How Could a Loving God Send Someone to Hell?

Posted: April 25, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Faith Inspection
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Attention Funnel: What Things Look Like Under a Microscope

Series Introduction:

  • When you put something under the microscope, you take a closer look at it in order to better understand it.
  • That’s what I want to do in this series. I want to take a closer look at some of the common questions/objections to the Christian faith in order to see if there is something wrong with what we believe.
  • I want to do this for two reasons…
    • 1) I want to encourage you to ask questions about what Christianity says is true.
    • 2) And I want you to be better equipped to engage and reach those around you who don’t believe in the gospel.

 Lesson Introduction:

  • What is the worst punishment you’ve received?
    • Dad who were jean shorts all around town in response to his daughter wearing clothes her mom and dad didn’t approve of.
    • Dad who shoots daughters computer in response to something she posted online.
    • The second one is clearly an over-reaction. It’s giving a punishment that seems so far over the top that it’s ridiculous.
  • I wonder if when we think about Hell, we picture God in this way? As the out of control Dad whose punishment seems harsh and unfair.
  • The question I want to look at tonight is: “How could a loving God send someone to hell?”
  • It’s a very serious and very good question to ask.
  • Especially if we may not personally be a Christian or if some of the people that we know and love are not Christians.
  • And my initial response in the form of a Big idea might shock you, but stick with me and I hope you’ll see why I believe the following statement is true.

Big Idea: Hell magnifies God’s love.

  • In other words, hell actually helps us to see, understand, and appreciate the depths of God’s love for us.

Main Points:

  • Behind every question is a set of beliefs.
  • A loving God is a God who judges.
  • Hell is life apart from God.
  • Hell should bring joy to our heart and urgency to our hands.

Behind every question is a set of beliefs.

  • I want to set out this point before we look at this passage because it’s an important point not only for tonight but for this whole series.
  • Behind every question or objection someone has to Christianity is not no faith, but rather a different set of beliefs.
  • Part of our goal is not simply to defend what we believe but also to expose and question what the other person believes.
    • In sports, a team that never plays offense will almost always lose. And a team that never plays defense will almost always lose… unless you are playing in the NBA in which case defense is always optionalJ
  • One of our greatest tools for finding out what people believe is simply to ask questions.
    • I have found most of my best faith conversations with friends who aren’t Christians don’t start with me talking, but with me asking a question.
  • So, for example: If someone says “How could you believe in a God who sends someone to hell?”
  • A good response might be, “Do you believe in God? If so, what do you believe he is like?” Or, “What type of God could you believe in?”
    • If they respond, “A God of love.” You can keep asking questions – “How do you know God is loving?” “Why do you believe God should be loving?” “What does God’s love look like?”
  • Or you might want to ask, “Do you think God should send anyone to hell?” “What about people who commit heinous crimes in this life and get away with them?”
  • They may or may not have ever thought through these things, but you will at least get a better understanding of where they are coming from.
  • I would guess that at the core of this question about a loving God and hell are a couple beliefs…
    • 1) A loving God shouldn’t judge people.
    • 2) People (including myself) don’t deserve hell.
  • With that in mind, let’s look at our passage tonight… Luke 16:19-31

A loving God is a God who judges.

  • As we read through this passage, what is your response to the rich man?
  • Aren’t we glad when we find out that how he treated Lazarus doesn’t go unpunished?
    • Doesn’t it feel right to see that for all those years he ignored this man in need and lived selfishly, he is receiving punishment?
    • *We may disagree with the type of punishment, but I think we like that he didn’t just get away with constantly ignoring this man who was in need.
    • See, we have this inbred wiring for justice… that those who do wrong deserve to be punished.
  • 1) Without a God who judges, the world devolves into chaos.
    • Picture a country where the government never punishes anyone. That country is going to dissolve into anarchy.
    • Or on a smaller scale… picture a hockey game where the referees never put anyone in the penalty box. They forgive every trip, slash, cross-check, and punch to the face and let everything slide. I would hate to play in that game. Why? Because it’s going to escalate out of control.
    • See if there is no judgment, the world turns into chaos with revenge and vengeance running out of control.
    • A God who loves us and the world he created will ultimately judge evil. Hell assures us that no evil goes unpunished.
  • 2) A God who loves is a God who gets angry.
    • Think about if you have a close friend. If you see that close friend destroying their life because of their decisions, you don’t just stand by indifferently and think, “Good for them, let them do whatever they want.” You get angry. You confront them. You do everything in your power to try to convince them to stop destroying their life.
    • If God truly loves us, then he will get angry at what is destroying us.
  • See to have a God who doesn’t judge or get angry is to have a God who doesn’t care about us or about the world.
  • “Okay,” you may say, “But doesn’t hell seem a little over the top? How about just a long time out? Or just take their phone away from them for a while when they get to heaven. But hell… forever… isn’t that a bit of an overreaction?”
  • I think when we say this we can misunderstand what hell is and why God sends people to hell.

 Hell is life apart from God.

  • In the parable we read, Hell is described as a place of separation.
  • The rich man is entirely separated from God… there is a great chasm fixed that separates the rich man from God.
    • See all his life the rich man has been self-sufficient. He has depended on his own wealth, his own wisdom, and his own version of right and wrong. Although he may have said he believed in God, he never actually found any need for God and he never really loved God. His life demonstrated that as he entirely ignored the poor.
  • Why is this important?
  • Because in one sense, Hell is simply God giving people what they want.
    • People who again and again want nothing to do with God and reject the gospel.
    • People who have claimed to believe in God, but all they ever really did was live for themselves. Their decisions revolved around… what will be best for me? Their life revolved around… what will make me comfortable? Their future revolved around, what will give me success and a name for myself?
    • Hell is not just for the Hitlers, the mass murderers, and the child rapists. It’s for people who simply ignore God. For rich people who claim to know God but live entirely for themselves. That’s scary, because I see that in me!”
  • If you have a job and you call off sick 6 times in one month because you don’t feel like going to work, what’s going to happen? The Boss is going to call you into his office and fire you. And when he or she does, in one sense that boss will just be giving you what you wanted. Now you never have to go to work!
    • But now there are also consequences that you never foresaw coming because you are jobless… your parents might ground you for getting fired, you might not be able to go out Friday night because you don’t have money. That’s not what you wanted to happen.
  • See, in another sense, nobody wants hell.
    • What is hell like?
    • I don’t know… but I don’t think Hell is a place of pitch blackness where people are constantly burning but never dying.
    • I believe fire and darkness are metaphors for Hell – just like gold streets is a metaphor for heaven.
    • I believe fire and darkness are metaphors for something far worse.
  • Hell is the removal of everything good that we experience and the amplification of everything bad. 1 Thessalonians 1:8-9
    • See in this life we can avoid God and still experience his good gifts, but in Hell God completely removes himself and all his good gifts.
    • Think about that… NO REST, NO FOOD, NO FRIENDS, NO FAMILY, NO COMFORT, NO JOY, NOT EVEN WATER… the most basic gift. Every good thing is gone.
    • And God allows evil to run rampant… pain, despair, loss, suffering, bitterness, hatred.
    • Think about where you have experience these things in your life and then magnify them and imagine them going on forever.
  • See the rich man wants out of hell and yet there is no relief, no hope, no comfort, and no end to his torment.
  • Don’t miss that he doesn’t want out because he loves God and desires to be forgiven. He only wants the comfort that he once had in this life.

 Hell should bring joy to our hearts and urgency to our hands.

  • The first part of that statement sounds sick and twisted. What kind of person gets joy from the thought of people going to hell?
    • That’s not what I mean by that first part!
  • What I means is that when we think about hell and the fact that I deserve that because I wanted nothing to do with God. I should be utterly amazed by the fact that God doesn’t give me what I deserve.
    • If you are every in a massive car wreck and step out of the car unharmed to observe the damage, I would argue that in that moment you are more alive than ever. As you walk around seeing everything in pieces, the rightful response is to be utterly amazed and joyful that you are still alive and okay.
    • You see what should’ve happened… you should have died. And yet you see and feel the end result, you are alive and well.
  • At the end of the parable, Jesus talks about a dead man rising from the grave. What’s he doing?
  • He’s point us to the solution. He is going to die and be raised again. And in his death, he is going to go through Hell for us. He is going to face complete separation from God, utter anguish, extreme torment and torture.
    • And by going through Hell he demonstrates his love for us.
  • What kind of God goes through hell so that people who deserve Hell go free!?!?!
    • That’s a God I want to know. That’s a God I want to serve with my life. That’s a God I want to spend eternity with.
    • See, hell shows us how incredible God’s love is for us – that should cause us joy.
  • 2) But Hell should also cause us urgency.
    • The movie Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss. The movie shows the story of Desmond, who is a medic, and his fellow soldiers going into battle on Hacksaw Ridge. They are quickly beaten back by the enemy and forced to evacuate the ridge. The movie shows the gory and hellish nature of war. Bodies are blown apart, mangled on the ground, people are groaning for help, and the enemy slowly advances killing any wounded or trapped survivors. Desmond refuses to evacuate. Instead he runs back into the battleground again and again and again risking his life in order to pull someone else out. Every time he pulls someone to safety he says, “One more” and turns and runs back into danger. By the end, he rescues 75 injured soldiers from impending death.
  • This is the type of mindset that hell should give us. Not just people’s lives are on the line, but their very souls and the eternal destiny that awaits them.
  • We are the medics. Are we content to be evacuated out of this life sometime in the future? Or are we willing to risk awkwardness, rejection, and comfort to run after those who are headed to hell?

So What??

  • One of our greatest tools in evangelism is to ask good questions.
  • We shouldn’t be surprised when God is different than we expected or when something He says or does offends us.
  • When we think about Hell, we should be filled with amazement at what God has done for us.
  • The goal of investigating faith is not to win arguments. The goal is to save people.

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