There are a lot of questions in Christianity that have no really great answers. I think God describes the reason for this in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The biggest problem with the questions that we have is that we try to find answers from a human perspective rather than a Kingdom perspective. Plus, we just don’t have the mind of God. We can’t fathom all that He knows and understands.
For instance, one of the great questions of the faith is this: “Why does God condemn “good” people to hell?” and “What if they’ve never heard about Jesus?” A lot of these questions begin with “If God is a loving God . . .” These are good legitimate questions! And while we can’t possibly know the complete and full answer (because my mind cannot fathom the knowledge and wisdom of God), the scriptures do give us some clues.
Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” That puts our “goodness” into perspective. What looks good to us as humans does not look good to God. In fact, it still looks filthy. Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” I guess if the only requirement for heaven was “goodness,” heaven would end up looking a lot like earth. Even with all the descriptions in Revelation, and Jesus’ word pictures in the Gospels, we really don’t understand the beauty and perfection of heaven.
There’s a phrase someone came up with that goes, “God doesn’t send people to hell, people choose to go there.” That’s really a very true statement. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. He wants everyone to repent. I picture Jesus looking like He must have when He stood outside of Jerusalem almost in tears. In Matthew 23:37 He said, “How I have longed to gather your children together . . . but you were not willing.”
Just the fact that Jesus was willing to die to “make us white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18) should be evidence enough that God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell. As for those who have never heard of Jesus . . . I don’t personally know anyone like that, and the truth is I can’t personally worry about that. All I can do is try to make sure that everyone I meet hears about Christ, and since God said He doesn’t want any to perish, plus He said that because of the beauty of creation men are without excuse (Romans 1:20), I trust that God will take care of anyone who truly never had the opportunity to know about the Savior. How God does that is none of my business. I think that’s part of the reason Jesus told Peter “If I want John to live forever, what business is that of yours? Just follow me” (my paraphrase of John 21:22) It’s not my place to worry about who gets in and who doesn’t. It’s only my job to concern myself with following Jesus, and while that will often entail helping someone discover “the way,” I need not worry about who will and who won’t find Him.
Perhaps a human way to understand it would be to realize that everyone is born with a disease. It’s a disease that eventually kills. It’s a slow death, and the life here on earth with the disease, like most diseases, can sometimes be agonizing. On the other hand, there are those with the disease who feel so good, they won’t acknowledge they have the disease. No one would even believe they have it until it takes them. Either way, their fate is the same. Whether a person has lived a good full life or an agonizing, pitiful life, he or she will end up eternally dead.
However, there is a cure for the disease. Anyone who takes the antidote will live forever. Everyone on earth is made aware that they have the disease, and everyone is offered the antidote. But some don’t want the cure. They don’t believe they have the disease or they do, but they are afraid of the antidote. Some just want to tough it out, while others believe they can overcome the disease on their own. The good news is the antidote works even at the very last moment! The bad news is some refuse it even as they take their last breath.
The One who created the antidote mourns for every single person who won’t take it. He literally gave up His life to create this cure for the most deadly disease known to mankind. He is heartbroken at the thought of losing even one person to the disease. You see, He gave up His life to create the cure because He loves every single person more than we can imagine. He thinks of each one as His best friend.
This is the condition of mankind. We are all born with a deadly disease called “sin.” No one is exempt. In order to get to heaven, it’s necessary to take the “antidote” for the deadly disease. That would be accepting the blood of Jesus Christ as the “cure” for your deadly disease. God does not “send” anyone to hell. He weeps over those who refuse the cure. He mourns for those who refuse His gracious gift. He offers it freely to everyone, but many refuse His free offer.