When I hear this question I immediately want to set the record straight: God does not send anyone to hell! He makes it clear that he wants everyone to come to him for forgiveness and eternal life. First Timothy 2:4–6 tells us God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” It adds that God provided Jesus to be the mediator between us and him, and assures us that he “gave himself as a ransom for all people.”
Based on passages like this, we can be confident God does not want anyone in hell—and made provision for everyone to escape it. But Jesus also said, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matt. 7:13). So if God doesn’t want people to end up there, why is it so many apparently do?
I talked to philosopher J. P. Moreland about this. “He has made us with free will,” the philosopher explained. “And he has made us for a purpose: to relate lovingly to him and to others. If we fail over and over again to live for the purpose for which we were made . . . then God will have absolutely no choice but to give us what we’ve asked for all along in our lives, which is separation from him.
“Hell was not part of the original creation. Hell is God’s fall-back position. Hell is something God was forced to make because people chose to rebel against him and turn against what was best for them and the purpose for which they were created.”
I asked Moreland how people should respond to these truths.
“For those who don’t know Christ, it should motivate them to redouble their efforts to seek him and to find him,” he replied. “For those of us who know him, it should cause us to redouble our efforts to extend his message of mercy and grace to those who need it.”
I would simply add a double Amen.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.