Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 136:1
I get asked a lot, “How can God be merciful if He sends people to a place called hell?” It is harsh to the hundredth power, I mean, everyone who refuses His forgiveness and rejects the offer of a relationship with Him goes there . . . forever. Only people who really know Him as “Lord of my life” will receive this mercy that endures forever. I believe most people who have no belief in Him whatsoever hate Christianity for this reason. It is so not inclusive in a world where moral relativism abounds.
So, let’s take a look at just how God could possibly be merciful by eternally eliminating a person who chooses a life of sin over Him. The answer has three parts: A God part, a sinner part, and a saint part.
The God Part
God chose for some reason not to make us mere robots that constantly repeat some lifeless, mundane, worshipful phrase to Him. He chose to make people with absolute free will. He allowed humans to reject Him. Then, out of His great love, He made a way to redeem them. Many have chosen this redemption. Many have rejected it. From His perspective, at the end of each person’s life, He declares him or her either fit for His eternal kingdom or not. This fitness test is really simple: You either grabbed a hold of the life vest He threw to you and held on for dear life, or you rejected it and drowned. The cross is the life vest. He shows a consistent mercy to all in the fact that He gives each of us our entire lifetime to either grab a hold of it, or reject it. This offered mercy does not endure forever. On the day you and I stand before Him, you will know exactly which one you did, and believe it or not, you will be in perfect agreement with His decision either way. How can I say that? Because of the other two parts.
The Sinner Part
The Bible says that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord of all (Romans 14:11). Everyone! Some choose to do it during this life, but others choose not to. People choose not to because they love their sin. Before I came to know Him, I loved the darkness. I loved my sexual immorality. I loved my foul language. I loved music that did the exact opposite of honor God. I loved living for me, myself, and I. Now, I despise it and am beyond embarrassed about my past. I hate it because of all the hurt my sin has inflicted on so many that I claimed to love. Yet, so many people stay in love with their sin, regardless of whom it hurts. If God is merciful, does He have to let unrepentant, unregenerate people into Heaven despite their refusal of His offering of forgiveness?
Absolutely not! In fact, He would cease to be merciful if He did. Why? If He let even one unredeemed sinner into Heaven, that person’s sin would quickly make that perfect place just as corrupt as Earth is now. After all, it only took one simple act of disobedience. Which brings us to the last part.
The Saint Part
It is really not fair that Christians (and by saying that, I mean real ones) have to live in this fallen world. I mean, because Adam and Eve sinned, we live in absolute corruption today. If you don’t believe me, just read the news headlines at pretty much any point today. Sin absolutely abounds.
Followers of Jesus take heart in the fact that there is coming a glorious day . . . a day where sin shall be no more. There will be a day when not one more child will ever be sexually molested, a day where no person is born into a world where absolutely nobody cares for them, a day where drugs will no longer slowly cause people to deteriorate and behave horribly, a day where there will not be even a single murder. There will be no more violence, no more stealing, no more being offended, and no more using the name of Jesus Christ, whose middle name is not the f-bomb, in vain. All sin, along with everything and everyone it is attached to, will be thrown into the lake of fire.
This day is coming, and the saints of God will eternally speak of His enduring mercy.
His mercy really does endure forever and ever.