The very thought of Hell is terrifying. Such a thought is an intense provoker for many to repent of their sins and revere the word of the Lord. However, others think little of Hell. For example, you may have heard someone say something like “how could a loving, kind, and merciful God send me to Hell?” Such people who hold this view must be taught the truth of the matter before it is too late and they find themselves in the very place they once believed they would never experience.
The truth of the matter is found in the word of God, for Jesus Himself said to the Father “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), we know we can depend on God for a true answer. After all, it was God who created Hell as a place of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:41), thus He is the only divine source of knowledge about Hell and who will go there. Therefore, in response to the question “how could a loving God send me to Hell?” God’s word shows that God is loving, kind, and merciful, and He does not want to send anyone to Hell. Consider 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This scripture clearly outlines God’s feelings. He does not desire that anyone go to Hell, instead He wants all to come to repentance of their sins. But the question now arises, what if someone does not repent of their sins?
Romans 2:1-16 should be deeply considered by all who have questions about who will go to Hell and why God would send them. The text explains that God is rich with goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, and that it is these characteristics of God that leads one to repentance (verse 4). For an example of this, consider John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God is so good and loving to us that He gave us the perfect means by which we can escape Hell. Therefore the problem of people going to Hell does not rest on God, but on man. If you look back at Romans 2:5 it says “in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath.” The blame is on the individual with the hardened heart, who is unwilling to repent of their sins and allow God to forgive them at baptism. The fault is their own because the loving, kind, and merciful God is there to save them from Hell, but they refuse Him.
For those who struggle to see how the LORD is merciful even when sending someone to Hell, I plead with you to meditate on Psalm 62:12, which says: “Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work.” This text shows that God truly is merciful while He either rewards or punishes an individual according to the way they lived their life. And this He will do again when the final Day of Judgment commences: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27.
Ezekiel 18:29-32 perfectly incorporates the truths of our present discussion: “Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”
“The judgment of God is according to truth” Romans 2:2. On the Day of Judgment, God will judge “according to truth” and not according to a lie. The lie is that God will not send a sinner to Hell. The truth is much different, for “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.