Is God Glorified When People Go to Hell?
On a hub that I wrote, Is Universalism a Heresy? I was asked if God is glorified when people are sent to hell. We live in a society with high ideals and cannot understand how can a good God send anyone to suffer for eternity? We cannot fathom it, so it cannot be true. As soon as you think that you fully understand God and all of his ways, he ceases to be God and becomes an idol of your own making. God is always bigger than we can know. That is what makes him God. To answer this question correctly, we need to look at who God is and why people would go there according to the Bible and not opinion. The answer is that yes, God is glorified when people are sent to hell because it uplifts who he is. It may not be popular today, but the Bible clearly teaches about hell.
David Platt on God being Incomprehensible
God is Incomprehensible
God is well beyond anything that we can comprehend. He is eternal and has existed from eternity past and will exist into eternity future. We cannot fathom that because we have all had a beginning. Our point of reference is the 80 years or so that we will live on this planet. God never had a beginning and will not have an end. He is so powerful that He can simply speak the world into existence and create it out of nothing. Another thing that we cannot fully comprehend is that God is present everywhere. We cannot go anywhere to get away from God. The Bible reveals to us that God does not change, that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let us examine a few of God’s main attributes at a closer level.
Francis Chan Preaches on God's Holiness
God is Absolutely Holy
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.” Psalm 5:4
One of the main attributes of God that we do not fully understand is his holiness. How can we, we are all fallen and sinful. God is infinitely holy and the definition of perfection and purity. No evil is found in Him, he is completely righteous. God’s holiness is the only attribute ever repeated three times because ancient writers did not use punctuation, so they would repeat things to show their importance. God’s holiness terrorized the Prophet Isaiah, which caused him to say “woe to me” when he was standing before God’s throne. The Apostle Paul makes it clear to us that his standard is perfection, we fall way short, and the punishment is eternal death (hell). God cannot even stand to be around evil.
God is Sovereign
“Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has ever been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?’ For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36
God is sovereign and in control of all creation. This is His universe and we are his creations. He has the freedom to do with us no matter what He chooses. It is easy to box God in and not stop to think that God is in control, yet the brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon were able to set off their bombs as intended. Tornadoes and other natural disasters strike all over the globe and yet God is still on his throne. Many times He uses events like these and other tragedies to draw people to Himself. Paul writes in Romans chapter 9 tells us that God raised up Pharaoh so that He could show His power against Pharaoh when He sent plague after plague on Egypt. Paul also wrote that God said that he loved Isaac and hated Esau. God does not owe his creation any kind of explanation. We cannot judge God with our finite minds because we may never know why He allows something while we are alive on earth. Conversely, we do not know how many times that God has saved us from tragedy. It is important to remember that He is God and we are not, especially since we are the ones who have broken His laws. We need to not give ourselves more importance than we really deserve. God is totally justified and glorified if He threw all of us into hell as punishment for breaking His law. That is what we deserve. Our offence is against a holy and righteous God.
David Platt on God Hating Sin
God Hates Sin
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 NASB
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6:23
The Bible is full of references of God hating sin and the fact that he will punish sinners. Sin is any thought, word, or deed that is contrary to the will of God. One sin is enough to separate us from God for eternity. The New Testament tells us that if we have broken one commandment that we are guilty of breaking all of them. Sin separates us from God because it violates his nature. Isaiah and Paul both proclaim this separation. Look at Israel in the Old Testament; every time they grumbled against God, He quickly judged them. He punished Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and hailstones until the entire civilization was destroyed. Remember Noah and his family were spared from the wrath of God but the rest of the world was destroyed in a flood. God takes sin very seriously. After all, it is an affront to a holy God, whom we have offended with our disobedience. The Bible also tells us that the punishment for sin is eternal death or hell. We all stand eternally condemned before God. Praise God that He did not leave us in this state as He would be totally justified in doing. Rather, He sent his only Son to die for your sins and mine as we will talk about in the next section.
God is Love
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses in the Bible. It is God’s answer to our fallen state. It tells us that God loves us enough to live among us as a human while being fully God and that He would rather be beaten to a bloody pulp and be nailed to a cross than to see us be sent to hell. This verse alone demonstrates God’s love and the seriousness of sin. It took God the Son, to leave heaven and experience the full weight of our sins that were placed on him as he suffered on the cross. He refused to leave us where we were. However, a distinction is made between those who believe and those who do not. Believers inherit eternal life and go to heaven; those who do not are still under damnation and will be sent to hell for eternity. Notice that it says “whosoever believes” shall have eternal life, leaving the obvious connection of those who do not believe. It tells us that there will be those who do not believe and they will experience eternal death (hell).
God’s nature and characteristics require him to judge sin. He is justified in sending all of us to hell because we are all guilty before him. His great love for us caused Him to send Jesus to die in our place and offer us heaven if we will accept His sacrifice and repent of our sins.
Dr. RC Sproul Answers the Question at Hand
Why God is Glorified When People are Sent to Hell
“What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, who he prepared in advance for his glory.” Romans 9:22-23
Pastor and author John Piper loves to say that “God is most glorified in us when we are satisfied in him.” If you think about this quote it makes perfect sense. Think back to when Israel was wandering for 40 years in the desert because they grumbled against God. All God wanted them to do was to be satisfied in Him. God is glorified when a sinner repents of his or her sins and places their faith in Christ and Christ alone for salvation. The Bible says that the angels rejoice every time someone is saved which brings glory to God. Conversely, He is also glorified when a sinner is punished and sent to hell because it upholds His holiness and justice. In other words, God is glorified because His nature is upheld. Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 makes it clear that we must put out trust in Jesus or God’s wrath still remains on us (v. 36). It is important to remember that God did not have to send Jesus to die on the cross, it was His own choosing. Therefore, it makes sense that not everyone is going to heaven.
God’s Offer of Salvation
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:17-18
God’s offer of salvation is another great example of how God is glorified when people are sent to hell. His offer is extended to everyone on the planet; however, He is a gentleman and does not force anyone to go to heaven that does not want to be there. John 3:16-21 explains that concept in more detail. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Jesus talks about that the way to God is narrow and the path to destruction (hell) is broad and many will take the broad road. Jesus said that He was the only way to God in John 14:6. Right there you have Jesus saying that all other roads are false. If you try to come to God through any other way, you will not make it. All of us have to decide what we want to do with Jesus, accept him or reject him. Those are our only options. Either choice that we make will glorify God because it will uphold his nature.
My question for you the reader is, are you going to accept or reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Everything else I could ask you is meaningless in comparison to that question. I urge you to accept Christ before it is too late. Life is short, death is certain, know where you are going before you die because once you die it is too late.
Do you believe that God is glorified in all aspects of His nature?
© 2013 Eric Cramer