I know that it seems as if I have travelled a long distance to make a fairly short trip. My wife calls this going around your knee to get to your elbow, or is it going around your elbow to get to your knee? I can never remember. But I think that the peripheral issues raised over the last several posts are pertinent to answering the question of, why do people go to Hell?
If you put together the data, a clear answer begins to emerge:
1. Hell was created in response to the rebellion of Satan and the demons (see: Why was Hell created?)
2. The fact that people go to Hell affirms the integrity of God’s Word and His character in that He is loving, merciful, and just (see: What if no one goes to Hell?)
3. God extends grace toward mankind, not desiring for anyone to go to Hell, yet many people will indeed go to Hell (see: The heart of God for Hell.)
In short people go to Hell because they rebel against God, reject His mercy, and ignore His grace. Simply stated, people go to Hell because they fail to receive the salvation God has accomplished in His Son Jesus Christ. The most well known chapter of the New Testament supports this answer. Most people know John 3:16 but fail to realize the message of its context:
John 3:16–21 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
The context of another passage I shared in the previous post also supports the idea that because of what God has done in providing salvation, condemnation to Hell becomes an issue that is singularly focused on Jesus Christ:
1 Timothy 2:3–6 (ESV)
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
For many who reject Hell, the issue is not so much Hell, but Jesus. This is where the issues I alluded to in my posts (Is Ghandi in Hell?) and (Why People Go to Hell, A Difficult Topic) become apparent; because we are indeed affirming what the Bible says, if a person does not receive eternal life by repenting of sin and believing on Jesus Christ he or she will go to Hell. Here the proverbial can of worms is opened. At this point the discussion begins to degrade into specific cases that are personal in nature and emotionally charged (again see Is Ghandi in Hell? and Why People Go to Hell, A Difficult Topic). What about people who have never heard of Jesus? What about children or mentally disabled people who do not have the capability to “believe?” What about good, honest, salt of the earth people – just because they do not believe in Christ, do they really deserve Hell? What about my mom, or dad? What about a husband or a wife (or a close friend) that wasn’t a believer during their life, if I become a Christian does that mean I will go to Heaven but they are left in Hell? I will seek to address these issues going forward, but for now allow me to draw attention to one area of the topic in light of all the recent discussion of Hell stemming from the Rob Bell controversy. The Bible indicates that indeed Jesus is the “ransom for all”, but it demands that there be a proper response. The Bible does not teach that just because Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for everyone to escape Hell, that everyone will. When compared with the teaching of Jesus on the necessity of salvation, we could categorize any teaching that insinuates that eventually no one, or at the very least very few will be in Hell to be another gospel. Paul warns of perversions of the gospel in Galatians 1:6 -9:
Galatians 1:6–9 (ESV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
More to come. . .