How Can a Good God Send People to Hell?

By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)

How Can a Good God Send People to Hell?The logical answer to this question may not be emotionally satisfying, but then again, truth is not determined by emotion. So to be perfectly blunt: If the Christian God exists, and the Christian God is good, then it would seem to follow from this that it is a “good” thing to send guilty sinners to hell. Indeed, it is a good thing for true justice to be executed. In human terms, I think we can understand this when we reflect upon the court room analogy. When a criminal is found guilty, no one should cry out: The judge is unfair, or the judge is not a “good” judge. It is not the judge to be blamed for the guilt of the criminal.

Furthermore, when people ask the question: How can a good God send people to hell? They often implicitly absolutize God’s attribute of goodness, as though “good” is all that God is. This is an imbalanced view of the God the Bible. The God of the Bible is also just, righteous, holy, etc. If God did not punish sin, then he would not be “good”, nor would he be “righteous” since it is not “right” to allow sin to go unpunished.

It is inconsistent with the Christian worldview to suggest that “good” people are sent to hell since according to scripture, “there is none that is good” (Romans 3:10-12). According to the biblical outlook, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Because God is perfect, holy, righteous, and just, He perfectly, and in a holy, righteous and just manner, executes right judgment upon sinners such that they are without excuse. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and since all have sinned it logically follows that “all deserve death” (i.e. judgement). Hence, all that are sent to hell deserve to be there, and there will be no one in hell that does not justly deserves to be there. The omniscient, thrice holy God who will judge all men, can never wrongly judge since it is He who knows the inner most parts of men’s hearts and is in a position to judge rightly and perfectly, and indeed, He will when the time comes.

For sure, the prospect of a coming judgment upon all men by a holy, righteous and just God is a frightful thing for those who stand under that judgment; but this is where the Gospel message offers hope. While it is true that God will judge all men, it is also true that the message of the Gospel is a hopeful one given that it is possible to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. For apart from the passages concerning the frightful judgment to come, the scriptures also teach that “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

For those who place their trust in Jesus Christ will find him to be a perfect savior. In Christ we have the sacrifice of the perfect, sinless (1 Peter 2:22) Son of God who “bore our sins in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). In Christ the love of God towards sinful men is expressed and the wrath of God for our sins is satisfied in his perfect death on the cross. Indeed, true hope can be found only in Christ and his finished work upon the cross.

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