First, it is clear that God will not give people a second chance. The author of Hebrews writes, “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27 NLT). The Bible describes hell in this way: “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us” (Lk. 16:26 NASB). In other words, there will be a historical day in the future where all people will realize that they have chosen to be with God, or they have chosen to be apart from him –forever. While universalists believe that all people will be saved in the end, the Bible records that for some (namely, Judas), “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Mt. 26:24 NASB). In describing this, Ajith Fernando writes, “If he would be saved someday then it would have been good for him to be born.”
Second, some argue that people in hell possibly wouldn’t take the second chance, even if it was offered. It’s interesting to look at feuding families over the generations, or the bitterness between racial groups. The more time that passes, the more bitterness foments between the groups. It’s possible that this is the case between God and those that are in hell. The more time that passes, the more bitter they become toward God. Consider all of the people who blame God for the evils on Earth. In hell, this will only magnify. They will still blame God –only they will blame him a hundred or a thousand fold.
How do you think people will feel about God after he sends them to hell? Their bitterness with God will only magnify. The beauty and love of God could become an object of hatred in the afterlife. Philosophers Tacelli and Kreeft write, “By the same psychological principle, the massive beauty of an opera may be torture to someone blindly jealous of its composer.” It’s possible that hell is this way. Instead of being enamored with the beauty and love of God, they only become more enraged.
Third, those who are punished often feel regret for getting caught, but not for what they did. If these people were given a second chance, they might only try to do the same thing. When a bank robber is caught, he will often lie awake at night in jail, replaying his failed heist in his mind. He thinks, “If only I had turned left, when the cops were chasing me, instead of right… If only I had knocked out that security guard… If only I hadn’t let that new guy in on the plan…” He doesn’t feel regret for robbing the bank; he only regrets getting caught. In the same way, the torment of regret in hell might not be regret for our deeds but regret for getting caught and punished.
Fourth, if God gave a second chance after death, this would encourage people to come to him out of fear, rather than out of love. When a parent forces their son to apologize for hitting his kid sister, the child isn’t doing this out of love, but simply because he got caught. In the same way, the Bible teaches that God desires us to choose him out of love –not fear (Rom. 2:4). However, once we see the judgment of God, this would make a purely love-based decision impossible.
Fifth, the time spent on Earth –apart from God –is long enough to see our need for him. From the biblical viewpoint, this life is the time that we spend separated from God (Is. 59:1-2). Looking out at the brokenness of our world (or the bankruptcy of our lives) should be enough to show us our need to come to him. Second chances are unnecessary.
Return to original article: “Is Hell Divine Overkill?”