How Can God Send People To Hell And Still Be Just?

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning, Dec. 10, 2000, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia. 


By Michael D. O’Neal                  Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church                  Albany, Georgia


Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 32:1-4; 36-41

Text: Deuteronomy 32:4

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Introduction: The Bible, the one Book in the world that is without proven error, declares that God is “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” God is JUST. He is right, and He is without iniquity. His work is perfect.

Further in the chapter, in our scripture reading for today, we find that

Deuteronomy 32:39b … I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

One of the most offensive truths to the mind of unbelievers is that people who die without having been “born again” have a soul that leaves the body and goes to a burning, fiery place of torment called HELL. They don’t mind the thought of HEAVEN, but the idea of a real hell “offends their sensibilities.”

So they ask, “How can God send people to hell and still be just?”

First, let me affirm that there is a hell. The Bible teaches it, and Jesus preached it. As a matter of fact, He preached more to the general public about hell than He did about heaven. People who die in their sins go to hell and burn in eternal fire.

Second, when a person goes to hell he is actually “out of place.” God did not INTEND for him to go to hell. Hell was not originally created primarily for people, is the indication from our Lord. He spoke of a future time of judgment, saying:

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Now, I want to give you the answer to the question, “How can God send people to hell and still be just?” I will answer the question from the word of God. However, I will do more than that. The above scripture, Matt. 25:41 is plain in declaring that God will send people to hell. Our text this morning also declares that God is JUST. It is a fact that God is just and does send people to hell.

However, I will endeavor to show that not only can a just God send people to hell, but a just God MUST send people to hell. His very attributes REQUIRE that there be a hell as well as a heaven.


Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Notice that a balanced view of God beholds “the goodness AND severity of God.” Having said that, let us observe that:


However, if He IS good, and He IS, then

A. God must preserve the wonderful righteousness of heaven

  • 1. Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • 2. Wickedness must be banished, or heaven would not BE heaven.

Also, if He IS good, and He IS, then

B. God must punish the wicked rejectors of Jesus

  • 1. In order to be good to the victims and the loved ones of the victims, there MUST be a hell for people like
    • a. Ted Bundy – serial killer, who raped and mutilated the corpses of his victims
    • b. The son of Sam
    • c. Albert De Salvo, known as the Boston Strangler, who raped, murdered, and terrorized Boston women
    • d. Jeffrey Dahmer – who murdered innocent people and got sexual gratification by eating their corpses
    • e. John Wayne Gacy – the Killer Clown, who in a three-year period raped and murdered over 30 young men
    • f. Jack the Ripper
  • 2. You say that God is too good to send people to hell? The mothers and fathers of these victims would shout that God is NOT good unless He DOES send some people to hell!


Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

A. The statutes He has established are great

  • 1. Deuteronomy 4:8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
  • 2. We talk about “the law of the land.” God’s commandments are the law of the land, the sea, the air, and the heavens!

B. The sins of evildoers are great

  • 1. Ps. 91:13 speaks of “the great transgression.”
  • 2. Gen. 20:9 – “a great sin”
  • 3. Gen. 39:9 – “great wickedness”
  • 4. 1 Sam. 2:17 – “the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD”
  • 5. Here is the problem:
    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

C. The sentence that God executes must be great

  • 1. We think of a sentence that is too light for the crime as a “slap on the wrist.”
  • 2. God does not give a slap on the wrist.
  • 3. He does not let sinners escape judgment over a technicality, such as did O.J. Simpson and Bill Clinton.


Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness


2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Those who go to hell are people who have spurned the goodness, longsuffering, and generosity of God.

God’s generosity toward sinners is seen in

A. The working of God in the sinner’s life

  • 1. Protecting him in accidents
  • 2. Healing him in sickness
  • 3. Providing food and clothing

B. The word of God that was so readily available to him

  • 1. Perhaps given to him as a Christmas gift
  • 2. Staring at him on the book shelf in Wal-Mart: Holy Bible!
  • 3. For sale for pennies at yard sales and flea markets
  • 4. In the drawer of his night stand in motel rooms

C. The witnesses that God sent him

  • 1. On television
  • 2. On radio
  • 3. At his door
  • 4. Churches on every corner


GRACE – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

Grace is God giving you something that you do not deserve. The Bible defines it:

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

A. Grace is offered to everyone

  • 1. Christ died for all
  • 2. Christ draws all men to him

B. Grace is obtained through faith

  • 1. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works,lest any man should boast.

C. Grace is overlooked and rejected at man’s peril

  • 1. Neglect is the shortest road to hell, my friend.
  • 2. Receive God’s grace today by trusting His Son for your salvation

The real problem is not, How can God send people to hell and still be just. It is, How can a just God send wicked people to heaven? The answer:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

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