OBJECTION #3: “Does God have the right to send people to hell?”

First, God has the right to judge. The Bible teaches that the God of the Bible will be fair in judging all people. God has never sinned, and he cannot be in the presence of sin (Hab. 1:13); therefore, he has to judge the sin around him. Currently, we trust sinful judges to distribute justice, but at the end of time, the sinless Judge will deal out justice fairly. John Wenham writes, “Any apparent unfairness in God’s treatment of us arises not because some have too much punishment, but because some of us, by virtue of the cross, appear to have too little.”[1]

Second, according to the Bible, people send themselves to hell. As we look at the passages on hell in the New Testament, we see that people have turned from God their entire lives (Rom. 3:10-11), and they do not want to be in God’s presence (2 Thess. 1:8-9). In fact, many commentators have noted the bitterness of “the rich man” in hell: he never asks to leave, he blames God for not giving him enough revelation, and he still treats Lazarus like his poor water boy (Lk. 16:19-31). Nothing changes in this man’s heart after he goes to hell; instead, he becomes more resistant to God.

In a great and terrible act of fairness, God will give people what they want –separation from himself. What could be fairer than that? As C.S. Lewis writes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”[2] God will not force his love on someone. As philosopher Norman Geisler writes, “Forced love is not love; it is rape.”[3] God does not force himself on anyone; instead, he woos people to himself with gentle love.

Why then would anyone choose to go to hell? This is peculiar, but we see bizarre choices like this all the time. Geisler comments,

Hell is not what men want (desire), but it is what they will (decide to do). Men do not want war, but neither do they will to eliminate what causes it. Unless we begin to will conditions of peace, we will continue to have war. A wino doesn’t want a hangover, but he wills himself one when he drinks. So it is with hell. Those who go there choose the conditions but do not relish the consequences.[4]

The people in hell might not ever choose to leave, because of their lack of humility. Apart from God, they grumble for eternity, blaming others and blaming God. Like the bitter family member who holds a grudge for decades, those in hell might find it harder and harder to change their mind with the passage of time.

Third, heaven is all about delighting in God’s love. As we read through the passages on heaven in the Bible, we quickly realize that heaven will be focused around the love of Christ. If someone rejects this love on Earth, then they won’t appreciate or delight in Jesus’ love in heaven. That is, if you don’t love Jesus, then you won’t want to be in heaven, because heaven is all about Jesus. Heaven would be hell for someone who doesn’t love God.

Return to original article: “Is Hell Divine Overkill?”




[1] Wenham, John William. The Goodness of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1974. 84.

[2] Lewis, C. S. The Great Divorce,. New York: Macmillan, 1946. 69.

[3] Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999. 311.

[4] Geisler, Norman L. The Roots of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1978. 88.