of Hell is
It is an inconceivably dark thought, isn't it? The idea of living souls spending the countless eons of eternity in a place of constant torment is more awful than we can possibly imagine. And then upon learning that such a place is the creation of "a God of love," one can hardly be blamed for recoiling in horror and disbelief.
How could such a thing be? Who would have come up with such a plan? If indeed such a place exists, would it not be the invention of the cruelest of beings?
Before tackling these questions, we should first establish that Hell is real, as otherwise the discussion is meaningless. How do we know it exists? Because the Bible teaches that it is. "But I don't believe the Bible is true." Well, then you aren't likely going to believe that Hell is real either, since this is the only authoritative record we have of it. So you can choose to disregard it for now, if you wish, and wait until later to find out if it is indeed real. For those, however, who are willing to at least admit the possibility of its reality, and would like to know the facts, read on.
Because Hell is so perfectly distasteful to the human mind, there are some who claim to be followers of Christ who have tried to convince themselves and others that no one will ever end up in such a place. To take such a stance is to either greatly malign the credibility of the Bible, or to reflect very poorly on one's comprehensive skills, as the Scriptures dealing with this subject are painfully clear.
Why was this dreadful place created? Did a loving God actually conceive such an end for mankind, the centerpiece of His creation? No, He did not. It was never meant for human habitation. Rather it was made only, "for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25.41).
At least, that was the original plan. But something went wrong. The first man and woman ever to live upon this beautiful planet made some fateful decisions that affected all who would follow. They grievously disobeyed God's simple and clear commands, and so paid a fearful price for having done so.
Faced with the prospect of human beings who were meant to live forever in paradise, once having partaken of the tree of life, God already had a plan for their redemption through His Son, so that after death, they could enter in His presence forever. But He also had to deal with those who would persist in disobedience, finally dying in such a state. Should He take those who revealed by their actions that they wanted nothing to do with Him and force them to live forever with Him in Heaven? Absurd!
And then there is the matter of law and judgment. What purpose is there in God creating laws that have no provision for those who refuse to obey them? No, those who went their own ways and became laws unto themselves would have to either turn from their wicked ways before they died, or pay the price of failing to do so. What choice did God have? Should the lawbreakers be given the same reward as the law abiders? Can we expect Him to usher into the realm of eternal truth and light those who have chosen the path of error and darkness? Again... Absurd!
So the bottom line is that human beings only end up in Hell because they have made it clear that they have nothing in common with God. Heaven would not be home to them. And it is only right that those who chose to flaunt their Creator's laws must face the consequences of their actions. He is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice.
It pains the heart of God more deeply than we could ever fathom every time a soul enters this place that was never meant to be his or her destination. In every case He goes to great lengths to keep it from happening, but in the end He will always respect our free will. No one enters there without ever having a chance to know and follow Christ.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
None will be able to say the light never came. To the contrary, all will be able to remember each and every time the door to eternal life was opened before them, and throughout eternity they will recall that each and every time they refused to walk through it.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB