If God is all love, why do people go to hell?
wow! Exciting title! Well…. We often get this question:
If God is all love, why do people go to hell?
Interesting question right? But…. What is love? What are we talking about when we talk about God’s love? Let’s start with the following:
God not only exists, but is also creator, designer and sustainer of the universe and everything in it. Not only is He always present, all-knowing and all-powerful, and yes, God is also love.
And that brings you closer to the answer to the question. Yes, God is love, but He is more.
Those who claim that all good people go to heaven then also claim that a loving God would not reject good people either. Instead, they argue, it is clear that He would admit them to heaven because they are doing good. But then you ignore the other attributes of God…. And if you omit it, you also strip His love off all the other things, and that is not correct.
Let’s start with the question:
Are (most) people good?
As humans, we tend to think that some “bad” people need punishment, most are generally “pretty good” and entitled to heaven. But…. Both Biblical evidence and empirical evidence (look around you at the world…..) show that this view is incorrect. As the Bible says:
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.Psalm 51:5
Or this verse, which is perhaps more known:
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?Jeremiah 17:9
Biblically speaking, most people are not “good”. Even worse, compared to God’s standards of holiness (we’ll get to that in a moment), no one is “good.”
This does not mean that we are always actively doing evil or participating in evil things. But it does mean that we have naturally “fallen,” rebelling against God and unable to save ourselves. And let’s be very honest….. Even if we try so hard…. every now and then we fly off the track, we don’t follow all the rules, a white lie is easily made, and sometimes we don’t tell the truth so as not to step on someone’s toes, even though we know that it’s not true what we say. So, it is impossible to do everything right. No matter how hard we try, we will never succeed.
Now back to that holiness of God.
If we dive into the bible, then a number of things are mentioned very specifically about who God is. And yes, it clearly says that God is love, but there is more, just to name a few examples:
- God is merciful.
For the Lord your God is a merciful GodDeuteronomy 4:31a
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;Daniel 9:9
- God is just.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!Isaiah 30:18
- God is holy.
For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.Leviticus 11:44
These aspects, especially his righteousness and holiness, mean that something even remotely sinful cannot dwell in God’s presence. Full stop. And then you, as a person, have a problem. As said before… no matter how hard we try, we still occasionally (or worse…) make mistakes and sin. And that Holy God, can have near him, that is not perfect. Impossible.
Yes, but I do many good things, that pleases God, so that will get me into heaven, right?
No, that’s not how it works. Because God = perfect, and so we don’t get in with “spots”. No matter how many good things we have done…. The bible is also very clear about it:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
Grace is God’s undeserved(!) gift to you, most clearly manifested in the sacrifice of Christ’s death. The only way to heaven is through Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6
As you have read, God is holy, but He is also just. God’s justice requires the reality of hell for the “unredeemed.” The nature of sin, biblically speaking, extends to everyone. So, also to you and me. And so, your salvation is not by works, but by God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
And that brings us almost to the end of this question. And let’s end with the following:
No one is good – except God alone.
And with that said, we come to the solution / conclusion. Is God Love? Yes. But he is way more! God is good, just, holy, merciful and much more. So, love alone will not get you there… If God lets someone in who has sinfull spots (and as stated He can’t even do that), how just is that towards someone with fewer sins / spots? And where is the limit then? How fair is that, then? Not.
So do all “good” people go to heaven? Since no one is good as defined by God, the answer is, “No.”
And now the good news:
Is God unfair in not choosing to save everyone? “Fair” would send everyone to hell, we all sinned… You don’t want fair, you want mercy. So, let’s have a look at what God’s mercy is for you and me.
If you can only get to heaven if you are perfect, without blemishes…. Then the GOOD news is that you can only get in by God’s grace by believing in what Jesus has done for you. You cannot save yourself, but God has saved you. It is his gift.
If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, then God no longer sees who you are, what you have been up to, what you have done wrong (however well you may have tried!!), then God does not see you when he looks at you, but he sees Jesus in you. And since Jesus is perfect, without sin, you are also without sin, and you go to heaven. Without any problems.
But God has done “something” for that…. God sent His own son Jesus to the earth…. to bear all those sins of yours and receive the punishment that you deserved… And that Jesus died for you…. Voluntarily.
That is the ultimate(!) love of God for you. Which goes further, much further than simply put: God is love… God went much further. For you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
And now the choice is yours… do you believe that Jesus did that for you?
If so, welcome to God’s Divine Family. Forever. A new world is waiting for you, without “white lies” (or worse…..) without sin, without pain (what do we sometimes do to each other…just wow…), without disease…