Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who Sends People To Hell?

Who sends people to hell? Is it God or Satan?” That’s the question I heard one of the kids at church asking another adult. It’s a question that I think many people are afraid to answer. Oddly enough, I don’t remember ever asking that question when I was growing up. Back then, my theology was simple; trust Jesus and go to heaven or reject him and you’ll go to hell. I had enough information to know the answer back then, but I don’t know that I really stopped to think about it. What I do remember is seeing the tracts showing angels throwing people over a cliff into a flaming pit.

Revelation 20:12-15 makes it very clear. The dead, small and great, stand before God and are judged according to their works. “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” There’s no question; God is the judge. It is God who condemns. It is God who commands that they be cast into the lake of fire.

Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul and body in hell.”

I think part of the reason that some people don’t like to answer this question is because they don’t like the way it makes God look. They want show him to be a loving God who will harm no one, but here he is—in the New Testament, mind you—throwing people into a lake of fire. I’ve heard people question why we should fear God and they try to redefine the word fear. Sadly, I think they’re failing to see the big picture. God isn’t a pussy cat, he’s a lion. His word isn’t a stick pin, it is a sword. He isn’t just good, he is perfect. Think of the glory of the sun and how dangerous it would be if you were to be close to it. Now consider that God’s glory far exceeds that of the sun. The brightness of this glory is brighter than the noonday sun. Though it is not God’s desire for people to go to hell, sinful people cannot stand in the presence of a holy God, but they have to go somewhere. God has prepared a place that is outside of his presence. He prepared it for the Devil and his angels, but people who reject Jesus will go there also.

For me, it is comforting to know that it is God who sends people to hell and not Satan or even Peter. God doesn’t make mistakes. After the judgments are done, people aren’t going to look around heaven and see people who shouldn’t be there and they aren’t going to look for someone who should and discover they got thrown into the lake of fire. It is comforting because I know God doesn’t want to send people there. He has delayed his coming because he wants more people to go to heaven. I don’t know how much longer he will delay. He may delay for many years or he may come today. All the same, he wants many people to be saved.

Have no doubt, it is God and God only who sends people to hell, but that is a good thing.