Is God unjust for sentencing sinners to hell?
I was priviledged to write a response to the question, "If God is love, why won't everyone be saved?" for the December edition of the excellent online journal CREDO.
In 2011 Evangelical mega-star Rob Bell published his (infamous?) book Love Wins. In some ways this was Bell’s farewell to the evangelicalism of his early ministry. In the book, Bell advances a brand of universalism typically referred to as inclusivism or Christian inclusivism. The idea is that because God is love everyone, in the end, will be saved by Jesus regardless of what they have done or believed (though Bell does seem to hold out the possibility that some may be so unwilling to let God love them that they remain in some sense separated from God). In short, everyone will be saved, Bell claims, because love wins.
The idea is beguiling. After all, who relishes the idea of sinners being sentenced to eternal punishment? But we know from God’s Word that hell will be populated by impenitent sinners. We know that God does not acquit the guilty lest he be emptied of his righteousness. Jesus himself warned against the coming judgment more than anyone in the New Testament. Indeed, the Scriptures are filled with warnings for sinners to repent and be saved from the wrath to come. But still many professing Christians either struggle with or completely deny the Bible’s teaching concerning the judgment to come (Deut. 9:7; 2 Kings 23:26; 2 Chron. 12:7; 28:11; Ezra 10:14; Ps. 2:12; 21:9; 56:7; 78:38; 90:11; Isa. 13:13; Jer. 29:12; 30:23; Ez. 7:8; Micah 5:15; Matt. 3:7; 5:22; 5:29; 10:28; 23:33; Lk. 12:5; Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 3:5; 9:22; Eph. 2:3; 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 3:11; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 6:16; 11:18; 19:15).
It must also be acknowledged that even those Christians who have been well taught – those Christians who have sat under a faithful preaching ministry which upholds both the love and justice of God – are not unaccustomed to moments of inner conflict. We think about the many unbelievers we know who are good and decent people and wonder if it is really in the interest of justice for them to be excluded from life in the new creation.
The thought crosses our mind: “My father was not a Christian but he was a fine man. He loved my mother and his children. He was honest and hard working. He helped people whenever he could. He behaved better than some Christians I know! Would God really exclude him from salvation?” We know what the Bible says, but still we wonder.
You can read the entire article HERE.