(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
"I could never believe in a God who sends people to hell." This common objection, while sincere, is nevertheless untrue and illogical. How can you say it is "untrue" Dan if someone really means it? This is how. Just walk through the reasoning with me if you will.
First of all, think about what the person is saying. He is saying that if the biblical teaching about heaven and hell is correct, then he would never believe in a God who allows people to spend eternity in a place of suffering. This rationale is both illogical and irrational. His objection is based on a premise that the biblical teaching about hell is correct, which is a premise he already rejects.
It's like saying, "I could never believe in a God who sends people to a place which I am convinced doesn't exist." Huh? How do you know you could never believe such a thing when you do not yet even believe in hell, yet alone believe in Christ?
An unbeliever is someone who does not believe in Jesus as Savior. And I have yet to meet an unbeliever who is convinced that hell as described in the Bible is real. So an unbeliever's lack of faith has to do with a lack of faith in Jesus, rather than a lack of faith in hell. He is first an unbeliever in Jesus, and only later an unbeliever in hell.
We can all agree that the following statement is true: "The biblical description regarding hell and those who go there is either true or false." So the objection is that the person would never believe in God if the biblical description is true. I disagree, and I think you will too in a couple minutes. Here is why.
The biblical teaching, as well as the personal experience of Christians, is that a believer is given a new heart and begins to love God because of what Christ has done to save his soul. Millions of Christians believe in God while also believing the difficult doctrine that God sends people to hell. It is not only possible to hold these two positions, but many Christians accept both of them simultaneously.
So it is possible. It does happen. I, for one, believe in Christ as my Savior, and also in the reality of hell as described in the Bible.
It is irrational to say, "I could never believe in a God who sends people to hell." It's like saying, "Even if millions of others claim to believe in both Christ and hell, I could never believe such a thing myself." That is untrue. You could believe it.
Let's say you were convinced that both heaven and hell are real places where people spend eternity. If you were convinced of that fact, it would be absurd for you to say, "I would rather go to hell than believe in God." No you wouldn't. You don't really mean it. Five minutes in hell would convince you otherwise. If you truly believed you were going to spend eternity in the same place of misery and agony where you spent the previous five minutes, you wouldn't stick to your unbelief and your rejection of Christ. You would know at that point that hell is real, and you would want any way out.
There is no way you would choose to stay in hell "just to prove a point." It wouldn't happen. You would become a believer very quickly. And you would see that you can indeed believe in a God who sends people to hell. There is no one who despises his soul so much that he would choose eternal punishment in hell over eternal pleasure with God in heaven.
And there is no one, except Satan, who hates God so much that he would spend five minutes in hell only to say, "I still don't want that new heart, and that new life, and that peace in paradise." It simply isn't logical or rational to say that a person would stick to this flawed position "just to make a point." In that situation, you would swallow your pride, bow your knee to your Creator, and accept Christ as your Savior and your only path to paradise.
If you are going to reject God's love for you as demonstrated in the death of His Son on the cross, it is because you are choosing to reject Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. But it is not because of what the Bible teaches about hell. People only think that is one reason they don't believe in God, but it isn't. It is not a logical position to claim such a thing. It is completely unreasonable. Man loves his personal comfort way too much to stick to that position "just to make a point." It wouldn't happen. If he could get it, man would definitely ask God for a lifeline after just five minutes in hell.
But of course the Bible does not offer a shred of hope that such a lifeline will be available to people after they are sent to hell. Once a person enters hell, reality quickly sinks in. People then see that their perception while on earth was terribly wrong. They see that they could indeed have previously believed in a God who sends people to hell, even though at the time they may have sincerely said they "could never believe in such a God."
Do you know why Jesus spoke at least as much about hell as He did about heaven? Because heaven and hell are actual places where people do exist forever. The biblical teaching about hell is probably the second toughest thing in Scripture to grasp. So what's the first? Here it is: God loved you enough to send His only Son to die in your place on the cross. Seriously, who does that? God did.
The Lord wants you in heaven forever and not in hell. If you repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Savior, you will be saved and safe forever, period. (see Mark 1:15, John 3:16, John 1:12, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, & 1 John 5:13)
At the same time, if you continue to reject Christ, that's on you. But either way, it is nonsensical for someone to make the illogical statement, "I could never believe in a God who sends people to hell." And I suspect you now see why that premise, albeit sincere, is false and illogical.
Everything just makes more sense when you are trusting Jesus to forgive your sins.