By G. Lee Southard, PhD
That is a good question and one asked by adults and youth. It is crucial we have an answer that makes Biblical and common sense, that parents and church leaders can relate to youth.
The short answer is, “God does not send people to hell. We send ourselves! It is literally our choice.” God has already laid out a plan to prevent sending people to hell, and that plan cost God a lot in terms of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. So he has ultimate authority over his plan and its execution and needs not apologize to anyone.
As sovereign, God allows good and evil to exist, but God is pure goodness and cannot tolerate evil. Like oil and water, good and evil cannot mix. Knowing that good exists, God set up a place for those declared good to live with him there for eternity. It is called heaven. Not the sky above but where God resides. He allows evil to exist, and he set up hell for those not accepting Jesus as Lord and savior. At the end of time, when good finally overcomes evil for eternity, God will throw Satan, the representative and conveyor of sin, into hell along with all who do not gain heaven. The only thing left will be heaven.
He did not leave it there. He set up a way for man to become holy and blameless (good in God’s eyes) so that man could live with him in heaven. As a sovereign God, he chose us to be found holy and blameless in his sight before the creation. In love, he had predestined us to be as sons to him through Jesus Christi for humanity. (Ephesians 1: 4-10)
To paraphrase, God predestined that he would send his only son Jesus to die and be raised from the dead to guarantee that if we chose to do the only thing required in saving one from hell, you could. That only thing would be to believe in Jesus that he died for your sins. It is not rocket science. It is your choice, and God gave it to you through his plan which is currently in full execution.
When we die, our physical bodies decay, but our souls remain alive and will go one of two places based on the choice we made here on earth. For those who do not go to heaven, there is only one other place to go and spend eternity, and that is hell.
It is a hard reality that you can be a good person and do good things on earth, but if you have not accepted Christ as savior, your fate is the same as evil people. Those are the rules made by the sovereign God of the universe.
So given a choice based on the fact that God had sent his only son to die to allow you to choose eternal life with God in heaven, how can we possibly say that God sends people to hell? We send ourselves through our choice, the most important choice we make in life.
What’s your decision?