Why is the punishment for sin eternal hell? Why cannot God just punish people in hell for a time and then allow them to graduate to heaven?
This objection is addressed right within the Why Jesus approach to sharing the Gospel. Ultimately, salvation is more about loving God than going to heaven. Matthew 22:36-37 says, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Those who love Christ are part of His body, the Church. The Church will one day be united with Jesus in a special loving relationship as His bride.
- Revelation 19:7b “… For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”
- Revelation 22:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
- Revelation 22:9b-10 “‘…Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to ‘a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down our of heaven from God.'”
People either love God or they don’t. Those who love God want to be with Him in a loving relationship forever. Those who do not love God, including those who love false gods in false religions, do not want to be in a loving relationship with the God of the Bible and He will not force them too. In fact, this is something God cannot do because forced love is a contradiction in terms. Love has to be given freely, not forced. Forced love is no love at all.
God does not send people to hell based on emotion but law. Break the law and if it demands it, the judge has to punish the lawbreaker no matter how much he loves them. God’s law is one with His nature and demands sin be punished. That’s why Jesus was punished and died for sins on the cross – to fulfill God’s law so a pardon could be extended to those how would receive it.
This type of question often implies it is contradictory for a loving God to send people to hell. It’s actually contradictory for a loving God to ignore His law and justice by automatically rewarding lawbreakers with heaven.
I wish there wasn’t but wishful thinking does not make it so. Jesus thought there was a hell.
Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”
Who’s better to know?