“If God is so loving, why would he send us to hell for not believing in Him?”
“If God is so good, why not just forgive everyone? Why the long drawn-out process?”
“What kind of a God would give a son He claims to love up for torture and death?”
“I don’t want to believe in a God who is comfortable watching His creation suffer pain for eternity”
If you have ever thought or heard these statements/questions before? Welcome! You are by far not the only one. And to be fair, upon hearing the message of the gospel, it is only logical to start to ask these questions.
Before we go any further, let’s bring everyone up to speed…what exactly is the message of the gospel? I think one of the best places this message is presented is in Rom 3:22-26:
Rom 3:22 We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. Rom 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Rom 3:24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. Rom 3:25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. Rom 3:26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.
Let’s highlight a few points from the verses above:
1. All have sinned.
It takes no thought to immediately come to this conclusion, if there is a holy, perfect God by whom we were all created and to whom we all are accountable, then with that realization comes the conviction that none of us are perfect.
We all have done things we ought not to have, said things we should not have and thought things we should not have.
Everyday is a stellar reminder that indeed humanity, whether individually or collectively, is not perfect. Now this would have been all well and Good, except for one problem: 👇🏼
2. God is just.
It was Paul Washer who said that the scariest truth in all of scripture would be that God is good. Why? Because we are not! If God is truly perfect, if He truly is to judge the world and pay each man/woman according to their deeds, then that Is definitely a scary thought.
It’s one thing to offend a fellow human but when you’re found wanting before God, that’s a whole different situation. David, reflecting on these very ideas came to the same conclusion:
Psa 130:3 LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive
Indeed, if God is truly just then sin must be adequately addressed. If we hold our fellow human judges to the standard of justice, how much more the creator of moral standards? If a well-known rapist were suddenly freed by the supreme court, social media would erupt in anger and rightly so: justice must be served.
If we feel so strongly about justice as being integral to the fabric of morality, it’s about time we put ourselves through the same lenses. If God is just, we all must be held accountable for our sins.
Fortunately, David goes on to reflect on something much more, something that the verses above equally emphasize: 👇🏼
3. God is love.
Psa 130:4 But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
The silver lining in all this is that God is as loving as He is just! He in no way desires or delights in watching His creation suffer, even if they choose to of their own free will!
Here in lies the dilemma: if God is to remain good then He must be just. But He also loves and does not wish for any of us to suffer, how then does God maintain His integrity? We find the answer at the foot of the cross. You see, the death of Jesus was not just one of the options, it was the only option.
On that cross, God decided to step into humanity, and by identification bear the punishment that was due mankind. As a result, God can be both Just and Loving to all humanity. They say every contract has a loophole; well, this is no exception! In the cross, we see the justice of God in full display. Sin must be punished, and sin was punished, we see the Love of God in full display as well! The innocent suffering for the guilty so that the guilty would not suffer the punishment they deserve.
That’s why Paul would say in verse 24 of the verse about how this was an act of God’s gracious kindness. He also goes on to say in verse 26, that through Jesus, God is entirely just for letting sinners go of the hook!
Conclusion: This is a very brief introduction to the beauty that is revealed in the gospel, but I hope it can serve as a good foundation. To that person wondering why Jesus had to die, it is so that you wouldn’t! If the supreme court would not be fair for simply saying “You’re free to go” to a well deserving culprit, then the judge of the whole earth must also do what is right.
In Jesus, God shows that He’s both perfectly just and perfectly loving. To the person wondering why God would send people to hell for not believing in him, we must realize that it is less of God happily throwing people into judgement as it is people rejecting the offer of forgiveness God has made available. Man of his/her own free will chooses to stand in constant rebellion against God and ultimately gets the consequence of that continued rebellion: an eternity without God.
In the gospel, and I must add in the proper presentation of the gospel, we are left standing in awe and gratitude at a holy God who would do anything in His power to be in relationship with a rebellious creation. And that my friends is why it’s called the good news.