OBJECTION #6: “How could we ever be happy in heaven, if we know that we have loved ones in hell?”

First, Jesus warned us about this. Jesus said, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine” (Mt. 10:37 NLT). God is the greatest conceivable Good; therefore, keeping our families, but losing him, would be an unspeakable loss. It’s hard to imagine this –especially for me. I grew up in a great family, and now I have one of my own. For many of us, it’s hard to conceive of a love that surpasses even the love of our own family. And yet, Jesus says so right there. We need to keep our loves in their proper order. For instance, imagine if a little kid said, “I couldn’t enjoy heaven unless my dog Scruffy was up there with me.” Imagine if the child forfeited heaven for the love of his pet. This would be an unspeakable loss. In the end, there is nothing that we could say or demand that would or could replace the love of God.

Second, while we might not understand this, we are promised this. The Bible teaches that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). Paul writes that heaven will be beyond our comprehension or imagination (1 Cor. 2:9). He also writes that we cannot understand this now, but we will in the historical future (1 Cor. 13:12). While this objection is currently difficult to understand, the Bible promises that this will make sense in eternity (Rev. 6:10; 16:5-7; 18:20; 19:1-3). To describe this principle, Ajith Fernando speculates, “When a parent agrees with the decision of his son’s employer to dismiss the son for doing something wrong, he exhibits this harmony of love and holiness.”[1] Perhaps, on the other side of eternity, we will agree with God’s decision to judge people for their sin.

Third, those who stubbornly forfeit heaven shouldn’t spoil heaven for those who accept it. Philosopher Norman Geisler writes, “The fact that some men refuse to be saved does not veto the right of others to go God’s way nor does it veto the right of God to make a world in which all may choose the way they will go.”[2]Imagine if someone threw a large banquet with food of every kind. As you begin to dig in, your friend says, “This rich guy is always showing off. I’m not going to have a single bite. I hate this jerk…” While your friend is bitter at the generosity of your host, this shouldn’t stop you from chowing down! In the same way, no one in hell will be able to blackmail the joy of heaven; otherwise, God would not be in control of heaven.

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



[1] Fernando, Ajith. Crucial Questions about Hell. Eastbourne, E Sussex: Kingsway Publications, 1991. 69.

[2] Geisler, Norman L. The Roots of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1978. 62.