Atheists often claim that Christianity could not be true because a loving God1 would not send billions of people to hell.2 Although this seems logically valid at first glance, it makes some assumptions that are not true for the God of the Bible. Many atheists claim that those who have never heard of Jesus Christ should not be forced to go to hell. This issue is dealt with in depth on another page.
True love is not permissive
The first false assumption is that love allows the object of that love to do whatever he or she wants. However, this permissive kind of "love" isn't really love at all. Any of you who are parents will recognize that allowing your children to do whatever they want to do is not loving at all. If you were to do this, your children would grow up to be spoiled selfish brats, incapable of loving other people. Permissive gods, who are caught up in their own intrigues, and so allow humans to do whatever they want without repercussions, are found in the pagan religions. However, the God of the Bible wants us to love Him and other people above everything else we do.3
God's moral laws have a purpose
The Creator God of the universe is obviously a God of order. The laws that govern the physical universe are so precise that we can calculate the positions of planets, stars, and galaxies thousands to millions of years into the future. Would a God of this kind of precision design moral laws that are random or changing? It doesn't seem likely or consistent with the character of the Creator that we know from the reality of the creation. Therefore, it seems likely that unchanging moral laws are consistent with the God of creation. The Bible says that the moral laws are consistent with the character of God.4 Therefore, the main purpose of the moral laws are to teach us what God requires for us to enter into His kingdom. The moral laws also allow us to live with each other on earth without hurting each other. In fact, if we all perfectly fulfilled the moral laws of God, we would be in perfect harmony with each other. Our failure to fulfill God's moral laws leads us to seek Him as the source of our salvation.
God's creation of free will beings must allow for the possibility of rejecting God completely
Since God created spiritual beings for the purpose of expressing love, those beings must have complete free will in order to express that love. Of course, free will allows for the possibility of those beings rejecting God and His plans. Unfortunately, most people do not agree that God's rules are good and do not want to live by them. In fact, the vast majority of people want to run their own lives without submitting to God at all. Somehow, they feel that God will just let them into heaven because they have behaved about as good, and maybe even better, compared to the rest of the people on earth. The problem with this idea is that God does not grade on the curve. All who enter God's kingdom must be absolutely holy, since no sin is allowed in God's presence. In addition, people must be willing to allow God to prevent them from sinning ever again, since there is no sin in heaven. This means that people must be willing to submit fully to God's will in order to get into heaven. Of course, all humans fall short of God's moral requirements. Therefore, God has made a provision to erase all sins that we have committed in this life and to perfect us so that we cannot sin in the next life. That provision for sin is through the sacrifice of God's son, Jesus Christ. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve and gives us the reward that we do not deserve - eternal life. In accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, all our sins are erased, and Jesus works to change us into His image (if we allow Him to do so).
People prefer hell over complete submission to God
So why doesn't God make everyone into perfect beings and allow them all into heaven? It would actually be more cruel if God were to do this, since many people prefer hell to the alternative (complete submission to God). All the people who end up going to hell will have done so because they actually prefer hell to being forced into the presence of God for all eternity. People like to live in their favorite sins and answer to no one else. They know that if they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior that God will want them to change their lives and they might have to give up some of their autonomy.
At this time in history, there is more evidence demonstrating the existence of God than at any time in the past. Much of that evidence is presented on this site. In addition, there are missionaries throughout the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offers as a free gift. Although the gift is "free," it will cost you your sin, selfishness, and pride. Since none of these character traits are allowed into heaven, those who insist upon holding onto these traits cannot enter into heaven, but must be separated from God in a place called hell. Therefore, those who go to hell do so voluntarily, preferring hell to complete submission to a holy and just God.
- What will happen to the people who have never heard of Jesus Christ?
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- What Will Hell be Like?
- The Bible Says Hell is a Place Located Under the Earth: An Atheists' Myth
- Did God Create Evil - Does the Bible Say So?
- Did God Commit Atrocities by Ordering the Killing of Entire Cities of People?
- Why Would God "visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children unto the third and the fourth generation"?
- The Mercy of God as Found in the Old Testament
- Thou Shall Not Kill- Does God Violate His Own Commandment?
- If God is Jealous Doesn't That Make Him the Divine Hypocrite?
- There is Too Much Evil and Suffering For God to Exist?
- Is it Possible for God to Provide 'Partial Free Will' and Eliminate All Evil?
- God's Chosen People, the Jews: Isn't God Unfair in Showing Such Preference?
- Does the Bible Say God Repents From Doing Evil?
- Do Sociopaths (People with Antisocial Personality Disorder) Disprove the Existence of God?
- But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in
Your salvation. (Psalm 13:5)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)
- "And 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. (Matthew 10:28)
"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?" (Matthew 23:33)
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
- When Jesus was asked what was the most important
rule, He replied that they were relationships:
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36)
And He [Jesus] said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
- Judge me, O LORD my God, according to Thy righteousness; And do not let them
rejoice over me. (Psalm 35:24)
And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge. Selah. (Psalm 50:6)
For Thy righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, Thou who hast done great things; O God, who is like Thee? (Psalm 71:19)
But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. (Isaiah 5:16)
Last Modified March 8, 2005