How can a loving God send people to hell?

Q: "I'm trying to understand how God who is love can send people to be in hell. What's the thought behind going to hell?"

our A: Here are some things to consider:

(1) God has given all people enough evidence to know that he exists.

  • "...What may be known about God is plain to them [people], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."1

  • "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."2

(2) Nonetheless, some people choose not to know him.

  • "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."3

  • "The fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God.'"4

  • "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."5

(3) People have been given free will. They can seek God and begin a relationship with him, or reject God. Whatever people choose, their decision continues after they die.

Eternal life is life with God, eternally. And Jesus was clear that eternal life is gained by believing in him. It is a relationship with God that is unending.

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”6

  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…”7

  • “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”8

God wants all people to know him. However, the Bible also reveals that God does not force people to choose him. He allows people to reject him. God is love, but God allows people to reject his love, and to remain separated from him. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." 9 To find out how to begin a relationship with God and receive eternal life, please see: Knowing God Personally.

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Footnotes: (1) Romans 1:19,20 (2) Psalms 19:1 (3) Romans 1:25 (4) Psalms 14:1 (5) Isaiah 53:6 (6) John 3:16 (7) John 3:36 (8) John 11:25 (9) John 5:24