We’ve all heard the phrase, “Turn or burn!” and the question, “How could a loving God burn people forever in hell?”
I know that quite a few of you will say, “Ah, but God doesn’t burn people forever in hell! At the end of time, the fires of hell will consume the wicked and until they are no more.” And then you will go on to cite John 3:16, Malachi 4:1, Romans 6:23, Isaiah 47:14, Revelation 20:14, and many other verses to give your answer biblical support. (If you have questions on this topic, you can find biblical answers on Hell Truth.)
And you would be right. God is a loving God, and He doesn’t mercilessly torture the wicked for all eternity. But do you know why?
Just as we value and desire relationships, God also desires for us to love Him with all our hearts. He longs for our friendship. Satan knows this and has made it his ultimate purpose to destroy God’s relationships.
Now, suppose that a young man were to propose to his girlfriend, but instead of getting down on one knee and asking for her hand, he puts a gun to her head and says, “Marry me or die.” If she were to say yes, it wouldn’t be because she loved this man, but because she was afraid not to.
What does this have to do with the doctrine of hell? It’s Satan’s ultimate purpose to ruin our relationship with our loving God. The devil would have as many people as possible believe that God is telling them, “Believe in me or I will torment you forever in hell!” By persuading people of the erroneous doctrine of an eternally-burning hell, Satan has changed the picture of God from that of a loving Savior on His knees, pleading for your heart, to that of an angry God holding a gun to your head.
Nothing could be further from the truth! while He will justly punish the incorrigibly wicked, it will not be in an eternally-burning hell. God loves you. He wants you to love Him in return–to give Him your heart–but He will never, never force you to do so. Why? Because love that is forced is not really love at all!