God seriously, human freedom means the capacity to make more decisions which have radical and enduring consequences.  Hell, then, is not a place created by God bent on getting even.  Rather, it is an alienation from God we choose for ourselves.  A loving God does not condemn a sinner to hell.  The sinner condemns himself.


Paul wrote about people who “did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Romans 1:28).  In other words, these people deliberately pushed God out of their thinking.  Paul goes on to warn them: “You are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  (Romans 2:5).


Exactly the same thing is happening today.  There is no law which forces people to lie, steal, or cheat.  There are no regulations which compel people to be proud, envious, jealous, or selfish.  There are no man-made laws which make it impossible to worship God, or thank Him for His goodness, pray for His help, or seek to live a godly life.  These are all commands God has given us, but they are also options, and most people choose to opt out.  They choose to live their own lives, set their own standards, “do their own things.”  As Jesus puts it, they choose “darkness rather than light.”  What the Bible make crystal clear is that they will live forever with the consequences of that choice.


The final judgment at the White Throne will not catch any sinner by surprise.  None of the evidence presented against him will be unknown to him.  Over the span of his life, he has been judged by God a thousand times in a thousand ways.  But he did not take seriously the diagnosis given him.


God actually sends no one to hell – they send themselves there.  It will be a place that each one going there has chosen.  Preposterous, you say?  Think on this.  All our lives we rebel against God’s mercies.  We tell Him we want nothing to do with Him, and turn a deaf ear each time someone want to tell us about Him.  But we all will die.  We have a life span, after which we go to the “great beyond.”


Now the question is, what is the “great beyond?”  The Bible tells us that it is one of two place --- heaven or hell.  It is either in the presence of Almighty God…..or it is not.  If it is in His presence, then you are in heaven.  If not, then you are in hell.


You see, we state throughout our lives that we want nothing to do with God, and He has obliged us.  He doesn’t force himself on us and into our lives.  We never wanted Him as part of our lives, so we will spend eternity in the only place where He is not.


God has created mankind with the freedom to make his own choices.  God knew that, if given the choice, man could turn away from him, but He was willing to take that risk.  Creating you and me with a free will was more important than the risk of losing fellowship of some of his creatures.


G. K. Chesterton once remarked,….


         “Hell is God’s great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human personality.”


Hell is a compliment, you question?  Yes, because God is saying to us, “You are significant.  I take you seriously. Choose to reject me – choose hell if you will.  I will let you go.”


When men choose to live alienated from him, and cast their eternal welfare towards hell, he will honor their decision.


Paul tells us, in Romans 9:22, about those who are “vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction.”  Those who are Greek scholars tell me that the verb here is in the middle voice form.  This suggest that these people have “prepared themselves for destruction.”


C. S. Lewis put it this way:


         “There are two kinds of people in the world – those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ or those to whom God says ‘thy will be done.’ “


The choice is ours as to which of these persons we are going to be.  Hell will be a self-chosen destination.


Let me state it in a different way.  No one who is in hell will be able to say to God, “You put me here,” and no one who is in heaven will ever be able to say, “I put myself here.”